Warfare

Author: nick on 14-09-2013, 22:00, views: 3 651

48

War Conflict
 
The people of Ikpa and Ukpum are of two different Ibibio clans, which constitute a greater part of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area today. In the early days of their settlement in the area, they formed the two major power blocks, with the Ukpum driving a wedge between the eastern Ikpa (now in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area) and the ones in the east of Ikot Abasi area. The conflicts between these two groups were often occasioned by their desire to expand their frontiers. In one of the wars between Ikpa Nnung Assang and Ukpum Okon, supported by Ukpum Minya warriors, the outcome was in favour of Ikpa Nnung Assang (Essene). However, to forestall subsequent confrontations between the two neighbours, i. e. the Ikpa and the Ukpum, an understanding was reached and the present boundary between Ikpa Nnung Assang (Essene) and Ukpum Okon/Minya was established. A few of the canons, used in the war by the Nnung Assang people, can still be found in Essene Town.
 
(I. Usoh, 1996)

The territorial expansion embarked upon by each clan, often at the expense of other clans, brought the clans into constant conflicts. Inter-Clan wars were, therefore, common (Ufot, 1985: 30-36). Until their contacts with the Europeans, which enabled them to acquire some fire arms, their main weapons of war were sticks, spears, bows and arrows.

 

No clan also had a standing army. Accordingly, a force of able-bodied men was often hurriedly raised in times of war. The men so recruited were tested for fitness by the priests of the traditional religion. Those who passed the test underwent some vigorous physical training and protection rituals before they were sent to the battle field. War had a definite code of conduct and rules governing the declaration of war, time and place of battle, truce, peace-making and intermediaries' immunity, security of women, children, crops and water sources (Ekong, 1983: 52-54).

 

War captives were sold into slavery, or sacrificed to the gods, or made servants to the chiefs. All war booties were shared among the elders and the fighting men. And any warrior who brought back a human head from the battle field, as a symbol of his courage, was greeted with great honour (Ibid.) and was entitled to special burial rites and a memorial shrine after his death. Even though the clans fight against one another, they generally maintained friendly relations among themselves. Inter-clan marriage, for instance, was practised. People of different clans also exchanged gifts and ideas and often named their children after their friends outside their clans (Ibid.).

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