The Igala people usually paid royalties to the Jukun kingdom in form of palm oil, yearly, but when Attah Ayegba became the Attah of Igala things changed, he wanted independence. – He sent bowls filled with faeces (shit, poopoo – yes that smelly thing) instead of oil to the Jukuns. That was the savage part and That was the beginning.
I did a lot to get this gist – traveled to my village by water, fought with a madman for the Princess’s attention, dragged with a goat for who owns the dead chicken in the shrine, danced with the masquerades and then, ate Oje-Akpa and Obo-Gogo.
I am Atabo-Idu (The Last Lion King) and here is the real story of Princess Inikpi, the lady who sacrificed herself for the Igala people.
Before I talk too much, let me correct a widely misunderstood tale; The Igalas have had various Attahs and fought wars before Princess Inikpi was born, and her death wasn’t as a result of the Igala-Benin war, but Igala-Jukun war.
The Igala-Benin war which most people believed to have been the war resulting to Princess Inikpi’s death was long before her birth and death.
The Igala-Benin war (Aji Attah and Oba Esigie) was between 1515-1516 AD, and this war was to gain control over trade along the river Niger. The war was won by the Benins due to the help of Portuguese missionaries who brought in firearms. However, the Igala warriors took something from the Benins – The face-like bronze mask still worn by the Attah till today.
Now, to the Inikpi story – which was why you started reading my story;
“Inikpi oma’fedo baba” – That’s how we call her in Igala. It means “Inikpi, the father’s beloved”.
It happened around the 17th century.
Inikpi was the daughter of Attah Ayegba oma’doko. She was the most loved (as people got to say), nonetheless, the Attah had seven (7) children, of which he ended up sacrificing five (5) to save the Igala Kingdom and set us up for independence.
As for Inikpi, her fate began from the continued “disobedience” of her father to the expectations of the Jukun king, Aku Uka of Wukari.
Aku Uka of Wukari (The Jukun king) sent his army to the Igala kingdom. They brought a message of war and horrible terror that could lead to the extinction of the Igala kingdom and obviously the Attah’s kingship.
Attah Ayegba Oma’doko couldn’t have his name penned to how the Igala kingdom got defeated under his rule. He needed to do something. Something that could end all the terror and keep the Igalas as an independent nation. Then he started to think.
He couldn’t eat- it was a “no happy face” period for him. He lost weight and wasn’t ready to talk to any of his family members about this.
The matter got worse for him when a diviner instructed him to bury his most loved child alive to ensure the safety of the kingdom. Attah wouldn’t do that! – asking him to0 sacrifice his child was a “no”, now, you are saying he should bury his “most loved” child??? – it must have been a crazy period for him.
Princess Inikpi, who was wondering why her father wasn’t the usual happy man she knows him to be, became curious and started her own “undercover search” to find out what’s wrong since her father won’t tell her himself. Then the news got to her ears. – and the only solution was for her to be buried alive.
She loves her father, as much as he loved her. She loves her people – the Igala kingdom. She needed to do something fast (I guess that’s what she must have said to herself)
Then she got people to dig a hole at the market square late at night, and very early the next morning, she ordered that she and her nine (9) slaves be buried inside. (I would reserve my comments to how Kogi state government and its tourism board don’t know what value this square has to the Igala people – maybe they know, but lackadaisical about everything).
But that wasn’t yet the end of the Igala-Jukun issue.
The matter extended to the level where a river was cursed, and any fish caught from the river never gets cooked, no matter how much you boil. – Read the story of Inachalo river here.