Like any other community in Nigeria, the Ika people cherish and hold tenaciously to their tradition (Odinali) as part of their culture.

Odinali Ika refers to Ika tradition by which is meant what happens in Ikaland. It deals primarily with laws of the land as set down and practiced by the ancestors. It includes accounts of how the society was formed. This is a bundle of rules and regulations handed down orally from generation to generation and it is not recorded in any book. There are rules, regulations and sanctions attached to their violation. For example, incest and murder are regarded as taboos in Ikaland, which were and still frowned at by the Ika people. Execution and banishment were some of the sanctions attached to murder and incest. Ika tradition belongs to the realm of folk tradition. Every citizen is free to narrate it according to how it was handed down by the ancestors.

Odinali, in ‘Ika philosophy’ means the natural or divine laws on which the earth was formed or consecrated. It accommodates diversity and the beginning of the great creative force (Osolobue), which in Ika traditional religion manifests peace, udon. The ancient codes with its subset principles of different Iwu, such as Iwu Ali, Iwu Mmo, Iwu Nze, etc., form the basis of Ika religious as well as secular doctrines. Odinali teaches, for instance, that Osolobue re ime ndu, meaning that the laws of God are preserved in life and we embody and signify these laws written in our spirits as long as we live. The true Ika is an adherent to the ancient rules of Odinali, which makes ndi Ika unique. Nature is conceived by adherents of Odinali, which makes Onyen Ika adherent of Odinali Ika.

Tradition cannot be overlooked in Ika culture because the people are historically inclined. It creates awareness of the people’s past; and the application of these “historically tested solutions” help the Ika people in solving modern problems. For example, the highest constantly cited authority on any matter is a related event in the past. Some of these accounts are contained in proverbs, which always begin with the phrase, the ancestors (ndi mbu or ndi akan) said, before any statement of fact is made. The aim of Ika traditions is to preserve the truth; and in order that this aim should be achieved, the narration must pass from one person to the other. By its continuous recital, its essence is preserved. There is no official version of Ika tradition.

Today, the Odinali Ika has been influenced as Ika nation becomes the product of three principal forces. Earlier on, came successive groups from Bini and Igbo invaders with their various ideas, customs and their characteristics; and who attempted to transplant their habits and traditions to the Ika world. This was followed, in early 19th century, by the incursion of the British, which modified these distinctly Bini and Igbo cultural traits. Of necessity, colonial Ika was a project of the British. But inevitably, the forces of environmental conditions peculiar to Ika, the inter-play of the varied groups upon one another and the sheer difficulty of the intruders maintaining their ways in a raw Ika world, caused significant changes. These changes were gradual and at first scarcely visible. But the result was a new social pattern, which although resembled British or Bini or Igbo societal traits in many ways, had a character that was distinctly Ika. In other words, while Ika community may have seen many effects of (old and modern) changes, the echoes of Ika cultural tradition still resonate in all the nooks and crannies of the Ika world in their Odinali le Omenali.

To be continued…

Chief (Dr) Onyekpeze .F.A. (JP)

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