History of the Efik People of Nigeria

The Efik are a minority ethnic group in the Southern Nigeria, found in Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State.


The Efik refer to themselves as the Efik Eburutu, Ifa Ibom, Eburutu and Iboku. They have also been referred to as the Calabar people in historical culture. They were said to have migrated first from Ibom in Arochukwu to Uruan and from Uruan to other settlements along the lower Cross River. The name Efik means “Oppressors”.

There are several theories surrounding the history of the Efik people. The three most popular are the Igbo origin, Ibibio origin and the Palestinian origin. Those who believe the Efik originated from the Igbo believe that all dialects from Efik directly or indirectly link to Igbo. The Ibibio origin theorists believe that Efik are travellers who passed though the Ibibio community or are a direct descendant of the Ibibio. The Palestine theorists asserts that the Efik migrated from Palestine.

The Efik are believed to have migrated through several countries before settling in Cross River. The Efik traders acted as middlemen between the European and Inland slave traders in the 17th to 19th centuries. As slave trade dwindled, they began to export palm oil in return for European goods. By the 20th century, a large part of the Efik moved to settle as farmers in villages. The planted Yam, cassava, taro, corn, fruits and vegetables.

The communities were governed by a number of secret societies, among which were Ekpe, Obon and Nsibidi. The Efik used to dress in lion clothes made of Raffia before the arrival of Europeans. Like every other African culture, the Efik had traditional beliefs before the arrival of the missionaries.


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Written by Monsurat

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