The Idoma are people that primarily inhabit the lower western areas of Benue State, Nigeria, and kindred groups can be found in Cross Rivers State, Enugu State, Kogi State and Nasarawa State in Nigeria. The Idoma language is classified in the Akweya subgroup of the Idomoid languages of the Volta–Niger family, which include Igede, Alago, Agatu, Etulo, Ete and Yala languages of Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi and Northern Cross River states. The Akweya subgroup is closely related to the Yatye-Akpa sub-group. The bulk of the territory is inland, south of river Benue, some seventy-two kilometres east of its confluence with River Niger.
The Idomas are known to be ‘warriors’ and ‘hunters’ of class, but hospitable and peace-loving. The greater part of Idoma land remained largely unknown to the West until the 1920s, leaving much of the colourful traditional culture of the Idoma intact. The population of the Idoma is estimated to be about 3.5 million. The Idoma people have a traditional ruler called the Och’Idoma who is the head of the Idoma Area Traditional Council. This was introduced by the British. Each community has its own traditional chief . The Palace of the Och’Idoma is located at Otukpo, Benue State.
The history of the Idoma people precedes the history of Benue State (created 1976) and the history of the Republic of Nigeria (created 1960). Oral tradition and dance is the primary method through which history has been passed in Idomaland and is considered a central cultural institution.
From a young age, Idoma children usually learn from their elder’s stories of old and are brought up around extended families, which make multiple historical resources available. When prompted Idomas generally will proudly tell you where they are from, and it’s not uncommon for Idoma to be able to recite at least four generations of their progenitors. Historically, being unable to answer the emblematic question “Who is your father?” disqualified one from important roles and titles in Idomaland. Quite naturally, a number of villages trace origins to single ancestors and further, several Idoma groups trace their heritage to one common ancestor, considered the “father” of the different groups.
IDUH, THE FATHER OF IDOMA
According to traditional history, Iduh, the father of the Idoma had several children who each established different areas. Hence the expression: “Iduh the father of Idoma.” “Iduh who begot all the Idoma” He also begot the following children: Ananawoogeno who begot the children of Igwumale; Olinaogwu who begot the people of Ugboju; Idum who begot the people of Adoka; Agabi who begot the people of Otukpo; Eje who begot the people of Oglewu; Ebeibi who begot the people of Umogidi in Adoka, Edeh who begot the people of Edumoga and Ode who begot the people of Yala ” While there may be some truth to the above, the Idoma cannot be said to have a unitary origin. Many Idoma groups and village subsets have their own histories complete with stories about how their people arrived at their current location. The Otukpa people descended from three ancestors: Owuno, Ameh-Ochagbaha and Oodo. The first two were brothers who migrated from Idah in Igalaland while Oodo migrated from Igbo land. As one can imagine, the ever-changing movement of people through time makes it difficult to study Idoma history. There are some Idomas who are originally Igbos and heavily intermarried with the Northern fringes of Igboland.
Scholars have combined oral history with genealogical data and analysis of kinship totems to trace the roots of the Idoma people as a whole. One notable Idoma scholar E.O. Erim cites genealogical data, collected from most modern groups in Idoma suggesting that they derive from several ethnic groups, each with a different historical origin. Furthermore, the available genealogies indicate the existence of diverse ethnic groups who descended from ancestors other than Idu. In several of these cases, the claim of common descent is backed by both extensive genealogical connections and possession of common kinship totems. Erim contends that while Idu was certainly a migration leader—he was not the “father” of the Idoma in the sense implied in the above traditions. These two considerations make it difficult to simply accept the view that every group in Idomaland is descended from Idu.
Many Idoma kindred claims an ancestral homeland called Apa, north-east of present-day Idomaland due to pressures of Northern invaders as recently as 300 years ago. The historical Apa was part of the ancient Kwararafa Kingdom (Okolofa Kingdom), a confederacy of several peoples. Informants in other ethnic groups have corroborated the existence of this kingdom, chiefly the Jukun who also believe they once ruled a confederacy called Kwararafa. In the Hausa book Kano Chronicle it is mentioned that Zaria, under Queen Amina conquered all towns as far as Kwarafara in the 15th century. At present, there is a Local Government Area in Benue State called Apa and is said to be the home of those who made the first migration from the historical kingdom. For many Idoma nationalists today, the name Apa elicits sentiments of past glory, and some in the political sphere have gone as far as suggesting it should become the name of a new Idoma state.Other scholars point to historical and linguistic evidence that suggests that Idoma have ties with the Igala people to the west, concluding that the two nations came from a common ancestor. Angulu(1981) note that Igala and Igbo have important historical, ancestral and cultural relationships. Eri is said to be the original legendary cultural head of the Umu-eri, a subgroup of the Igbo people. Eri migrated from the Igala area and established a community in the middle of Anambra river valley (at Eri-aka) in Aguleri where he married two wives. The first wife, Nneamakụ, bore him five children. The first was Agulu, the founder of Aguleri (The ancestral head of Eri Kingdom clans) (the Ezeora dynasty that has produced 34 kings till date in Enugwu Aguleri), the second was Menri, the founder of Umunri / Kingdom of Nri, followed by Onugu, the founder of Igbariam and Ogbodulu, the founder of Amanuke. The fifth one was a daughter called Iguedo, who is said to have borne the founders of Nteje, and Awkuzu, Ogbunike, Umuleri, Nando and Ogboli in Onitsha. As one of the children of Eri, Menri migrated from Aguleri, which was and still is, the ancestral temple of the entire Umu-Eri (Umu-Eri and Umu-Nri). His second wife Oboli begot Ọnọja, the only son who founded the Igala Kingdom in Kogi State. Among this group, there are those who believe both ethnic groups fled the same kingdom at some point in history. Many traditional Idoma spiritual chants and “secret” tongues spoken during traditional ceremonies are actually Igala dialects and there are some Idoma themselves who assert their Igala ancestry. There are yet other Idoma groups notably in the southern regions, which claim their ancestors arrived at their present location from the Northern fringes of Igboland as a result of land disputes. Scholars believe these people had most likely fled Apa too, settled and resettled.As suggested, a number of factors make it difficult to study Idoma historical origins of the Idoma people as a whole. In any event, it could be said that despite their heterogeneous origins, trading, marriage, language and other interactions among the Idoma have cultivated traditions and shaped a rich cultural identity distinctly their own.
How Much Do You Know About The Tor Tiv V
James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse, Tor Tiv V (born 12 May 1956) from Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State in central Nigeria is a Nigerian academic who is the Paramount Ruler/King of Tiv Nation and president, Tiv Area Traditional Council and chairman, Benue State council of Chiefs. He previously served as the vice chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi and the pioneer vice chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma respectively before succeeding Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv IV, who ruled from 1991 until his death on 22 November 2015.
Ayatse was elected on Tuesday, 20 December 2016, and crowned on 4 March 2017, by the Kingmakers after a meeting of the Tiv Supreme Council known as Ijir Tamen, held at the chambers of the Tiv Traditional Council at Gboko – a town recognized as the Traditional Headquarters of the Tiv people who are believed to be the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria. Prior to becoming Tor Tiv V, Ayatse, an academic became a professor of biochemistry in his late thirties and would later serve as the vice chancellor in two separate Federal universities between 2001 and 2006 and 2011 – 2016 respectively, making him only the first Tiv man to do so. As Tor Tiv V, Ayatse is also the first Tiv man to ever rule his subjects as a professor. In contrast with his predecessor who took Oath of Office for the Tor Tiv Throne swearing by the ancestral “Swem”, Ayatse swore by the Christian Bible, becoming the second Tor Tiv, after Tor Tiv III Akperan Orshi, to take Oath of Office using the Bible. President Mohammadu Buhari congratulated the Monarch, stating that Ayatse’s emergence as the paramount ruler of the Tiv people, is an affirmation of his strength of character, integrity, and moral authority, garnered over the years as a lecturer, erudite scholar and administrator.
James Ayatse was born to Iorzua Ayatse and Adeior Iorzua (née Achaa, Mbarumun, Nanev) in Mbakaan, Shangev-Ya, Kwande Local Government Area in the North-East province of Benue State. He received elementary schooling at LGEA School, Orbiam, Ikov, Ushongo Local Government Area and later, LGEA School, Mbagbegba, Shangev-Ya and St Anne’s Primary School Adikpo where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. He attended and passed out with a West African School Certificate (WASC) – a division one certificate at Government Secondary School, Gboko that qualified him for university education. Ayatse then proceeded to the University of Ibadan, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. He went on to obtain his Master of Science at the University of Calabar before moving to the University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom as a Commonwealth student for further studies that culminated in a doctorate in biochemistry. The Tor Tiv then returned to one of his alma maters – the University of Calabar for his MBA and rose to become a professor of biochemistry, making him the first Tiv man to achieve this.
Ayatse started his career in 1980, as a graduate assistant in the University of Calabar and progressed steadily to the rank of a professor of Biochemistry in 1993, at the age of 37. His career spans teaching to education management. He taught at the University of Calabar, University of Uyo, Benue State University, Makurdi, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, University of Abuja and the Federal university, Dutisn-Ma. He taught biochemistry, Business Management and Public Administration to different groups of students and has bred several B.Sc., M.Sc., MBA, MPA and PhD holders in his over 35 years teaching career. Ayatse has served as External Assessor for Professional appointments/Promotions and External Examiner to a large number of universities; he chaired the National Universities Committees on performance indicators and minimum benchmark for science programmes in Nigerian Universities. He also chaired several panels for the accreditation of science programmes in Nigerian Universities. He served in the capacity of Chairman or member of several communities or governing boards at international, national and state levels. He was involved on three separate occasions in formulation of the vision and blueprint for the development of his own state of Benue.In 2001, Ayatse was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi succeeding Erastus Gyang. Reflecting on this in an interview preceding his emergence as Tor Tiv V, Ayatse stated that he inherited a student population of about 2000 and fluctuating cases of violent students’ demonstrations as well as staff union strikes, all of which he helped resolved amicably as the Vice Chancellor of the School. This earned him the reputation as the most peace loving Vice Chancellor of the Institution as there was no student demonstrations arising from internal problems throughout his tenure. He expanded the university by establishing several new departments and colleges that yielded students’ population of about 7000 before the end of his five-year tenure as the Vice Chancellor.In 2011, Ayatse was appointed as the Pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma – one of the nine Federal Universities established by President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration. Ayatse went on to become the 1st Vice Chancellor out of the nine Federal Universities established at the time to graduate students and Mobilize them for Mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He also conducted the maiden convocation of the university before completing his 5-year tenure. He laid the foundation for an ICT-driven University with computerized and online services, prompting Webometrics to rate the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma as the 14th Best University in January 2015 and 2016 ahead of many older universities in Nigeria.
EMERGENCE AND CORONATION AS TOR TIV (V)
After being vice chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Ayatse was elected on Tuesday, 20 December 2016, in a keen contest with three other contenders. He polled 39 votes out of the possible 46 to defeat fellow contestants –Daniel Saror, a former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University; Zaria who scored three votes; Benedict Shinku, who also got three votes; and Andrew Wombo, a lawyer who scored one vote. Ayatse was crowned as Tor Tiv V on 4 March 2017. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State presented him with Staff of Office.
GUMA: Land Flowing With Milk & Honey
Guma Local Government Area was created out of the old Makurdi Local Government Area in 1987 by the then regime of Col. Fidelis A. Makka. The Local Government is name after ‘River Guma’ in Benue State.
Guma Local Government Area has it’s headquarters in Gbajimba
(The name Gbajimba derived from Hausa word ‘Banjiba’ which means: ‘I don’t understand’. As years go by, the name began to lose it original pronounciation. Hence the name ‘Gbajimba’).
DISTANCE FROM MAKURDI:
37km (An hour journey)
Guma has Logo Local Government Area to the east, Makurdi and Tarka Local Government Areas to the south and Doma Local Government Area of Nassarawa State to the West
The major town in Guma Local Government Area areGbajimb
240,000 square KM
By 2006 Census, the local government had a total population of 191,599 people.
Though Guma local government is predominantly occupied by the Tiv people, other tribes too live in Guma, they are Jukun, Hausa, and Kabuwa.
COUNCIL WARDS OR DISTRICTS AND POLLING UNITS:
Mbayer or Yandev
Guma local government has One Hundred and Sixty polling units.
Guma shares a Federal House of Representative seat with Makurdi local government and has one seat House of Assembly seat. Guma people have a culture just like their Tiv brothers and sisters.
Ajo, Ihanga and
So many folk singers.
Life Stock Farming:
Trading is another feature in Guma local government as can be seen in and around the markets located in the area strategically.
Crafts and blacksmith are known handiwork in the area. The people of Guma local government are known for the production of:
For domestic and commercial purposes.
Guma is served with roads linking most parts with the state capital, Makurdi and Nassarawa state.
Guma also makes use of water transport as river Gbajimba is linked with river Benue.
OROKAM: Land of Culture & Intelligentsia
Orokam district is located about 140 kilometers south of River Benue in the present Benue State, North Central, Nigeria, West Africa. It is sandwiched by Igbo land to the south and Igala land to the west. Other district like Otukpa and Owukpa share her boundaries to the north and to the east respectively. Both Otukpa and Owukpa speak same Idoma dialect but with little distinct and intonations.
Orokam is one of the 22 districts of Idomaland. It is currently under Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.
The district is made up five clans according to their different ancestors, namely Ai-Inamu; Ai-Oko; Ai-Ona; Ai-Agbo Oriko (popolarly called Ai-Igwu); and .
The Ai-Inamu (Inamu’s children) are progenies or descendants of Inamu the ancestor of the clan. The Ai-Oko are descendants of Oko who is their ancestor as Ona, Agbo-Oriko and Akor are the ancestors of the Ai-Ona, Ai-Agboriko and Ai-Akor respectively.
Each clan has its own settlements but with development and prevalent inter-marriages among the different clans, they now live among themselves. An Ai-Inamu man can live in the Ai-Onah settlement without fears or worries.
Orokam people are very religious. Traditionally, they are pagans but with the advent of civilization and spread of Christianity, the light of the gospel has lit the nooks and crannies of the land so much so that one could sparsely find a shrine in the land. Christianity notwithstanding, the people still hold on to the portions of the tradition that align with biblical teachings and morality.
The people’s major occupation are farming and trading. A handful of them are civil servants. Its rich and numerous palm trees make palm wine tapping and palm oil production lucrative businesses in the land. Weaving of rafia baskets and shredding of brooms from palm branches are not left out.
The people are hospitably disposed and honest to a very large extend. They are not naturally extravagant in their lifestyles.
An ancient stream named Enumabia seems to be one of the surviving body of waters in the land. The stream is believed to possess some mystics as villagers believe it purges itself of defilements and impurities. Tourists have visited Enumabia and still do.
The stream is the villages’ major source of natural water.
There is one Okpogbodo that has dried up many decades ago.
Orokam is rich in entertainment. Traditionally, they have such forms of music like Okàngá, Ogrinya, Omábé, Odé among others. Some of these were actually imports from the neighboring Igbo land of Enugu and Ikwo. Okàngá which is the traditional Idoma music could be heard in the village at nights usually at child birth celebrations or chieftaincy coronations. The music is a combination of bass drums, locally made snare drums and flutes.
The people are also very rich in traditional literature of folklore, riddles and proverbs that are handed from generation to generation.
The land has produced very prominent personalities in the country and across the world.
If you are planning a visit to Orokam, there are hotels that you can lodge and there are people who can guide you and make you your stay in the village worth the trip.
Oche Onu writes