A Tribe of Red and Black Stripes: meet the Idoma people of Benue state

A Tribe of Red and Black Stripes: meet the Idoma people of Benue state

By Promise Eze

If you take a walk down the lower western areas of Benue State and some parts of Taraba, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, and Nasarawa states in Nigeria, you would find the Idoma people

They’re often mistaken to be part of the Igbo tribe owing to the fact that they have ties with almost all the southern regions of the country as their culture, language and way of life are relative to some key Southern tribes in Nigeria.

They are the second-largest ethnic group in Benue and spread across 9 Local Government areas in western Benue.

The Idoma are bounded by the river Benue to the North, by parts of Igbo and Ogoja lands to the South, by the Tiv and Igede lands to the East and by Igalaland to the West.

Here are seven things to know about the Idoma people


The history of the Idomas seems not to be documented, and remains a controversial topic.

Oral history states that Iduh is believed to be the father of Idoma and had several children, each of them establishing different areas.

Most historians, however, agree that the Idomas migrated from Apa in the Kwararafa Kingdom after her disintegration.

2. Religion

The Idoma people used to be predominantly traditionalists but the advent of Christianity, Islam, and other religions altered a lot of traditional practices across Idoma land.

A good number of them, notwithstanding, still believe strongly in the ‘Alekwu’, which is seen as the ancestral spirits that link the living and the dead.

Annually, the “Aje Alekwu” festival is held in Idoma land till date where traditional religious leaders atone for the land and make sacrifices to Alekwu in worship for his protections.

3. Food

Top among the list of foods eaten by Idoma people is the Okoho soup. This traditional treat is made of a cognominal Okoho plant, which is the major ingredient and renders a special touch to the look and taste of the dish.

Okoho is normally prepared with bush meat or smoked meat and finally crowned with pounded yam (onihi).

Other soups of note are fresh okra (ólor igbidu or ikpoho), dried okra (óhor ijangada or ólor ijangada), ogbono (óhor upi or ólor upi) and egusi (óhor obobo or ólor obobo).

4. Distinctive Colour

The Idomas are known for their red and black stripes. These colours foster a distinct identity among the Idomas.

These colours were never in existence until the 80s when it was introduced into the culture as a means of making the Idoma identity unique.

5. Occupation

The Idoma people are predominantly farmers. They grow yams, millet and sorghum, and place these cultivations at the heart of their festivals.

6. Leadership

They have just one traditional ruler who guides the ancestral heritage of the people and makes sure the culture is kept alive.

This lifetime ruler is titled the “Och’idoma” and he is the head of the Idoma Area Council where each community in the kingdom has its own representative who pays allegiance to the overall throne located in Otukpo Palace.

7. Notable Idoma people of Nigeria

Popular musician, 2baba Innocent Idibia; David Mark, former Nigerian Senate President; Monday Riku Morgan, Air Vice Marshal, former Chief of Defense Intelligence; Terry G, Nigerian musician; Susan Peters, Nollywood actress, are a few prominent Idoma people in Nigeria.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: