HOW IGALA TRIBAL NAMES “DIED” IN THE HANDS OF OUR FATHERS AND FATHERS’ FATHERS
By Ayegba Abdullahi Aduojo
Sometimes, one wonders what made some elders of the unbeatable and one of the strongest Kingdom even before the birth of Nigeria, the Igala Kingdom, to feel that other tribes are better than us to the point of start practicing their cultures and start bearing their tribal names.
OK! I know that some people would say they were/are bearing religious names, but how about those who were never Christians or Muslims before they died but named almost all their children Jew, Hausa, Fulani, French or Arab.
My grandfather, I was told was never a Muslim or Christian before he died but he named almost all his children Arabic and Jewish names. And there were many like him in our land. Someone might also say that some of Igalas then named their children after their Hausa or Fulani friends in our community then.
But if not confusion, you in home is naming your child after a stranger, how many of those strangers (Hausa/Fulani) gave their children Igala name? Let’s see, we have Igalas outside Kogi state, are those host communities naming their children after Igalas as we are/were doing in Kogi state? Don’t you think is the reason why some people call Kogi Igalas Hausa Igalas? Another painful thing is the hiding of Igala tribal names by some elders who even have the names.
Is it a crime to write Alh Ocholi Okolo Musa or Mr Ocholi Okolo Peter? Why Alh O. O. Musa or Mr O. O. Peter? Why not Alh Ocholi Okolo M., or Mr Ocholi Okolo P.? If the elders are ashamed of writing their Igala tribal names, don t you think that okro don turn water?
And talking about bearing of Jewish and Arabic names as religious names or to make one a Christian or Muslim, please let somebody tell me the area in the holy books that is written that you must bear Arabic or Jewish names to be a Muslim or Christian.
I want to learn from you, because to the best of my knowledge, both books say we should bear names with good meanings and good meanings do not translate to bearing other tribes names. Well, this is our situation as Kogi Igalas.
But does any Igala traditional leader see this situation as not normal?
Anyway, how about the indigenous Igalas across other states in Nigeria? Well “the snake that bit Kogi Igala flogged them too with its tail”. Many have lost Igala tribal names too. They mostly bear the names of the tribes surrounding them. And this is our situation!
But, come to think of it, what efforts did the first settlers (first Igala settlers) in those foreign lands made to retain their tribal identity. How come they suddenly began to name their children the names of other tribes?
Could it be because they intermarried? But how would the Igala father leave the naming of children to the wives if actually that even happened? No! Or could be because of over-enjoyment in that land! Well, our fathers’ fathers have “killed” the Igala names there too.
Ironically, even some of our current Igala parents in conjunction with us the children are presently joining hands to completely “kill” the thinning and “half breathing dead” Igala identity. We don’t like our names but other tribes’ names?
Why must it be me and you killing our own names which are already struggling to breathe? Isn’t this a pity, we have no name at home, we have no name outside!
I appeal to Igala elders of Kogi Igalaland and other Igala communities across Nigeria to urgently do something about this as it will be a future insult on Igala elders, alive or not then.
In Ebu, Delta state, bearing of Igala names is compulsory or near compulsory. This is a good development and it makes other tribes around them to respect them. This is the work of their elders. Let Kogi Igalas and other Igalas across Nigeria to EMULATE Ebu Igalas. It is your pride and your identity, and will make others around you to respect you. We can revive it and the time is now. Yes, it “died” in the hands of our fathers and fathers’ fathers, let us use our hands to revive it because like Pa Paul would say, “the loss of our Igala names is a collective shame on all of us” Thank you.
Ayegba. A. A.
Founder, Igala Identity Movement.