The Idoma culture is said to be one of the most fascinating cultures in Nigeria. The Idoma people have preserved many of their ancestors’ traditions, a number of them present in their mixture of elaborate traditional tales, artistic expressions, music and varied culture elements, this shows how they are exceptionally proud of their native heritage, Like any other culture, Idoma people reveal their customs, traditions, beliefs, norms and lifestyle through the distinctive behavioral traits.
The Idoma are an ethno-linguistic group primarily found in the western areas of Benue State, Nigeria, they occupy nine local government areas which include: Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi,Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu and Otukpo and also have sparse settlements in other parts of the country, including Nassarawa, Enugu, Kogi and Cross River States
IN MOST CULTURES THE WOMAN IS EXPECTED TO PERFORM ALL CULINARY CHORES, THE IDOMA MEN ARE NOT ALWAYS EXEMPTED, THE MEN ARE OBLIGED BY TRADITION TO POUND YAM FOR THEIR WIVES, SO WHEN NEXT YOU SEE AN IDOMA MAN ASK HIM
THE TRADITIONAL HEAD OF OTUKPO, OCH’OTUKPO JOHN EIMONYE, STATED IN AN INTERVIEW WITH DAILY TRUST NEWSPAPER THAT THE JOB OF POUNDING YAM IS ONE OF THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE IDOMA MEN AND SERVES AS A MASCULINE CHORE WHEN CONSIDERED FROM HYGIENIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VIEWPOINTS. THIS INTERESTING DETAIL THRILLS NOT JUST OUTSIDERS WHO LEARN OF IT BUT THE INDIGENES WHO PRACTICE IT AS WELL.
The groom and the rooster
While the marriage rites and customs of the Idoma people are not unlike that of the Ibos and some other south-eastern cultures, there are specific aspects that clearly distinguish their tradition.
One of those specific aspects is the fact that the groom and his family have to present the bride with a rooster and some money on the marriage day after the dowry has already been paid. If she accepts, it is a sign of approval and disinterest if she reject the gift. While there are no certain reasons to justify the need for a rooster, it remains an interesting part of the ceremony.
The most famous traditional dance of the Idoma people is known as Ogirinya dance. It is a highly energetic dance that requires jumping (at regular intervals) on the toes in short period of time.
Classified as a minority ethnic group and often mistaken to be part of the Igbo tribe, the Idoma people are known for one language – Idoma, which is classified in the Akweya subgroup of the Idomoid languages of the Volta–Niger family.
With a population estimated to be about 3.5 million, varied dialects have over time emerged from the umbrella of this mother-tongue and they include ‘Western Idoma’ chiefly spoken by the Okpokwu and Ogbadibo local government areas; ‘Central Idoma’ spoken by Otukpo and Ohimini people; ‘Southern Idoma’ largely spoken by Ado communities and ‘Northern Idoma’ spoken by the Agatu & Apa regions.
The Okoho Soup
The Idoma 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.
Most popular among their delicacies is the Okoho soup which is made with the peculiar Okoho plant, bush meat and many other ingredients.