Colorful Igala mask which is a symbol of the link between the Igala living and their ancestors.


Preserving Our Rich Igala Heritage: A Call to Action

Igala is the custodian of a remarkable and ancient heritage, and it is heartwarming to witness its endurance throughout the ages. From the dawn of antiquity, through the stone and iron ages, to our contemporary times, Igala heritage has persisted, staunchly resisting the forces seeking to undermine it. These pressures, while man-made, encompass declining literacy in our language, the disappearance of reading and writing materials, and a glaring lack of historical documentation and archiving.

We, the Igala people, take pride in our shared ancestry, but regrettably, most of our esteemed ancestors exist only in name, without any visual representation. Consider, for instance, the illustrious ancestor Àbùtu Ẹjẹ, “the leader of the leopard community” in the Apa (or Kwararafa) multi-ethnic confederacy in Biepi during the 16th Century. Regrettably, not a single Igala person can recall his likeness through pictures or sculptures. This heroic ancestor sired the line of kings (Ata-Igala), including luminaries like Ebulẹẹ́jonu, Aganapoje, Idoko, and Áyẹ́gbà, all within the still-reigning Third Dynasty founded by him. Similarly, the identity of Ata Ọgala Eri, the last Ata-Ida in the Ata-Eri (First) Dynasty, remains an enigma because those who lived during his era passed away centuries ago.

While the world remembers and reveres luminaries like President John F. Kennedy, our own indigenous political leaders from the First Republic of Nigeria, including Honourable Peter Simon Achimugwu, Daniel Áchẹnẹjẹ Ọ̀gbadú, Hashim (Achimi) Adaji, Peter Tokwula, and Andrew Abogede, remain forgotten by the collective memory of Igala society. Even those whose contributions enabled the establishment of federal tertiary institutions in our land are progressively being forgotten.

Furthermore, we must not forget the contemporary Igala men and women who continue to protect and advance Igala interests and make us proud with their accomplishments. Dr. Stephen Achẹma, who played a pivotal role in Igala politics, on the one hand, and Prince Abubakar Audu, whose efforts were integral in the establishment of Kogi State University, on the other, deserve our recognition. Following their demise was the loss of Professor Idachaba, a former Vice Chancellor of Kogi State University, who established the Igala Education Foundation and Summit, which continue the commendable work he started, rewarding hard-working students who perform exceptionally well in their final, graduate examinations.

Even today, there are Igala elders and professionals who are tirelessly working for the betterment of our nation. However, it is a sad reality that, when they, like the heroes before them, eventually leave us, their legacy fades into obscurity. Their memories may be confined to their families but completely absent from our public consciousness.

Recognizing the urgency of this situation, this website, calls upon all Igalas – both at home and in the diaspora – to unite in establishing an Igala Hall of Fame. This hall will showcase larger-than-life pictures and sculptures of Igala Heroes and artists, past and present, along with literatures detailing their life-time achievements. Complementing this initiative, we propose the creation of an Igala Museum where we can preserve our artifacts, including traditional cooking utensils, farm implements, carvings and other creative products peculiar to Igala use down the ages.

In addition to these initiatives, we advocate for the revival of Public Libraries in major towns across Igalaland. In the past, libraries thrived in towns like Ida, Ankpa, Anyigba, and Dekina, serving as havens for the reading public. Unfortunately, these facilities have disappeared over the decades, along with the teaching of our local languages in primary schools. The consequence of this is a decline in our language, leading to disparaging remarks like “Igala is an oral language,” as noted by Professor R. G. Armstrong, who, in his lifetime, extensively studied Nigerian languages.

To rejuvenate our heritage and promote literacy in our mother tongue, it is essential for us to embark on these communal projects: establishing the Igala Hall of Fame, creating an Igala Language and Cultural Museum, and reviving public libraries across our land. Moreover, we should aim to reintroduce School Libraries in our primary schools, a practice that once thrived in missionary schools during the 1960s.

Let us preserve our rich Igala heritage and ensure it endures for generations to come. Together, we can make this vision a reality. #PreserveIgalaHeritage #UniteForOurLegacy

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