Akwa Ibom epitomizes hospitality as the people are exceptionally friendly from a long history of interactions with foreigners. Going by the figures from the last national census in 2006, Akwa Ibom’s population is today projected at just over 6 million people from more than 10 ethnic groups in 31 Local Government Areas. The people live a communal lifestyle especially in the rural areas. Compared to other states in Nigeria, living expenses in Akwa Ibom is largely affordable.
CULTURE & HERITAGE
Akwa Ibom is blessed with many languages. Along with English as the official language, the major spoken languages are Ibibio, Annang, Ekid and Oro. Other popular dialects spoken in Akwa Ibom include Itu Mbon Uso and Andoni.
The dominant traditional attire of Akwa Ibom is a Loincloth “Uwa-wang Ofong Isin” and shirt with Hat and staff to go with. While the womenfolk also have a Loincloth called ‘Ndot Iba’ with a piece of it on the head as head- tie and a blouse to match.
Akwa Ibom is known for a wide cuisine and her people, exceptional culinary skills. A wide range of nourishing and mouthwatering delicacies include unique meals native to the state as well as other staple foods available everywhere else, all prepared with various natural and artificial seasoning and spices.
It is famed for possibly the widest array of soups which include Afang, Edikangikong, Abak, Etighi (Okro), Ikon (Melon), Etidot (Bitter leaf), AfiaEfere (white soup), Editan, mkpafere and Atama soups – taken with garri, fufu, usung udia (pounded yam) or anyan-ekpang.
Other native meals are Ekpang Nkukwo (Cocoyam Porridge), Asa-Abakpa (Corn-meal), Ubobok Ukom (Plantain porridge), Oto Ebre (Water Yam Porridge) Oto Mboro (Banana porridge), well-spiced and served with some or all of beef, chicken, fish, oysters, snails and periwinkle.
Akwa Ibom is known for the consumption of various other staple foods like Rice, beans, prepared in various ways.
Moral and cultural values encourage monogamy as against polygamy so much so that even when widowed, Akwa Ibom people often maintain a single-parent nuclear family. Incidents of divorce are very negligible in Akwa Ibom. Meanwhile, a traditional Akwa Ibom marriage ceremony is by far one of the most thrilling and colourful nuptial ambience you can behold anywhere in the world.
Various festivals offer opportunities for the exhibition of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Akwa Ibom. These festivals are held at various times in different parts of the state. Some of these are New Yam Festival (a thanksgiving feast for yam harvest), Mbre Mmong (a biannual Boat regatta) and Usoro Ubine Ikot (a hunting expedition). Others are Mfuuho Carnival (a State festival of masquerades organized annually), Mbok (traditional wrestling festivals) as well as Mbopo (a special outing ceremony for girls of marriageable age to be sought by prospective suitors) festivals.
Dance in Akwa Ibom is beyond a form of recreation irrespective of age, gender and stature. Akwa Ibom dances generally involve body movement in rhythmic response to the beat from musical instruments. Akwa Ibom traditional cultural dances include Abre, Ekombi, Itembe.
Like dance, Music is a very essential element of Akwa Ibom Culture. Songs, with or without instrumental accompaniment, are an integral part of any social celebration. Akwa Ibom boasts a wide variety of musical instruments, some of which are the same with the ones found in other parts of the country. They include Ikon Eto (wooden Xylophone), Obodom (wooden drum), Uta (gourd horns), Oduk made from horn of ram are also popular instruments in the State.
The strength of these local institutions makes for a fascinating visit.
From the pre-colonial era, traditional cultural institutions such as Ekpo (Ghost) and Ekpe (Lion) stood out as government of the time which maintained order in the society. Ekpo is founded on the belief in life after death, and is regarded as the soul or ghosts of ancestors hence, is designed to strike awe, fear and caution, while Ekpe served as the government of the people, based on the concept of the lion being king.
Today, these functions have been overtaken by modernism. However, the entertainment function is still very relevant during festivities. Masquerades like Obon, Atat, Utuekpe (spider) Ubom Isong (land canoe), Ntok Odio-Odio, Obio Okpo etc. make Akwa Ibom State proud during carnivals and festivals both within and outside the state.