The Cultural Practices of Ijaw People of Nigeria

The Ijaw people are an indigenous set of people native to the regions of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States in Nigeria. They may also be found among the natives of Akwa-ibom, Edo and Ondo States.

[Fatherland Gazette]

They are otherwise referred to as Izon people or Izon Out. The Ijaw people are mostly migrant fishermen, who have long lived in locations close to the sea trade routes. It is said that they have such close affinity with water that wherever there is water, you will find an Ijaw born. Even though this may not be true is most cases, it is a generally held belief.

The Ijaws language is divided into two prominent groupings. The first, is called Western or Central Izon which consists of Western Ijaw speakers: Ekeremor, Sagbama, Apoi, Arogbo, Boma, Kabo, Ogboin, Tarakiri, Tuomo Clan, Egbema, and Kolokuma-Opokuma. The Southern Ijaw languages are called Nembe, Brass and Akassa dialects. The second language grouping is the Kalabari, who are found on the Eastern part of the Niger Delta.

Asides fishing, the Ijaws also farm paddy-rice, plantains, cassava, cocoyam and vegetables as well as fruits. The Ijaws are governed by chiefs and government at the village level. Some clans of the Ijaw, like the Kalabari, Okirika, Andoni and Bonny are governed by kings and a socially stratified society.

Like many ethnic groups in Nigeria, marriages in Ijaw communities are conducted through complete payment of dowry. The cultural religious practices of the Ijaw center on water spirits known as Owuamapu. They also practice Christianity and a few Muslims can be found in Ijaw.

The Ijaws have many local foods that are native to them, many of which involve fish and other seafood such as clams, oysters and periwinkles. They have the rich Polofiyai soup made with yam and palm oil, Kekefoyai, Gbe, Onunu and other flavor packed delicacies.


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Written by Monsurat

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