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    Kasim Bilkisu

      The story of the late Princess Inikpi is full of courage and heroism. Princess Inikpi was a beautiful and intelligent young woman whose selfless sacrifice saved her people from destruction. She was the only beloved daughter of Ayegbu Oma Idoko, former Atta of the Igala kingdom. Her people call her Inikpi Oma fedo baba, which means “Inikpi Beloved by Her Father”.


      Around the 15th and 16th centuries, the Igala kingdom came into conflict with one of its strongest enemies, the Benin kingdom. It was to the point where the Benin warriors regularly attacked the Igala land and wanted to annihilate the people. The Benin warriors used a variety of tactics, including poisoning rivers, launching surprise attacks day and night, and laying siege to their fields. Even after that, the Igala lived in constant fear because they could not go to their farms or to the stream.


      In this regard, the leaders resorted to an oracle declaring that the only way to ensure the kingdom’s safety and victory in war was to bury the king’s most beloved daughter, Inikpi, alive. The king had four male children: Akogu, Agada, Eleme,  and Ohieme Obogo, and his only daughter, Inikpi. He loved Inikpi so much, and this was one of the reasons she was always in her palace with her father.


      The king could not eat or drink for several days. He asked the oracle to accept the slaves, but they were told they must be of royal blood, the Inikpi. The princess noticed her father’s sad state and tried to find out the reason, but the father did not tell her. And he was worried and kept asking until the seventh day. The king told her what the Oracle said he must do to save the land of Igala and its people from ruin.


      Inikpi, knowing the reason for her father’s sad mood, promised to present herself. Her acceptance brought about mourning nationally, especially by her mother, Omele. On the appointed day, Inikpi went to the banks of the River Niger near Idah and was buried alive alongside nine virgin slaves that would help her thereafter.


      After sacrificing themselves, the Benin warriors saw all of Igala engulfed in flames as they advanced and decided there was no need to make war on the burning city, so they retreated. But if history is to be believed, it was Inikpi’s blood that tricked them.


      Inikpi’s sacrifice brought endless joy, peace, and security to the kingdom of Igala. As these Igala forces were undefeated in war, they freed the people from the shackles of their surrounding enemies. Inikpi lived and died chastely, Observing the role of the princess in preventing calamities in Igala land is yet another important historical event in the life of Igala people. The sacrifice was very expensive but it restored peace to the land of Igala. The late Princess Inikpi, who sacrificed herself for the survival of Igala, remains a unifying factor in Igala land to this day.

      For this, the people of Igala express their deep gratitude to Princess Inikpi for her sacrifice and courage. A statue of the princess stands at “Ega” in Idah, considered the traditional seat of Igala, and many Igala residents are called “Inikpi” in her honor. Several plays have also been produced to commemorate its history.

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