idoma attire © I am Benue IamBenue 2022

The Unique Benue ‘Black And Red’ Idoma Traditional Cultural Attire Colours

Culture, Stories 18/11/2016 by Ochanya Cynthia Okwoli

Idoma people are found in the Southern part of Benue State with a population of about 2.5 million. The Idoma region is made up of Seven local government areas which include:

  1. Agatu local government,
  2. Apa local government,
  3. Ohimini local government,
  4. Otukpo local government,
  5. Okpokwu local government,
  6. Ogbadibo local government, and
  7. Ado local government.

The Idoma people are the second largest ethnic group in Benue State though, there are other Idoma groups in parts of Nassarawa and Cross-River States.

The Idoma people are a homogenous ethnic group with dialectical differences indicated by some distinct speech forms of people in Otukpo, Adoka and Ugboju; Edumoga in contrast to Agila, Otukpa, Orokam, Agatu among others. Even with the difference in dialectical speech, the Idoma people maintain one particular traditional attire, which indicates the language’s unity.

​The Idoma people are well known for the “red and black” colours which represent their traditional cultural attire.

  • How many of us know the name this attire is called?

  • How many of us know what red and black stand for?

The Idoma traditional attire is popularly called, “Apa” by many parts of Idoma land, and “Edema” by the Edumoga people. The “black” colour on the Idoma attire signifies the “earth and burial shroud,” while the “red” colour signifies “royalty or red feather.”

idoma attire © I am Benue IamBenue 2022

The red feather is often fixed on the head of the traditional leader.

​The Idoma attire is worn during burial ceremonies, weddings, festive periods and local meetings. This attire can be complemented with beads, horse tails, caps, shoes and so on.

“Opa” is also an Idoma traditional attire worn during burials. This “Opa” is mostly worn by chiefs and those who are buried. The “black” signifies mourning and the “red” signifies “Alekwu,” which means, the dead must be respected.

​The Idoma attire is well respected and it is a significant symbol in local meetings. It is important for every member of these local meetings must wear either a muffler, cap (for the men), or head gear (for the women), failure to appear in the regalia attracts fines or sometimes penalization.

The Idoma attire is also a fashionable item and can be worn at any time of the day to any occasion of choice.

idoma attire © I am Benue IamBenue 2022

​Idoma attire can be sewn in different forms: it can be sewn into wrappers, gowns, skirts and blouses, Kaftan, caps, and mufflers. It can also be used as decorations during any festivities.

The Idoma people will always be known for their uniqueness with their cultural colours, “Black and Red.”

idoma attire © I am Benue IamBenue 2022

Thank you for reading. Be part of the conversation by dropping your comment. Follow us on all our social media platforms to support us. Thank you.


  1. Idoma Home (Ipole k’ Idoma),
  2. IPN News, and
  3. Professor A.A. Okwoli.
  4. Photos by Brookmatrix

32 thoughts on “The Unique Benue ‘Black And Red’ Idoma Traditional Cultural Attire Colours

  1. Thaddeus Ebute

    Please note this correction:
    ALEKWU means “spirit” and could refer to “ancestral spirit” and not “that the spirit must be respected “as you put it.
    Nice information anyway, please keep it up it’s very enlightening. Well done.

    • Kakra

      Thank you so much for the correction, you have impacted.

  2. Temj

    Please where can I get the benue people traditional attire for my boys

  3. KAKRA

    You can get them in Makurdi or Otukpo. Makurdi, just before the bridge. They are displayed on the roads

  4. E Nseyo

    Good morning. Please where can I buy these attires online? Traveling to Makurdietc can take a while. Please reply also through email. Thanks
    Nse 7th February 2018

    • Kakra

      At makurdi just before the river benue river, they are displayed on the road

    • Beata Alheri-Audu

      Have you been able to get them?

  5. Tosin

    Please what Benue people call their wrapper, blouse and gale in their language.

    • Regina

      Wrapper = Ohiri or Ohili
      Blouse ?— Uwea
      Gale— Adiko or Ordogbeyi

  6. Morning Star

    Can someone please list 5 religious symbols in Idoma land and write short notes on them

    • Kakra

      This is also a good topic, we will see to it

  7. Elizabeth

    Please how many attire do i ve to change on my traditional wedding an idoma girl but never attended any idoma wedding

    • Kakra

      Idoma attire and any other two. You can decide to make ur idoma attire unique

  8. Evans King Obande

    Please why is Igumale excluded from those names whereas it’s the Ado Local Government Headquarters?

  9. Chris Ewaoche

    What is the idoma name of the bead, cap, horse tail and walking stick.

  10. godwin gina

    A very good platform. please keep the good work.


    ala ainya ai-idoma we are coming out.

  12. David Ameh

    My people “ala ainya”, God will reward all the brians behinde this innovation. I want to enquire where to get “Apa” in Lagos.

  13. Miriam Bakare

    Please Where Can I Get The Benue Red And Black Colour? I’m In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

    • Jane Godwin

      Pls is there a meeting community of idoma people in Uyo?
      I want to join. I Married an idoma man.
      08038072486. Thank you.

  14. Paulina

    Thank you very much professor

  15. Gabriel

    What is the idoma name of the bead, cap, horse tail and walking stick

  16. Elijah N.Omale

    Very interesting platform of its kind.I actually found this as mind blowing.I expect this to keep blossoming
    Kind regards.

  17. Odey f.u.

    Some times I wonder why idoma tribe are this large…why the TIV’s are been know all over Nigeria, some times I wonder how they came to be,especially the tivs tribe.Are the tivs tribe larger than the idoma tribe, yet I only see two tivs senators and tree idoma names in the house of senate. Since 1999 idoma as been producing more senators compared to TIV’s…please house and the Admin… What are the historical connection between the northern idoma in nasarawa state and southern idoma called Yala (Iyala) in cross river state where I haile from. Pleased house I want to no..we really need a national unity… I think the traditional attire of the tiv people have united them more and as made them to be recognized all over Nigeria… In yala they are now using more of the red and black traditional attires… More history are been told how we migrated down to yala. And that same history is what also founded the foundation of the northern idoma people of nasarawa state,also the second largest if north the largest in nasarawa state… More enlightenment admin.. Odey fidelis ushie

  18. Joe Abah ( Abuja )

    I was blown away by your vast knowledge of the Idoma people which you are fortunate to be part of, being an Iyala man ( The Idomas from Cross River State ) and your yearning for more knowledge Sir.

    To be candid with you Sir, the Tiv are in the majority, and the largest tribe in Benue. And in Nigeria as a whole the can be place in between 5-7 most largest ethnic groups in Nigeria as they can be found in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau , Cross River and in Cameroon.

    That beeing said, the Idoma in the other hand has one senator while the Tiv have two, because of the zones in the state which are Zone A Tiv, Zone B Tiv , while Zone C Idoma. And that help Benue to have 3 senators in the house.

    The historical connections between the Idoma Nokwu ( Alagos ) of Nasarawa State, the Idomas of Benue State and the Idomas ( Iyala) of Cross River State. First is what i will call the migration pattern of the Idomas to different geographical locations. Secondly is what i will call political boundaries due to states creations in Nigeria. This is a very elaborate topic to discuss Sir, but am just trying to sum it all in little way for an insightful understanding if there’s anything as such in the academic world of knowledge.

    The northern Idoma Nokwu ( Alago people ) of Nasarawa State can be well understood by the Agatu people of Benue States due to their closeness/contact/ relationship over time, but, other idomas will find it a bit difficult to understand them.

    The northern Idomas in Nasarawa State, (just like all Idomas) migrated to their present location after the expulsion of the Idoma people from the great Kwararafa (confederation) Empire by the Jihadist Fulani. While the northern idomas stop in Nasarawa State presently and settle to form what is now known as Doma, Keana, and Obi local government area in Nasarawa State.

    The Idoma of Benue State on their part continue their journey to Apa, in present day ( Apa local government area ) Benue State South where they began to expand, and form the dominant tribes today. The father of the Iyalas who is also a son just like the many idoma groups in the other hand migrated from Benue to Iyala present location in Cross River State due to hunting and search for food and land for farming. And that is why till date the Idomas see the Iyala as brothers and blood relations.
    The Red and Black Idoma attire should be the unifying factor for the idoma people as you suggested Sir, but, someone has to spearhead this lucid opinion and it is in this regard that, i will like to communicate with you, how we can bring this to fruition. You can reach me through my email.

    Thank you Sir.

    Joseph Abah

  19. Maria Eleyi Okwoli Igoche

    Bravo Mrs Ochanya for your vivid description of the idoma attire. I can’t wait to read more articles on the Idoma people

  20. humble Emmanuel

    to all of you that commented on this platform may you live long in idoma land.
    long live idoma people
    long live idoma land

  21. Amuche

    The Red and Black Idoma traditional attire should be the unifying factor and main identity of all the Idomas, both in Nasarawa State, Benue State, Cross River State, Enugu State and Kogi State.

    I so much love the attire, it so unique in so many ways besides it symbols.

    Anybody who sees the attire always ask questions about it because it is attractive eyes when one sees the two colours RED & BLACK.

    Someone once told me that the colours are too sacred judging by it appearance, if there’s any spiritual connotation attached to it, and I told him NO, and let him understand that, it is the preferred attire for the Idoma people because, all Idomas are Royal Priesthood.

  22. Aboh David Egwoyi.

    This is lovely. Proudly IDOMA. (RED& BLACK).

  23. Fashionandstylez

    Great post,Please where can I get the benue people traditional attire for my boys.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.