The Igede tribe is the third largest tribe in the present day Benue State of Nigeria. They are the natives of Obi and Oju Local Government Areas of Benue state in Nigeria. The following is an overview of the Igede Tribe in Nigeria:
History: One source claims the Igede tribe to be migrants from the Ogoja province in Cross River state. Another source claims they are descendants of one ‘Agba’, a high chief in SabonGidaOra, in the present day Edo state. Their settling in Benue state was however a function of the conflict between them and the natives of Ora, which led to their migration from Edo state to Benue state through Nsukka, Enugu state.
The Economy of the Igede Tribe: Being located in what is regarded as the ‘Food Basket’ capital of Nigeria, it could be easily predicted that the Igede people have farming as the mainstay of their economy, with commodities such as maize, cassava, groundnut and yams being largely cultivated at commercial levels.
The Igede nation attaches a lot of significance to yam farming; yield and harvest. Therefore, a foremost festival of the Igede people is the ‘Agba’ festival; a colourful annual celebration set aside to celebrate the yam harvest season in September. The festival is called the New Yam festival, which depicts the importance of Yam to the culture and economy of the Igede people. The festival is intended to also celebrate the dignity of labour, hard work, magnanimity as well as the resilient spirit elicited by farmers each farming season. Summarily, the IgedeAgba festival is regarded as the most important day to the typical Igede man and descendants of Agba. This is because, it creates the platform for many families to reunite, express love, foster unity and communalism within the Igede tribe.
Food: The Igede people have a variety of delicacies; one of which is the Oho NyiEhia(or the Beniseed Soup). Another soup is the Ibehi Soup which is made from Melon, the Igede version of the ‘Egusi soup’. Most of these soups are usually well ‘garnished’ with bush meat. Their love for yam has already been stated, so much so the special festival with respect to Yam-The IgedeAgba.
Marriage Ceremony: The Igede tribe-because of their Christian beliefs and close affinity with their tradition- place emphasis on both church (white wedding) and traditional wedding ceremonies. The traditional wedding however carries more emphasis most times, especially where the couple have financial limitations, and consider the church wedding as a secondary ceremony. The process is usually initiated when a matured male sees a damsel he is interested in, and seeks formalization by taking his family, clan Elders or relatives to her family to indicate or communicate such interest. The formalization is symbolized by the use of Kola-nuts and Palm wine, to which an acceptance by the girl and her family is indicative of a ‘go-ahead’. The ‘go-ahead’ means the suitor can provide the agreed dowry and from there, continue with the marriage plans. The Bride price in Igede land is referred to as ‘Ekwuotaba’. However, ‘carnal knowledge’ between the intending couples is forbidden before the final marriage rites are performed.
Religious Beliefs: The activities of missionaries in Nigeria has impacted the Igede People, therefore a bulk of the population are now professed Christian with some, still clinging to the African Traditional Religion.
Traditional Outfit: The traditional attire of the Igede people is characterized by an outfit comprising of blue, black and white stripes.
Previously, the traditional ruler of the Igede tribe was referred to as Ad’Utu. But due to some conflict as regards the ‘heir’ to the stool after the demise of a certain Ad Utu (Chief IkandeIdikwu), the power was divided between two stools: Ad’Obi and Ad’Oju,with neither being superior but rather, serving as assistants to the Och’Idoma, who is the Paramount ruler of both the Idoma tribe and the Igede tribe. There is also a reference made to the AdirahuNyi’Igede(the king of Igede).
A few important things to note include: firstly, that the Igede tribe claim they are not related to the Idoma tribe; neither culturally nor biologically. Therefore, they are entirely two separate groups within the same state, and that is as close as it gets. However, some archival records portray them as having an increasingly adoption of the culture and practices of the Idoma.It is also important to note that the Igede people are not only found in Benue state, but they exist in large numbers in Osun and Ogun states of Nigeria. The Igede language is also well spoken in some parts of Cross River state.Igede, Ethnologue(18th ed., 2015)
Ugbem, Comfort E.(2013). “The Social Relations of Identity Construction and Reconstruction among Ethnic Broups in Benue State. IFRA e-papers. Accessed 07/11/2018.