Numbers Pool – Álúkà

Historical Background

Since the beginning of time, the Ígáláà have evolved a system of counting that  stretches to large numbers beyond the imagination of the modern Igala youths and adults. Through this ancient system, Igala ancestors, who were predominantly farmers, were able to take record of their properties: the heaps they constructed in one day, the harvest of yam tubers, sacks of grains, and, of course, the cowries earned at the end of a market day. At home, they gratefully counted their blessing, saying: “Ọ́jọ́ agba-oo.” (God, I thank You).

Cowry Currency

The counting of cowry shells –  (Cypraea moneta), ‘ẹ́yọ́-ọkọ́’  in Ígáláà – assisted our ancestors to digitize the  ordering of counted items. Counting commences from a single unit (òké), leading to one ten (ẹ̀gwá), twenty (ógwú/ọ̀gbọ̀lọ̀ – shortened ‘ọ̀gbọ̀), fifty (óóje; ólí), hundred (ógwúẹ́lù), two hundred (ọ̀gwọ́kọ́), two hundred (íchámúù) and a thousand, (àdò or íchámú-nyí-ọ́gwọ́kọ́),as we’re going to see shortly.

As a legal tender in several parts of the world, cowries were obtained in abundant quantities from the Maldives Islands in Sri Lanka, South Asia.

Medieval African Market

The members of the British Expedition to the River Niger that visited Ídá in 1841, in its report, observed that: “Everything is conducted with the greatest order and with less  noise titan one expects in an African market…Hundreds of men are to be seen counting their bags of cowries.”

Copper Bracelets

As generations rolled by, cowry shells ceased to be a means of exchange, replaced by brass or copper bracelets, called  ‘Údẹ.’ The manila was used both as legal tender and as body ornament. For instance, important men wore ‘údẹ’ on the arm, while ladies wore them as bracelets and anklets. The term, ‘íkọ́bọ̀,’ which was used in the colonial period  in Nigeria for one penny (1d) derived its name from ‘copper.’

The British Pound Sterling

When the British flag, the  Union Jack, was hoisted in Nigeria on 1st January, 1900, it marked the change to a new administration. With it came a new currency, the Pound Sterling, which the British Empire introduced in its Nigerian colony.

The denominations of the British currency, as they were called  in Igala language,  are as follows:

 (i)  1d  (One penny) was                called íkọ́bọ̀, while half            a penny was called                   Ógwúmẹ́lū),  meaning              ‘Twenty units in five                 places.                                                                                     (ii)    2d  (Two   pennies or               two pence) was ‘íkọ́bọ̀               méjì. (Casual: ‘kọ́ọ̀ méjì).                                                       (iii)  3d  (Three pence) was              named ‘ítọ́lọ́’ (from                   tọ́rọ́,’ as it was called               elsewhere in Nigeria then.                                                     (iv)  6d  (Six pence) was                 ‘íchíchì,’ from sísí’ as it           was called nationwide.                                                   

(v)  9d  (Nine pence), which            the natives called ‘ínányí,’        (nine).                                                                                  (vi) 12d (Twelve pence) was          equal to ‘1s’ (One                     shilling), called                           ‘Òlìyá kāà.‘.                                                                        (vii) 10s (Ten shillings) was             called either ọ́kọ́ mẹ́gwā’         or ‘òlìyá mẹ̄gwa.’                                                               

When the volume of trade increased worldwide, Cowry shells (Cypraea moneta), called ‘ẹ́yọ́-ọkọ́’  in Ígáláà,  became the medium of exchange in many countries of the world. In medieval times, cowries were imported from the Maldives Islands in Sri Lanka, South Asia.  

When the members of the British Expedition to the River Niger visited Ídá in 1841 A.D., they described the decorum with which trade was carried out, saying that “Everything is conducted with the greatest order and with less  noise titan one expects in an African market…Hundreds of men are to be seen counting their bags of cowries.”

Cowries, as the years rolled by, gave way to brass/copper bracelets (Údẹ), which was used both as legal tender and as body ornament. For instance, important men wore ‘údẹ’ on the arm, while ladies wore them as bracelets and anklets.

British Pound Sterling

During the colonial period in Nigeria, the British Pound and shillings were introduced to the colonies of the British Empire in these denominations:

  (i)    1d   (One penny) was                called íkọ́bọ̀ (derived                from ‘copper’), while half            a penny was called                   ‘Ógwúmẹ́lū),  meaning              ‘Twenty units in five                 places.                                                                                 (ii)    2d  (Two   pennies or                 two pence) was ‘íkọ́bọ̀               méjì. (Casual: ‘kọ́ọ̀ méjì).                                                    (iii)   3d  (Three pence) was              named ‘ítọ́lọ́’ (from ‘tọ́rọ́,’          as it was called                          elsewhere in Nigeria.                                                    (iv)  6d  (Six pence) was                  ‘íchíchì,’ from ‘sísí’ as it              was called nationwide.                                                   

(v)  9d  (Nine pence), which            the natives called ‘ínányí,’        (nine).                                                                                  (vi) 12d (Twelve pence) was            equal to ‘1s’ (One shilling),        called ‘Òlìyá kāà.’.                                                              (vii) 10s  (Ten shillings) was             called either ‘ọ́kọ́ mẹ́gwā’         or ‘òlìyá mẹ̄gwa.’                                                                  (viii) 20s (Twenty shillings),              which was equal to £1              (One pound), was called          ‘Ípámū kāà.’

 (ix)  £2 (Two pounds) was                called ‘ípámú mējì,’ while          £20 ̀was ‘Ípámū ogwú.’                                                        (x)   £10 (One hundred                     pounds) was called                   ‘Àkpúlùú káa.’ 

 

   Cardinals 

  In mathematics, words used for counting are called cardinal numbers. In Ígáláà, counting begins with ‘Òké,’ (a single unit), as in Òké ‘káà/ mejì/mẹ́ta, etc. (One/two/three units).                                                                                          ‘Òké ‘káà,’ as a counting form, is collapsed to ‘òókáà.’ However, when counting things serially from the beginning, ‘Ényẹ́’ (One) is preferred; as in: Ényẹ́, èjì, ẹ̀ta, ẹ̀lẹ̀, ẹ̀lú, ẹ̀fà, èbie, ẹ̀jọ, ẹ̀lá, ẹ̀gwá. (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten).    

  Ordinals

 Words indicating order or sequence of occurrence are called ordinal numbers.  Igala ordinals begin with ‘Òókáà’ or ‘Éjódùdu,’     (First), an adjective of number. In Igala speech, it is usually placed before a noun that it qualifies, E.g. ‘Ẹ́nẹ ejodùdu‘ (First person) or ‘Èyí ejodùdu’ (The first one). However, in English, the adjective comes after the noun.  After the first number, the particle, ‘ẹ̀kẹ́,’ is adopted and  prefixed to the numbers that come immediately after ‘Éjódùdu,’  as in ‘ẹ̀kejì’ (second), ẹ̀kẹ́ta (third) etc. 

 

Cardinal Numbers 

 English Igala
One Òókáà/Ényẹ́ 
TwoÈjì
Three Ẹ̀ta
FourẸ̀lẹ̀
FiveẸ̀lú
SixẸ̀fà
SevenÈbie
EightẸ̀jọ
NineẸ̀lá
TenẸ̀gwá
ElevenẸ̀gwákáà
Twelve Ẹ̀gwéjì
ThirteenẸ̀gwẹ́ta
FourteenẸ̀gwẹ́lẹ̀
FifteenẸ̀gwẹ́lū
SixteenẸ̀gwẹ́fà
SeventeenẸ̀gwébie
EighteenẸ̀gwẹ́jọ
NineteenẸ̀gwẹ́lā
TweentyÓgwu

Ordinal Numbers                            

EnglishIgala
First Éjódùdu
SecondẸ̀kéjì
ThirdẸ̀kẹ́ta
FourthẸ̀kẹ́lẹ̀
FifthẸ̀kẹ́lū
SixthẸ̀kẹ́fà
SeventhẸ̀kébie
EighthẸ̀kéjọ
NinthẸ̀kẹ́lā 
TenthẸ̀kẹ́gwā
EleventhẸ̀kẹ́gwākāà
TwelfthẸ̀kẹ́gwējì
ThirteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄ta
FourteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄lẹ̀
FifteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄lu
SixteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄fà
SeventeenthẸ̀kẹ́gwēbie
EighteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄jọ
NineteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄la
TwentiethẸ̀kóogwú

Cardinals Continued:   21 to  1,000,000,00

Twenty-one

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ kāà

 Twenty-two

Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ méjì

 Twenty-four

 Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lẹ̀
Twenty-five

 Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lū

 Twenty-six

 Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́fà

 Twenty-seven

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mébie

 Twenty-eight

 Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́jọ   

 Twenty-nine

 Ógwú- ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā
 Thirty

 Ógwú-ẹ́gwā

Thirty-one

 Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

 Thirty-five

 Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lū

Thirty-nine

 Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Forty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀méji

 Forty-one

Ọ̀gbọ̀méji ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

 Forty-nine

 Ọ̀gbọ̀méji ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Fifty Óóje

Fifty-one

 Óóje ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà 

Fifty-nine

Óóje ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

Sixty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta

 Sixty-one Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

Sixty-nine

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Seventy      Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá

Seventy-one

Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

Seventy-nine

 Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Eighty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀

 Eighty-one

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀ ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà
 Eighty-nine

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀ ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā 

 Ninety

 Ẹ̀lẹ̀ẹ̀gwá

 Ninety-nine

 Ẹ̀lẹ̀ẹ̀gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 One hundred

 Ógwúmẹ́lū

 One hundred and one

 Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

One hundred and nine

Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

One hundred and twenty

Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ ogwú

 Two hundred Ọ̀gwọ́kọ́

Three hundred

 Ólímẹ́fà 

Four hundred

 Úlú ọkọ́  

Five hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwā

Six hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwējì

 Seven hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwẹ̄lẹ̀

 Eight hundred

 Íchámúù

 Nine hundred

 Íchámú-ógwúmẹ́lū

One thousand

 Àdò ókáà  OR

Íchámú ny’ọ́gwọ̄kọ̄

 Five hundred thousand

Àdò olímẹ́gwā
 One million

 Òdulugwu

Two million

 Òdulugwu méjì

Two million, five hundred thousand 

 Òdulugwu méjì ny’ólímẹ́gwā

 One billion 

Òdulugwu ugbo òdulugwu

 (Twenty shillings), which was equal to £1 (One pound), was called          ‘Ípámū kāà.’

 (ix)  £2 (Two pounds) was                called ‘ípámú mējì,’ while          £20 ̀was ‘Ípámū ogwú.’                                                           (x)   £10 (One hundred                     pounds) was called                   ‘Àkpúlùú káa.’ 

 

Àlí Ọ̀chẹ́ja Ọ̀bàje’s Legacy

The penultimate Àtá-Igáláà, Dr. Álíyù Òtúlúkpé Ọ̀chẹ́ja Ọ̀baje (1956 – 2013), before joining his ancestors, advocated for a clean, unadulterated Igala counting system that would be rid of the intrusions of Hausa words.  

   Cardinals 

  In mathematics, words used for counting are called cardinal numbers. In Ígáláà, counting begins with ‘Òké,’ (a single unit), as in Òké ‘káà/ mejì/mẹ́ta, etc. (One/two/three units).                                                                                          ‘Òké ‘káà,’ as a counting form, is collapsed to ‘òókáà.’ However, when counting things serially from the beginning, ‘Ényẹ́’ (One) is preferred; as in: Ényẹ́, èjì, ẹ̀ta, ẹ̀lẹ̀, ẹ̀lú, ẹ̀fà, èbie, ẹ̀jọ, ẹ̀lá, ẹ̀gwá. (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten).    

  Ordinals

 Words indicating order or sequence of occurrence are called ordinal numbers.  Igala ordinals begin with ‘Òókáà’ or ‘Éjódùdu,’     (First), an adjective of number. In Igala speech, it is usually placed before a noun that it qualifies, E.g. ‘Ẹ́nẹ ejodùdu‘ (First person) or ‘Èyí ejodùdu’ (The first one). However, in English, the adjective comes after the noun.  After the first number, the particle, ‘ẹ̀kẹ́,’ is adopted and  prefixed to the numbers that come immediately after ‘Éjódùdu,’  as in ‘ẹ̀kejì’ (second), ẹ̀kẹ́ta (third) etc.   

Cardinal Numbers 

 English Igala
One Òókáà/Ényẹ́ 
TwoÈjì
Three Ẹ̀ta
FourẸ̀lẹ̀
FiveẸ̀lú
SixẸ̀fà
SevenÈbie
EightẸ̀jọ
NineẸ̀lá
TenẸ̀gwá
ElevenẸ̀gwákáà
Twelve Ẹ̀gwéjì
ThirteenẸ̀gwẹ́ta
FourteenẸ̀gwẹ́lẹ̀
FifteenẸ̀gwẹ́lū
SixteenẸ̀gwẹ́fà
SeventeenẸ̀gwébie
EighteenẸ̀gwẹ́jọ
NineteenẸ̀gwẹ́lā
TweentyÓgwu

Ordinal Numbers                            

EnglishIgala
First Éjódùdu
SecondẸ̀kéjì
ThirdẸ̀kẹ́ta
FourthẸ̀kẹ́lẹ̀
FifthẸ̀kẹ́lū
SixthẸ̀kẹ́fà
SeventhẸ̀kébie
EighthẸ̀kéjọ
NinthẸ̀kẹ́lā 
TenthẸ̀kẹ́gwā
EleventhẸ̀kẹ́gwākāà
TwelfthẸ̀kẹ́gwējì
ThirteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄ta
FourteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄lẹ̀
FifteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄lu
SixteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄fà
SeventeenthẸ̀kẹ́gwēbie
EighteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄jọ
NineteenthẸ̀kẹ́gwẹ̄la
TwentiethẸ̀kóogwú

Cardinals Continued:   21 to  1,000,000,00

Twenty-one

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ kāà

 Twenty-two

Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ méjì

 Twenty-four

 

Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lẹ̀

Twenty-five

 

Ógwú ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lū

 Twenty-six

 

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́fà

 Twenty-seven

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mébie

 Twenty-eight

 

Ógwú  ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́jọ   

 Twenty-nine

 

Ógwú- ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Thirty

 Ógwú-ẹ́gwā

Thirty-one

 

Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

 Thirty-five

 

Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lū

Thirty-nine

 

Ógwẹ́gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Forty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀méji

 Forty-one

Ọ̀gbọ̀méji ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

 Forty-nine

 

Ọ̀gbọ̀méji ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Fifty Óóje

Fifty-one

 

Óóje ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà 

Fifty-nine

Óóje ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

Sixty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta

 Sixty-one

 

Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

Sixty-nine

 

Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́ta ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Seventy      Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá

Seventy-one

Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

Seventy-nine

 

Ẹ̀tẹẹ̀gwá ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 Eighty

 Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀

 Eighty-one

 

Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀ ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

 Eighty-nine

 

Ọ̀gbọ̀mẹ́lẹ̀ ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā 

 Ninety

 Ẹ̀lẹ̀ẹ̀gwá

 Ninety-nine

 

Ẹ̀lẹ̀ẹ̀gwā ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

 One hundred

 Ógwúmẹ́lū

 One hundred and one

 

Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ káà

One hundred and nine

Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ mẹ́lā

One hundred and twenty

Ógwúmẹ́lū ny’ẹ́yọ́ ogwú

 Two hundred Ọ̀gwọ́kọ́

Three hundred

 Ólímẹ́fà 

Four hundred

 Úlú ọkọ́  

Five hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwā

Six hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwējì

 Seven hundred

 Ólí mẹ́gwẹ̄lẹ̀

 Eight hundred

 Íchámúù

 Nine hundred

 Íchámú-ógwúmẹ́lū

One thousand

 Àdò ókáà  OR

Íchámú ny’ọ́gwọ̄kọ̄

 Five hundred thousand

Àdò olímẹ́gwā
 One million

 Òdulugwu

Two million

 Òdulugwu méjì

Two million, five hundred thousand 

 Òdulugwu méjì ny’ólímẹ́gwā

 One billion 

Òdulugwu ugbo òdulugwu
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Numbers Pool - Álúkà

Numbers Pool - Álúkà

Numbers Pool - Álúkà

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