The Yakurr: A Reconstruction of Pre-Colonial History

Ubi, A.O (1983)

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Thesis

This study attempts to use oral sources to reconstruct the pre-colonial history of the Yakurr of South-Eastern Nigeria. The Yakurr now inhabit the territory located between latitude 5040' and 6010' North and longitude 8050' East. This area is about 140 kilometres north-west of Calabar - capital of the Cross River State. The focus of the research is on Yakurr Migration and settlement and the economic, political and social effects of the migration. The original home of the Yakurr was along the Nigeria-Cameroun borderline. It was from here that a military defeat from the Yakpa compelled the Yakurr to migrate to their present territory. In this new homeland the Yakurr established five new settlements: Ugep, Ekori, Nko, Nkpanu and Idomi and found themselves in a strategic position able to benefit from the Cross River trade. Yakurr participation in this trade brought significant effects to bear on the economy. The exposure to the Cross River trade also had some effects on the political system. A new class of wealthy traders emerged and sought to translate their wealth into political power. New political institutions emerged. Following an increased population and a new economic situation the Yakurr successfully extended their territorial frontiers by warfare. The allocation of "grabbed" land brought about a series of intra-Yakurr misunderstandings. As a solution the Yakurr attempted to bind all their settlements under a confederal system. The institution of Ngbeke was the symbol of this new constitutional experiment. However, the British punitive expedition of 1898 (which in actual fact was an imperal conquest of Yakurr) did not allow the confederal to succeed.

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