Efik: History, Marriage, Food and Belief of this Adorable Ethnic Group


Although the actual origins of the Efik people appear to be unknown, traditional tales say that they stayed from Nubia to Ghana and then to Arochukwu in present-day southeast Nigeria.

It was not specified how long their exodus took to get to Arochukwu, but what is known is that the Efiks lived peacefully as guests for about four hundred years (11th – 15th century) with the Aros.

They would leave later after a disagreement broke out between them and their host.

During the second phase of their exodus which saw them leave Arochukwu, the majority of them left for Uruan in present-day Akwa Ibom state, while a few for Eniong and its surroundings.

And just as their ancestors did in Arochukwu, they settled peacefully in Uruan.

However, they would leave Uruan again without history telling us why. And when they did, it was Ikpa Ene and Ndodihi that they found themselves.

But this time around it was a brief stay before heading to their final destination in Creek Town (Esit Edik / Obio Oko).

The town of Creek and its surrounding area is what is known today as Calabar.

Until 1954, before it gained autonomy, this area was once a trust territory of German Cameroon which was administered as part of the eastern region of Nigeria.

It was only after their autonomy that political separation occurred.

Overall, the history of Efik migration and settlement appears to have three successive stages; (a) an Igbo phase (b) an Ibibio phase and (c) the drift towards the coast.

And it is for this reason that the Efiks of today are related to the Annang, Ibibio, Igbo, Oron, Biase, Akampkpa, Uruan and Eket peoples.

Efik wedding culture

The old tradition of the “fattening room” is the first thing that comes to mind whenever this topic (Efik marriage) needs to be brought up.

Although greatly changed for today’s generation, the fattening room tradition of the Efik people was / is the isolated training given to young girls in preparation for femininity.

Six months before the wedding, the Efik girls are sent to the fattening room to be pampered with head-to-toe massages; fed as much as they would like to eat to eat, and enlighten them on the ins and outs of marriage.

They would not be allowed to do a job.

Instead, they must eat sumptuous food, engage in meaningful conversation, and sleep; coupled with massages three times a day which aim to bring out the natural endowments.

Because it is the belief of the Efik people that a woman who is well-figured with a healthy waistline is beautiful.

In addition to the above fattening room activities, the daughter has domestic training in household management (such as cooking, babysitting and housekeeping) and how to respect and return her husband and his happy family.

It is the duty of older women to advise on their marriage experience to ensure success.

Also included in the training are cultural dances (Ekombi), folklore, folk tales, songs and other forms of entertainment. Skills in artistic designs on the calabash and other materials are also taught.

It is here that she is also taught sex with the intention of satisfying her husband.

At the end of the six-month period, which also marks the end of the days of isolation, people everywhere are invited to honor her passing through this ordeal.

This ceremony is celebrated with traditional Efik (Ekombi) dances and other forms of entertainment.

The ceremony continues throughout the day and night as families, friends and supporters express their joy and happiness with gifts and donations to the bride.

And finally, she and her future husband kiss and dance; welcome their supporters who have come to join in the celebration.

Efik cultural dishes

Due to the factors that characterized their settlement, Efik dishes are mainly those from rivers.

Not all Efik clans and sub-clans appear to be separated from the banks of rivers or streams. And for this reason, their nutritional culture is also linked to the seas.

Efik methodology

According to the Efik methodology, Abassi is considered the Supreme Creator (God). And his wife, Atai, is known as the Mediator.

It is also believed that Atai convinced Abassi to allow two humans (a man and a woman), who would also be their children, to live on Earth, but forbade them to work or reproduce.

The children had to return to Heaven with Abassi every time he rang the dinner bell. These rules were established so that the Efik people did not surpass Abassi in wisdom or strength.

But just like the biblical story of Adam, the children disobeyed and Abassi not only killed them, he also cursed them with chaos and death.


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