Many people are oblivious to the fact that Igalas can be found outside Kogi State. Several young Igalas from Kogi state think all members of their ethnic group are within the confines of the state. From my own experience, only their elders seem to know there are other Igalas outside, but not much emphasis is laid on this fact. Infact, I have recently met people who have never heard about the Igala people. Well, no thanks to our ethnic diversity in Nigeria.
The Igala people can be found in Kogi, Anambra, Delta(Ebu), Enugu, and Edo states of Nigeria. Of course, the majority of Igalas are found in Kogi state and Idah in Kogi state is the ancestral home of all Igalas. I am an Igala whose hometown is located in Anambra state. This news is often greeted with incredulity. It seems like a travesty, right? “Anambrarians” are all supposed to be igbos, right? No, the truth is that some aren’t. The Igala people in Anambra state are found in Anambra West LGA, and are made up of the following villages/towns:
Nzam, Igbedor, Inoma, Odekpe, Owelle, Ukwala, Onugwa, Ode, Ala and Igbokeyi.
I think we Igalas in Anambra are little known largely because of our own attitude. The fault largely lies with us. We attempt to deny who we are or where we’re from. We attempt to deny our very identity. Some of us claim to be Igbo while some altogether deny being from Anambra- they claim to come from Kogi state. My parents belong to the latter group.
This latter group usually bear Igala names rather than Igbo ones. Some times, they altogether dump their Igbo names and adopt new Igala ones. Others choose to transliterate their Igbo names to Igala. By doing this, they try to affirm their Igala ethnicity ( which I support and encourage BTW). But then, they go further. They say they are indigenes of Kogi state which is simply not true. What exactly they intend to achieve from this remains unclear to me. Some of these people don’t even know the name of the Kogi governor. When they need infrastructure and social amenities, they cry to the Anambra government and yet they say they’re from Kogi. Simply doesn’t make any sense. The kogi government doesn’t know them yet they foist themselves on the state. Do they expect special privileges from the kogi government? The same moribund government that has neglected true indigenes of kogi and has largely remained ineffective?
Makes absolutely no sense.
The former group, as I noted before, claim to be igbo. They deny being Igala. They love their Igbo names and would rather bear them. They would rather speak Igbo than Igala. These are the ones who make weak and frantic arguments to show they’re Igbo. They hide their Igala identity or simply don’t give it any thought when they say they’re Igbo. Granted, I might be overgeneralizing here. Some do this just to get favours from the Igbos whilst privately affirming their Igala ethnicity.
Now, these two groups create a lot of confusion and complexity for us young folks. You see a situation where relatives or siblings are from different states of origin. One is Igbo and the other Igala. You see a person who says he’s from kogi but can’t precisely tell us where exactly in kogi he’s from. I used to be very confused during my childhood. Here, I had my parents who say I’m Igala from kogi. There, I had my relatives who say I’m Igbo from Anambra. This was a rather peculiar dilemma. Which exactly was I? Neither painted the balanced picture. Both were opposite extremes. Thankfully, a well informed cousin provided the answer to this conundrum: we were Igalas but located in Anambra state.QED. As simple as that!
We Igalas in Anambra state must stop living in denial. We are not Igbo. We are not from kogi. Let us create this awareness, let people know who we are and where we’re from. We may be a minority but we don’t need to prevaricate, lie or be equivocal about it. If your parents made these mistakes, you don’t need to perpetuate the same mistake for your kids. Let’s correct this error and thus obviate this unnecessary dilemma for our children and generations yet unborn.
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