EFIK NAME FOR LION AND WHY EKPE TRANSLATES TO LEOPARD?

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© Holyns Hogan, 2024

Contrary to the widely held belief or opinion that Lion is Ekpe in Efik, the truth remains that Ekpe translates to the Efik name for LEOPARD. Oral History asserts that it was out of Efik ancestors’ interest to mimick the Leopard that attacked them in thick forests, during their migration history into then non-existent Nigeria, as a people from “the orient” (Aye, 1991; Goodie, 1864), that [arguably] led to their invention of IDEM IKWỌ/IDEM IQUO as one of Efik’s physically seen social Ekpe masquersdes . The others being Ebonko Ñkwañkwa etc.

Also, History informs us that it was the aforementioned experience that later led the Efik ancestors that further migrated and finally settled [predominantly] in the lower Cross River Basin from circa 13th-17th Century A.D., to gradually modify, upgrade and embellish then called NYANANYAKU to bear semblance of the Ekpe Ikọt Inyañ (Leopard) that later became institutionalized as a state cult/secret society responsible for the physical governance of the land or [con]fraternity reserved for only initiates. Little wonder IKPA EKPE (Leopard Hide) was adopted for Efik’s Edidem’s diadem, throne decor and footmat… to symbolize invincibility, audacity, sagacity/power conferred by the gods, customs and tradition on Efik warrior kings over the land and its people.

That arguably led to the invention of the Efik’s ISIM EKPE MASQUERADE/ROYAL DANCE FOR EFIK PRINCES, usually performed as part of the rites of passage in honour of a fallen Efik King / Ọbọñ of Calabar.

However, despite that physical and spiritual Ekpe respectively borrow Mane (symbolized as NYANYA EKPE) and Lion’s Roar (ÑWUNE/ÑWURI EKPE) from the Lion, it doesn’t make EKPE a Lion.

Therefore, LION is correctly called ANAÑWUNE-EKPE, a variant version of ANAÑWURI-EKPE, defined as a “large gregarious predatory feline/Cats” (WordWeb Dictionary, 2008) e.g. mountain, Savanah or jungle Lions. Of course, it is perceived that the lexical link of Leopard and LION as “big cats” is asserted by the equal definition of Leopard as a “large feline” (WordWeb Dictionary, 2008). Aye (1991) affirms this reality when he corroborated that Anawuri-ekpe infers a member of the cats family, a lion and term reserved for Ekpe matters in Biase in Southern Cross River state.

The reason for the LION being so called is derived from the ÑWUNE/ÑWURI ROAR [sound] seen as one of the Lion’s established vocalizations when marking territories, calling out to his pride, sending warning signals or wailing in pains. The roar usually goes rythmically as “ñwune ñwune ñwune” as empirically ascertained through research (Hogan et al, 2000, Multi-Choice “DSTV NAT. GEO-WILD BIG CATS documentaries”, 2024).

Note that Ekpe does not KUNI (as most people often WRONGLY say?, because KUNI is the Efik word for “to SNORE”. Instead the correct thing to say should often be that Ekpe and/or Anañwune-Ekpe/Anañwuri-Ekpe ÑWUNI or ÑWUNE (translated to the Leopard or Lion roars… because ñwune/ñwuri (not kuni) is the Efik word for Roar. Further note that “ñwune” as contextualized in this article is different from NWUNE (translated to Efik homonym for “to smell something; something that is rumpled; someone to sit sadly, shily or afraid as though frightened or humbled by something).

 

All rights of copy@Holyns Hogan, 2024 and Negroid Haven, 2024