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PEOPLE, POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT
Posted to the web: 1/29/2003 1:10:12 PM
 
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Ethnic Composition and Culture: There are three major ethnic groups represented by three principal linguistic groups in

Cultural Centre,Calabar
Cultural Centre,Calabar

Cross River State. These are the Efik, the Ejagham and the Bekwarra. The Efik language is very widely spoken in Cross River State, even as far as Arochukwu in neigh bouring Abia state.

The Etikspeaking people live mainly in the Calabar Municipality, and in parts of Akamkpa and Odukpani LGAs. There is also the Qua community in Calabar, which speaks Ejagham. But the Ejagham group occupies mostly the north ern sections of the State. The other groups north of Calabar are known as the Ekois. The Ekois group are the oeoole of Biase in Biase LGA the Bahumono in Abi LGA.

The Yakurr/Agoi in Yakurr LGA, while the Mbembe are predominantly found in Obubra LGA. Further north, are several sub-dialectical groups, among which are Etung, Olulumo, Ofutop, Nkim/Nkum, Abanajum, Nseke and Boki in both Ikorn and Boki LGAs.

The Yalla/Yache, Ukelle, Ekajuka, Mbube, Bette, Bekwarra and Utugwanga are found in Ogoja, Yalla, Obudu and Obanliku LGA's. Cross River State epitomises the nation's linguistic and cultural plurality. But it is important to note that, in spite of the diversity of dialects, all the ethnic groups have a common linguistic root Bantu.

Their cultures bear striking similarities too. Also similar are their music, drumming, dances, mode of dressing, as well as their traditional religion. Traditional festivals in northern Cross River State are primarily related to farming activities, the predominant occupation in the state. Such festivals are practised in Yakurr, Obubra, Ikorn, Ogoja, Yalla, Obudu and Obanliku LGAs.

The festivals are observed in communities to celebrate their rich har vests. New yam festivals, like the Leboku of Yakurr, and the Ibibum and Ahakpo of the Mbembes of Obubra, still exist and serve as the traditional tie between man and the supernatural. Among the popular dance groups in the state are Ekeledi, Obin, Moninkim, Giza andAminakwol.

Culturally, the Efiks, because of their coastal location, have been most conspicuous internationally, nationally, and within Cross River State. This is partly on account of the primacy of Calabar in Nigerian history, and partly on account of the out standing rich and elaborate cultural repertoire of the Efiks.

Efik, a language of learning, commerce and diplomacy, was among the first to be written and officially taught in Nigeria. Among the broad cultur al inventory of the Efiks are: "Ekombi", the Efik clas sical music; "Ukwa" the only fencing match in sub Saharan Africa; "Mbuk" a collection of Efik folklore (myths, legends, stories); the "Ekpe" cult; of course the famous local cuisine "Edikangikong," and a host of traditional dance forms.


Population and Settlement Patterns:
According to the 1991 population census, Cross River State has a population of

Chief Ekpo Ekpo Bassey's imported Colonial Baroque Mansion,Calabar
Chief Ekpo Ekpo Bassey's imported Colonial Baroque Mansion,Calabar

1,911,297, the distribution of which is shown in Table 9.1 An examination of the , spatial distribution of settlements in Cross River State reveals that the State, to a large extent, is yet to evolve a functional and wellintegrated regional system of settlements.

There are about 620 recognisable human settlements, 89.36 percent of which contain less than 5,000 inhabitants. Calabar has f the largest population of 320,862. Other major towns with great potentials for future growth and functional integration are Ogoja, Ikorn, Obudu, Ugep, Obubra, Akamkpa and Odukpani.

The dominance of Calabar as the administrative, cultural and port industrial centre has continued to attract new immigrants and investments to the state capital.

Calabar has, therefore, recently emerged as a pri mate city in a state of diminutive urban centres. The vast majority of the population live in rural areas, in small nucleated settlements. Along the creeks and swamps of the lower Cross River valley, many of the small settlements consist of fishing camps which are occupied for only a few months in the year.

Ribbon type of street settlements are common along motorable rural roads and footpaths in Akamkpa, Ugep, Ikorn and Ogoja LGAs. With an average population density of about sixty-five persons per sq. km, Cross River State is about the most sparsely settled state in southern Nigeria.

Vast areas of land remain virtually uninhabited and this is one reason why there is a concentration of tree crop plantations in the state. A greater proportion of the labour for these planta tions is migrants coming from outside the state. The migrants are concentrated in rural areas.

Self employed migrant tenant farmers constitute the second largest category of ruralrural migrants into the state. It is these immigrant farmers that have helped to make Cross River State one of the food surplus areas in the country.

 

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