The Making of Heroes, Saints and Martyres; The Point of Departure in Deconstructing the Inikpi Legend of Igala Land

The history of the Igala people and their kingdom is surffused with invasions, battles, wars and conquests just like many people of other kingdoms who were their contemporaries in those days of closed societies.

The climax in their historical account was the altruistic sacrifice by the Atta (King) of Igala of his only daughter, Princess Inikpi. The princess was buried alive as dictated by the Seer who divined that their gods decreed it in order for the kingdom to avert the drumbeat of impending war being plotted to be waged by the neighboring more powerful Bini Kingdom. 

This scenario sets chains of actions and reactions culminating in the divination by itinerant false seers and pretenders to occult powers. The recommendation of this divination was the emotional and highly thought provoking demand by the gods of the land; that princess Inikpi must be sacrificed to appease the gods who would ultimately aid the King’s warriors defeat the kingdom’s adversaries in the imminent war. Until today this historical narratives had successfully established the basis for heroization of Inikpi in Igala land even as modern statehood has become the basis of political identity of the land and people.

The story of Princess Inikpi is one of bravery and heroism, morbid but inspiring as capable of cult following hence her statue in the Idah market square. She is remembered among the Igala people as a very beautiful and intelligent princess whose selfless sacrifice helped the survival of the Igala kingdom from the prevalence of wars of conquest by marauding warriors from other kingdoms during the pre colonial closed societies of Africa.

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In today’s igala land, political identity within the modern state of the Nigerian state federation, the wars and divinations may no longer find a place, but the need for interrogations and deconstruction of myths leads this writer to embark on his intellectual exercise to elicit robust debate for dialectical analysis. In the present day Igala land the princess would have lived and her people and kingdom safe from their perceived or real adversaries. Modern warfare is not won through divinations based on superstitions, but by superior armament backed by strategies and military personnel for speedy execution rather than any form of sacrifice.    

Analogies of such superstitious insinuations abound from other parts of the world dating back to remote past in their histories too. From ancient Greek mythology, independence cannot be more emphatically asserted than by voluntary submission to death. Even suicide is countenanced in the pagan tradition, and in some cases even recommended. In any society that places complete authority in a supreme external power, it must be counted as sin. The high souled man encounters death cheerfully for glory sake, and we have seen that death usually under remarkable circumstances is a prerequisite to heroization. Some people even invite death in the service of religion or patriotism when it serves the spiritual welfare of the generality.

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In the ancient closed societies, many of these pretenders abound in different places to render their superstitious services to the willing and gullible. They charged fees for oracles they issued in ambiguous or unintelligible form and exploited private matters communicated to them for the purpose of blackmail. Sometimes, they affected various antics to display their purported pretanatural powers. They know too well that the prime motivations of men all over the world are; Hope and Fear and they consciously set about exploiting these motives. They get along with people in high standing within their societies as their beneficiaries and benefactors. Until this modern day, people in positions of political power great riches and wealth look up to them for fear of the unknown. We can find them in different shades plying their trades to the willing and gullible even within the churches and mosques dotting the landscape of our towns and cities, big business though. The divination that sentenced Princess Inikpi to her early grave had done same to many unsung victims of false divinations by false seers and charlatans who feed fat on the age longed primordial motives of the homosapiens; Fear and Hope. We live witness to it in the form of ritual killings by the day as access to the institution of money becomes intensely pervasive in Nigeria. History is always repeating itself by people reinventing the wheels.

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Author Profile

Alex Ameh Ogbu
Alex Ameh Ogbu
Comrade Alex Ameh Ogbu is an Abuja based Media Practitioner and a prolific writer that writes mostly from Akatekwe Kingdom.

He is also the National Convenor Generation for Change Africa Initiative GFCAI. He can be reached via:

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