Obong of Calabar, King of Efik people, Nigeria

The Efik are an ethnic group located primarily in southern Nigeria, and western Cameroon. Within Nigeria, the Efik can be found in the present-day Cross River State and Akwa Ibom state. Calabar named by Portuguese is locally known as Akwa Akpa in local Efik language. Akwa Akpa, known to European colonists as Old Calabar or Duke Town, was an Efik city-state that flourished in the 19th century in what is now southern Nigeria. Efik people majorly are centered are Calabar, capital of Cross rivers state, Nigeria. The slave trade was banned by a British decree of 1808, and slavery was banned in all British territories in 1833. Traders from other nations, such as Spain, continued to buy slaves at Calabar until 1842. In that year, King Eyamba V of Duke Town and King Eyo of Creek Town signed a treaty agreeing to stop trading slaves. With the suppression of the slave trade, palm oil and palm kernels became the main exports.

In 1846 a Christian mission was established by the United Presbyterian Church between Duke Town and Henshaw town, with the support of King Eyo. The mission was headed by Rev. Hope Masterton Waddell with support from Hugh Goldie, who wrote an account of Calabar in his 1890 book Calabar and its Mission. That year the chiefs requested British protection for Calabar, but the reply from Lord Palmerston, received in 1848, was that it was not necessary or advisable to grant the request. The British said they would treat the people of Calabar favorably if they would give up their practice of human sacrifice. At the time, it was common for wives and slaves of an important man to be sacrificed upon his death.

In 1903 the British made an agreement with the Efik Kings that they would no longer use title of King (Edidem), but instead as titular rulers would have the title Obong of Calabar.

Kings of Efik

In 1903 the British made an agreement with the Efik Kings that they would no longer use title of King (Edidem), but instead as titular rulers would have the title Obong of Calabar. In December 1970 it was agreed that a single ruler should represent the Efik people, rather than two (one for Creek Town and one for Duke Town), with the ruler alternated between the two communities. However he still remains the paramount King of all Efik

  • Ekpenyong Offiong Okoho (1786–1805)
  • Ekpenyong Effiom Okoho Eyamba III (1805–1814)
  • Effiom Edem Ekpo Effiom, Eyamba IV (1814–1834)
  • Edem Ekpenyong Offiong Okoho Eyamba V (1834–1847)
  • Effiom Okoho Asibong I Ekpo Minika (May 1849 – February 1852)
  • Ededem Effiom II (April 1852 – August 1858)
  • Eyo Asibong II (March 1859 – August 1872)
  • Edem Asibong III Eyamba VIII (1872 – May 1879)
  • Orok Edem Eyamba IX/King Duke IX (1880–1896)
  • Obong Edem Effiom Edem (January 1903 – 1906)
  • Obong Asibong IV
  • Obong Asibong V (1956 -)
  • Edidem David James Henshaw V (1970–1973)
  • Edidem Esien Ekpe Oku V (1973–1980)
  • Edidem Bassey Eyo Ephraim Adam III (1980–1987)
  • Edidem Otu Ekpenyong Effa IX (1987–1989)
  • Edidem Boco Ene Mkpang Cobham V (1989–1999)
    • (vacant 1999 – 2001)
  • Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw (2001–2004)
  • Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V (2008 –

Royal Crown Jewels

The king is usually crowned twice, traditionally and religiously under the Presbyterian Church his title defender of the Christian faith was given to previous kings  by the Europeans during colonial era. The crown, sword and bible used are said to be gifts from Queen Victoria of UK after a correspondence with a previous Obong. This led to the myth of the black King marrying the white queen after the Obong asked her to marry him so they can rule together. Their letters can be viewed at the national museum of Calabar

Current Obong of Calabar, Efik people

Meet  His Eminence Obong (monarch /King) of Calabar, Efik people of Nigeria. 78th monarch of Efik people.

Name and full title- Edidem Ekpo Okon Abassi Otu V – the Obong of Calabar, natural ruler, treaty King and grand patriarch of efik people/kingdom, defender of the Christian faith

He was crowned Obong in 2008 as the 78th monarch.The King who can trace his origin from the first monarch of Efik people is in his 70s. Before becoming king he worked in the telecommunications sector of the Nigerian government.

He is married to Princess Ansa Ekpo with seven children.

Utomo Obong

Utomo Obong is an annual cultural festival of efik people in which they pay homage to their monarch.

Photos : @utomoobong
Much thanks & appreciation to @rex_egbe1

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