Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The Ebiras and the Pursuit of True Identity




The people called the Ebiras are historically traced as the immigrants from the Jukuns of the Kwararafa state, north of the Benue River and in the present day Taraba state. The Opète stool, which is the symbol of authority and identity is kept in a place in Opète in present day Ajaokuta and Apète is presently the title instrument of Ozumi of Okene. 

Upon the immigration from Kwararafa the Ebiras settled with the Igalas for about 300 years before parting ways due to dispute. The Ebiras moved southwest of the River Niger to the ancestral home called Ebira Opète, around an area known as Ajaokuta, while other groups later moved south to found Okengwe, Uboro and Okehi. 

The traditional administrative system of Ebira communities were acephalous and autonomous managed by leaders of lineages in a type of gerontocracy. The Ebiras practiced an African tradition before the advent of other religions. The traditional religion of Ebiras has a central focus on god called “Ohomorihi”, this is followed by “Ori”(deities) and spirit. There is a belief in a spirit world where dead ancestors live. The primary occupation of the Ebiras is farming. 

I do not want to bog you down with the aboriginal or autochthonous of the Ebiras. I am taking you somewhere devoid of any academic exercise, please follow me closely.    

The Ebiras who have been in existence for thousands of years occupy a place of pride in the African history and take a prominent place in the entity called Nigeria. These are the people who are colloquially connote “Positive attitude” and by extension “attribute”. The Ebiras like the “Israelites” have had various warfare and confronted external aggression without any defeat. They are both the protector of their people and lovers of strangers. Nothing can move them when they take a stand for what is right and they can defend that with their lives. They abhor evil and despise oppression. 

There is a strive over the years to save what is remain of the Ebiras because the enemies came and sowed tares among the wheat while we slept. The good field is polluted and the fountain contaminated. The descendants desperately scuffle to alienate themselves from their progenitor and commonwealth because they could not stand the scoffs from the outsiders. 

All is not lost. This is the time to know where we have fallen and it is the acceptable time to retrace our steps to find our first love for each other and our neighbors . 

We understand the challenges, betrayal and disappointments. We know that we have been dropped by those who are meant to nurture us and we have been crippled by the fall but in spite of this, the Ebiras are not a lost cause. We must ignite our passion for the land and we must be on a voyage to find and reclaim our true identity. The world awaits our break light. 


Written by

Barr Shadrach Omeiza Emmanuel, FICMC. 

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