Ekoi people


Ekoi skin covered Ekpe head dress
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Nigeria 87,000[1]
 Cameroon 65,000[1]
Ekoi language
Traditional Ekoi Religions, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Ibibio, Annang, Efik, Igbo, Ijaw.

Ekoi people, also known as Ejagham, are an ethnic group in the extreme southeast of Nigeria and extending eastward into the southwest region of Cameroon. Ekoid Bantu languages are spoken by many groups, including the Atam, Boki, Mbembe, Ufia, and Yako. The Ekoi are related to the Efik, Annang, Ibibio and Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria and have lived closely with them and also claim to have migrated from the Cameroons to their area. The inhabitants of Kwa, located near Calabar, claim to be the first Ekoi people to have migrated from the Cameroons. The Ekoi are best known for their Ekpe headdresses.[2]


The Ekoi in Nigeria are found in Cross River State. The Ekoid languages are spoken around this area, although English (the national language) is also spoken.


The Ekoi believe that the heirs of the first settlers of their present settlement own the land; while newcomers are not allowed to buy land, they are able to purchase rights of settlement. Ekoi men have traditionally hunted, while women have engaged in agriculture, raising yams, plantains, and corn (maize). Women also fish, and both men and women participate in weaving.


Ekoi towns are ruled by councils of elders like their northern Igbo neighbours with whom they share various similarities, but townspeople are free to attend meetings. Native courts that were instituted under British administration provide an appeals system outside of the decision making by the elders. Representatives from various towns sit on the courts.[2]

Ekoi mythology

Main article: Ekoi mythology

The primary traditional Ekoi deities are Obassi Osaw (some dialect Obassi Osoh) , the sky god (literally meaning "the god above"), and Obassi Nsi (Some dialect "obassi Nsig), the earth god, similar to the Efik. Ancestors and natural forces are also emphasized in Ekoi worship. Various Ekoi cults are devoted to the welfare of common activities, such as farming. Before the establishment of British colonial administration, the egbo was a prominent Ekoi secret society that had strong social regulatory functions as well as influence in religious matters. Members of the egbo used a form of ideographic writing called nsibidi, variations of which were formerly found among other ethnic groups in southeastern Nigeria.

Ekoi language

The Ekoi language is one of the Ekoid languages, a Niger–Congo dialect cluster.

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