Igede People of Benue State
The Igede people can be found in Cross River, Osun, Ogun and Benue state in Nigeria. Igede people are the third largest ethnic group in Benue state after the Tiv and the Idoma ethnic groups. Others believe that the Igede tribe are migrants from the Ogoja province in Cross River state. While others argue that their origin could be traced to Sabon Gida Ora in present-day Edo state. They are said to be the descendants of Agba whom the Igede Agba New Yam Festival is captioned, a high chief in Sabon Gida Ora. A skirmish between the Igede and the natives of Ora led to their migration from that region to present-day Benue state through Nsukka in Enugu state.
Igede people are the natives of Oju and Obi local government areas that make up Benue South Senatorial District (Oju/Obi Federal constituency) with three state constituencies (Oju I, Oju II and Obi constituencies). Also, they are minority ethnic groups in Gwer East, Ado, Otukpo, and Konshisha (The Ucholo Igede people of Oju) Local government areas.
They are 14 clans in the Igede land or nation, namely:
- Ada (Ada),
- Anchim (Ọchẹchẹ),
- Oye (Ugbodu),
- Ụkpa (Amọnọ),
- Ọbọrụ (Ọgbagba),
- Owo (Ochim-Aadu),
- Ibilla (Ugbeyikum),
- Ainu (Ada-Ainu),
- Ito (Ada-Oto),
- Uwokwu (Ololẹga),
- Idelle (Anyị-Odum),
- Ịgabwụ (Okpalotu),
- Itakpa (Ada Otakpa), and
- Oju (Ọnyị-Okpogo)
The traditional ruler of the Igede people is known as: “Ad’utu”.
Igede people of Benue state speak the language called ‘Igede language.’ The Igede language is a member of the Niger-Congo languages and the Benue-Congo subgroup family.
Igede culture venerates nature, which is believed to be interconnected with God or gods. Issues of first child especially male or first fruits are traditionally celebrated. They place a high premium on male children (anyi aleng) as custodians of culture and inhabitants of the family who perpetuate the father’s name.
Land is the source of the economic existence of the Igede people who are largely agrarian. There is communal and individual ownership of land. It is shared along patrilineal lines. Women do not own land according to Igede custom.
The Igede people developed their traditional occupations for both females and males before the coming of the British explorers and missionaries. Local tools and equipment were crudely fabricated for farming, fighting, hunting and fishing. Commerce, palm wine tapping, smithery, pottery, basket making, weaving, tailoring, carpentry, music, hunting, and other occupations are also occupations of the lgede people.
Food is both a way of life and a cultural component of the Igede people. Various Igede communities are associated with various kinds of food crops. There are yam (iju), foofoo (akpu), banbaranut (egbeyi), and the like. Traditionally, yam is their staple food and the king of all crops; other important food crops are cassava, cocoyam, vegetables, maize, palm tree, and others.