Chapter XII


The fascination of a comparison of the political systems of the Osopong, Okum, and Adun lies in the fact that in their general social structure, their political ideology, and, indeed, many of the roles of the Avat themselves there is much in common between them; and yet the tribes vary considerably in their overall political organization; variations which are epitomized in the differences in function of the Avat.

We saw at the beginning that the office of the Ovat is, in all three tribes, fitted into the social structure in much the same way. The Avat's rights and obligations in relation to the patriclans or patriclan sectors are very similar; everywhere even in Adun, the Ovat's rights over land are severely restricted, as are also his rights to claim communal help from his clansmen. Nowhere are the Ovat's "lieutenants" the lineage heads; rather they are associated leaders, and the Avat have very close ties with the leaders of the more powerful associations especially Okwa, whose members in most cases have the power to select and if necessary depose the Ovat. In most cases Okwa stands at times as an intermediary between the Ovat and the ordinary villages, and at times as the representative of the village in its dealings with the Ovat. Conversely the Ovat has such an important link with associations that his permission is needed before a new one may be established in the village.

This is one indication that the Ovat symbolizes such village unity as exists. Indeed he represents the village to itself, as we have just seen, in his control over new associations, and he represents it to outsiders. Everywhere also he symbolizes the village in its relations with the supernatural, particularly with the dead. This is shown by his universal concern in the rite of measuring the grave, by his position in the cult of the earth and the Collective Dead, and his general responsibility for all village cults. The ideological basis for the linking of the villages lies, in all three tribes, in the belief in their common membership of an Okpobam "parish". The positions of the village Avat in relation to each other are structured through the belief that the powers of their shrines vary. In every tribe some of the Avat have roles as peace priests, cleansers of head-hunters, and makers of the new Okpobam shrines. Nevertheless, despite these very great similarities, we have seen that the office is one of extreme plasticity. Wide variations occur in the pattern of distribution of the roles of the "Senior Ovat" in the significance attached to the roles of Avat as group representatives, and in the way on which the significance is expressed. Taken together these differences are sufficient to lead to very great variations in the political organization of the three tribes.

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We have seen that the differences in the degree of political authority attaching to the various Avat in the Osopong, Okum and Adun tribes varies with the degree of cohesiveness of the groups to which they are attached. It is also argued that this cohesiveness is influenced to a considerable degree by the ecological conditions influencing that group and the external pressures to which it has been subjected. In order to make this quite clear the evidence may be summarized here.

The Osopong

Among the Osopong neither the ecological conditions nor the type of pressure which the people have experienced were in general such as to have led them to congregate in large settlements. As we have seen, on the left bank of the Cross River there is a tendency for the Osopong settlements to be much larger than the average. It seems, however, that on the right bank, where conditions were different, once the Atam had been driven over the Awayong Creek the opposition that the Osopong met from their south--easterly neighbours was negligible. Moreover the attacks of the North-eastern Ibo were directed not against village but simply towards the annexation of land and there was no external threat which of itself was sufficient to encourage the Osopong to congregate together.

Of, on the one hand, there were few factors leading to the Osopong to live in large villages, there were, on the other hand, factors which tended to reduce the social isolation of their villages. The type of pressure to which the Ibo subjected the Osopong was such as encouraged the dispersal of small bodies of patrikin among different villages. At the same time ecological conditions were such that travelling between neighbouring villages was comparatively easy and this must also have been made the maintenance of kinship links, whether matrilineal of matrilineal, comparatively easy. Moreover as the result of the pressure of the North-eastern Ibo the Osopong spread out over a shallow but very broad front. Despite the fact, therefore, that movement between villages must have been made the organisation of action on a tribal scale very difficult. All these factors seem to have led to the development of Osopong villages as settlements whose boundaries do not form lines of marked social discontinuity and which in consequence have not developed a strong sense of corporate identity. It follows that the formal patterning of relationships between particular villages found among the Okum and Adun does not occur among the Osopong.

The position of the Avat among the Osopong clearly reflects this background. The patriclan Ovat, where such an office holder exists, has very little political authority even over his own clan, for as its constituent lineages are dispersed they are very independent. The comparative unimportance of the patriclan Ovat is reflected in the lack of opposition expressed by others to the acquisition by a patriclan sector of a new Okpobam cult. Ward heads, although they are more influential are, significantly, not necessarily Avat.

The Village head is always an Ovat and always symbolizes village unity, especially in the struggle of the village with the witches and

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Ajijongo, so active among the Osopong; and the attitude of the people to the Village Ovat is convincingly expressed in their belief that he had considerable power over the members of Ijong. Nevertheless even the village Ovat has comparatively little political significance. His position in relation to Okwa is weak. By tradition the head of Okwa was formerly more powerful that the Village Ovat and still today the rights and duties of the former are, in many respects, comparable with those of the Avat except that the Avat are able to maintain peace. Indeed the fact that, formally, a man is seized by Okwa and made an Ovat against his will suggests that Okwa wields considerable powers over the village Avat.

Moreover there is little to strengthen the position of the Village Avat in relation to Okwa for the Village Avat do not by virtue of this office have the more important roles of the "senior" Avat. Again they are not as politically significant as Avat in Okum and Adun for the rites of installation and burial of Osopong Avat are not used to express inter-village relationships.

The Sub-tribal Ovat has a much more significant position. He has a ritual significance for the whole group since in the vent of misfortune he may offer sacrifices on behalf of all. Moreover his role is significant since his presence unites the sub-tribe and he has all the roles of a "senior" Ova. Nevertheless the political influence of even the Sub-tribal Ovat is severely limited, a fact shown by the lack of elaboration of his installation and burial rites.

The Tribal Ovat, the Ekinrin, is of course, the keystone of the "Osopong" confederation. His ritual position is generally acknowledged, not least in the widespread belief that he is the head of Ijong. His position as a peacemaker is accepted; he is said to have played an important role in the relations of the Osopong with outsiders; and it seems reasonable to infer from the appointment of outsiders to the office and the physical location of the Ekinrin's compound away from any village, that he played a part in maintaining "Osopong" unity by looking with a certain impartiality at the competing interests of Ijangabit, Ijimessi, and Ijebe. Nevertheless since he had no power to control village segmentation and in general the authority he actually wielded was probably rather slight.

The Okum

By contrast, in the very different ecological conditions of the Okum tribe, the danger of ambush in the forest and of sudden attacks by unseen foes on villages, under unstable conditions seems to have encouraged a "clotting" of population among the Okum is by far the lowest of the three tribes, being only 77 per square mile (compared with 164 per square mile among the Osopong and 250 among the Adun) any tendency to such amalgamation inevitably means that villages are rather widely separated. Granted unsettled conditions and difficulties of movement, this must have discouraged social contacts between

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villages and may have helped to make the individual village somewhat isolated both physically and socially - conditions which might be expected to lead to a growth of a strong sense of village identity and a growth also of the political influence of its leaders. Further, the relation between the demographic influence of its leaders. Further, the relation between the demographic pattern of comparatively large but very isolated villages, and the lack of organization at the tribal level is obvious. It is probably significant that those who went to take the news of the death and installation of certain Avat round the whole of the Okum tribe went as a full war party of warriors, for the journey was dangerous.

Not unnaturally, among the Okum the position of the patriclan Avat is stronger than in Osopong because the Okum patriclan is a more significant political unit, and it is accepted that in general the head of the patriclan should be an Ovat. The greater significance of patriclan Avat is expressed by the residence shown to the creation of a new Ovat and, by the fact that the right of an Ovat to make a new Okpobam shrine is limited. Moreover it appears that in many cases the steps by which a given group acquired its own Okpobam cult has been subject to a process of "selective forgetting".

The Village Avat in Okum generally, are in a relatively strong position in relation to Okwa because they all have important roles as village representatives. In the Okum sub-tribe Okwa selects and deposes an Ovat but the position of the village Ovat is obviously strengthened by the fact that he has all the rights of a "senior" Ovat. In Efyapum the Village Ovat has a less significant ritual ritual position since he shares the rights of a "senior" Ovat with the matriclan Ovat of the village; but since it is only the latter who can install and depose him and since it is the matriclan Ovat who acts as the intermediary between him and his people the Village Ovat is less under the direct influence of Okwa,than is his counterpart in Osopong.

Moreover, if we look at the general position in Okum, it is clear the the political significance of the Avat is considerably enhanced because they occupy key positions in the system of relationships between villages. Opportunity is generally taken of the rites of installation and burial of Avat to express inter-village relations in symbolic form; and this tendency is particularly clear in the rules governing the movements of the matriclan Ovat of Okumorutet and the Village Avat of Apiapum and Iyamiyong. Tribal relations are expresses particularly in the rites associated with death and installation of the Onyen Ovat; and it is argued that the Ovat Ohuruduk of Apiapum was becoming a divine king, linking opposed groups by their interest in his office.

The Adun

In Adun the patriclan Avat are in much the same position as are their counterparts in Okum. The Village Avat although chosen by Okwa are in a particularly strong position relative to this association. They act as the external representatives of their villages, and although an Ovat can be removed from office if his Okpobam emblems are removed by the head of Okwa, no Ovat can be either installed or

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deposed simply on the authority of the Okwa members, of his own village alone. Formally at least the decision rests with the Kwudedin. Indeed as we saw, the centralization of the Adun tribal organization is unique and it is based primarily on the appointment of the roles of a "senior" Ovat and of the head of Okwa Village Avat of the tribe, thus giving the tribal structure a kind of organic solidarity. The significance attached to the Avat seems obviously related to historical experiences. It is not, I think too speculative to suggest that at one stage the situation among the Adun may have been somewhat similar to that among the Okum. This is to say that under earlier ecological conditions of fairly thick forest, unstable political conditions would have led to the amalgamation of settlements into fairly large, but rather isolated villages linked by the dual matriclan system. However, as we have seen, Adun was subject, over a long period of time, to considerable external pressure on almost all sides; and the result has been that the population has become concentrated not merely into comparative large villages but into villages which are clustered closely together. This concentration of villages is clearly to be linked with the high degree of organization at the tribal level, and with the part played by the Avat, for it makes it possible for the Avat to act as the external representatives of their villages. This is a role which the very ritual significance of the Avat must make it difficult for them to perform if tribes with scattered villages, for the prolonged absence from home of the Avat is undesirable. These factors and the influence of outside traders do much to explain the tribal unity of Adun and the strong position of their Avat.

If we examine the Adun situation more closely, however, we find an apparent paradox, an analysis of which will, I believe, explain rather more fully the reason for the strong position of the Adun Avat.

The paradox is that the very clustering together of the main villages, which makes it easy to explain the ability of the tribe to act as a unit and the strong position of the Kwudedin, makes it difficult to account for the unity of the Adun village, a unity which, we suggest, accounts for the political influence of the Village Ovat. We have seen contacts between villages are easy to make and maintain. Therefore, on the basis of the arguments put forward in the case of the Osopong, it would be reasonable to expect that the Adun villages also should lack a sense of corporate identity. Nevertheless it is obvious from what was said earlier that the Adun villages inspire a great sense of patriotism in their inhabitants; and to judge from the very limited amount of intermarriage between Adun villages and the very slight movement of adult men from one Adun village to another, these villages are socially rather isolated, despite their physical proximity.

This apparent paradox seems explicable in terms of the hostility that divides the Adun villages, an enmity which arises from the fact that they are in competition with each other for scarce resources. It is to this hostility and competition, I suggest, that the Adun Avat owe their particular prominence. Indeed it seems probable that in each tribe it is where there is unusual hostility between groups that the Avat have

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gained most influence, and this is a more significant explanation of the position of the Avat than any so far put forward.

Conflict and the Avat

We have, to some extent, already explained the relative position of the Avat in the different Mbembe tribes, and it has been argued that the size and degree of centralization of the units to which the Avat are attached has a great influence on the degree of power and authority that they wield. Stated like this it is a fairly obvious conclusion. There is, however, a more fundamental question which, so far, has not been raised. It is this: why should an increase in village and tribal solidarity be correlated with an increase in the power and authority of the Avat, why should not some other office holder, such as the head of Okwa become more powerful under these conditions? Such a possibility is, indeed, not merely an academic one. Among the independent, non-Mbembe villages of Okuni and Ikom it seems that the end of the nineteenth century saw a growth in the influence and in the power of the Okwa association, so that although each village has a senior priest corresponding in some ways to an Ovat the official with the greatest authority in each village was definitely the head of Okwa. The reason that, among the Mbembe, an increase in the centralization of a group is associated in each case with greater influence for the Avat is not something which is subject to proof. We cannot be certain of the steps by which the position has come about. The hypothesis which I shall put forward, however, is that the increase in size and centralization of Mbembe groups seems associated with an increase in fiction between their constituent units, and only the Avat could control the trouble t o which this friction gave rise. The greater the tendency to violence, the more occasions there were, I suggest, for the Ovat to take political action, and by so doing increase his power and authority relative to others. it certainly seems to be the case that the power and authority of the Ovat is most marked where inter-group friction was greatest.

In the first place we have seen the position of the Village Avat is much stronger in Okum and Adun than in Osopong, and arguments have already been put forward to show that inter-group friction within Okum and Adun was more serious than in Osopong. The tensions which must have arisen in the latter tribes between the patriclans, which we have suggested are more united than Osopong wards, and which we often owe their origin to a large influx of refugees, must many times have produced a situation which called for the intervention of the Village Ovat.

Friction between villages seems, however, to have been an even more potent factor influencing the Avat's authority than was friction within villages. In many cases friction between villages of the same tribe has led to intervention of Avat to maintain the peace. Where this has happened it seems to have led to an increase in the general influence of the Avat. In Osopong cases of friction between villages have been rare, but a significant exception to this is provided by those settlements on the left bank of the Cross River. These, we have seen,

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are large and relatively close together, and they have, therefore, competed with each other. There have, in consequence, been a number of quarrels between them which have resulted in the intervention of their Avat.

For example, in a case which occurred fairly early in this century a quarrel broke out between Ogada and Obubra. Obubra was the first Osopong occupant of the area and Ogada was founded by men from Obubra. The men of Ogada refused however to acknowledge Obubra's superior status and on this occasion cleared new land for farming without formally requesting permission to do so by taking wine to the Obubra Avat, the "landlords". The young men of Obubra in revenge seized goods belonging to Ogada, and in turn, men of this village threatened a reprisal raid. The Village Ovat of the neighbouring village of Awakande, hearing of the plan, laid his sacred horns, the Okpobam-wek, across the main path leading between Ogada and Obubra, and left a messenger at the spot to tell any men who should attempt to pass that these were the Okpobam emblems of Awakande. This, it is said, was an implied threat not of religious sanctions, but of the fact that if either party to the quarrel attacked the other men of Awakande would attack the aggressors.

Later in 1933, a similar event occurred among these same villages, this time during their Awatawa rites. There had been a quarrel of long standing between Awakande and Obubra and advantage was taken of the rites to start trouble. In this case a threatened outbreak of real violence was stopped by the Village Ovat of Ogada, who like the Ovat in the first incident and with the same intent, laid his Okpobam emblems on the path between the hostile villages.

The very fact that these Avat were, by their actions. able potentially to commit their villages to taking an active part in these quarrels between their neighbours, suggests that they were exerting authority in a way that was not common among Osopong Avat. It is particularly interesting, therefore, that there is documentary evidence that the village Ovat of Ogada also had unusual authority in other respects. [1] Partridge describes how the members of an association in Ogada, wishing to dance at a funeral in an Osopong right bank village, first asked the "chiefs" of the village if they might go, but were refused permission by the Village Ovat. The next day the head of the association secretly took a present of gin to the Village Ovat and got the necessary agreement. The rest of the "chiefs" were angry and killed a cow against the association concerned and fined the Village Ovat 60 rods. The interesting point, however, is that when the case was brought to the Court before the District Officer and he took evidence to discover what the custom was in such cases, it seems to have been generally agreed that the Village Ovat should not have been fined. Moreover an association member, when he came to explain why he wen privately to ask permission of the Ovat alone, (in itself rather a significant action) said "we went to (him) because he has

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power. If he tells us to destroy a town or cut off man's head we do it. He gave us leave and we went".

We must, of course treat with caution the statement of such a witness, nevertheless this statement makes it seem possible that the Ovat of Ogada had unusually great authority. It is apparent that any attempt by the Village Ovat to take independent action, in cases where the other "chiefs" should have been consulted, was very much resented, but the very severity of the Ogada elders' reaction may indicate that independent action by the Village Ovat was something that they had to guard against. Moreover it appears significant that, although the main culprit might seem to have been the Village Ovat, he was asked for a relatively small sum, it was the association which was heavily fined. This suggests that the position of the Village Ovat was not one that could be readily assailed.

In the inter-village quarrels already described we have seen that the Village Avat of Awakande and Ogada took action to prevent the outbreak of violence. They did so not because either of them claimed superior status to that of other Avat in the area, but simply because, in the absence of any such senior Ovat, it is the general duty of any Ovat who can do so to try to preserve the peace. In Ijebe, however, the other area of Osopong where the villages also at times come into conflict with each other, it appears to be regarded as the particular duty of the Sub-Tribal Ovat to intervene.

We saw earlier that this office-holder intervened in the general dispute between the men and women of one of the Ijebe villages, but it is significant that he has also done so to prevent inter-village fighting.

About twenty five years ago, the young men of one Ijebe village, visiting others in the course of the Awtawa rites, went beyond the usual truculence permitted on these occasions. They caused trouble by deliberately slashing the heads of palm trees which had been felled and were being tapped by members of other villages. Wine is so closely associated with ritual, and malicious, wanton damage is so akin to witchcraft in Mbembe thinking that to have destroyed wine trees in this way was more the merely infuriating, it was practically sacrilegious. In consequence men in a number of insulted villages were so provoked that there were numerous threats that they would attack the culprits' village.

In these circumstances the Sub-Tribal Ovat of Ijebe stepped in, forcing all to keep the peace. He took a palm frond - which is used widely as a warning of natural and supernatural danger, [2] and is particularly used by the Mbembe as a symbol of the Ovat's authority - and gave it to his Ejukwa, the head of Okwa for his village. This man was then sent round all the villages concerned and ordered them in the Ovat's name to keep the peace. The order was effective because, it is said,

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had any villages ignored it they would have been subject to both ritual sanctions and to penal sanctions. The Okwa members of all the conforming villages would have been entitled to demand a fine from the offending villages; a fine they would have been justified in extracting because in Ijebe, as we saw, Okwa operates at the sub-tribal level.

This is a particularly interesting case because it shows the limitation of Okwa's power. Throughout the account of the Osopong tribe it was necessary to emphasize that the head f Okwa in a village has power that is in many cases almost as great as that of the Avat. Okwa, however has not the same ritual authority necessary to enforce peace. As soon as this is threatened the Ovat must take the initiative and Okwa becomes his executive arm and acts in his name and under the sign of his ritual authority.

In Okum the villages are, in general, so far apart that serious friction seldom occurs between them. This may, perhaps, do something to account for the somewhat anomalous position of the Village Ovat of Apiapum. It may be that his apparent lack of a really active role once he has been installed is to be correlated with the fact that the Efyapum villages have never come to blows. Cleavages between them certainly exist but the settlements are too far apart for any antagonisms between them to develop to a really serious extent. In the one instance, however, in which two villages are close together and have become serious rivals we again find instances of intervention by the Avat. The villages concerned are those of Ochon and Issabang which have been rivals throughout this century. (See p.132.)

In one instance a quarrel arose because Ochon claimed that Issabang people had trespassed in Ochon bush and had felled trees there. Trouble seemed likely to break out between them and the Village Ovat of Odongit sent his Ejukwa to tell the parties to keep the peace and summoned their Avat to a meeting to discuss the matter. Again, therefore, an inter-village quarrel provided the occasion for an Ovat to take the initiative. In this case again, the Ovat of Odongit who intervened does not claim a status markedly superior to that of the Avat of the villages involved in the quarrel. He was, however, under a particular obligation to take action because his village has some claim to ritual superiority as the first resident in the area. Ochon and Issabang, and a refugee village that has settled in the area with the permission of Odongit, and their Okpobam medicines stem from Odongit.

In another instance a quarrel between Ochon and Issabang earlier in this century led to a particularly interesting intervention. Again the trouble had arisen over the felling of trees, this time for canoes, in bush that was claimed by both villages. In this instance the elders of Ochon feared that fighting would break out and feared also that there was no local Ovat with sufficient influence to be able to prevent it. They therefore sent messengers all the way to Ekinrin in Osopong (although he was not at that time an Onyen man) and begged him to take action to prevent violence. The Ekinrin responded by sending his Ejukwa with a palm frond. It is said that when this man arrived at the

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quarrelling villages he was accompanied by Okwa representatives of the Village Avat of every village through which he had passed. In this instance, therefore, the people of Ochon took advantage of Okum's rather tenuous links with the Ekinrin when they felt that no local Ovat had sufficient client authority to prevent an outbreak of violence. Again in this case in the context of violence Okwa acts merely as the executive arm of the Avat. There could be no clearer indication that Okwa by itself could take no action to maintain peace than the fact that apparently the only thing capable of bringing the association into action on this scale was the authority of an Ovat living many hours journey away from Osopong. Moreover there could be no clearer proof that the Ekinrin at this time enjoyed a very wide reputation as a peacemaker, and I think we are entitled to assume that his whole position is bound up with his special ability to prevent violence.

It is above all when we study Adun that we see a situation that suggests most forcibly that there is a relationship between the authority of the Avat, their role as the peacemaker and the degree of conflict existing between the villages of a tribe.

That there was particular hostility existing between Adun villages has already been made clear and I think it is reasonable to assume that it is to this intra-tribal hostility that the Avat, and especially the Kwudedin, owe much of their influence. Certainly there is no doubt that trouble between the Adun villages in the nineteenth century did lead to the intervention of the Avat.

There are, for instance, strong tradition that before the setting up of the British Administration the Kwudedin sent the Tribal Ejukwa on several occasions to prevent fighting between Adun villages, especially between the villages of Ofat and Ofodua, and Ofodua and Obabene. Moreover it is also alleged that, at the request of the Kwudedin, the sanctuary priest for Adun sent messages to those who seemed to quarrel telling them that if anyone were killed he would accept compensation only if it were paid by matrilineal and not patrilineal groups. This, as we have seen, was done to limit the possibility of violence by making it clear that compensation would have to be paid by small groups and could not be spread over a large community. The Kwudedin's action in such cases again shows his concern for the maintenance of peace within the tribe.

A particularly interesting tradition is that which recounts what happened when the young men of one village committed the horrible crime of cannibalism against people from other Adun villages. To stop the outrage the Kwudedin is said to have intervened. Tradition says he took his Okpobam emblems to the village and called all its people together. the guilty men came with the others and as soon as they set eyes on the Okpobam emblems they became sick and died. So many died that the remnant of the people went to live in the village of Ofat, being no longer able to remain a separate village. Today their descendants form one of the patriclans there.

There is almost certainly some truth in this story of cannibalism, even the people of Ofat will point out the site of the crimes, and

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allege with a kind of ghoulish delight that still today men find there the little pots for oil and pepper which the murderers took to season their cannibal feasts. These spine-chilling embellishments fix that scene of the crimes and the identity of the criminals so firmly that there must be some factual basis for the tradition.

If the story has a bass of truth then it may well record the incorporation into the Adun tribe of a formerly independent village was forced by enemy pressure into the area. The taboos on cannibalism within the tribe are so very strong that it is difficult to believe that a group of members of a fully incorporated village would ever practice it. On the other hand it is quite likely that from time to time villages which had no former ties with Adun and, therefore, no inhibitions about eating Adun people, must have been forced into the neighbourhood and taboos on head-hunting must have been imposed on them. The tradition may, therefore, record with trimmings the process of amalgamation of such a village. If so, the part assigned to the Kwudedin is very significant.

It must at any rate, almost certainly have been during the period in which the "Adun" villages were forced into their present restricted area that the Kwudedin's authority was extended. There is no basis for assuming that during the period in which the proto-Adun villages were scattered widely over this region of the Cross River any one Ovat could have been regarded as particularly superior to others. Such a position would have been most unlikely. The Adun villages, however, were forced backwards on every side. We have seen that today the ideological basis for their peaceful co-existence is the belief that they all come under the ritual influence of the Kwudedin's Okpobam Oyriawuno and it has been argued (see p.70) that such a situation might easily come about as villages, forced to settle in a new area, sought the permission of a village already resident there, and in the process inevitably forged links with its Okpobam cult.

This suggestion, however, cannot wholly explain the considerable extension of the Kwudedin's authority. Some additional factor must have been operating. What happened, I suggest, is that competition and conflict between the settlements was not ended even when the villages did acknowledge some kind of relationship through their Okpobam cults. Enmity between them was, we know, still liable to get out of hand and there was, therefore, room for the growth of the influence of any Ovat who could maintain the peace.

If we want to see how, in such a situation the influence of the Ovat might be extended, then events occurring in Okum and Osopong readily supply the models. We have seen that it is the duty of any Village Ovat to try to prevent hostilities between neighbouring villages; but we have also seen that this is particularly the duty of an Ovat who is regarded as superior to the others because of the prior settlement of his village, especially if those quarrelling are linked closely to his Okpobam cult. We have also seen, most significantly, that even if a neutral Ovat does not intervene on his own initiative, quarrelling villagers may ask him to intervene if he has a reputation

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as a peacemaker. More remarkable still, we have seen that the quarrelling villages, frightened at violence they cannot control may send some distance to beg for the intervention of a renowned Ovat though he may have had no previous jurisdiction over them. It may well be that it was partly through this process that the Kwudedin's influence was extended. The belief in the "ownership" of the villages concerned by the Kwudedin's Okpobam may well have come, in some cases, only later.

The very strong position of the Kwudedin at the close of the nineteenth century undoubtedly owed something to the support he received from the river traders who were attracted to Adun by its dense, easily accessible population. nevertheless as we have seen their patronage of the Kwudedin probably arose because his friendship assured them a peaceful reception in Adun villages and unmolested travel between them. That this was the case may well have been due to the fact that the Adun villages, because they made use of the Kwudedin to settle their disputes, gradually came to acknowledge his general ritual and political authority.

We know from a study of the Alur [3] that people faced with internal violence they cannot control may deliberately seek chiefs to rule over them, even chiefs from outside, provided only that those who do come will bring peace. It seems not too much to suggest, therefore, that to achieve the same end the Adun villages accepted the increasing authority of one of their own Avat, eventually acknowledging him to be "Kwudedin" or, "Great".

This suggestion is inevitably based to some extent on unprovable supposition. The excuse for indulging in such a speculation is that the discovery of a miniature centralized state in an area where such an organization was totally unexpected demanded some kind of historical explanation. Clearly this state-like structure had developed in the last century out of a type of political organization like that found today in Okum and the main problem was to discover the kind of process which could have led to such a development. I trust that the reader will agree that it is a reasonable hypothesis to suggest that the process was one by which peace priests in a situation of heightened conflict gradually extended their authority and power. It is a process I believe, which may well be found to have occurred many times elsewhere.

[1] Partridge, ibid., pp. 211-214.

[2] E.g. used instead of a red flag as a road sign, it may indicate anything from minor hole in the road to the complete collapse of a bridge.

[3] Southall 1955.

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