ONYEKPEZE AND IKA
Chief (Dr) Onyekpeze .F.A. (JP)
On the influence of the Igbos, one would believe that the notion of Ika and Igbo is kept alive because the Ikas have been grouped together with the Aniochas and Ndokwas in a broad classification dubbed Ika-Igbo in Nigeria socio-political nomenclature. This makes Ika, a subset of the larger Igbo tribal settlement and imagined to have descended and scattered from the families of Eri or Nri.
The similarity of Igbo and Ika often stressed is but centred on language. However, the Ika culture of the Ofo, Ikengan, Chi (Ehi) and Uzun (Ozun) is of Igbo origin.
The importance of the Ofoin Ika tradition lies in its role as a symbol of authority, which flowing from the ancestors, tends to maintain the link between the ancestors and the living descendants.
Ikenganis the symbolic force of Ika adventurism, it is the goal-setter spirit of the Ika people associated with good fortune, personal ability and general success.
Chi (Ehi) is personal guardian spirit of a living somebody. An Ika man’s Ehi is expected to save him from misfortunes.
Uzun (Ozun), God of iron, practised in Igbo as a deity was introduced in Ika and many Ikas imbibed in the practice.
On the side of the British, Ika later became their projection. As a result, British civilization took on new life and its influence felt throughout Ika as no other civilization Bini/Igbo ever before had done. These were the Missionaries and other nationals who followed the flag for religious, commercial and other interests at the advent of the new rule. That is why it was that right from the beginning of the 20th century, the British and these other nationals shattered the traditional moulds of Ika traditional society. The colonial rulers themselves, through their different agencies – religious, educational and commercial – disregarded the traditional modes of bringing up the Ika child and succeeded in uprooting the Ika people from their culture. The introduction of the British rule in Ika led to the emergence of a new bureaucracy, the Colonial Civil Service and the Native Administration, which conferred a new status in Ika society. The major consequences of this system were the demoralization of the traditional political structure and the erosion of the legitimacy of the traditional bureaucrats in every sphere of the Ika society.
The above and Ika extreme nature of receptivity to changes no doubt, resulted to the disturbing prevalence of deliberate distortions and disinformation in the body of Ika history and culture. It was no easier to make a lot of the Ika people believe in Ika tradition, especially because of the oriented Western cultures which have almost eroded their tradition completely.
However, it is the candid opinion of this author that without the British legacy of political ideas, the Ikas could not have achieved as much as they did. From classical and medieval thoughts, Ika have borrowed that concept of rule of law (traditional or otherwise), which marks their civilized society from primitively.
To be continued…