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The Anaang (also spelled Annang) is a cultural and ethnic group that lives in Southeastern Nigeria. At present, the Anaangs have eight local government areas of the present thirty-one local government areas in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria (Akwa Ibom State Local Government Areas), namely Abak, Essien Udim, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam and Ukanafun in the Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. They were formerly located in the former Abak and Ikot Ekpene Divisions of the Anaang Province, in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. The proper name for the Ika of Akwa Ibom is Ika-Annang.
The Anaang people are located in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon which was a part of the present-day Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State. However, during the then Nigerian Regional era, the then Eastern Region of Nigeria allowed Southwestern Cameroon to be partitioned out of Nigeria into Cameroon through the 1961 plebiscite. In this action the Anaang, Efik, and Ibibio people were divided between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Anaang society is patriarchal. Individuals locate their place in the social world from the Idip, literally translated as “womb”. Thus a brother/sister from the same Idipmeans that they can trace their origin to the same mother or father. Since polygamy is practised in the society, those who can so trace their ancestry to the same parents form Ufok (literally a house or compound). Several ufoks make up Ekpuks or extended family and several Ekpuks (extended families) make up “Idung” (meaning village) and several villages make up the “abie” or clan.
Leadership at the family, lineage, village, or clan level remains the prerogative of the men, and lineage ties extends to women even after marriage. There are many societies and associations (Urim) for men and women which are very important in traditional village life. Individuals are measured by both the number and types of memberships in Urim and by the achievements of one or more Urims. Governance is done by elderly males who act as the legislative arm called Afe Isong, directed by the Obong or Abong Ichong (Village Chief and Clan Chief) who is the head and the chief executive but without the authority beyond what the Afe Ichong gives. A chief can be appointed by the Afe or can be an inherited office.
The Anang speak the Annang language and perform a masquerade after the yam harvest to mark the visit of ancestral spirits, or ekpo. This is also the name of a men’s associations that once had great influence among Ibibio groups. The Anang carve masks with grotesque features, known as idiok, which are considered dangerous and may only be viewed by members of the ekpo. Other masks embody the beautiful spirit, or mfon. [1]
The strength of any individual, family (or group for that matter) is typically based upon a consensus of the village or clan through this complex social system. In all this, Anang women are not completely subordinate to men. Instead Anaang women are partners and leaders in many aspects of Anaang tradition, including serving as female chief priests “Abia Idiong” in the Idiong cult or as healers in the healing cults. The first-born female known as Adiaha is important and commands respect in the family and lineage. Some traditions hold that a woman’s first birth should take place in her mother’s compound. Women’s organizations such as “abi-de” and “Nyaama”, and “Isong Iban” play important roles in giving the women voice and status in society. There are no traditional or cultural barriers that prevent women from attaining high offices or positions.
Anaangs value the ability to speak well and oratory ability using proverbs is highly desirable, especially among the leaders. The American anthropologist, Peter Farb, stated that the name “Anaang” among this group means “they who speak well”. An individual who has the gift of eloquent speech is often complimented as Akwo Anaang, meaning the “singer of Anaang”.
According to oral tradition, the Abiakpo came to the northern range of Anaang from Eka Abiakpo. They were quickly followed by the Ukana clan, the Utu, Ekpu, Ebom and Nyama (the British lumped these groups together and gave them the name Otoro), and other Anaang clans. The Anaang and the entire people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria (AkwaCross people) have occupied their land in the coastal Southeastern Nigeria for thousands of years.
The group is related to the Efiks and the Ibibios. Migration brought the groups to live among the Twi of Ghana where the name Anaang means “fourth son”. From Ghana, the group moved eastward into present-day Cameroon. It was in the Cameroon highlands that the group broke off but later arrived at same territory in the Coastal Southeastern Nigeria. Lineages were recognized and the groups organized themselves into clans based on old family origins known as Iman, a similar structure extends into the land of their northern neighbors, the Igbo.

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