Who Are the Efiks


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.

Current State:
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.
Links: www.crossriverfestival.com