The Idoma people are ethno-linguistic groups that are found majorly in the lower western areas of Benue State, Nigeria. This group of people can also be found in Cross River state, Enugu state and Nassarawa state in Nigeria. They are about 4million in total population.
They are the second largest group of people in Benue state and occupy 9 Local Government Areas which includes; Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu and Otukpo. The Idoma language is classified in the Akweya sub-group of the Volta-Niger family, which include; Alago, Agatu, Etulo and Yala Languages of Benue, Nasarawa and Cross River states. The people are known to be warriors and hunters of class. They are also farmers especially the people of Agatu LGA.
The people are predominantly Christians. Before the advent of Christianity, the people have a traditional religion in which they strongly belief which is known as ‘Akwelu’.
The traditional ruler of the Idoma people is called the Och’Idoma. He is the head of the Idoma Area Traditional Council while each community has its own traditional chief such as the Ad’Ogbadibo of Orokan, Chief D.E Enenche. The Palace of the overall Och’Idoma is located at Otukpo, Benue state. The present Och’Idoma is HRH Elias Ikoyi Obekpa.
CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The Itraditional attire is made of red and black stripes. This has only been around since the 1980s to foster a distinct Idoma identity.
The people have a traditional dance known as ‘Ogirinya dance’. It is a highly energetic dance that requires jumping (at regular intervals) on the toes in short period of time. Ogirinya dances are always styled with the Idoma attire (red and black stripes).
The people are known for their love of food. As there is an annual food festival in Benue state to celebrate women and the various traditional cuisines. The most popular delicacy is the Okoho soup which is made with the peculiar Okoho plant, bush-meat and many other ingredients.
In some subcultures, an Idoma groom and his family have to present the bride with a rooster and some money on their marriage day after the bride price has been paid. If she accepts, it is a sign of approval and disinterest if she rejects the gift. While there are no certain reasons to justify the need for a rooster, it remains an interesting part of the ceremony.
Notable people of Idoma include; Moses Ochonu (author), Dr. Pastor Paul Enenche (clergy), David Mark (former Nigerian senate president), Prof. Jerry Aguda (author), Innocent Idibia (musician).