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CHAPTER ONE

1.0              INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO STUDY

In-Performance is an art of freshness and uniqueness of performance each time a group enacts the same performance (dance).  The need for this study is to give an insight into the creativity which is displayed when Ijor dance is performed.

The Yala people are known for their rich cultural heritage and the various social activities which are a symbol of civilization.  The Ijor dance is a form of Oral literature common among the Yala folks.

Africans have been seen by Europeans as very primitive and without written or oral literature.  These assumptions emanated from the fact that the Europeans were not familiar with African ways of life.  Oral literature was developed by African scholars to project the African society.  In respect to this, this project is aimed at projecting the in-performance creativity as portrayed in Ijor dance as a form of oral literature.

The project is important in that it intends to tell the world that Africans had their own literature which was oral in nature before the coming of the Europeans to Africa.

1.1     HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF YALA

The Yala people are members of the largest Idoma families in Idoma (Benue State) Alago (Nassarawa State) and Ette (Enugu State) who in the course of migration between 1700-1800 have settled to north Cross-River State with outlying families in Ikom and Obubra at the North and South Bank of the Cross-River, some miles from their Yala Homeland.  It was discovered by Ochumode when he met some people called the Igbadus who were the original inhabitants of the land.  In discovering a salt pond there, Ochumode decided to settle and make that his home.  Later, there was a conflict between him and the Igbadus (still alive and spread to different communities in Yala today).  He defeated them and took over the lands.  This was confirmed from an interview with Mr. D.J. Ogar and was confirmed from an interview with Mrs. Oman Odaji on April 16, 2011.  They hold that the major   Yala clans are eight in number – Okpoma, Itega-Ekpudu, Olachor, Okpinya, Ogajah, Itega and Ipila respectively.

Geographically, the Yala Community and its inhabitants occupy part of the North Western part in the North by Tiv in Benue State, in North-West by Abakaliki, in the North-East by Bekwarra and in the South by Ogoja.   According to Francis Afufu in the “Evolution of Yala Society”.  Yala Streches from Alebo to Oloko in either sides of Abakaliki – Tiv road with a distance of 67km.  The population of the people of Yala is 210, 843 comprising 107,310 males and 103,533 female, according to the 2006 National Census conducted (National population commission, Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette of 15th May 2007).  As a matter of fact, The Yala population is steadily on the increase, perhaps, just like the population of most people in the world.  Yala has a tropical climate and the vegetation is mostly Savannah Vegetation.  It witnesses rainfall between April and October annually and there is dry season between November and March.  During this dry season, there is a mixture of Harmattan and intense heat.

1.2    SOCIO-CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

We try to understand the people because of the social behavior.  Whenever we try to understand the way of life of a people, we give more attention to the norms and aesthetics that form the world view of the people.  The most relevant part of socio-cultural activity of Yala is the Festivity (New Yam Festival) celebrated every 30th August, which is once in a year.  The actual harvest starts in August.  A lot of respect is accorded to Agriculture by the Yala people in their socio-cultural setting.

On the other hand, their religion, according to Idu Onah, in an interview, expresses an aspect of their philosophy and stresses their link with Idomas.  He said that they believe in God and gods; some are Christians and some are not they make their sacrifices and divination at shrine worshipping of river god and fertility god due to Western education and Christian religion, many are converting to Christianity and abandoning the old form of worship.  Other socio-cultural activities are: naming ceremonies, child naming ceremonies, circumcision rites, dances like the Ijor dance (The major aspect of study) wohi, e.t.c.  These are practiced in yala traditional costumes of men include wrapper and singlets known as “Ihiobu” and Sandals.  Women wear wrapper, traditional tops decorated themselves with beads, plait their hair with thread.

Economically, Yala people are known for the richness in primary production.  This include Traditional salt, farming, keeping of domestic animals, carving, weaving, earth work, black smiting, gari industry, oil palm production.  Garri is most produced in Okpoma-Yala, earth work in igede (Along Benue state).  Hence, with respect to all being mentioned I condlude that Yala is economically developed.

In political system, Yala is one of the 18 local government means of Cross River State with its head quarters at Okpoma.  It was created on August – 27, 1991 by general Ibrahim Babangida –  The first military president of the federal republic of Nigeria.  Yala, Ukelle, Yache and Igede Igabu people.

nder the Yala traditional system of government, separation of power is not very strict.

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