The advent of tribal marks in Ebiraland emerged around 1967 as a result of Nigerian civil war (Biafran war), commenced seven years after Nigeria gained independence from Britain, the war began with the secession of the southeastern region of the nation on May 30, 1967, when it declared itself the independent Republic of Biafra.
At the pre-colonial, colonial/pre-indepence era, the Ebira’s do not have an official tribal mark, what we have in the early days is “essā” also refers as tattoo/body marks, which men and women love doing just as an act of beautification.
In addition, the women also decorate their selves with a crushed green leaves called (“irali” in Ebira dialect), (“lalle” in Hausa dialect) mixed with lime orange juice, pasted on their hands and legs which gives yellow colouration after some period of time, it also gives black colouration as well base on other additives, which serves as beautification for the women.
This is also practice by other tribes in Nigeria as well, most especially the Hausa’s and the Fulani’s, it is also noted that this act is practice majorly by Muslim women across African continent.(Uhuaā/Avukū/Aperē, Ireekū, essā).
As of the view to differentiate Ebira’s and other tribes during the war, the Ebira’s then opinned to give and identify themselves with mark called ” tribal mark” both for the adults and the younger ones. The mark is called (Uhuaā/Avukū/Aperē). This act is not only practice by the Ebira’s only, but other minority/majority tribes across Nigeria did same. The war which lasted for about three years between 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970 (2 years, 6 months, 1 week and 2 days). Hence, even after the war, it becomes a tradition to give your new born child a tribal mark for identity of his origin in many parts of Ebira Kingdom, and other parts of Nigeria as well.
Also Read: Interview With Ohinoyi at 93 – Happy Birthday to the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
Apart from the official Ebira tribal mark mostly known as “avukū (the eleven mark) & Aperē (the minus mark), Ebira people had been known in given marks to their children, mostly to some children who usually felt sick or have convulsion (fear) problem, such mark is referred to as “ireekū, or “ireekū-anwuahi” (meaning mark to protect a child from fearing). This type of mark is also given even to some adults who has one problem or the other to serve as remedy. Other tribes in Nigeria also give mark to their people base on their cultural values and believes as well, which is best known to them, but it is not officially regarded as tribal mark prior the civil war.
The Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War) was a civil war in Nigeria fought between the government of Nigeria headed by General Yakubu Gowon and the secessionist state of Biafra led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970.
Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain’s formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963.
Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included ethno-religious violence and anti-Igbo pograms in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta also played a vital strategic role.
From the light of the above, is what has resulted to an advent of official tribal mark practice by the Ebira’s and other tribes across Nigeria.
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