The study seeks to examine the aesthetic role of Princess Inikpi, a historical icon of the Igala people of Kogi State. In doing this, the researcher went further to investigate the role she played, which made her a historical and an unforgettable figure in the lives of the Igala people by investigating her origin, her place in the family and her personality. At the end of the study, a conclusion was drawn as to how her role vindicated and granted victory to the Igala nation from her time till date.
Princess Inikpi became famous in the history of the Igala people of Kogi State as a result of her selfless sacrifice. I wondered what would become of the Igala Nation if there had been no such a volunteering sacrifice of a young, pretty and dignified lady of that magnitude. The study takes a specific look at how princess Inikpi, through the role she played, granted victory to her people – the Igala Nation and peace was restored. Other areas the study touches include a brief definition of Aesthetics and a Brief history of the Igala people; after which a conclusion is drawn.
A BRIEF DEFINITION OF AESTHETICS
Aesthetics is etymologically derived from the Greek word “Aisthetikos” meaning aesthetic sensitive sentiment”, which is in turn derived from aesthanomai meaning I perceive or feel or I sense”. The term was coined and appropriated with new meaning in the German form æsthetik done by a man called Alexander Baumgarten in 1735. Aesthetics is further defined as a branch of philosophy which deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is also defined as the study of sensory or sensory-emotional values sometimes called judgements of sentiment and taste. Scholars in the field of philosophy, however, see aesthetics as a critical reflection of art, culture and nature.
ORIGIN OF THE IGALA PEOPLE
The origin of the Igala people is still a topic of serious debate but the most popular is that the Igalas are from Egypt like many African nations and though there is still no concrete evidence to indicate Igala’s migration to their present location just as most nations found in present day Nigerian but what is indisputable is the fact that the Igala nation is 100% black (Negro) found in North central Nigeria not outside it and like Yusuf Etu (1999) advocated, the Igala’s should “…look down their boots for their origin not outside it…”
According to Abdullahi (2006) quoting Miles Clifford, a one-time district head of Idah district a breakaway group of the Jukun moved eastward from Wukari staying just south of the Benue… They settled in Amaggedde in the North-East of Igala before finally moving from there across the country to Idah. Many early researchers claim the Igala origin to be from Egypt and recently Jacob Abdullahi buttressed his claim quoting professor Gabriel Oyibo thus “…our forefathers were the inhabitants of Egypt”. According to Abdullahi (2006) quoting Miles Clifford, a one-time district head of Idah district a breakaway group of the Jukun moved eastward from Wukari staying just south of the Benue… They settled in Amaggedde in the north-east of Igala before finally moving from there across the country to Idah. Many early researchers claim the Igala origin to be from Egypt and recently Jacob Abdullahi buttressed his claim quoting professor Gabriel Oyibo thus “…our forefathers were the inhabitants of Egypt”.
Abdullahi claimed that the Arabian invasion of Egypt in 36-841AD drove the Igalas from Egypt, the scattering took others to Ethiopia making 75% of Igala’s in Ethiopia, some moved to Congo and the Indigenous language of Congo is Lingala, another settled in Ghana and they speak Gaa a variation of the Igala language, a traditional ruler in Ghana is also called Atta. Angola means the “Land of Gala’s”. Abdullahi further stated that in the process of migration some settled in Sudan, Madagascar, Turkey and Yemen. Still Quoting Miles Clifford, Abdullahi wrote further that “the Igala country was variously called Igala, Igara, Gara, gala…Atangara or Akpoto”. According to Oguagha, Igalaland is inhabited “…by an indigenous population called “Akpoto” this population substratum is thought by some authorities to be of Idoma stock and to have been absorbed by the Igala through Acculturation”.
PRINCESS INIKPI: Her Aesthetic Role
- Now, who is Princess Inikpi, whom history records as being buried alive and how?
- If she was indeed a princess, how could her father, the king permit such atrocity?
Princess Inikpi’s story is one emanating from an inevitable consequence of history and not an accident of history.
The history of the Igala kingdom will surely not be complete without recollecting the very important role of princess Inikpi. She was a very beautiful woman, from the royal family, a heroine with great attributes. Her story is that of selfless commitment and sacrifice to the course and survival of the Igala nation.
According to historical records, a war was imminent between the Bini kingdom and the Igalas. Nowhere was safe in Igala land was safe anymore. The farmlands were already cordoned off by the enemies and the streams poisoned so that anyone that drank from them would die.
The Igalas feared imminent death from starvation and lack of water. When Oracle was consulted, it proclaimed that a reversal of their misfortune and victory in the war could only come when the princess, the only daughter of the king is buried alive.
Princess Inikpi was the only beloved daughter of Ayegbu Oma Idoko, the Atta of Igala kingdom. When he was informed of the only solution to forestall the destruction of his homeland by the Oracle through some eunuch in his palace, he was crushed and heartbroken and shed tears. He earnestly wished there was an ` ` alternative. For days, he could not eat nor drink. The princess noticed how downcast her father was and asked to know the reason behind his sadness. Instead of opening up, he held off telling her the story for seven days, but on the eight, he relented and told her the words of the Oracle.
Princess Inikpi did not object, she did not fight. She went voluntarily on that day to the bank of River Niger, where she was buried alive. It was a sad resolution but the Igala people hailed her for her heroism. After the sacrifice, the story went on that as the Bini armies advanced to swoop, they saw the whole town in flames and retreated feeling that there was no need taking the war to a place already on fire; but it was the blood of Inikpi that deceived them.
Observance of the role the Princess played in averting disaster in Igala land still represents an important historical event in the life of the Igala people. Today, so many people in Idah bear the name Inikpi in honour of the princess. The sacrifice was a costly one, very expensive indeed, it, however, made peace reign again in Igala land.
Till today, the late Princess Inikpi who was sacrificed so that the Igalas might live remains the unifying factor in Igala land.
The Igala people till date owed the late princess Inikpi the reverence for her sacrificial role which had brought victory to the Igala Kingdom. Maybe, of course, today, there would have been nothing to be called the Igala nation if the Benin Armies had succeeded in invading Idah, or the story would not be as it is today, without the great role of accepting to be buried alive by the princess Inikpi. It is therefore worthy of note that the role she has played is an indication that the Princess has her people at heart, like every woman (mother), should do in preserving her children/child. This, therefore, ought to serve as a benchmark for all responsible women who must bring change to her household and the entire society.
- Egbunu, F.E. (2013): History of the Igala People: Journal of Cross-Cultural Communication. Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 30-38.
- Edeh, P.D. (Dr.) (2014): Lecture Note on Aesthetics (Phil 303).
- History of the Igala Kingdom – Igalapedia.com