By Adakole Ijogi
In review of the philosophical oral anthropology and available contextual nexus of this uniquely endowed people, who are intellectually gifted in most human endeavors, establishes an unequivocal fact that Idoma is NOT a Language but a People.
Rich in tradition and progressive culture, the Idoma ‘s simply put are a sophisticated genetic hybrid race, though republican in nature due to a strong sense of self dignity and independence of thought, which characterizes most progressive people.
It is true must tribes and ethnicities in the Middle Belt region also can lay claim to rich historical exploits, like our pioneering Terracotta brothers and sisters from southern Kaduna, to the erudite governance adjudication of the Igala’s to the renowned attestation of the Jukun’s war strategy exploits, the list is endless. However, mine is not to place the Idoma’s above our beloved people in the Middle Belt but to extol their exceptional qualities.
Idoma is NOT a Language but a People. I have researched this issue for a long time now, consulted widely and thought to contribute to the conversation of Who is an Idoma? Kindly allow me begin by expressing my thought process with a question as I journeyed through many literature and historical data available, who is Idoma?
It is a truism that identities are foisted on a people over time. For instance, the name Yoruba is not a Yoruba word but a name called or used to describe the people of western Nigeria by the great ruler Ahmed Baba of the then Songhai empire, who ruled between 1556 – 1627, same goes for the word Igbo, Igbo was used contextually by the Onitsha people to describe the uncultured people leaving around them, today most people in south east Nigeria call themselves Igbo. So I ask rhetorically Who is the Idoma?
The single story of sons of Idu is insufficiently incomplete and ambiguously misleading, as there are many other oral history and accounts that encapsulates the Idoma people and who they are.
Embedded in most local languages and dialects in Nigeria lies a hidden history of the people, there pronunciations, enunciations and local direct translation of the word. It is not accidental that in most dialect of idoma’s begin most words with a vowel, grow essentially the same crop, have similar diet, are susceptible to similar cultural practices. Idoma is NOT a Language but a People
Furthermore, in all the variations of dialects of Idoma, there is no original local word as “Idoma” in reference to a people either in self-description or describing another. More so if Kwararafa is our ancestral home where we all migrated from, then ask yourself, what do our Kwararafa brothers and sisters call the Idomas? There is no mention of “Idoma” but Akpotor, which is the original mother dialect spoken by the Idomas that now has very many dialects, form the Jukuns, Gomai, Ngas, Berom, Igala, Nupe, Jabba, Batchama, Higgi, Bajju they all say Akpotor, Idoma is NOT a Language but a People.
What is pertinent to note, is to correct the erroneous single story of what is generally referred to as Idoma language, that dialect is Akpotor for Idoma is NOT a Language but a People
In Idoma, this uniquely gifted people who are one people, over time and interweaving sociolinguistics, dialects have emerged and they include Okpotor, Igede, Akweya, Agatu, Ufia, Igwumale, Iyala, Alago, Eggon, Etta, Orinh Ogobia, and Ukelle to mention just few. The Idomas are prevalent in Benue, Nasarawa, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Ebonyi and Kogi States, the Idoma is NOT a Language but a People.
We are one people.
▪ Ijogi, the Agalakoko of Idoma land contributed this piece from Abuja