The Ika Tribe: Guardians of Heritage

Ika is a well-recognized tribe found in the North West of Delta State, Nigeria. It is a tribe that shares borders with neighboring tribes such as the UKwuani, Aniocha, and Esane with the Edos. Up till 1991, the Ika people could only be found in a single local government called the Ika Local Government. However, due to political reasons, the single local government was later divided into two: Ika North East and Ika South local governments, which were both created in the year 1991. Also, Ika speakers can also be found in some local governments in Edo State, such as Orihionmwon local government.

The Ika tribe primarily constitutes several communities such as Agbor, Umunede, Ute-Okpu, Owa, Olubor’Emuhu, Orogodo, Abavo, Ekpon, Owerre-Olubor, Otolokpo, Idumuesah, Igbanke, Ogbeje, Oligie, Iru and Inyelen. All the communities can be found in both Ika South and Ika North East local governments, except Oligie, Iru, and Inyelen communities that are located in Edo State.

The Ika people are a tribe blessed with rich cultural heritage which is deeply rooted in their traditional values and customs. Their unique languages, festivals, arts and crafts, music and dance, and traditional cuisine are integral parts of their culture and traditional values.

They are blessed with numerous resources ranging from their unique cultural heritage and traditions, to mineral resources, and different delicious cuisines. The tribe boasts of being the home to the sweetest palm wine. It also has resources such as crude oil, marble, arable land, abakali rice, and butchery. It also has lots of various trees suitable for mills, many industrial firms, and lots more.

The people of Ika mostly engage in the occupation of farming and majorly engage in palm kernel business and red oil production. They also engage in palm wine tapping and gari production. Ika people are majorly Christians with over 90% of their total population with the remaining few percent of them engaging in their native traditional beliefs.

Ika tribe has numerous delicious foods which are peculiar to their culture. The most popular of their cuisines, however, is Akpu, which is made from cassava, and uju soup (ofe ujuju). They also eat pounded yam with Ofe-osen, together with bush meat and palm wine.

Ika people adorn themselves with native dresses such as Awka Ocha, beads, and Abada. The women do decorate themselves in fitting headgear while the men usually do caps.

Traditional festivals are an integral part of Ika cultural heritage. At various dates of the year, various traditional festivals take place in different parts of the Ika communities. These festivals are one of the major means through which Ika people express their joy/ happiness or sorrow openly. The festivals also remind them of the history and life of the Ika people as the different kinds of beliefs are associated with them. During the festivals, the communities display their wealth of traditional dances to show how they pray and worship, invoke God’s blessings, remember the deceased, pray for the community, and thank the deity for prosperous harvests. The New Yam festival is the most prominent of all Ika festivals, which is common to all Ika people. Other festivals marked by the Ikas are Osi ezi festival, Okwan festival, Igue festival, Ifian-mpeksin festival, Ekwonsun festival, Ase festival, Ogbanigbe festival, Ikaba festival, Ajan festival, etc.

Ika tribe has produced a lot of notable and honorable dignitaries in Nigeria and beyond. Some of them include Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Lucky Irabor, the former Chief of Defense Staff, Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State Governor; Sam Obi, former acting governor and former speaker of Delta State House of Assembly; Jim Ovia, the founder of Zenith Bank, and so many others.

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