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Chapter IX



To begin our examination if the three tribes individually we shall consider the Osopong. Map 4 shows quite clearly that Osopong villages are generally smaller than are those of the other two tribes and are spread more evenly over the the tribal territory. This demographic pattern has probably resulted fro the nineteenth century history of the Osopong and it is a pattern which we shall have to consider in some detail.

The Osopong "clan" territory, as drawn by the Administration, covers an area of about sixty six square miles. It contains a total population of about 10,800 which gives an average population density for the Osopong of 163 per square mile. This, as we shall see, makes them intermediate in this respect between Adun and Okum. There are in the Osopong area altogether twenty seven villages. Of these two, with a population of 1260 belong to the Ibo speaking Isobo, [1] and two settlements with a population of 780 are inhabited by north-eastern Ibo. The true Osopong population within the "clan" are totalled about 8750, therefore, in 1953; it was dispersed in twenty three villages spread out, mainly among the banks of the Cross River and the Awayong Creek, over a distance of twenty miles. Most of the villages are, of course, small. [2]

Osopong History.

This settlement pattern resulted almost certainly from the particular type of pressure to which the Osopong have been subjected over the several generations by the North-eastern Ibo. This pressure I also believe to have been responsible for some of the structural characteristics of Osopong villages which differentiate them from those in

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Okum and Adun and which have influenced the position of the Osopong Avat. For all these reasons we must examine the point in some detail. We have already seen something of the general history of events in this area during the last century but we must look at these events again to see how they have influenced the Osopong in particular.

It seems probable that formerly the "proto-Osopong" lived wholly north of the Cross River. At this time, before the movement of the North-eastern Ibo began to drive certain of the "Osopong" villages south of the river, it seems probable, from evidence that will be discussed in detail later, that villages speaking dialects very similar to that of Adun occupied most of the area on the left bank now settled by Osopong. Indeed such villages probably stretched from a district as far south-west as the Yakö village of Ekuri to as far north-east as the confluence of the Awayong Creek and the Cross River (see p.152-157). Also living, apparently, in the neighbourhood of what is now the Osopong village of Obubra, possibly on both sides of the river, were the ancestors of the Okpodon peoples who are now living near Ejekwe in Ogoja District. What the political relationships were between the different "Akun" speaking villages, and between them and the Okpodon it is of course quite impossible to say.

At some time, almost certainly not later than the beginning of the nineteenth century, a group of "proto-Osopong" called the Irangawingi began to cross over and settle on the left bank of the Cross River. [3] The reason for this movement was, probably, the pressure exerted by the North-eastern Ibo who were advancing on the northern and western borders of the proto-Osopong, and it is apparent that the position of village after village became so difficult that the population moved away south or east.

Although the "proto-Osopong" may have been no match for the Ibo they were apparently stronger than their other neighbours. They were able to move over the river and settle on the left bank. This gave rise to many wars, which continued as occasional outbursts until 1925. The Okpodon were driven out altogether and the Osopong drove a wedge between what we have called Adun speaking villages, and separated these into the Adun proper to the west, and an eastern group called the Ofunbonga.

The Osopong also pushed to the east against the Atam, whom they seem to have dislodged with more ease than they did their Mbembe speaking neighbours. This is suggested by the fact that accounts of serious inter-tribal wars are fewer from the Osopong-Atam border than they are from the Osopong left bank settlements. How far west of their present territory the Atam once lived it is not possible to say, but the Osopong villages of Ogurude, Okimbonga, Idoro, Ogamana and Apiapum Eja, almost all on the right bank of the Awayong Creek, were, by tradition, founded on the sited of the former Atom villages, and a few Osopong settlements were also founded across the Awayong.

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The important point, for our general analysis of the significance of this period, is that the type of warfare to which the Mbembe were subjected seems to have varied according to which side of the river they were living and who were their enemies. Traditions suggest that the methods the North-eastern Ibo used against the Osopong were very different from those which were used by the Okum and Adun in their wars with each other and with the Osopong.

Among the Okum and Adun there are many accounts of direct attacks on villages. These attacks might take the form of sudden onslaughts by an enemy who had crept up and hidden during the night or appeared suddenly when most men were at their farms. There might, however, be a more drawn-out battle if the village were prepared for the attack. In such a case each side would post look-outs in the trees who signalled on horns the movements of the enemy; this form of attack was common enough for traditions to grow up according to which the village being attacked could not be destroyed until their look-out had been killed by a shot from a magic gun. No matter what the form of the attack, however, if it were successful it was followed by the destruction of the village and sometimes by its resettlement by the conquerors. Whatever happened the original inhabitants were normally driven away.

Such accounts are, however, not found on the other side of the Cross River in connection with the wars of the Osopong with the North-eastern Ibo. It is a surprising fact that, although there are very many Osopong accounts which tell how their ancestors had repeatedly to abandon their homes in face of enemy pressure, there are no accounts which suggest that the North-eastern Ibo directly attacked the villages and drive their inhabitants out by force. Instead, according to Osopong tradition, the Ibo concentrated on annexing land. They rarely attacked groups of people, although they killed stragglers; but they boldly stole crops ready for harvesting and seized land piecemeal as the desired it for farms; and the Osopong seem not to have had the ability to hold the land by force. This is understandable since the Ibo segmentary lineage system seems to have been such as to give them a political coherence far greater than their neighbours; the Ibo could, therefore, muster an overwhelming number of men if any argument over land did develop. Once their neighbours realized this they became overawed and if the Ibo wanted more land they simply sent people to live on it. As has been said "The original owners of the land being unable to expel the new village could only withdraw." [4]

The differences in the tactics employed in the different areas were probably due to, at lest in part, to ecological differences between them. it seems unlikely that in the north the process of gradual annexation of land, which involves less effort than an all out assault on a village, could be adopted because the more open nature of the country protected the aggressor to some extent from the likelihood of sudden ambush. The tactical advantages lay with the aggressor able to call on large numbers if necessary and the outlying farmlands of a weaker enemy

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could have been seized with a far degree of safety. In the forest zone, however, such a policy must have provided suicidal for here even a weak group could harass land grabbers by ambushing them and escaping into the thick bush. In the forest it was only when an enemy settlement was destroyed and its inhabitants driven away that immigrants could hope to farm the nearby land in comparative safety.

There is particularly strong evidence that environmental factors have influenced the type of aggression practised in the Mbembe area because the only Osopong who have managed to survive the north of the Cross River are in fact separated from the Ibo by a belt of gallery forest. This suggests that this type of country was unsuited to the normal Ibo tactics. This forest belt formed the effective dividing line between the two peoples at the end of the last century and marks their present border (see map 3). it runs diagonally from north-east to south-west, from a few miles up the Awayong Creek to the Cross River some miles below the point where the two streams join. It follows an old river channel presumably the former course of the Awayong, and is so low lying that it is only with the very recent introduction of rice-growing that it has been worth while to clear it all.

That the North-eastern Ibo had not been penetrated beyond this belt is unlikely to be mere coincidence for almost everywhere else they had reached the Cross River by the end of the last century. Indeed the only Mbembe village to remain on the right bank of the river outside this protecting forest belt has almost most all its land to the Ibo, and its inhabitants have been able to exist there only by becoming specialist canoe-builders; they make the most of the canoes in this area of the Cross River. The Ibo, I suggest, did not occupy the land south-east of the forested belt because in passing through it and settling beyond it in small groups they would have been highly vulnerable to Osopong attacks. [5]

The importance of this apparent difference in tactics in the forest and the grassland is that it seems to have led to a different pattern of village evacuation which may account for the difference in village size in the two areas. The inhabitants of a village defeated by a direct frontal assault seem by tradition generally to have moved out together as refugees. Probably for the sake of their future security they seem usually to have settled en bloc with a friendly village. At the same time, of course, under these somewhat perilous conditions small groups would obviously have hesitated to leave a village to found a new settlement for themselves. These two factors must have led to the growth in the size of certain villages, especially those on tribal borders. On the other hand, where the danger that the people ran was not that of a direct attack but rather the annexation of farm-land there was less reason for a refugee group to see shelter with another village instead founding a new settlement of its own. There must also have been less to stop a small group from leaving independently of the rest of the inhabitants.

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That there were ecological factors involved in determining village size is suggested by the fact that three of the four largest Osopong villages are to be found on the left bank of the Cross River, that is in the forest zone. This suggests that in a similar environment to that of Okum and Adun, Osopong villages conformed to the usual size for settlements in those tribes. Of the twenty-three Osopong villages, sixteen have populations of under 400, three have populations of from 400 to 600, and of the remaining four, all with populations of over 800, three are on the left bank, and there is some evidence that even at the beginning of this century their populations were unusually large. [6] This is particularly noteworthy since, in pre-European times, the Osopong had only four villages on this bank and the fourth, which is today only a small settlement, seems to be merely the rump of a former village. Before about 1908 this village was a joint settlement of both Okum and Osopong groups, but in this year the Okum section, apparently the larger of the two, left to found their own new settlement. Almost certainly, therefore, where the Osopong had settled on the left bank of the Cross River in the nineteenth century they were living in what, for them, were unusually large villages.

The Patrilineal System

The type of pressure to which the North-eastern Ibo subjected Osopong probably accounts also for the fact that the patriclan is here dispersed. It is argued that the type of pressure was such that patrilineages moved independently and so became scattered in different villages. Ibo pressure was directed against land and among all the Mbembe tribes, as we have seen, it is the minimal patrilineage and to a lesser extent the patrilineage, which are the basic land holding groups. When the Ibo seized tracts of land from the Osopong they must have affected some patrilineages very severely while leaving others scarcely touched. Probably as a result of this the evacuation of a village threatened by the North-eastern Ibo seems to have been effected by the gradual dispersal of individual patrilineages.

For example, an old man, the sole survivor of the people who had lived in the village of his birth, spoke of the movements which took place from this village, probably some time in the late eighties and nineties of the last century. He said that he was a young adolescent when people first began to leave the village because of Ibo pressure. The first emigrants arouse a lot of antagonism because their going was seen to weaken the position of those who remained. Where they went he was not quite sure, but some moved up the Cross River and founded a settlement among the Atam tribe. A little later the people who had remained in the village were invited by a far-left bank Osopong village to come over the river and settle near them, on a site from which they had recently driven an enemy village belonging to a hostile Mbembe tribe, the Okpodon. Accordingly a group comprising three

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lineages, two from patriclan A and one from patriclan B, went over to found a new settlement. Then over the next few years another four lineages moved, three from clan B, and one from clan C. Finally, my informant's own lineage from patriclan D followed. His had been the last lineage left in their old home which now lies inside the North-eastern Ibo territory. It should be noted that, although he remembered the details of only those lineages which moved to the village where he subsequently settled, he knew that during the period of dispersal from his home other groups went elsewhere.

It it this type of movement that probably accounts for the fact that, in Osopong, lineages of one patriclan are to be found in several different villages. It is particularly noteworthy that lineages of the same patriclan may be found dispersed amongst the villages of all three sub-tribes of which, as we shall see, Osopong is composed. It is, of course true, that there is no direct evidence that this dispersal of the lineages followed from the pattern of village evacuation and not from some pre-existing differences in the Osopong patriclan. The latter possibility seems nevertheless unlikely since, in principle, the Osopong adhere strictly to the same rules as other Mbembe tribes regarding patrilineal groups. In Osopong as elsewhere residence is patrilocal and land is inherited patrilineally. It is also significant that the Osopong word for village is Ofona (not the word "Owon" used in Adun and Okum) and this word is obviously very closely related to the word for patriclan, Efona, suggesting that conceptually patrilineal groups are very closely linked with residence in a particular place, and may even indicate the former close identification of particular patriclans with particular villages.

Although it is the case that, today, adult men more readily change their village of residence among the Osopong then among either of the other two tribes, this I suspect is a consequence rather than a cause of the patriclan dispersal; men move more easily because they can go to their patrilineal kin. It is certainly true that there are scarcely any traditions of lineages leaving their villages and fellow clansmen for reasons unconnected with Ibo pressure. It seems probable that, therefore, that the type of aggression has influenced the Osopong patrilineal organization.

The Patriclan

There are, in all, about thirty six patriclans among the Osopong. Of these a very few are found in one village only, but many are represented in seven or eight villages and one has groups in ten villages. Each clan has a distinct name and one of the heads of the constituent lineages is usually regarded as head of the whole patriclan.

A man may be regarded as, in a sense, the head of a patriclan because he has prestige as an important Ovat, but strictly speaking this office is not relevant to his position within the dispersed patriclan. An Ovat has significance, as we have seen, primarily in the context of residential groups. Not every Osopong patriclan even has an Ovat among its members, although in some clans two or even three men in different villages may be Avat. There is no hard and fats rule about this matter,

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nor, indeed is there even an ideal rule. This is understandable since the role of the patriclan head is significant only when an occasional rite is held in connection with the ancestral cult, and this rite is held not at an Okpobam shrine but an Afomata shrine. The man recognized s patriclan head is therefore normally the priest of the oldest Afonata shrine in the clan. He will probably also be an Ovat, but not necessarily so.

In Okum and Adun there is only one Afonata shrine in each patriclan but in Osopong because each patriclan is composed of scattered groups there is a tendency to greater ritual independence of their constituent units. Just as, in the case of the Ochi, a disgruntled lineage may ritually separate itself by removing a stone from the common shrine so, among the Osopong, if a patrilineage feels that it is not being given it fair share of food in the distribution made at joint Afonata rituals, its representative may take away a stone and use it as a nucleus round which to form a new shrine. In time this lineage may in turn divide, first into difference lineages each with its own Obassi shrine and priest, and eventually it may segment into two Afonata groups. These shrines are not arranged in any overall sequence within the clan but one of them is usually recognized as older than the others and is therefore superior. Should a series of misfortunes among the patriclan sectors in various villages be put down by diviners to anger on the part of the dead of the whole patriclan, then the senior priest of the patriclan may call representatives of all the sectors to a sacrifice. Such rites are rare and seem not to occur more often than once in fifteen to twenty years. Nevertheless although the rites be seldom bring the representatives of the whole patriclan together, the mere knowledge that in the event of misfortune they can be summoned to a collective rite is in itself significant. This is, however, the only occasion on which the clan acts together as a unit.

The "Afonata" Groups

If we look at the structure of the groups within the Osopong patriclan we find it is the organization round these Afonata shrines which serves further to differentiate the Osopong patriclan from those of Adun and Okum. The smaller units, which we have called the patrilineage and minimal patrilineage, correspond among the Osopong so closely to the groups already outlined in chapter 3 that they need not be discussed here. The Afonata group must, however, be looked at more closely.

This unit is called "Efona" the same term as that used for the wider patriclan. [7] Since the lineages which compose it may or may not be able to trace genealogical connections with each other it may be said to be in some cases a major lineage and in others a sub-clan. Very commonly it consists of a patriclan sector, that is all the lineages of a clan within one village. This is not necessarily the case, however,

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since the group may have attached lineages living in different villages, while, again, the group even within one village may quarrel and sub-divide into two Afonata congregations. However, the group may be organized, it unites annually for, once a year, Afonata rites are held to which all the men of the group and their wives should go, no matter in which village they may happen to be living at the time.

The Patriclan Sector.

This is also a ritual unit which, in a sense, is centred round an Afonata shrine. Despite all that has just been said about the intra-village fission of this group, lineages within the village still join together for the annual rights. They may have quarrelled and one group among them may have set up its own Afonata shrine; or one lineage may regard an Afonata shrine in a different village as the shrine to which it is particularly attached, but it nevertheless remains true that lineages within a sector may attend each other's rites. This is partly explained by the fact that even when the group has ritually segmented because of a quarrel the quarrel is not of the same serious nature as that which occasions fission in matrilineal groups. Whatever its internal differences, a patriclan sector (also confusingly referred to as an "Efona") sees itself as a unit in competition with like units within the village. As a consequence it has sufficient solidarity to act together as a ritual unit. Whenever one of the constituent lineages of the sector performs a rite at its Afonata shrine all members of other lineages in the sector are welcome to attend if they wish. They are not under the same obligation as are the true members of the group concerned to bring yams and wine to the rite, but they are welcome as quests. The priest of the sector's oldest Afonata shrine is regarded as senior to the other priests and the rites he conducts are commonly attended by many guests from the sector. This senior priest may be an Ovat. Even if he is not he is still formally regarded as the head of the sector and is given a special title of "eso' nong" literally "head-man".

The sector is, therefore, a formally recognised unit with an officially acknowledged head, and it is, of course, a ritual unit. It is also a ceremonial group especially on the occasion of funerals. At the death of a member, the "eso' nong" has an obligation to supply a cloth to be placed in the grave with the dead. This priest must, therefore, always keep such a cloth by him and at a funeral the sector members must all contribute to the cost of a replacement of the cloth to be stored by him against the next death. In a sense this, in part, constitutes the corporate payment of this priest by the sector for his services, for he is entitled to keep a portion of each cloth for himself. The members of the deceased's patrilineage are expected to make the major contribution to the cost, and it is they who supply two men to dig the grave, but the whole sector is concerned in the event.

Nevertheless, the significance of the patriclan sector seems normally to end here. The sector does not co-operate to acquire anti-witchcraft or anti Ijong cults. Moreover it is only very seldom a labour group since in Osopong villages "public works" are more commonly performed

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on other bases. This is understandable since the patriclan sector among the Osopong is in general a very much smaller unit than is the patriclan in either Okum or Adun. In Osopong, even in the largest villages, one patriclan sector seldom contains more than 150 members and it may number only twenty to forty. Moreover in Osopong villages the main political units are wards, not the patriclan sectors. Indeed it is probably a result that the sector can readily tolerate segmentation into different Afonata groups.

Ward Organization

The Osopong villages are distinct from the Adun, Okum, Ofunbonga, and I think probably also from the Okpodon villages in that all except the smallest villages in Osopong are divided into two wards.

As a residential unit a ward may acquire its own anti-witchcraft and sorcery cults subscribed to by all its members. It usually, although not invariably, possesses its own men's meeting house and its own "play-ground" where the shrines of the ward's cults are kept and where ward dances are held. Indeed one of the terms used for the ward is "ewaama" which means the "playground" or dancing space.

As this implies, not only rites, but ceremonies may be held on a ward basis. Among the Osopong the girls' pre-marriage dances are held only once in every seven years and I have not witnessed them myself, but informants say that it is usual for each ward to hold its dances separately and for the dances to be the occasions for the display of a certain amount of rivalry between the wards, each striving to outdo the other in its dancing.

Associations are similarly organized to some extent on a ward basis. More particularly those associations which played a significant part in exercising social control within the village, especially Okwa, Ogbudu, Nyankpe and Eberemit are, or were, so organized. Within each ward there was a senior man for each association and when an offence had been committed the association of the ward concerned fined the offender and shared out the fine. If a member of ward A committed an offence against a member of ward B this might lead to a dispute which would have to be settled by a meeting of the whole association at the village level, but it is said that usually no trouble arose since, for example in the case of theft, the members of the relevant association in ward A since they were the ones to share the fine would still have a "vested interest" in fining their ward members.

Communal labour concerned with cleaning the village is also organized on a ward basis. Other tasks outside the village, such as clearing of farm paths may at times be organized on a ward basis but this is not invariably so since there are other bases on which such work can be more conveniently organized.

Each ward normally contains members of a number of patriclan sectors one of which is usually regarded as senior to the others, in that its claim to have been first resident is acknowledged. There is always one patriclan sector within the village which claims to have founded

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the village and the ward containing the founding patriclan sector is regarded as the senior ward. The village Ovat is normally chosen from this founding clan sector. The junior ward also has a senior man. This man may be an Ovat., in which case the office is attached to one of the patriclan sectors within the ward. If no such office exists within the ward, however, the head man will be the head of the Okwa association for that ward. It is symptomatic of the strength of ward solidarity that when, in the 1930's "Clan" councils were set up by the administration, the Osopong expected representatives of each ward in a village to have a right to attend the sittings. When at a later date, certain of the smaller villages were restricted to only one representative, two of these villages opted to send a representative from each ward alternatively to the meetings.

Where the history of the formation of a ward is known the quarrel that originated it is thought to have been merely a chance affair but this is quite obviously not the case. There must be clearly some structural factor which accounts for such a regular pattern of sub-division within the villages. This point is made even more certain by the fact that the age-sets within the village also exhibit this same duality. In some ways the processes which make for this reason we may consider them first, as they throw light on the significance of the ward structure.

The Age-Set Organization

Osopong age-sets exhibit all the traits we have described for Mbembe age-sets in general. They are formed on a village-wide basis, in the Osopong case each set covering a span of six years. The process of formation conforms to that already described. The girls undergo a series of pre-marriage ceremonies and the age-sets of both men and women play crucial roles for their members in sickness, betrothal, marriage and divorce. Work is also assigned on an age-set basis and traditionally each set of men was bound to remain in the village on one day each week. There is, however, a major difference between Osopong age-sets and those of the other Mbembe tribes for among the Osopong, in the case of men, alternate age-sets are linked together to form in each village two opposed groups called Igwe and Ogop names of for which I could get no explanation).

Within each age-set group unity was formally encouraged. Each worked together on public tasks, and formal expression was given to their solidarity in the rule that members could not bring charges of adultery against each other. Within the individual age-set adultery with the wife of a member, in whose house the adulterer would frequent;y have to sit and drink, was regarded as a shameful offence which would be subject to sanctions by the age-set and to public scorn. On the other hand a man could not officially complain of his wife committed adultery with any other members of his own age-set group.

There is evidence, as might be expected, that such adultery nevertheless occasioned strong resentment which was periodically allowed open expression, but this was only at long intervals. Every seventh

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year the rites of a cult association called Awtawa, are performed. Everywhere these rites occur they give a certain licence as we shall see to individuals and groups to pay off old scores against others. The pattern of hostility so displayed varies from tribe to tribe but amongst the Osopong it is recognized that at a certain period in the rites men will try to attack members of their own age-set group whom they suspect of having adulterous relations with their wives. Nevertheless, despite this, the rule that prevents members from bringing formal charges against each other is significant. The Administration has generally considered it as conducive to promiscuity. Since however adultery is of frequent occurrence anyway, even with wives of men of the opposite group, the rule should probably be seen as a device serving to make the age-set group more united by limiting open quarrels over women, among its members. Each group, ideally at least, has considerable internal unity.

On the other hand Igwe and Ogop opposed each other. Indeed hostility between them seems to have been deliberately encouraged. Their sense of rivalry was made use of, and possibly also fostered, by setting them to compete with each other when work was needed on behalf of the whole village. Particularly they were encouraged to race each other when clearing farm paths. Moreover at certain times in the year public wrestling matches took place between members of the different groups and, allegedly, if a man were killed in the course of a match no blood compensation was payable. Today these matches have almost died out and it is impossible to tell how dangerous they actually were but the significant point about them appears to be this ruling on blood compensation. It is significant because without some such rule the matches could scarcely have been allowed to take place; it has already been argued that among the Mbembe homicide within the village must have been particularly disturbing because of the double unilineal descent system. Fatalities at these matches were probably rare. Nevertheless the existence of the rule that deaths occasioned by them were not to be subject to action between kin groups suggests that the village authorities were keen to encourage age-group rivalry; so keen in fact that they were prepared to set aside all normal rules in order that the matches should take place. This suggests that in some way they perceived the expression of hostility between Igwe and Ogop to be valuable.

That the dual pattern among the men's age-sets has real political significance for the village as a whole is obvious, and is confirmed by the fact that greater formality surrounds what may be called their "coming of age" in Osopong than in the other Mbembe tribes. It is not that among the Osopong there is any age-grading or puberty ritual for the boys, but there is rather more formality associated with the assumption y the young age-set of an active role in public life. This change in status is expressed through the formal introduction by the age-set of new dance into the village.

Such a n introduction by an age-set is not unique to Osopong. In Adun and Okum some age-sets may introduce such a dance. In their case it is open to members of other age-sets to join it but the members of

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the introducing age-set remain the owners and share the small fees paid by the outsiders. In these tribes, however, many age-sets never do such a thing and those which do may bring in the dance at any stage in their careers; there is no set time for its introduction. Among the Osopong, however, each young men's age-set must introduce such a dance at about the time when the members begin to assume adult responsibilities. Other villagers may join the dance but it is always identified with the introducing age-set; and this identification is so complete that although the age-set may have its own name already, it is more commonly known by the name of its dance. This pattern of naming is quite unknown in Okum and Adun.

The significance of the importance attached to the introduction of a dance by the age-set seems to be political. Before they perform the dance, the young men must seek, with presents, the permission of the village Ovat and other elders. In effect, therefore, the introduction of the dance constitutes formal recognition at the village level of the newly adult set.

One of the significant aspects of the Osopong age-set organization is that despite the unique degree to which they have elaborated the opposition between proximate age-sets their difference from other Mbembe tribes in this respect can scarcely be due simply to historical accident for the idea of such opposition is present but undeveloped among several local peoples.

That members of alternate age-sets should have ties with each other is only to be expected, in one sense, since they make obvious allies. Young men of proximate sets are natural rivals and, therefore, those of alternate sets are linked by having a common "enemy". This pattern of alliance and opposition is given a limited formal expression in Adun where it is significant in the context of the Awtawa rites. In this tribe men at about the age of thirty become full Awtawa initiates, a change in status which in no way seems to alter the roles they perform in other contexts. Nevertheless, in a manner reminiscent of puberty rituals, the novices are taken outside the village to an area of sacred bush which they have to enter through a narrow opening and run the gauntlet. Blows are rained on them by members of the age-set above them, while the members of the set next but one above try to help them through. In Adun, however, this system of alliance and opposition is not given any further formal expression for it occurs in no other context, nor does it on this occasion involve other age-sets. Among the Yako, at least in Umor, alternate age-sets are linked into two named groups. Presumably their roles must have been significant in the fairly recent past for the groups to have received the names and for these to be remembered; but it is not recorded that they play and significant part in village life. [8] nevertheless it would seem from these examples, that the grouping of age-sets into two

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opposed groups is, in this area, [9] a possible form of organization which could be widely used but among the Mbembe only the Osopong have developed it to any considerable extent.

General Factors Influencing the Dual Divisions of Osopong Villages.

The Osopong villages have, therefore, a remarkable structure if they are compared with the other villages of Okum and Adun. Osopong villages alone have nay real form of dual organization and they have not one but two types of dual system. it can, I think, be argued that there is a connection between the existence of dual age- set groups and twin wards.

On the one hand it seems reasonable to suggest that each type of system plays a significant part in promoting some degree of village unity. Each firmly combines together with large groups of men against others and in so doing provides the villagers with a basis of solidarity much greater than that given by any other type of structure within the settlement. At the same time it may be said that each type of organization provides a useful check on the other. The unity provided by the Igwe/Ogop, division and by the two wards, depends on the stimulation, in part the deliberate stimulation,of inter-group hostility. That this hostility is kept within the safe bounds is due to the fact that wards and age-sets cross-cut each other.

There are, of course, certain dangers in this type of argument. it nevertheless remains attractive because it provides an explanation of the Osopong material which is difficult to understand in any other terms.

In the first place it is certain that the Osopong people faced unusual problems which must have made it difficult for them to develop even moderately unified villages. It has been argued already that the pressure of the North-eastern Ibo probably led to break up of what were formerly co-resident patriclans. This pressure was certainly kept up over several generations, in the course of which many villages must have experienced the gradual splitting away of patrilineages such as that already described (see p.93). The result must have been the emergence of a kaleidoscopic situation as successive villages disintegrated and their constituent patrilineages were reshuffled amongst other settlements.

In such a situation it is easy to see, in the first place, the advantages that might be given by the development of a dual ward system. The village would scarcely have been an efficient unit if its largest constituent groups had been merely the patriclan sectors - the "blocks" would have been too small, too fragmentary. Moreover if the sectors had been the main units within the village then obviously hostility between them would have been particularly likely to develop and if it grew too intense those groups with new and rather tenuous ties with

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the village might well have departed for other settlements. On the other hand he simple division of the village into two geographical areas must have had many advantages. In a somewhat fluid situation it could provide the villages with a stable structure into which incoming descent groups could be readily fitted. It also could provide a relatively safe way of coping with any hostility which might be generated, for if this is expressed primarily between wards there is less danger to village unity. Presumably if inter-ward rivalry is emphasized this will inhibit the growth of inter-kin group rivalry; and inter-ward rivalry is the less dangerous of the two. No matter what the antagonism between two wards, they are so indissolubly linked with particular villages that neither group is likely to go elsewhere. In any case, apart from any other consideration the members of a ward would scarcely have sufficient internal unity to be able to carry out such a project even if they wished to do so.

The difficulty in this argument is, of course, that granted the advantage of the system, it is not easy to see how it might have originated. In the case of the dual age-set groups it is easy to see a "natural" basis from which the organization could have sprung; but there is no deep-rooted cleavage in Osopong society about which the wards might have formed. Indeed the only case in which there appears to have been any common factor in ward formation in different villages is that of three left bank settlements; in each of these villages it is claimed that one ward has formed round the original founders of the village and the second round a subsequent wave of refugees from Ibo pressure. In most cases, however, where a tradition exists accounting for the founding of the wards it is put down to chance quarrels over meat distribution or communal labour, or to economic rivalry.

For example there are two instances in which it appears that villages have divided into wards in this century. The first case is that of Apiapum Eja, formerly a hamlet of Eja. Prior to its division into two wards the village had already become divided informally into two named residential settings. A quarrel arose between the women of these sections over selling of pots in the weekly market and also over the performance of communal labour, the members of one section telling the other that they were not doing their fair share of the work. It was therefore decided formally to recognize the existence of this cleavage. The senior member of Okwa of one section was appointed head of the new ward, a rule was made that women from the two wards should sell their pots only on alternate market days, and communal work was divided between the two wards.

The second case was that of a hamlet belonging to Awakande. In this case also the settlement became informally divided into two sections before the division was officially recognised. The crucial quarrel arose over an association. The senior men of one of the divisions believed that they were not getting their proper share of the money accruing to a certain association. They therefore seceded and formed their own ward so they might have their own branch of the association, in which they would be the leaders.

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The common factor in both these cases is that prior to the establishment of separate wards descent groups in each half of the village had somehow to think of themselves as allies against the other half. In the cases quoted, of course, the conduct of those involved must have been influenced by their knowledge that nearly every other Osopong village is divided into two wards. Nevertheless it seems fairly reasonable to suppose that some such gradual growth of antagonism between two halves of a village may well have first led to the formation of dual wards which, once formed, proved so successful that the pattern was one that spread easily.

That it must have spread in fairly recent times is suggested by the fact that this dual organization is found among the villages of all three sub-tribes into which Osopong is divided, despite the fact that these seem to have been originally independent groups, and one of them , Ijimessi, although now completely "Mbembe-ized", is thought of as originally having spoken a different language and as being at enmity with the others. Since the dual ward organization is in this area, limited to the Osopong it seems more probable that the system has arisen out of the common experience of these people at the hands of the North-eastern Ibo than that each of the Osopong sub-tribes happened to have originally possessed a dual award system for some reason which is now not discoverable. [10]

It is against this background of inter-ward rivalry that rivalry between Igbe and Ogop becomes significant, for each group united half of the male population of every village and the very strength of the Igwe/Ogop rivalry must have made the members, even those within opposed wards conscious of their unity. Thus inter-ward rivalry was counterbalanced. Again all this may be mere coincidence; but it seems more reasonable to see this combination of dual wards and dual age-organizations as arising out of the particular situation in which the Osopong village existed.

Factors Influencing Village Solidarity.

It is apparent that the Osopong villages depend to a great extent on this system of counterposed forces of age-set and ward for whatever sense of unity they possess. As we shall see these villages were not unified by their possession of a strong central authority; [11] indeed authority within the village is not firmly concentrated on the Ovat but

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is shared to a marked extent between the Ovat and the head of Okwa. The villages were not unified through any serious rivalry with other Osopong villages, for this did not exist. Finally the Osopong village was unlike villages found in Akum and Adun in that the Osopong village is not a sharply distinguished social unit; village boundaries do not form marked lines of social discontinuity for there are many ties binding individuals in one village to those in others. Despite all that has been said of the way on which double unilineal descent tends to make for village isolation, and despite the fact that in Osopong, as elsewhere, the Okwa association strove to keep control over the marriage of women, the network of social ties between villages seems to have been greater among the Osopong than in other Mbembe tribes.

In the first place the Osopong are unique in the fact that patrilineal ties extend beyond the village. This means that very occasionally there are large gatherings of patriclansmen from different different villages who assemble for joint rites at the Afonata shrines. One reason for the size of the movement is that young men among the Osopong more readily move to settle away from their villages. Indeed in counts that I made in two Osopong villages 23% of the men born and brought up in them had moved elsewhere - a very large proportion when set against the movement of about 3% of men in Adun and Okum villages. This movement is, of course, self-perpetuating since men are encouraged to move by the fact that they have close patrilineal kin in other villages with whom they may settle. It is also a very clear indication of the comparative lack of village patriotism among the Osopong.

Movement between villages for matrilineal rites also occurs. The matrilineal lineage band Ochi among the Osopong conform so closely to the groups described in Chapter III that it has been unnecessary to consider them separately. Nevertheless the extent of inter-village movement which is connected with matrilineal rites is sufficiently significant to be discussed here.

Annually members of the Ochi meet for Akwa rites at the house of their priest wherever he may be living. Each year, before the yam harvest, a joint rite is held asking for the blessing of the matriclan dead on the group for the coming year. In their performance of these rites the Osopong are not unique, for rites that are almost identical occur also among the Adun. Nevertheless there are also other occasions for interaction between matriclan members which are peculiar to the Osopong.

For example the ties between the matriclan "sectors" in the various villages and the matriclan priest are marked with particular formality in the case of funerals. Among the Osopong not only must the priest, as in Adun, send a contribution to the funerals of all members but he, or his representative, must take a cloth to the village where the death has occurred, and this cloth should be buried with the body.

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The members of the matriclan, but especially of the matriclan sector of the dead, must contribute to the cost of a replacement of the cloth to be sent to the priest of the clan against the next funeral. To some extent this obligation involves contact between the constituent matriclan since, if the members of one clan sector have been slack in fulfilling their obligations to send such a cloth to the priest, and another death in the matriclan seems imminent, then messages will be sent asking them to purchase the cloth without delay.

It is clear, therefore, that there are very strong ties of kinship which inter-link Osopong villages and make them socially very different from all the villages of Okum and Adun. These kin ties mean that by comparison with the villages of those tribes, the Osopong villagers have little solidarity for they do not perceive of themselves in the same way as social units independent of their neighbours. There is, probably, a connection between this fact and the fact that in political terms there seems to have been comparatively little inter-village hostility among the Osopong. Thus a factor which undoubtedly gave rise to village unity in Okum and Adun was absent among the Osopong.

The absence of inter-village rivalry among the Osopong is noticeable in their accounts of their Awtawa rites. These rites we saw earlier, everywhere provided the occasion for the overt expression of normally latent inter-group hostility. Among the Osopong these rites occur only once in every seven years, and unfortunately as with the girls' age-set ceremonies, I have not myself seen them and have to rely on informants statements. Nevertheless from these it seems clear that the only area in Osopong where these rites do show up inter-village rivalry is among the left bank settlements. These form a special case which we shall discuss later. Elsewhere, except for very mild inter-village rivalry shown in the Awtawa rites of Ijebe, one of Osopong's three sub-tribes, this form of friction is not found. I suggest this is a good indication that it did not seriously exist.

Certainly one of the main causes of inter-village friction, rivalry over claims to land, seems not to have been present over most of Osopong, where villages seem to have plenty of land for their own needs. Osopong villages are close together and movement between them is easy. Nevertheless the population of most of the villages is so small that despite their proximity they have not been forced into competition. Significantly where land disputes between the villages have occurred in this century they have arisen from quarrels over the right to lease unfarmed land to the North-eastern Ibo, who are still expanding; the quarrels have not been due to the fact that the Osopong have been competing with each other for land from their own farms. This seems sufficient evidence, therefore, to suggest that before the leasing of land became a possibility the Osopong villages had few occasions for quarrelling among themselves and there was little, therefore, to foster village patriotism.

The unity of Osopong villages, such as it emerges primarily in ritual contexts. As elsewhere, whenever a member dies the village

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Ovat or his representative performs the rite of "measuring" the grave. In the rare cases of homicide too, the Village Ovat is involved for whatever the patriclan or ward of the man who has committed the act, a cleansing rite is performed at the Village Ovat's Okpobam shrine, (although as we shall see not normally by the Village Ovat) to cleanse the whole village from its pollution.

Much more frequent, however, than such rites are those performed in connection with the anti-witchcraft and sorcery cults that have already been described. These cults are regarded as particularly important by the Osopong because their fears of witches and sorcerers seems stronger than do those of the other Mbembe tribes. In the first place all the Mbembe, Osopong, Okum and Adun alike, assert that there are more, and more dangerous Ajijongo in Osopong than elsewhere. To the people this is an obvious fact and is accounted for the siting of so many Osopong villages on the banks of the rivers, for it is by these that the Ajijongo travel. Therefore, to the local people, it is as obvious that the Osopong will suffer from sorcery as it might be to people in this country that those in damp, low-lying districts will suffer from rheumatism. Since diviners also equate the river banks with Ajijongo I suspect, though I cannot prove, that in their diagnoses they are more likely to blame Ijong if their patient comes from Osopong than if he comes from elsewhere, thereby helping to confirm the general view.

Secondly it seems that witches are also more feared among the Osopong than in other tribes. Accusations of witchcraft between individuals are known in all tribes but it seems probable that it was more common in Osopong for a village to be seized with such a general fear of witchcraft that all the women would decide to go together to take the esere bean ordeal. Such practices have, of course, been prohibited for the last fifty years, and the penalties inflicted have been so heavy as to put a stop to activities which, by their very nature, can hardly be kept a secret. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to get any real idea of the frequency with which such joint ordeals were undergone in the different areas. It is, however, noticeable that the most lively traditions of such ordeals are to be found among the Osopong.

In this tribe alone was the practice so institutionalized that it is said today that only women who had successfully returned from taking the ordeal were regarded as really adult. Taking the esere bean ordeal is said to have been to the women what head-hunting was to the men. Moreover, if I may cite purely personal evidence, it was above all among the Osopong that I, as a European, was taken to task for being associated with those who prevented the use of the ordeal. Most Mbembe seemed to feel that the most sinister attribute of Europeans as the support and protection which they gave to witches, but it was amongst the Osopong that the accusations were most common and were strongest.

I feel unable, without more research, to give a really satisfactory explanation of the fact that Osopong fears of wizardry are unusually

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high by Mbembe standards. These fears may be related to the instability and general anxiety of life under Ibo pressure. At the same time the particularly strong fears about women witches seem to be related to other aspects of Osopong life. These fall outside our present enquiry but it may be mentioned that in this tribe there is an apparently greater general antagonism between the sexes, an antagonism which is expressed, for instance, in unusually sharp mad distinctions between the sexes in rituals. [12]

The great fears of Ijong sorcery may, however, have a different explanation. We have seen that it is a common assumption that men join Ijong to get wealth. It is interesting, therefore, that the association of wealth with sorcery, which implies that the acquisition of wealth is itself anti-social, may be related to an unusually strong disapproval of individual success. Such an equation has at least been noted among South American peasantry, [13]where it is said to be linked with an over-evaluation of communal values. It is at least possible that a similar equation might be made for Osopong.

In the first place many aspects of Osopong culture, if compared for instance with similar aspects in Adun, permit less scope for initiative. For example whereas in Adun there is considerable haggling over gifts to be paid at funerals and the individual is expected to get as much advantage as he can out of the situation, among the Osopong what is said to be paid is clearly known and there is little argument. Certainly, among the Osopong, few individuals seem to accumulate wealth. This may merely indicate that the Osopong are inherently poor, perhaps due to the unsettled conditions of the nineteenth century or because of their predominantly grassland environment. Nevertheless it is difficult wholly to account in this way for the comparative lack of interest which the Osopong display in cash farming. Unfortunately I have worked insufficiently with the Osopong to be able to prove lack of interest with these figures. It is a fact, however that Osopong women, unlike those of Adun and Okum, plant cash crops hardly at all, a characteristic which would be consistent with a genera absence of enthusiasm for individual advancement. It is also noticeable that Osopong villages, especially those on the right bank, show less evidence of the building of relatively large new type house or the accumulation of trade goods than do villages in Adun and Okum.

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Since the Osopong villages are in no sense remote from the Cross River, the main artery of new ideas, this is striking. The very absence of land disputes occasioned by the villagers' own land requirements suggests a lack of interest in cash farming.

A further indication that individual success is regarded with suspicion is the fact that the Osopong are quite outstanding in the emphasis with which they maintain, as we shall see, that all their leaders, particularly the Avat but also members of the Okwa and the modern type councillors, are powerful Ijong sorcerers.

It is at this point however that we may consider how these attitudes and the characteristics of Osopong villages which we have described, influence the position of the Avat within the villages. We have still to consider the structure of the Osopong tribe and sub-tribe but an understanding of these units depends on an understanding of the position of their Avat. We must, therefore, consider this in general and subsequently we may consider the wider structures of sub-tribes and tribe.


In Osopong, not surprisingly, there are very few Avat who are heads of patriclans only. In fact, those who are heads of patriclan sectors alone are to be found only in the three largest villages of Ogada, Obubra and Ogurude. In these villages, although the dual ward organization is retained it seems that the greater size of the patriclan sectors leads to conflict between even those within the same ward, and that this conflict is expressed in the demand of the group for its own Ovat. The village if Ogada presents examples if this process which show clearly principles at work in this respect which will be significant for our later discussion. We may, therefore, consider the events here in some detail.

In Ogada there are five Avat, three in one ward and two in the other. The village Ovat comes from a patriclan sector called Irangawingi , the founding sector of the village, and ex officio he is also the head of his ward, the senior ward. By tradition the actual founder of the village, who was the first Ovat of Irangawingi was accompanied by a man of a different patriclan, Edimo, and later the first Ovat made an Okpobam shrine or this man making him also an Ovat. In this century the members of a third patriclan sector, Eva Nyong, believed originally to have been an offshoot from Irangawingi, quarrelled with the latter. Eva Nyong therefore persuaded the Ovat of Irangawingi at the village of Obubra, who was the the most important Ovat in the whole patriclan, to make them an Okpobam shrine. Eva Nyong therefore now has its own Ovat. The senior ward in Ogada has now, in consequence, three Avat, of the sectors Irangawingi, Edimo and Eva Nyong.

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In the other ward there are two patriclan sectors regarded as its joint founders. These are Afonabit and Ekbem whose first members are said to have come together from a village called Ofonabit from which they had been driven by the North-eastern Ibo. They are generally agreed to have brought their Okpobam with them and the Ovat of this shrine is supplied by each group alternately. The other patrilineal group which has its own Ovat presents a somewhat more complex case. In the last century, probably fairly early in the century (see p.135) the Ogada people burnt and Adun village called Ofatura and drove out its inhabitants. Most of them seem to have moved together and after various wanderings their descendants now occupy a village of the same name in Adun territory. The head of one lineage, however, is said t have been matrilineally related to the Ovat of Ekbem in Ogada, and on these grounds he and his people were granted asylum in this village, where they became known simply as the patriclan "Ofatura" their original name being forgotten. They looked on the Ovat of Ekbem as their "patron". In a later war when an Ofunbonga village called Ogana was attacked and burnt, its Okpobam cult objects were said to have been captured by a man of this Ofatura "patriclan" who gave them to the Ovat of Ekbem. In this century, however, after a quarrel with Ekbem, allegedly over meat distribution, the people of Ofatura stole back Ogana's Okpobam to which they considered they had the right, and their head man was then recognized as an Ovat.

We shall discuss the significance of these events in more detail later. Here we may note that the acquisition of new Okpobam cults can be seen to be associated with quarrels in which clan sectors seek to assert their independence from their patrons, the crucial quarrel usually being assumed to have risen out of an insult at a ward ceremony. Clearly such quarrels are much more likely to arise in wards with populations of from four to five hundred than they are in those only a third or a quarter that size. It seems that this fact accounts for the proliferation of mere patriclan Avat in the largest villages.

Even where such Avat exist, however, their influence is comparatively limited since the sectors, even in such villages, have only a restricted political significance. The lineages of these sectors still have considerable independence holding their rites and ceremonies independently. Moreover sectors, even in the larger villages, do not form the main units within the settlements. In consequence the position of the Ovat as head of the sector is necessarily of limited importance. Indeed it can be argued that the very ease with which new "Ovatships" may be created points to the comparative lack of influence possessed by their holders. As we shall see, in Okum and Adun where the position of the Avat seems to have been much stronger there were considerable restrictions to the granting of new Okpobam cults and such an act there may require the permission of a Senior Ovat. In Ogada, on the contrary, we have seen that when Eve Nyong wanted their own Ovat they acquired the Okpobam cult from an Ovat in Obubra without, apparently, making any attempt to get permission for this step from the Village Ovat of Ogada. Similarly Ofatura were able to set up their own

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Ovat as a result of a theft and certainly sought no-one's permission for their action, yet the status of their Ovat is recognized now by all.

The Ovat who is head of a ward is in a stronger position than is the mere patriclan Ovat, because the ward, as we have seen, is a much more significant unit. It is an important ceremonial and ritual group and the ward head, as head of half the village, naturally has an important say in village affairs. In recent times he has played significant pat also in inter-village affairs since it has been usual for the ward heads to have a right to attend the "clan" council. nevertheless the very fact that the head of ward is so important cast doubts upon the general status of the Avat among the Osopong, for it is not thought necessary for the ward had to be an Ovat at all. In many villages the office is held by the senior Okwa member in the ward, and in fact only eight out of twenty ward heads are Avat. This suggests that the position of Okwa among the Osopong is very powerful, a matter we shall discuss in more detail below. First however we may examine the potion of Village Avat.

Every village head is of course an Ovat and, as priest of the senior Okpobam shrine in the village, he has considerable significance, since he symbolizes whatever unity the village possesses. The association of the shrine itself with village unity comes out clearly in the people's reaction to the suggestion that their village might contain Okpobam cults of divers origin, for it is flatly asserted that this is an impossibility. For example, an account has just been given of the traditions of the divers ways in which various patriclan sectors on Ogada acquired their Avat. In an argument with some Ogada people, however, when I cited these traditions as evidence for the existence in their village of Okpobam shrines of differing origins, the accounts were at once flatly contradicted. I was told that Edimo people had come to Ogada without their own Okpobam and that the village Ovat had made one for them. It was also alleged that the Ovat of Edimo had in his turn made an Okpobam for Ofatura. Therefore, it was argued, all the Avat in Ogada were priests of the very same Okpobam cult, that held by the village Ovat. Even the fact that the Iranawingi Okpobam and the Edimo Okpobam have different 'personal' names, and that that of Edimo is the same as that held by Edimo clansmen in the village of Apiapum Eja did not disturb my informants' assertions. They said the reason for the apparent anomaly was simply that when the Irangawingi Ovat had made the Okpobam for Edimo people they must have chosen to give it the same name as that held by their clansmen elsewhere. This blunt assertion of the unity of the village Okpobam cults, an assertion which was probably far from the truth as my informants understood it, is a strong indication of the recognition of the fact that the Village Ovat- and his Okpobam together symbolize the solidarity of the village.

The Okpobam emblems of the village Ovat , especially the "Okpobamwek", a pair of buffalo horns which are invariably among the most important ritual objects of the Okpobam shrine, are in particular used by the village Ovat to symbolize village unity against both visible and

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invisible foes. It is particularly against invisible witches and sorcerers that the may be used, although the extent to which this is done varies very much from village to village.

To give an example of the considerable use to which these sacred objects may be put the case may be cited of the village of Awakande. In one year in which I was in the area its Village Ovat used his Okpobamwek four times. Twice he went to the houses of women who had fainted, a sure sign of an Ijong attack; and once he went to the home of a girl who had been told by a diviner that an Ijijongo was attacking her. Each time the Ovat prayed:

"Okpobam od'Ijong, od'Awtan kwu, mbeni be ofo 'nong ngwa; Okpobam ka chera."

That is "Okpobam , if an Ijong member or a witch comes I say that you (should) kill that person - Okpobam do not permit (them to kill the patient)".

The fourth time he had used his Okpobamwek was on behalf of all. A diviner had warned him that witches were about to make a general attack on the crops of the village, and to protect everyone he had taken him emblems to all the paths leading in to the village and to every compound within it, knocking the horns on the ground at each place and warning the witches, whether they came from outside or inside, to call off their attack.

One of the interesting aspects of the action taken by the Ovat on behalf of the sick women is that is is believed to be effective not merely because the witch or sorcerer concerned fears the threat of sanctions imposed by Okpobam, but because even if the victims were killed they could not be used in the usual way to give feasts to other witches and sorcerers. This is because it is believed they would refuse to take part, knowing that the Ovat had prohibited the killing. This belief is significant because it indicates both the strength of the belief in the Ovat's authority in supernatural matters, and the fact that the people believe that the Ovat can exert such authority because he is himself in a sense both witch and sorcerer.

This is necessarily the case because it is believed that Okpobam "medicine" contains within it both witchcraft and sorcery medicines. It was said of Okpobam "Ijong ening moma, awtan otarama" that is "Ijong is inside it and witchcraft is also there". Because of this an Ovat is a dangerous man, especially to his won matrilineal kin whom he will offer as his payment to Ijong. This belief, or course, is significant in view of our earlier discussion of sorcery fear and its link with a distrust of individual advancement.

There is a parallel between this belief in the Ovat as sorcerer, and that associated with Tiv leaders [14]. Like the Tiv all the Mbembe, but particularly the Osopong assume that undue wealth can be gained only at another's expense. In the last resort the Ovat's power and comparative

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wealth, and that of other leaders, imply misfortune for their matrilineages at whose expense alone they can gain more than their fair share of good luck.

Although the Ovat is a danger to his own matrilineage he is useful to others because of his very powers of "wizardry", for he is in some senses like a diviner and can see the movements of witches and sorcerers and may help to protect his own village from them. We have already seen that an Ovat may act independently; for example one Village Ovat when he awoke one morning, told everyone that that day they were to remain at home and not to go to their farms; the people obeyed him without question because they assumed that in his dreams he had seen Ijong members planning an attack.

The very diversity of groups in the Osopong village gives added significance to the Ovat's unifying role as priest of the Collective Dead. The Village Ovat's ritual powers are, therefore, clear. Nevertheless his political influence seems in most cases to have been weak. In the first place, as the village is not a very centralized unit the occasions on which he might display his authority were necessarily limited. Moreover the village Ovat has a relatively weak position vis-a-vis Okwa, and particularly the head of Okwa.

The great prestige of Okwa is shown in many ways. In the first place there is tradition that, formerly, the Village of Avat were of little importance and that it was the head of Okwa who was the Village Head. The Osopong, in fact, believe that it was only when they came in contact with the left bank Mbembe peoples that their fathers acquired the Okpobam cult, which, it is said, they adopted because they were impressed with the wealth and influence that Okpobam gave the Avat. Whatever the truth of the tradition it shows that in so far as the Okwa members exercise authority this is not thought if as something that has been delegated to them by the Ovat; rather they are thought of as exercising this authority in their own right.

It is an indication of the power of Okwa members that they also, like the Avat, are emphatically believed to be brought, at their initiation as members of the Okwa association, into contact with witchcraft and sorcery medicines, particularly the latter; and all Okwa members are believed ipso facto to be members of Ijong. In their case the emphasis is not so much on the protective role that the Okwa member may perform as on the danger he present to his matrilineal kin. We have seen the connection the Osopong make between individual wealth and political power and Ijong sorcery. This belief therefore, reflects the emphasis laid on the material power of Okwa members. That it is their material power that is significant here is shown by the fact that the new style "local Councillors" who have no ritual authority are likewise assumed to be Ajijongo. Indeed the minutes of the Osopong Council record a quarrel which on one occasion disrupted its meeting when it asserted that all present were Ijong members and each had killed seven kinsmen! The Osopong assumption that all Okwa members are dangerous Ijong sorcerers is, therefore, apart

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from anything else, as expression of the people's belief in he power of Okwa.

In some respects, indeed, the power of Okwa, both politically, and ritually also. The Ovat is entitles to wine on certain days of the week, but among the Osopong so also, in many cases, is the senior Ejukwa , the head of Okwa. A certain portion of bush near the village is classified as E-kwa-kpa (the bush of Okwa) and from this the senior Ejukwa is entitled to receive wine on those days of the week when wine is sent to the Avat. In Okum and Adun certain areas of bush were also reserved for the most powerful of the associations but significantly such land is generally referred to as E-vat-kpa (the bush of the Ovat) and wine from such bush is carried to the Village Ovat and shared by him with the other Avat and the senior members of the association concerned; among the Osopong the wine is taken to the head of Okwa who then shares it with the rest of his members and the Avat.

In Osopong this senior Ejukwa had, equally with the Ovat, the duty of giving hospitality to those within the village and to strangers. Indeed according to popular etymology, the name of one patriclan, "Iragafon" is said to mean "those who best-feed the village" and by tradition they were given this name because, in a village now long since overrun by the Ibo, they possessed the office of senior Ejukwa whose duty it was to care for those within the village. The tradition, therefore, expresses this emphasis on the giving of hospitality by the Ejukwa, an emphasis which is not found to the same extent in other tribes.

We have said already that all village Avat have the formal right to accept or reject the application to introduce a new association into the village and that this right is acknowledged by the giving of gifts to the village Ovat. The Osopong village Avat are no exception to this rule but, in some villages at least, the position of the Village Ovat in this respect was not unique, for both the head of the Eberambit ( warriors') association which was regarded as protecting the village, and the senior Ejukwa equally had to be given formal gifts before the new association might perform.

Even today the position of Okwa members is strong and it is noteworthy that in the elections for "Fourth Class Chiefs" which were held in September, 1959, the Osopong alone among the Mbembe tribes elected Okwa heads to this position. There were, it is true, only five cases in which this occurred, out of twenty five seats, but as in Okum these elected were either Avat or "literate" young men, and as in Adun Avat only were elected, the election of the Okwa members among the Osopong does show the comparatively great political significance of Okwa in this tribe; a significance demonstrated by their formal power over the Avat.

The Ovat is selected primarily by the members of Okwa, and their power in relation to him seems indicated by the fact that a man is normally informed officially of his selection only by his discovery that Okwa has placed the sacred Okpobam objects before his door,

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where he discovers them first thing in the morning. The surprise and dismay he shows on finding the emblems there is not by any means always genuine. Nevertheless these institutionalized elements of the secret choice of an Ovat by Okwa and the dismay and reluctance shown by the man chosen, elements that seemed to be confined to the Osopong, do seem to indicate both the strength of Okwa's position and the weakness of that of the Ovat.

This formal stress in this installation rites of the Avat of the strong position of Okwa is not counterbalanced by anything that suggests that the village of Ovat occupies a key position in the system of relationships between villages. In Okum and Adun, as we shall see, much of the significance which Village Avat possesses is derived from their roles as representatives of their villages with the outside world; and at their burial and installation rites inter-village relationships may be symbolized by the participation in the ceremonies of representation of other villages. Among the Osopong, on the contrary, the weakness of Avat's position seems to be demonstrated by the relative absence of this type of elaboration of the rites.

Even in supernatural matters the head of Okwa, although not the ordinary member, is like the Ovat in that he may help to protect people from Ijong attacks. In certain villages, at least, he may administer an ordeal to those accused of attacking a fellow villager. The Ejukwa seats the victim on the ground and places food on the victim's head. The accused must then take the food and eat it calling down a curse on himself is he should continue any attack in the future; and one of my best informants was forced to undergo this ordeal because he had been accused of attacking, as an Ijijongo, a young woman in his matriclan.

The Ovat's influence with Ijong is therefore not unique. Neither is there much to stress the general ritual superiority of the Village Ovat to Okwa. He does not, by the virtue of his office, have nay of the roles which, we have seen, are associated with "senior" Avat. The village Ovat cannot give sanctuary to homicides or protect headhunters. He may make a new Okpobam cult for the group obtaining one even if it should be against his wish. The more significant ritual roles were held only by those who were also the Avat of sub-tribes.

One unique power a Avat do have, however, which shows their superiority to Okwa, and this is their right to impose peace on disputants. For example, in the event of disputes between age-sets or age-set groups, or between members of different wards or of different patriclans, or between the sexes, the Ovat must intervene. A somewhat unusual example occurred when in one village the age-set of adolescent boys and girls had gone beyond their customary abuse of each other to such an extent that the boys attacked the girls leaving them unconscious. this action set the whole village in an uproar and was ended by the Village Ovat who came out with the sacred objects of his Okpobam and ordered the people to be peaceful.

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Any disturbance, therefore, and particularly the brawls that often broke out at the traditional wrestling matches between the members of the age-set groups is said to have been the signal for the Ovat to appear and order the disputants to cease their quarrel.


The Osopong Sub-Tribes

The Osopong tribe is divided into three main sub-tribes: Ijebe with nine villages, Ijimessi with five, and Ijangabit with fourteen villages (not all of which are within what is administratively regarded as the Osopong "clan" territory). The fact that each sub-tribe has a name and its own senior Ovat is sufficient indication that each has a certain unity, but they vary somewhat in the strength of the ties uniting them. Ijebe was the most closely united for here Okwa and Igwe and Ogop the age-sets groups, operated at the tribal level. It is said of this sub-tribe that in the past the obligations binding the members of Igwe and Ogop bound all members in all the Ijebe villages. No man might bring an adultery charge against a member of his own age-set group no matter in which of the Ijebe villages he might be living. Conversely members of the same age-set group were supposed to do all in their power to prevent the wife of a fellow member from running away from her husband. Similarly it is said that Okwa's rules used to operate through all Ijebe in so far as the remarriage of women was concerned. No woman in this sub-tribe might divorce her husband and remarry in any Ijebe village.

Igwe and Igop each has its own masked figure which dances every seventh year at the Awtawa rites, but there is only one mask for each group throughout all the villages of Ijebe. Moreover, at these rites, the sub-tribe emerges as a unit in a different way for the initiates in each village visit in turn the other villages of the sub-tribe. It is also said that formerly there was only one mask for Okwa throughout the whole of Ijebe.

The sub-tribe of Ijimessi is less united today than is Ijebe. By tradition however, the people of Ijimessi originally lived in one large village but were driven from three successive sites by the North-eastern Ibo, and they gradually split up into small groups. Villages founded by Ijimessi people are today interspersed with those of Ijebe and Ijangabit As they have been thus widely scattered co-operation between the villages is difficult. It is significant that although these villages also possess the Awtawa cult the rites do not include any visiting members of all the Ijimessi villages. Nevertheless Ijimessi villages have a strong consciousness of their former union, and myth and custom emphasize their distinctiveness. If the past is discussed in the presence of an Ijimessi man he will commonly enlarge on the tradition that the Ijimessi people were the fiercest of all the Osopong, and that they were asked for this very

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reason to settle among the Ijebe and Ijangabit. So strong is this tradition that a myth, almost certainly unfounded, has grown up according to which several Ijimessi warriors committed suicide in chagrin when the pax-Britanica was established. Ijimessi's distinctiveness from Ijebe and Ijangabit is still maintained by a rule which forbids any Ovat of an Ijimessi village to spend a night at an Ijebe or Ijangabit village, (or vice versa). It is explained that the Ijimessi people, although now completely integrated with the rest of Osopong, were formally speakers of a different language and enemies of the Osopong. The acceptance of hospitality by the Avat was therefore traditionally regarded as potentially dangerous.

That Ijangabit also has a certain unity is shown by the fact that they recognize only one bus-trial Ovat, and that the name "Ijangabit" was applied to them by the people of the sub-tribe themselves, and by other Mbembe peoples. Within Ijangabit there was, however, a major division between its villages on the right bank and those on the left bank of the Cross River. We have seen already that these left bank villages tended to differ from other Osopong settlements because of their human and physical environment. In many respects, indeed, these left bank villages came to be regarded and to regard themselves as a distinct group. Even in recent political events this has been noticeable but it seems to have been equally marked in the traditional system. The left bank villages, for example, applied a distinguishing term to the villages on the other side of the river. Moreover in the Awtawa rites the four left bank Ijangabit villages and one Ijimessi village co-operate for their performance but do not join with the right bank Ijangabit villages; indeed each of these villages performs its Awtawa rites independently.

The fundamental factor which unites each sub-tribe is, however, that each recognizes the seniority of one sub-tribal Ovat. This Ovat is the sanctuary priest for the whole sub-tribe, he cleansed head-hunters and had the right to et the heads of the victims; he also gives temporary sanctuary to disgruntled wives. A further unifying factor is the belief that the Okpobam cults held by the Avat of the same sub-tribe are linked in a particularly close way which makes homicide within the sub-tribe extremely sacrilegious.

The villages of the sub-tribe are, therefore, bound to each other primarily by their common dependence on their sanctuary priest and his role is, in consequence, most significant. This Ovat exercised some political influence because he was expected to use his good offices in settling al kinds of disputes. For example some years ago the men and women of an Ijebe village quarrelled and the women were so angry that they left in a body, declaring that they were going to desert their husbands and marry men in other villages. The result was that the senior Ovat of Ijebe stepped in, ordering he women to return; and because they had been so ordered the women were enabled to return and their husbands to receive them back without loss of face.

It must be admitted, however, that the influence of the sub-tribal Avat was limited. They played a crucial role in that their very existence

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provided the members of the group with the means of composing their differences peacefully. These Avat, unlike such office-holders as the Nuer "Leopard Skin Chief", had, as we shall see, the necessary authority to compel their people to keep the peace. They might also, on rare occasions, make sacrifices before representatives of the whole group if it were threatened with mystical misfortune. On the other hand there seems to be no belief that the Sub-tribal Ovat is the group's mystical defender. Belief in the Village Ovat's inside knowledge of witchcraft and sorcery and in his power to protect his village has not been developed into a belief that the Sub-tribal Ovat will defend his sub-tribe. He is generally credited, as we might expect, with being the most senior member of Ijong in his group but there is no suggestion that he either could or should try to use his knowledge to prevent Ijong from attacking the group at large. Moreover there is no noticeable tendency for his direct political influence to be developed.

More surprisingly there is no tendence to use the rites of the installation and burial of the sub-tribal Ovat to structure in symbolic terms, the political relationships between the member village of the sub-tribe. Although it is usual for member villages to send representatives to the rites, they placed no special roles in them. This fact is probably to be understood by seeing the rites against the nineteenth century background. At this time the position vis-a-vis the Ibo was so fluid, and individual villages must so have lacked stability, that it would perhaps have been surprising had inter-village relationships been expressed in any fixed, formal way. The absence of any such political symbolism in the rites means, however, that the Sub-tribal Ovat's political significance is restricted.

The Osopong Tribe

When we consider the organization at the tribal level at the end of the nineteenth century it is clear the Osopong showed very little unity. This is demonstrated in the first place by the fact that the very name "Osopong" has only been applied to the whole group due to and administrative misunderstanding. Formerly the group had no common name, being quite obviously a fairly recent confederation of at least three formerly independent groups, which had been pushed together by the North-eastern Ibo. The word "Osopong" is said to have been used primarily by those on the left bank of the Cross River for those villages, not clearly defined, on the right bank whom they considered similar to themselves in language and custom. The word was also used by the first settlers on the left bank for later settlers from across the river, with the consequence that the name "Osopong" is given to the junior ward in four of the left bank villages; and there is some resentment that it should be applied to the people as a whole.

It is indicative also of the absence of any strong sense if unity in the group as a whole that there is no linking together of the matrilineal groups above the level of the Ochi. In Okum all the matrilineal groups are linked into two named matriclans and in the Adun into three such clans, and this is undoubtedly both an expression of a sense of tribal unity and a help towards it. Among the Osopong, despite the ease of

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movement between the villages, no such development has taken place. Each Ochi is completely independent of all others. Nevertheless the "Osopong Clan" is not just a geographical expression for, at the end of the nineteenth century, it had developed into a political unit, even if it were rather loosely knit. One indication of this unity occurs in the Awtawa rites, for all the Osopong villages perform the rites in the same year, and although they do not all actively co-operate with each other in the performance of these rites, each officially acknowledges the existence of the others. Each Osopong village has its own drum name, a phrase referring to some special characteristic of its Awtawa rites; and informants say that the drummers in every village play the drum names of each of the Osopong villages in their geographical order from south to north.

The Tribal Ovat

This, however, is merely of minor significance. What seems to be crucial to the existence of the "tribe" is the acknowledgment by all of the ritual superiority of the senior Ovat of Ijangabit, called the Ekinrin. This acknowledgment is bound up with the belief that it was his predecessor who acquired the first and most powerful Okpobam in all Osopong, buying it in Okum (allies of the Osopong since they had a common enemy in the Ofunbonga), from the village of Onyen, a village which as we shall see has great ritual significance of the Okum people. It is asserted that the Okpobam, then spread in ways not known now in detail, to all the other villages of the three sub-tribes. All are, therefore, linked; killing between them is sacrilegious and all acknowledge the Ekinrin's superiority.

It is difficult to evaluate the extent of the Ekinrin's authority and influence since the office was vacant during my visits and I have, therefore, to rely solely on informants' statements. That the Ekinrin is popularly believed to have occupied a position more powerful than that of any other person in the tribe can be seen from the belief, held by all, that the Ekinrin is the head of the Ijong association in Osopong. As may be expected from what has been said already of sub-tribal Avat, the Ekinrin was not expected to try actively to protect his whole tribe from Ijong, his responsibilities in this respect were limited to those who lived with him, but the belief is a good index of the general attitude towards him.

Practically, however, the Ekinrin's powers were limited. he had, of course, the right to make an Okpobam shrine for any group in any sub-tribe, but his refusal to do so did not prevent a group from acquiring the cult. For example after a serious quarrel in an Ijimessi village the members of a disgruntled section decided to form their own ward and set up their own Ovat. They therefore asked the Ekinrin to make an Okpobam of them. He refused, for in this case the quarrel was particularly bitter and members if the other part of the village had gone to persuade him not to do so. Although he allowed himself to be persuaded by them their efforts were, nevertheless, unavailing for

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those who wanted the Okpobam simply went instead to the village Ovat of Onyen, in Okum. He made and Okpobam for them; a step to which no one could take exception since all agree that it was the "same" as the Ekinrin's Okpobam.

An indication that the Ekinrin, by the end of the nineteenth century, was, however, achieving a measure of political prestige exists in the tradition that his acquiescence was thought necessary if an execution were to take place. In response to questions about such executions I was told of two instances and it was insisted that in each case the Ekinrin was present. In one case a man is said to have been made to hang himself because he voluntarily gave land to the encroaching Ibo for some kind of payment. A second case concerned a man from the Ijimessi village of Awakande who betrayed plans of an Osopong attack of an Ofonbunga village because he had matrilineal kin living there. The offender was said to have been made to believe that he would merely be fined and was sent to buy drink for his judges, who included the Ekinrin; but they, in his absence, agreed on his death. The significance of this account is that it is related not of an Ijangabit but of an Ijimessi village, and I heard that the Ekinrin was able to wield considerable influence outside his own sub-tribe; and even if it is false it shows that these Ijimessi people acknowledge his superiority.

This general readiness, even today, to accept the Ekinrin's superiority was strikingly witnessed during my visit. The office, as we have seen, had been left vacant for several years but, when it was proposed that there should be an election of a "chief" from each tribe, a number of young Osopong men immediately put themselves forward as candidates for the position of Ekinrin since it was believed that he who could get himself chosen as "Ekinrin" would automatically be the chief of the Osopong. Candidates were prepared to bend the rules of selection as far as possible in their own favour but no candidate attempted to stand as a "chief" of the tribe without claiming that he was the Ekinrin.

In the traditional system it was undoubtedly where it was necessary to overrule sub-tribal loyalties or where the people had to deal with outsiders, that the Ekinrin's position was stressed. Indeed, even today this is the case. For example during my stay it was alleged that a man had killed a rival from a different village and sub-clan with whom he suspected his wife was persistently committing adultery. The men of the two villages nearly came to blows, and people said that if only there had been an Ekinrin he would have intervened to stop the trouble.

Formerly when the Osopong people came into contact with outsiders they were normally either enemies in war, or traders. It is significant, therefore, that in their traditions about such contacts they street the part played by the Ekinrin. For example it seems that at one stage, probably at the end of the nineteenth century, a group of Osopong men of different sub-tribes made the dangerous journey to Aro Chuku to acquire the cult of "Ibinokpabi kw'iseik". The account of

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their journey stresses the way in which they left, and again on their return, they met in the Ekinrin's compound where sacrifices were performed for them.

In view of the apparently growing significance of the Ekinrin in tribal affairs it is an interesting fact that there seems to have been taking place at the same time, a gradual loosening of the Ekinrin's ties with one particular village and one particular sub-clan.

According to tradition when the Okpobam cut was originally brought from Onyen it was given to the Village Ovat of Ebiem, and Ijangabit village now nearly deserted, but flourishing until early in this century. A later holder of the office is, however, said to have left the village in anger because its inhabitants failed to carry out instructions he gave them at the request of a diviner. When the Ovat left he did not settle in any other village but founded a new compound in the bush near a second Ijangabit village called Ogarukpon. There an eroko tree that the Ekinrin takes his title for his name means "The bole of the eroko". The Ekinrin is closely connected with the village of Ogarukpon for the official selectors of the Ekinrin are the Okwa members of this village and it is stressed that age-sets from this village were sent formerly to help him with his farm work; a fact that is understandable since in his isolated position the Ekinrin could not draw on the varied sources of labour usually available to an Ovat.

Despite this close connection, however, the office of Ekinrin was not bound up altogether with this village. Not merely was his compound spatially separated but the selectors of Ogarukpon might choose a new Ekinrin not merely from their won village but from other villages also. Although the lists that I obtained of past Ekinrin were not consistent with each other it seems probable that most were from this village; but occasionally, if for any reason it were impossible to find an acceptable candidate, the selectors would look right outside the Osopong tribe and choose a man from Onyen in Okum, the village from which the Ekinrin's Okpobam first came. This is remarkable since there are no strong political links between Osopong and Okum which can explain such a choice. It seems rather that there is at least the possibility that, with the growth of the links between the different sub-tribes, it came to be recognized that there were certain advantages in appointing an outsider, provided that he was ritually suitable to be the priest of the Okpobam. The Osopong explain the position by saying that they seek a man from Onyen only when when they can find no suitable and willing candidate from Ogurukpon. Recently it was undoubtedly the case that the selectors were in such a dilemma and therefore turned to Onyen. Since 1945 the position of all Avat has declined, for they lost their former seats on "Native Courts" and "Clan Councils", and in this decline the post of Ekinrin has seemed particularly undesirable because the holder must live separately from other people and he incurs the hostility of his matrilineage who fear his Ijong activities. The selectors had, therefore, been unable to find a local candidate and were negotiating with an Onyen man when the "House of

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Chiefs" proposals created an entirely new situation which disrupted their plans.

It is difficult to believe, however, that in former days it was because the Ekinrin's office was undesirable that an outsider was selected. This suspicion is deepened by the fact that at the time when the last Ekinrin was chosen from Onyen, in 1920, the position had some obvious advantages in that it gave the holder a right to a tiny salary and a seat on the Osopong Native Court. Moreover it is surely significant that the man chosen gave up the post of Village Ovat of Onyen to move with his minor patrilineage to the Ekinrin's compound. This certainly suggests that the office must have been an attractive one; so attractive in fact that it is inconceivable that the mere unwillingness of Osopong candidates prompted the selection of an Onyen man. It seems much more likely that either the selectors could not agree among themselves and so choose an outsider; or that no Osopong candidate was forthcoming because the Ekinrin had to balance conflicting interests and so incurred hostility; or that the selectors openly recognized he desirability of having as the Ekinrin an impartial outsider - or of course that there may have been a mixture of all three motives. In any case, however, it does suggest that despite the rather ill-defined nature of the Ekinrin's authority at the tribal level, a lack of definition which seems almost inevitable in such a fluid situation, the office had considerable significance for the people. Their common acknowledgment of the Ekinrin was what made it possible for the members of the three sub-tribes to live peacefully together and even at times to act as a unit. [15]

Summarizing the political organization of the Osopong we may say, in the first place that their villages are organized differently from those of the Okum and Adun. Due to the pressure of the North-eastern Ibo the Osopong patriclans are dispersed and do not form the main components of the villages. Instead these are usually organized into two wards which are, in turn, cross cut by the age-set groups of Igwe and Ogop. The Osopong villages are seldom at enmity with each other and are interlinked by many ties. Perhaps for this reason it is only seldom that a sense of village patriotism is strong.

These factors in turn influence the position of the Osopong Avat. Most Osopong villages have only one Ovat, the Village Ovat. His position as village representative is weak because the village itself has little solidarity. Moreover his position vis-a-vis Okwa is weak also. It is only ritual position as intermediary with the Collective Dead of the village and in his power to impose peace that the Ovat is superior to Okwa.

The Osopong sub-tribes are not, on the whole, very strongly organized units but each is ritually united by its dependence on one Ovat as a sanctuary priest. The tribe in its turn depended for any sense of unity it possessed on the special ritual authority of the Ekinrin to settle disputes. There is evidence that the authority of the Ekinrin

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was growing and that it was becoming increasingly important as the means by which the diverse groups composing the Osopong tribe were held together. The Ekinrin's power in other respects was, however, very limited.

[1] The Isobo are immigrants to Mbembe land. They came first to the Adun area but were drive out and later invited to Osopong land on the left side of the river as a reward for aiding the Osopong in wars against the Adun. Later, in the 1930's some returned to Adun but many Isobo crossed to the right bank and settled just inside Osopong territory at the instigation of some N-e. Ibo. Where the Isobo originated is uncertain. they are an aggressive but also a harried people who over the years have regularly altered their traditions of origin to fit in with their current political needs. They possibly came from Nsobo on the right bank opposite the Yako village of Ekuri.

[2] See Appendix C.

[3] This was some time before the founding of Apiapum (see p.135).

[4] Jones, 1961. p.125.

[5] Harris, 1962 (a) p.50.

[6]Partridge, ibid., p.323 refers to Obubura as a "town" and Ogada as a "large town" although he refers to all other Osopong settlements, except Ogurude and Ejege, as villages.

[7] Although the primary reference of the word is to the whole patriclan.

[8] Forde 1941 pp. 8-10.

[9] For a discussion of a very similar pattern among Ibo of the Cross River area see Jones 1962 p.201.

[10] The suggestion that dual wards may have spread recently and, therefore, rapidly amongst the Osopong may be open to objection but there is nothing inherently impossible in it. The way in which the sub-section system has spread amongst the North-western Australian tribes shows that much more complex organizational principles may spread quickly if they are perceived to be of advantage. See e.g. Kaberry 939 p.184.

[11] Douglas (1959) has in fact suggested that there is a positive correlation between the existence of a dual organization and the absence of a central authority.

[12] The widespread belief among all the Mbembe that many witches are women may well be connected with male resentment at women's freedom, especially their freedom to divorce their husbands (cf. Nadel 1952). Note, however, that women are blamed only in the context of personal sickness. Indeed, it is only in this context that specific accusations seem ever to be made. In the wide field of general misfortune and crop failure blame is put on witches in a general sense. No attempt is made to identify individual culprits but is is assumed that male witches play an important role in bringing such evils.

[13] Wolf 1955.

[14] Bohannan, ibid. p.55.

[15] Compare the analysis of "outsiders" as leaders in Frankenberg 1957.

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