Igala is a minority ethnic group domiciled in Kogi state, Igala people people are among the ethnic groups that make up what is known today as North Central sometimes called Middle Belt.
With the population of two million people they occupy a geographical location that is considered to be the center of NIGERIA in NIGERIAN map.
Igala is traditionally led by an Igala Paramount ruler known as Attah Igala formerly known as Attah Idah before his conversion by colonial government.
The topic “IGALA THE MINI NIGERIA” might be confusing to many people but it’s a fact Igala has proved to be a Mini NIGERIA indeed.
Today’s Igala people are fusion of people from different ethnic groups Igbo, Yoruba, Jukun, Nupe, Benin, Hausa and Fulani people.
These aforementioned ethnic groups not only formed what is known today as Igala but also influenced Igala people in various ways.
In 2017 Attah Igala Ameh Oboni Michael idakwo was interviewed by Punch Newspaper, when he was asked about the origin of Igala.
He said “Igala origin is traceable to Yoruba land, Igbo land, Jukun and Benin lands”.
These were the words of Attah Igala which further proved how Igalas are ancestrally connected to Igbos, Yorubas, Binis, Jukuns, Nupes, Hausas and Fulanis.
How these ethnic groups birthed and influnces Igala:
Igbo has a lot culture influences on Igala, southern Igala land which constitute of Idah, parts of Ibaji, parts of Igalamela/Odolu and Olamaboro were once occupied by Igbos.
Igbo influences is still felt in southern Igala land till today.
Before I go further it’s noteworthy to know that Nsukka, Nri people of Omambala region, Enuani, Ukwuani and Arochukwu migrants were majorly the Igbos who birthed majorly the Southern Igala people and their influences are felt in this place (Southern Igala).
The words Igala and Idah suggest that it has it’s root from Igbo language, the word “IGALA” has no meaning in Igala language, coming to Igbo language, Igala is corruption of “Ha Gala” meaning they have gone. This section of Igbos might have left the present Igbo land in search of new land for settlement and agricultural purposes.
Ha Gala was later corrupted to Igala due long disconnection from Igbo land.
“IDAH” is another Igbo word, present Idah was named after invasion of Jukun migrants, these Jukun migrants were vicious and needed land to settle. in the process of this invasion the Igbos named it Idah meaning “It Has Fallen”, today Igalas will tell you that Idah means “The End” which still points to it’s original meaning in Igbo language.
Picture 1 and 2: Shows the report Population of each ethnic group in Southern Nigeria as of 1909. This population was calculated by the Intelligent Department in 1909. And was published in Royal Colonial Institute Journal. According to the report related dialects were used to trace their ethnic identity.
From the report we can see that it was stated clearly that Igbos were indigenous to Idah.
These were not the works of Nigerians rather they were the works of the British.
Well it’s not surprising that Igbos were indigenous to Idah since Igbos were the first settlers in Idah.
Achadu Oko Attah clan in present day Idah are Igbos ancestrally, Achadu Oko Attah, the occupant of Achadu Oko Attah throne is the Traditional Prime Minister of Igala land and also doubles as the “TRADITIONAL HUSBAND” of Attah Igala. Whenever a new Attah is crowned the occupant o Achadu Oko Attah throne MUST perform a ritual.
RED CAP: Red cap in Igala land is not culturally tied to Igala culture, it was just an adoption because they fancied the glamorous Igbo Red caps. Igala people adopted Red cap attire during colonial era, before 1950 Idah, Igalamela and Ibaji districts were under Nsukka division and Nsukka division was under Onitsha province.
Southern Igala land as listed above was once in defunct Eastern region before the colonial government carved them(Igalas) and some Igbos into defunct Northern region. It was during this period that Igala men adopted Red cap attire from their Igbo counterpart and added it to their Igala attire.
An Igala cultural activist popular known as Igala Teacher stated that “Red cap” was borrowed from the East and Turbaning attire was borrowed from the North, therefore none of the attires is indigenous to Igalas.
The statement below were his words
“It seems to me that anyone who condemns the use of the royal turban by Igala traditional rulers because the turban is adopted from northern traditional rulers must also condemn its replacement with the thick red cap; as the red cap was also adopted from the eastern south.
Both attire are not originally ours, we can either adopt or we cannot.
Stop supporting selective adoption.”
Picture 3 : Shows Eje of Olamaboro and some Igala men on Red cap.
The famous Ikenga is known in Igala land as Okega, Okega is almost a replica of Ikenga.
picture 4shows : Ikenga(Igbo)
picture 5: shows : Okega(Igala)
Another one is Ofo, Ofo is as important aspect of Igbo culture, Offor is equally an important aspect of Igala culture especially in southern Igala land.
Ogu which is accompanied with Offor is known as Ule in Igala.
Igbos say Ofo na Ogu, Igalas say Ofo kpai Ule.
There are Igalas of Igbo ancestry bearing Ofo as a surname just like we also have it in Igbo land, the immediate past local government chairman of Ibaji goes by name Offor Thomas.
Importance of Kolanut in Igala culture and traditions can’t be neglected, Jukuns,Hausas and Yorubas don’t put values in Kolanut as much as Igbos do. This still points that Igalas of Igbo descents didn’t forget what their Igbo ancestors practiced.
Ogbuefi title is predominantly used among Southern Igalas
Okpara/Okpala a title reserved for the most elderly person in an Igbo clan, this practice is extended by these Igbo settlers in Igala land, Okpara title is well practiced in southern Igala land.
Ijele masquerade the biggest West African masquerade according to the records of UNESCO is found in Southern gala land.
Igbo market days weren’t left out as we have it so do Igalas have it.
Igbo market days: Eke Orie Afor Nkwo
Igala market days Eke Ede Afor Ukwo
There are numerous Igbo words still found in Igala today they are:
Eze meaning king corrupted as Eje today we have Eje of Olamaboro, Eje of Ofu and Emir of Ankpa (Eje of Ankpa). There are no S and Z in Igala lexicon which gave way to the replacement of S and Z with J and ts sounds making Eze to be Eje.
Nnenne an Igbo goddess, Nnenne also is used in referring to grandmother and great grandmothers is corrupted as Inene in Igala.
Okorobia/Okolobia is another word found in Igala, okorobia means a man in his youth, Agboghobia/Mgboghobia is a woman in her youth. Ndi Ntorobia are youths
while Igalas use okorobia/Okolobia for young males unfortunately the Igbo settlers couldn’t maintain the use of words Mgboghobia(Young female) and Ndi Ntorobia (Youths). They lost them as they were being absorbed by Yoruba-Igalas, Jukun-Igalas and Hausa-Igalas. In Igala land today Oma Igbele is a young woman while youths are called Ama Agbadufu.
other words are:
Igbo Igala English
Akpi Akpe Scorpion
Ewu. Ewo. Goat
Oshimiri/. Ohimini River/Ocean
Bia. Lia. come
Ugo. Ugo. Eagle
Onicha. Onicha. Onitsha
Ma. Ma. To know
Ezi/Ehi. Ehi. Pig
Ijiji. Achichi. Housefly
ogbe. Ogbe. Settlement/Quarter
Ogu. Ogwu War/Fight
Igbo names still maintained in Igala till today
Achor, Achonu, Anazodo ( corrupted as Anejodo), Akor (gotten from Akor n’uche), Ossai (corrupted as Ochai), Osaji, Ofili, Okoro/Okolo, Agbo, Otene etc
In the aspect of entertainment, Igala seems to be dependent on Igbo culture in order, good number of Igala actors, movie producers and even musicians have always try to mingle with Igbos in order boost Igala entertainment.
Igala movie, script writers, directors, producers, comedians and musicians have always borrowed some elements of Igbo Culture in order brighten up their content.
Last year an Igala movie named “OJOMA” needed a pre-colonial environment for it to suit the movie, the Igala producers and directors of Ojoma couldn’t who don’t the necessary settings and needed equipments to perform the movie. They had to move down to a village in Umuagwo in Ohaji/Egbema local government all in Imo where they got exactly the movie setting they were looking for in Igala land.
This shows that Igala pre-colonial village must have looked like that of Igbo especially Southern Igala.
Another Igala movie with an Igbo content is “NWA JACKIE CHAN” a movie where Chinese, English and Igala languages were spoken but with Igbo and Chinese title.
MC Comedian Jetman is a popular comedian and musician in Igala land, he’s very popular for always being in Isiagu and Okpuagu attire while doing his comedy.
He made song titled “OGENE IGALA”, ogene music genre needs introduction in Igbo land, ogene music genre is Igbo and Igbo is ogene music genre.
In his song titled OGENE IGALA he sang in Igala with an okpuagu on his head while the sounds were purely ogene sounds.
Agbaka dance in Igala land has it’s root from Igbo land, Agbaka dance is as energetic as Nkpokiti dance.
fast jiggling of legs, fast sounds produced by musical instruments etc are major features found in Nkpokiti dance (Igbo) and Agbaka dance (Igala).
Igbo delicacies are not left out, Okpa and Ofe nsala now called Obo afu by Igalas are cooked and enjoyed Igala people.