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Idoma, a tribe predominantly domiciled in Benue State, they are known to be the second largest ethnic group in the state. They occupy nine local government areas in the western part of the state, namely Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Oju, Okpokwu, and Otukpo. Although they have a conspicuous presence in Benue State, the Idoma people can also be found in Nassarawa and Cross River States.

Idoma Origin/History

The Idoma tribe, like most ethnic groups, do not have their history documented. Rather, it is transferred orally form one generation to the other. Despite this fact (unavailability of documented history), the Idomas generally can proudly talk about their ancestry and list at least four generations of their progenitors. This is possible because they pride themselves in closely knit extended family relations. Hence, there is close proximity in the raising of children among extended family members. It is in this setting that historical facts and resources are made available to the next generation, especially through oral tradition and dance. Like many ethnic groups, most Idoma groups and villages have their own histories about how they arrived at their location, each one distinct from the other. However, traditional history says that Iduh is the father of the Idomas. Iduh had several children who went on to establish different areas.

It is not uncommon to hear the following recitation among the Idomas:

“Iduh the father of Idoma; he aslo begot the following children:

Ananawoogeno who begot the children of Igwumale;

Olinaogwu who begot the people of Ugboju;

Idum who begot the people of Adoka;

Agabi who begot the people of Otukpo;

Eje who begot the people of Oglewu;

Ebeibi who begot the people of Umogidi in adoka; and

Ode who begot the people of Yala.”

On the other hand, scholarly history discovers that many Idoma kindred claim to have their ancestry homeland at Apa. Apa, which is north-east of the present day Idomaland, was part of the ancient Kwararafa Kingdom.

Language of the Idomas

The Idomas speak Idoma language, which is classified in the Akweya subgroup of the Idomoid languages. The Idoma language has different dialects. They are Western Idoma spoken by those at Ogbadibo and Okpokwu; Central Idoma spoken by those at Ohimini and Otukpo; Southern Idoma spoken by those at Ado; Northern Idoma spoken by those at Agatu and Apa; Igede spoken by those at Obi and Oju, Akweya, and Ufia.

Political Structure

The Idomas have had a governing system in existence from a long time ago. Given that Idoma tribe has been established long before Nigeria was founded, they have had ‘organs of government’ that ensured order for social and political growth and development in the communities. Och’Idoma is the name given to the leader of the Idomas and he rules from the Och’Idoma Palace in Otukpo.

Idoma Belief

Like every other tribe, the Idomas engage in traditional worship. Although Christianity and Islam have come into the country, a good number of the Idomas still believe in and worship Alekwu, the ancestral spirit they believe links the living and the dead. Also, this spirit is believed to be the unseen watchdog of families and communities, which also counters social vices.

Idoma Traditional Colour

For distinct identification, the Idomas chose red and black stripes colours as their traditional colour during the 80’s.

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This article was first published on 24th April 2018

Comments (52)

52 thoughts on “A Trip To Idoma”


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