Origin Of Various Igbo Clans - part 2

Origin of Afikpo (Ehugbo)

The geographical entity known as Ehugbo (Afikpo) is situated in the southern part of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. It is bounded to the north by the town of Akpoha in Amoha Local Government Area, to the south by Unwana and Edda in Ubeyi and Afikpo South Local Government Areas respectively, to the East by the Cross River and to the West by Amasiri in Amaoha Local Government Area. Afikpo spans an area approximately 164 square kilometers in size.

The first settlers in Afikpo, according to oral tradition, were the Egu and Nkalu. Let’s take them one after the other.

The Egu

It is officially known that the first human settlement in Afikpo dated from 5000 – 3000 BC (Later Stone Age) – Official Radio Carbon date of the first human settlement in Afikpo). This date came from the excavation carried out at Ezi Ukwu rock shelter by Professor D.D. Hattle in 1966. Unfortunately, this information did not indicate the race that settled in Afikpo then.

However, oral tradition establishes that Egu were the first settlers in Ehugbo, followed by the Nkalu. So whateve be the case, it is now known that the Egu inhabited Afikpo a very long time ago.

The Egu were very wonderful people. Their mode of life, their skill in handicraft and their creative ingenuity in every human endeavour ranked them the most talented among their contemporaries of the time. In fact, all the intricate artistry seen in the articles they produced (such as pots, masquerade faces and decorations associated with Ogo Cult, including Isiji Cult initiation) which form part of Afikpo Culture today, were fabricated and introduced to Afikpo by the Egu. As a matter of fact, typical Afikpo culture and tradition owe their origin to the Egu.

The people of Egu were hard working. They were also fearless, daring and adventurous. Whatever they made were very durable. Their daring and adventurous nature often induced them to surmount all odds in order to attain their desired goal. This probably accounts for their successful movement towards the northern part of Ehugbo to inhabit Orie Elu, Ogbugbu Ugwuegu up to Akpu-eba, in spite of the barrier posed by natural phenomena like rocky hills and forests infested with wild creatures.

The areas formerly inhabited by the Egu are now part of present day Ugwuegu arable lands.

Traceable Features of the Egu Areas

   1. Ebor Egu (Egu palm tree plantation). It is now Ugwuegu Elu Community Palm Tree Plantation.
   2. Ulo Ubi Orie Elu: (former Obi Ogo or Ulo Ogo Egu). Now modern farm hut which serves as shelters for farmers.
   3. Ogbugbu Umuruma (land where children were massacred). Now a farm land.
   4. Nsusu Ede Egu at Akpu-eba (holes carved on a ground stone along Akpu-eba farm land road used by the Egu for playing native draft, “ede”)


While the Egu inhabited the northern part of Ehugbo, another formidable group called Nkalu settled at the south. As there are not available records to determine the time of their settlement, it is not possible to say much about their origin and their way of life. However, it is believed that the Nkalu migrated from Akoi, including probably Ekuri, Erei, Agwugwuna (Akunakuna), etc. on the eastern part of Cross River State. They wandered around for some time until they crossed the Cross River and settled at the basin of the Cross River around present day Ehoma Lake (near Otu Eke) hundreds of years ago. From here they spread northwards and occupied the geographical areas of the present Enohia Nkalu, Nkpoghoro and Amaozara.

Numerically, Nkalu was greater than Egu but not as ingenious. The Nkalus were skilled farmers and Spartan warriors. It is said that Nkalu brought yam to Ehugbo. It is because of the notion that Nkalu brought yam to Ehugbo and the fact that their population was greater than that of Ehugbo (Igbo people) that there is a saying in Afikpo dialect: “Ji diri Igbo diri Nkalu ma nke Nkalu karia.”

Apart from farming, the Nkalus also undertook fishing and canoe building. Although they were great warriors, the Nkalu people were hospitable and easy going. Their mode of life included merry-making, particularly at New Yam Festivals. Their boisterous celebrations often attracted the attention and excitement of their neighbours (the Egu) who settled north-wards at the present Ugwuegu. There appeared to be mutual interaction between the two peoples that made it possible for the Nkalu to imbibe the Ogo Culture of “Isubu” initiation of Egu people. This was the state of affairs before the emergence of what we know geographically as Afikpo.

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