A CONCISE HISTORY OF MKPAT ENIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
By Samuel Udoma
The history of the historiography of a people is always an enigma. Its mystery usually lies in its non-simplicity of ancient surrounding events and perhaps, its diverse versions and narratives. As such, attempting to pen down the history of a people especially where extant resources are scant is like beginning an epic story that should definitely be advanced. However, in order to aid modern day basic ‘google search’ about a place and its people, I have attempted this summarized history of Mkpat Enin. This is necessitated because the current google search results about the place are very scant, lightweight and terse.
Mkpat Enin, the land that bears the imprints of the great African elephant is a socio-geographical enigma of great history.By land mass and political delineation, it is one of the largest local government areas in Akwa Ibom state and is predominantly an eastern Ibibio entity.The Ibibios are arguably the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria whose language is grouped within the Benue-Congo lingo extract.
Geographically, Mkpat Enin is a lowland and sits at an altitude of approximately185 metres(607ft) above the sea level.With an area of 322.352 square kilometres, it is bounded by Oruk Anam-Ikot Abasi local government areas to the north, Eastern Obolo to the west, part of Oruk Anam to the east and Etinan to the south.With a rich sociocultural set, the people live in close extended family system. Each family has a head known as ‘Obong Ekpuk or Obong Ufok’, who all work together with the village head known as ‘Eteidung and his Council’ in running the affairs of the community. A clan is a group of villages who share a common lineage and has a Clan Head as its ruler. The whole local government area is traditionally headed by a Paramount Ruler, who himself, must have been a village head, clan head before his elevation. The current paramount ruler is His Royal Majesty, Edidem Akpan Akpan Ekpene, the Akwa Enin 1 and the village head of Ikot Eyienge.
Occupationally, the people are predominantly agrarian, cultivating tropical crops such as yams, cassava, and palm oil. Trading is mainly done by the middle men who act as brokers between the producers of the goods and the consumers at major markets such as Udua Ukam in Ukam village.Apart from farming, the people of Mkpat Enin traditionally spend their time on social and recreational activities such as hunting, wrestling, and social visitations. The youths and children most of whom go to schools within the neighbouring communities revel in stream trips, fetching firewood and animal fodders, as well as indulge in day time plays such as Nsa-isong, Nsa-obukpok, and a host of others.The people of Mkpat Enin used to be predominantly traditional worshippers and followers of the Ekpo and Ebre divinities until the advent of Western Christianity.Today, christian denominations can be seen in almost all the villages of the local government area with some of the most frequent ones being Catholics, Qua Iboe Church, Apostolic, and the rest semi orthodox churches. However, within the cultural precinct and often times, mostly ceremonial, there are still parches of traditional worshippers in the area. As such, the occasional presence of sacred covens such as the Nwummo(House of the dead) shrines in most villages.
Politically, Mkpat Enin is divided into the four clans of Ikpa Ibom(31 villages), Ukpum Minya(24 villages), Ikpa Ikono(16 villages) and Ibiaku(16 villages) making it a total of 87 villages. The total population of the area is estimated at just under 200,000.(2006 Census) Over time, the people have adopted an unwritten pact where Executive Chairmanship of the area rotates among the four clans of the local government.The current chairman of the council is Hon Ekanem Brown from Mkpat Enin Urban, while the current State House member is Hon Victor Ekwere from Ibiaku.In tourism, Mkpat Enin can be said to be a land of an untapped tourism deposit. The area is the coconut capital of southern Nigeria, home to numerous natural wonders of the world such as the ‘Iso Abasi and Ndon ntuk ukrok’ both in Ekpuk Town of Ikpa Ikono clan.Annually, towards the end of the year, it hosts the Colours of Mkpat Enin, a 15-day long carnival of cultural festivities that has already gotten both national and international attentions.It also holds the rather usually suppressed record of being the place where oil was first discovered in Nigeria in one of its villages, Ikot Akpa Ekop.
The first state owned university, Akwa Ibom State University situated in Ikot Akpaden has upped the tourism as well as the social profile of the area markedly, attracting a huge turn in of people from all walks of life into Mkpat Enin. The current Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Eno James Ibanga is a son of the soil from Ikot Udo Idem in Ukpum Minya clan.Mkpat Enin is a home to some very notable individuals including Obong Richard Umoren, Rt Hon (Barr) Ekong Sampson(Ph.D), Prof Eno Ibanga, Lady Valerie Ebe, among others.
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