A group that is nationally considered a minority, the Ukwuani, are however, the second largest ethnic group in Delta state; second only to the Urhobo ethnic group. They are also the largest ethnic group in the North senatorial district collectively known as the Anioma.
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The Ukwuani people are found majorly in the Northern part of Delta State and in some parts of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of Rivers state, Nigeria. Geographically, they are surrounded by other ethnic groups like the Aboh, the Abraka Urhobo, and Isoko. The Ukwuani are believed to share a common ancestry with the Ogba, Ekpeye, and Ika people as the majority of them trace their origin to the Benin kingdom. They are also often considered as Igbo and this is due to the similarities in the language they both speak.
Language of the Ukwuani
The Ukwuani group speak the Ukwuani language, a branch of the Volta-Niger language family with different dialects within the Ndosumili-Aboh area. Though there is a variation of the language that is most predominantly spoken by the majority. This is regarded as the standard dialect, referred to as the Utagba dialect. It is easily understood by the speaker of the other dialects and it is the dialect that is used for Ukwuani language studies. Ukwuani language is also included in the list of 27 Nigerian languages approved by the Federal Government for the purpose of “mother tongue education.” It is important to note that the Ukwuani, Igbo, Ekpeye, Ika, and Ikwerre are not the same language but are classified as languages which belong to the same linguistic family of Igboid languages.
Appearance and Mode of dressing
The Ukwuani people share so many similarities to other Niger Delta ethnic groups especially with respect to tradition, dressing and other aspects of culture. They have a unique sense of fashion and dressing. For example, the men usually dress in six yards of George wrappers tied around their waist, native shirt, beads, cap/hat, and a pair of shoes. The women on the other hand dress in two wrappers tied around their waist, blouse, a handbag, hair tie, earrings, and a pair of shoes.
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Other Facts about the Ukwuani People
- When it comes to food, the Ukwuani people are royalties. There are a lot of sumptuous meals such as ofe-isege, mpikor, nri-iji, ofe-ikere, utala-iji, eba, ofe-ilolo, oto, ofe-eku, etc
- Though the Ukwuani area is host to some of the Nation’s top oil companies, the Ukwuani communities have often cried loudly with regards to the case of marginalization, just like the other communities in the Niger Delta regions.
- Renowned for their elaborate showmanship during their marriages and funeral rites, it’s one ethnic group in the south-south axis whose musical prowess appeal cut across boundaries.
- Their religious inclination has been greatly influenced by the influx of missionaries. Prior to this, the Ukwuanis practiced African Traditional Religion. Although they are now mostly Christians with a small fold of Muslims, a hand full of them are still faithful adherents of the traditional religion.
Featured Image Source: Christian Onwugbolu Blog
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