Brief history of Ebira people “Anebira” by Aliyu Suraj Muhammed (Photos)

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The Ebira people are an ethnolinguistic group of central Nigeria. many Ebira people are from Kogi state, Kwara state, Nasarawa state and Edo state.Okene was said to be the administrative centre of the Ebira’s in Kogi state before the state was formed from Kwara state not far from the Niger Benue confluence.Since the formation of the state the Ebira TAO people are found in four local government namely Adavi, Ajakouta, Okehi and Okene.Estimated Total population: 900,000Religion: Islam, Christianity and Traditional.

Geography: In recent history Ebira people inhibit a territory south west of the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, though some Ebira communities also reside north west of the confluence.

History: The migration of the Ebira people to the present region is mostly surmised by oral history. However most version trace the migration from the Junkus of the Kwarafara state north of the Benue rivers and in present day Taraba state one of the relics of their trace is the Apete stool their symbol of authority and identity as a group within the kingdom. Brought along and kept in a place in Opete in present day Ajakouta. The Apete stool is presently the tittle instrument of Ozumi in okene they originally settled with the Igalas and both groups lived together for about 300years. A dispute between the two groups led to a parting of ways and the Ebira’s moved Southwest of the river Niger to their ancestral home called Ebira opete an area around Ajakouta. Other groups later moved south to found Okengwe, Uboro and Okehi.

Culture: In early history of Ebira people the family was headed by the father or the oldest male who acted as the provider, religious leaders and the protection of the nuclear family (irehi) other important social system are compounds (ohuoje) which are compound composed of related or kindred patrilineal families ovuvu the outer compounds and the linages (abara).The clan (iresu) which is community of kindred lineage in ebiraland is led by the Otaru, identities can be distinguished by symbols mostly animals like leopard, crocodile, phyton or buffalo.The principal occupation of the Ebira people is agriculture they cultivate yams, maize, cassava and vegetables they are also known for their weaving and crafts.

Ekuechi festival: The Ekuechi festival is the most widely celebrated traditional festival in Ebira communities it is held annually starting in late November and ending in late December or January the duration of the festival is long because different clans choose their own dates to mark the festival. Eku in Ebira represent an ancestral masquerade while chi means to descend. In traditional Ebira culture there exit a certain belief in the existence of a land of the living and another for the dead and a veneration of the land of the dead by those from the land of the living.

Ekuechi thus can be interpreted as ancestral spirit descending back to earth. The masquerade performing in the festival are believed to have access to the spirit world where dead relatives abide to the behavior of the living and during the festival these masquerade deliver message of good things tidings and admonishment from the spirit world.

The festival also marks the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. A major performance during the festival is centered on the performance of EKU’RAHU that is centered on drumming, singing and chanting Surely one can say Ebira people are richly blessed and embedded with talents and gifts.

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