Nigeria, situated in West Africa, is a diverse country with numerous ethnic groups. While we share many cultural similarities, these nuances often require a closer look to appreciate. The Kola Nut is one such similarity, although its usage and consumption practices vary among different ethnic groups. For instance, the Ebira people refer to it as “Irevu,” the Yoruba as “Obi,” the Hausa as “Gworo,” and the Igbo as “Oji.”
If you ever have the opportunity to meet a Nigerian, it would be interesting to inquire about how the Kola Nut is used in their ethnic group. Many Nigerians still believe in utilizing the Kola Nut for religious, ceremonial, and traditional purposes, while others simply enjoy it for its recreational value.
Traditional Uses of Irevu (Kola Nut) in Ebiraland:
According to my Igbo friends, it is customary to serve Kola Nut to visitors as a sign of welcome. Similarly, the Ebira people used to follow this practice, although it is less common nowadays. While it’s rare to see Ebira people presenting Irevu to visitors these days, some Ebira elders still consume it on a daily basis. It’s worth noting that in certain parts of the United Arab Emirates, Irevu is considered a controlled substance.
Religious Use of Irevu (Kola Nut) in Ebiraland:
In Ebiraland, followers of traditional religious practices employ Irevu for various purposes, although I won’t be able to cover all of them in this article. However, one particular use can be understood by Ebiras in the diaspora. Irevu is offered as a symbolic offering to the gods or the Ohiku (ancestors) to seek their guidance and blessings. Traditional believers, particularly Oracle Consultants (Oheva), utilize Irevu as it is believed to be the favored food of Eva, the Ebira god of wisdom. By presenting Irevu, they seek to appease Eva and obtain guidance or assistance.
Ceremonial Use of Irevu (Kola Nut) in Ebiraland:
During traditional Ebira weddings, the groom’s family presents Irevu as part of the wedding ceremony, along with other gift items. Irevu holds significant importance in these ceremonies, symbolizing fertility and protection from evil.
Kola Nut, containing caffeine, holds a prominent position in various aspects of Nigerian life. It is widely used by students to stay awake while studying, employees seeking an energy boost at work, market women, elders, and even politicians. It serves as a unifying force across Nigeria. Kola Nut is primarily cultivated in the southwestern region of Nigeria, particularly in Yorubaland (Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo States).
Although this article reflects my personal exposure to the traditional and cultural uses of Kola Nut in Ebiraland, it captures the essence of Irevu. I invite you to share your comments and opinions below, and please feel free to share this article with your friends.