The Efiks inhabit the coastal area of South Eastern Nigeria and are very well known nationally and internationally partly because of the prominence of Calabar in Nigerian history and also due to their rich cultural heritage. Among the broad culture of the Efiks are “Ekombi”, the Efik classical music, “Ukwa”, the only fencing match in sub-Saharan Africa, “Mbuk”, a collection of Efik folklore, and “Ekpe”. Abang dance is performed for entertainment and at festive occasions. The dance can be simple as well as elaborate with many interpretations behind it. The most famous cuisine “Edikangikong” is renowned as next to none in Nigeria.
There are a host of other traditional dance forms. “Nkuho”, where a young female, who is about to be betrothed in marriage, is confined, taught and molded into womanhood. Here she learns moral values of the community and how to appreciate herself. While in confinement, she is not allowed to do any chores. Instead, she eats as much as she wants; is pampered and taught the Ekombi dance in preparation for the day that she comes out of the confinement. She is not allowed any male visitors except her suitor. The length of time in the confinement has changed over the years.
Source: Akak, Okon E., “Efiks of old Calabar (1982), Vol III, Calabar; Akak & Sons Publisher.
The Efiks live along the basins of the lower Cross River, the Calabar River, the Kwa River, Akpa Ikang, Eniong Creek and the Bakassi Peninsula. Calabar, their main city, is on the Bight of Biafra. It was an international sea port used also for slave trading up to the nineteenth century. It was one of the headquarters of modern Nigeria. There are a number of firsts in the Calabar area. For example, the first Presbyterian Church was located there in 1846, the first monorail and modern roads in Nigeria, the first general hospital in Nigeria (St. Margaret hospital), the first headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, and Hope Waddell Training Institution, one of the oldest Secondary Schools in Nigeria where Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria, was trained. Calabar has an international airport, a sea port, a free Trade Zone and a business/tourist center, TINAPA.
Calabar is in the Cross River State of Nigeria, one of the 36 States in the nation. The state was officially created on May 27, 1967. The cross river rises from the Cameroon Mountain and flows southward forming most of the State’s western border. It is an important commercial artery in the rainy season. The State is bounded by the States of Benue on the North, Abia on the West and Akwa Ibom on the southwest. It is bordered on the east by the Cameroon Republic and the Bight of Biafra on the south. It has saltwater swamps, mangrove forests, oil palms and dense tropical rainforest.
The State occupies 20,156 square kilometers and is predominantly agricultural. The main crops are cassava, yams, rice, plantain, banana, cocoyam, maize, cocoa, rubber, groundnut, palm produce. Farm fishing is very popular in this area. Major livestock include cattle, goats, and sheep. Minerals resources include limestone, titanium, tin ore, ceramic raw materials and hardstone. It is also an oil producing State. Tourism sites include Obudu Cattle Ranch in Obudu, Old Residency Museum in Calabar, Agbokim Waterfalls in Ikom, Mary Slessor’s Tomb in Calabar, Cross River National Park, Kwa Falls in Akamkpa local government. Beaded works such as bags, shoes and wall hangings are found especially in Calabar.
Source: “Cross River” Encyclopedia Britannica 2008.
Obong (King) of Calabar:
The Obong of Calabar is a democratic monarch, the paramount traditional head of the Efiks and the protector of the Efik tradition. He is respected by the Federal and State Governments of Nigeria. His home is in the palace. In the past, the Obong took his orders from ‘Ekpe’ thus explaining why Ekpe was always behind the Obong wherever he sat. Now, Obong is a symbolic figure for the Efik people in terms of their culture. The selection to the thrown is supposed to be by rotation among the Efik Clans.
Source: Oral History.
The State government is working to make Cross River State the tourism hub of the West African Coast primarily through its TINAPA Resort Project. Cruise Ships are eventually expected to bring in large numbers of tourists to enjoy the TINAPA business resort. Calabar holds annual events like the Christmas Festival which attracts thousands of visitors from outside Nigeria, the Calabar Carnival, Boat Regatta and Ekpe Festival, to name a few.