EKÖMBI IS EKARA [Esoterica Four] –by Holyns Hogan

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So far, this is the fourth in the series of my expository essay on original Efik Ekömbi secrets understood by only initiates. The work is already at the press for publication as licensed revised edition and will soon be out in print for permanent academic research reference purposes.

Recall that motivation for this work recently came from my answer to a question asked in Calabar blog to know if Ekömbi is actually an Efik or Ibibio dance. A response that was well received globally by sundry readers as the post went viral via sharing by fans on various social media/Internet platforms as Negroid Haven Blog and others.

Also that my answer to that question asserted Efik as Ekömbi origin and the Ibibios et al as its key promoters, adulterants/imitators, particularly the type we frequently see globally in mostly Ibibio traditional marriage or social events… that often critically undermine Ibibio culture at large. Further, the inclusion of the fact that Efik Ekömbi dance inundates with esoterica, grandeur or gracefulness that elegantly differs it from others as afore specified.


Ekara is Efik word for sphere, circle or anything designed to live or be seen/used in a spherical or coiled form. It may be animal or non-animal by nature, and extended to broadly or literarily infer territoriality, pomposity or commanded air of importance. Eg. Ekara unam, ekara mbiomo (used in carrying things on the head), ekara öböwit (spherical bowl), ekara udori/udiök mkpö, ekara iköñ (spherical leaf), ekara mmöñ inyañ, ekara ikpöñ etuk, ekara as the act of rulership or governance as seen in ekara nyin nte emade.

Accordingly, ekara is specifically used here to infer the territoriality and pomposity that is often deeply perceived when an addicted, highly skilled, talented or possessed original Ekömbi itiat Ntokon solo dancer expresses “sacred” meanings by adorable spherical/symmetrical movement of the body in allotted time and space on stage. Note territoriality, pomposity, spherical, symmetrical, movement, body, time and space as key words that opens to the Ekara- esoterica in original Efik Ekömbi dance.

Of course, those who truly know it, know that Ekömbi Efik, though mostly subtle as the Itiat Ntokon type, is never subtle but vibrant and territorially imposing in hightened “Ikpat Iba Iba” type. Gradually, an experienced or charged dancer surveys her imagined territory, carefully by opening out spherically, symmetrically or asymmetrically to ascertain that no threat abounds. The dancer then follows it up with an authoritative air of possession and majestic gracing of occupied space/territory in a manner that usually elicit such applauding or eulogiaic phrases as “owo iduhe”, “unek akak edem ikakake obot itöñ”, okoyomde, edikutde, edi ntre and ayuuuu etc.


Hogan writes from the ancient port city of Calabar