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Other Places of Interest

Author: nick on 24-08-2013, 11:00, views: 2 619

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The Ibibio District Council Hall at Ikot Akan, where visiting officials and Ibibio Union delegates addressed the Chiefs of the neighbouring Ikpa and Ukpum villages. The telephone antenna for Ikot Abasi town is seen in the backgroundThe Ibibio District Council Hall at Ikot Akan, where visiting officials and Ibibio Union delegates addressed the Chiefs of the neighbouring Ikpa and Ukpum villages. The telephone antenna for Ikot Abasi town is seen in the backgroundPlaces of interest abound all around Ikot Abasi - from the ancient Mkpat Aya shrine on the confluence of the Edem Aya stream and the Essene creek, where iron pots, containing eggs and manilla and associated with the mermaid worship, used to be found1, to the first settlement of the Edem Aya clan founder, Akpan Akama, at Ikot Oboroenyin and his burial place at Ukan Akama2. The stone shrine and the old Obio Okpa site of the first settlement and cultural centre of the Ibekwe people at Ikot Essien, founded by their ancestor, Ebio, is now on ALSCON land. There are the Obot Afia (sacred white land), Udi Idiong (the Idiong burial grounds), the Uyie Nkan Ekpo (the chiefs' installation site) and the town hall of Okon, where the first co-operative society in Ikot Abasi was established.3 There are the modern rural infrastructures in Edem Aya, the Ekperenyin rural centre with a court house, a modern post office, health centre, community hall and a secondary school. The model village community at Atan Ikpe, supplied with electricity and a mini-water project, boasts of a women's Garri Processing Factory and Cassava Demonstration Farm, established in 1992 under the auspices of the Better Life for Rural Women Programme.

 

At Ikot Akan, an early 1800 settlement (Usen, 1966), the colonial government station was upgraded in 1930's to a Native Administration Council (Ibibio Clan Council) Headquarters, famous for awarding educational scholarships to bright indigenous children.

 

Dispensary Medicine
 
Opobo and even Bonny men from 50 miles away frequented the mission dispensary at Okat with praises of the white man's medicine and an unbound faith in the medicine prescribed. They liked it strong, deep-coloured and bitter and took plenty of it. If a remedy proved effectual in a given case, the person was certain to always want that particular mixture in future. Names given to medicines were: quinine - hot body (fever) medicine; soap liniment - rub body medicine; iron tonic - strong body medicine.
 
(M'Keown, In the Land of the Oil Rivers, 1902: 141)

 

The Native Authority Dispensary there, when newly opened in 1932, had to double its charges in order to improve the local attendance, since people reasoned that the medicines there could not have been very good, as they were so cheap.

 

Modern Health centre and Post Office replace the old N. A. dispensary and postal agency at Ikot AkanModern Health centre and Post Office replace the old N. A. dispensary and postal agency at Ikot AkanThe Central Council Hall, also used as a District Court of Appeal, housed many important meetings of the divisional chiefs and village representatives with governors, residents and Ibibio Union officials, the last of which were colourful mass displays of Ibibio unity and developmental drive.4 The clerks' quarters and the old Guest House (called locally Idung Isen Owo), where the early government officials from Egwanga stayed overnight during their monthly visits, before proceeding on foot to Essene, still huddle behind the new Primary Health Centre and nurses' quarters, modern Post Office and the XITEL satellite installations. Opposite, at Iso Ubom Ete, on the bank of Ibom Ete, a tributary to Essene Creek, is the old site of the famous Ete market, where Umani (Bonny and later, Opobo) traders lived by the waterside and controlled the collection and evacuation of slaves and palm produce down the creek and to the waiting in the river estuary trading ships. Esuk Nkwo was the Ogoni landing at the market. Not far from there, looms up the now decimated Akai Ete, home of the still powerful Ekpo society.

 

Nearby, across the road, hiding in the overgrown grass, is one of the three Pioneer Oil Mills, established in Opobo Division in 1953, an innovation, which had met with a poor initial reception from the women in the area5, but soon became a good source of additional income, used in funding their children's education.

 

At the Ikot Akan village square, Ata Essien Idung, is the village founder's shrine, Itiat Akan, while the modern MAMSER park with the picturesque town crier's sculpture forms a prominent landmark on the main Ikot Abasi/Port Harcourt/Uyo cross road.

 

Each village, big or small, has its cultural sites and historical monuments - shrines, playgrounds and ancient forest groves, where the traditional societies met and performed secret rituals in fulfilment of their purpose in the overall communal mechanism. Old settlements and market sites, battlefields, sacred streams and trees tell stories of ancestors and heroes, wise chiefs and brave warriors. The names of places and people unravel half-forgotten lore of long ago, tracing origin and migration patterns, and kindred relationships through Akwa Ibom State and beyond. The communal drums, masks and shrine objects are living witnesses to an old and rich cultural heritage, still very much alive under the veil of Christian innocence and anti-pagan zeal. Churches and mission schools tell their own story of the march towards Christianity and modern civilisation. So do old native court buildings and government stations, trading markets or company grounds, which have witnessed each tortuous step towards modern development and self-determination.

 

A meeting place of old and new, indigenous and foreign, Christian and pagan, traditional and modern, Ikot Abasi moves ahead into the future, carrying with it the marks of past achievements, disappointments and hope for a better tomorrow.

 

Notes

 

1 Dr. Akwaowo Essien, 3/5/96.

 

2 Edem Aya, a separate clan since 1954, was founded by a hunter, Akpan Akama, the first son of Akama Obio Offiong Essen Ntan-Aran, the founding father of Nnung Assang clan. Akpan Akama died at Ukan Akama, a prosperous market and a culturally important settlement of the Ikpa Nnung Assang people (Etete, 1996).

3Lawrence J. Udoiwod, May 1996 (mimeographed).

4 The Ibibio Union Touring Deputation met and lectured there on 7Ih July 1941 to the enthusiastic representatives of Ikpa Ibekwe, Ukpum Ete, Okon and Ikpa Nnung Assang clans, who raised the issues of a good school for the Ibibio section of the district and the excessive land leasing to foreigners (Noah, 1980: 81-82, 86).

Chief Ntuen Ibok's MBE Certificate of Honour Award

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Category: Ikot Abasi

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