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Home Forums African Culture THE ANNANG PEOPLE OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA AND THEIR WAY OF LIFE

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    Kelvin Ash
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      The Annang or Anaang people are a peculiar cultural and semi-Bantu-speaking ethnic group that resides in Coastal South-South Nigeria. They are the second largest ethnic group in Akwa Ibom occupying 8 out of 31 local government areas.

       

       

      They were formerly located in the former Abak and Ikot Ekpene divisions of Anaang Province and part of the former Opobo Division of Uyo Province. People of the Annang ethnic group refer to themselves as “Owo” or ‘Agwo Annang’. The proper name for the Ika of Akwa Ibom is “Ika-Annang”.

       

       

      The Annang people are popular for the efficacy of their traditional spiritual powers (charms), prowess in trading, and their renowned art which extends to mural paintings, raffia, masks, cement sculptures, markets, ceremonies, and exceptional food.

       

       

      The Annang society is matriarchal, which is a social system where women hold primary power positions of authority which extends to moral authority, social privileges, and control of the property. However, leadership at the family, lineage, village, or clan level remains the prerogative of the men, whereby the lineage ties extends to women even after marriage.

       

       

      In the Annang society, there are many societies and associations referred to as ‘Ulim’ or ‘Udim’ for both men and women which are very important in traditional village life as individuals are measured by both the number and types of memberships in Ulim, as well as the achievements of one or more Ulims.

       

       

      They have a legislative arm called ‘Afe Ichong’ where governance is done by elderly males of the society being directed by the ‘Abong Ichong’ – the village chief or clan chief – who sits as the head and the chief executive but without the authority beyond what the Afe Ichong gives.

       

       

      As earlier said, the Annang women are not completely subordinate to the men, they serve as partners and leaders in many aspects of Annang tradition which includes serving as female chief priests Abia Iyong” in the Iyong cult or as healers in the healing cults. Importance is placed on the first-born female known as Aliaha, and commands respect in the family and lineage. They have women’s associations such as “Abi-de”, “Nyaama”, and “Isong Iban” which play important roles in advocating and giving women voice and status in society. They have no tradition or cultural barriers that stop the women from attaining high offices or positions.

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