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According to Garvin and Mathios (1956), language performs a unifying and separate function. This term refer to the feelings of the members of a society or a social group that they are united and identified with others who speak the same language and that they contrast with or are separated from those who do not.

Language from another perspective is a system of signals including voice sounds, gesture or written symbols which encodes and decodes information(wikipedia). Language is an instrument of socialization. This includes among others greetings, political expressions and the likes (Yussuf, 2009).



There is no consensus among the people of Adim as to where their Ancestors came from. Some people believe that their forefathers came from Otum Usa, while others believe that they had always lived where they find themselves today and that they did not come from anywhere else. Many elderly people accept the tradition that their origin is located around the area known as Otum Usa settlement in Ebom-Ebijiakara, the eastern bank of the Cross River in the present Abi Local Government Area and that their ancestors dispersed from the region and first settled in Orum-Ugom along old Abredang Road.


The community which came to be known as Adim in Biase Local Government Area consists of five desperate groups. Those claiming that their origin is from Isobo Area, those claiming origin from Old Otum Usa settlement and those who believe that the people of Adim migrated from the Calabar Estuary (Eyong, 2005).       ISOBO AREA ORIGIN

The tradition from Agwagwune avers that some Adim people were originally Igbos in the present Abi Local Government Area who came from Isobo area. This source further claim that the ancestors of these people were driven out of their original home by a more powerful group and this development sent this inhabitant on a process of migration. In this process, the Adim people came in contact with the Agwagwune during the headship of Onun Eo Oti. Arising from generosity of this leader, the Adim people were given a place of land to settle on.

The source further disclosed that on settling in this present location, the Agwagwune people gave them a name ‘Adimi mo Abba’, which literarily translates as ‘people pressed to the ground’. This name was given to them because of their defeat in a battle in their former settlement at Isobo.

However, this tradition is still far from being true.                 OTUM-USA ORIGIN

My informant, Chief Eni Eko claimed that Adim migrated from a place called Otum-Usa meaning old settlements. Otum-Usa in Adim dialect is referred to as Orum Inuk. It was situated between Usumulong and former settlement of Ebom Ebijiakara both in Bahumono clan in the present Abi Local Government Area.

The informant asserted that a Bahumono man killed one Adim woman and the people of Adim wanted to retaliate. This development brought about a strained relationship between the Adim people and the Bahumono people. This situation forced the people of Adim to flee from Otum-Usa and moved in southwards direction and eventually arrived at the present site and established a small settlement. These settlements were Inuk-Ogama-Igeme, Inamoka, Arumigom, Onile-ejak, Ogwa, Orum-iton and Ogwe.

Some other people believed that the eruption of a fight following the murder of an Adim woman was not the reason for their migration from Bahumono area, rather, they attributed the cause of their fight to the struggle to acquire more lands and more fishing ponds. Yet others claimed that apart from this petty quarrelling and fighting, other likely cause of their movement was on grounds of famine and epidemic. Since the people were always fighting, less emphasis was placed on agriculture, leading to famine which was consistently epidemic.

Another major proponent of this view is Dr. Ajah Ekpeni Obia who asserted that the name Adim was a corrupt form, colonial coinage of Arum, original tongue and shortened form of ‘Arumerume’. He claimed that the people called Arumerume comprise of five distinct groups of families or clans sharing a common history of tribe, migration and unification. These ancestral families were Arum. Different from the whole community which came to bear the same name(Eyong, 2005).

Evidence also pointed to the fact that in the cause of migration of the semi-bantu (Ekoi) people up the Cross River Estuary, these families of Arumerume first settled in a place called Otum-Usa in the present Abi Local Government Area. Otum Usa was located on a highland situated to the eastern bank of Cross River and sandwiched between Usumutong and former Ebom-Ejiakark homeland. He argued further that the desire to search for fertile plains that could support agriculture propelled the people to migrate down hill and southeast towards the present settlement of Adim.

According to Dr. Obia, the family of Arum led by Onun Echu Otala Ogbuenyi duba first settled in a place called Orum-Ugom. This group or family had its own unique cultural and leadership structures. Originally, there were about eleven households or villages that form Arum clan. Amongst the renowned societies and deities of this ancient clan were Abu-Ukpan, Oduba and Iyase. This was the largest and strongest economically and militarily. That was why its name gradually became the common identity for the emergent union.

He opined that other four groups or families migrated later, after being assured of the habitable land by the pioneer group. The Emomolo group led by Onun Owor Ewelu settled at Onoli-Ejak and so on.

Another tradition explains that the people of Adim are the Ekoi tribe which migrate from Cameroun during the great Exodus of 15th century AD. They had come along with Umon Island on the Cross River. The source further disclosed that as a result of the incessant invasion by the neighbouring villages like Agwagwune, Ablep, Ugep and Abini, the people of Adim resolved to unite in order to face their enemies and to guard against total extermination. One of such invasion was the combined attack of Ugep people from the north and Agwagwune.


(The history and development of Adim”, Raphael o. Eyong , 2005)                 CALABAR ESTUARY ORIGIN

An informant asserts that Adim people first settled in Abakpa or qua area of Calabar. That war and the search for food and new homes caused them to migrate with Umon people by canoe, up the cross river. First, they settled with Umon people at Umon Island on the Cross River. They left the Island for two main reasons:

  1. a)       The Island could no longer accommodate the growing population and
  2. b)      The war between Umon and the Efiks over trade monopoly in the upper region of the cross river.

This assertion was confirmed by MR. DONALD M. McFarland in his book, Calabar, The Church of Scotland Mission 1846-1946, London, p,45.

In 1846, the Mission Company had watched King Eyamba set out on an expedition to carry war into the Umon country. An albino was sacrificed to the river god to ensure success. This expedition really scattered many units of people who formerly occupied the island. My informant, Mr. Ben Ikwa argued in favour of his tradition. According to him, when the people of Adim came up to cross river, they settled with the people of Ikun and Etono in Ubaghara clan, west of the cross river. They later crossed the river to the eastern side and came to the present site of Orum-Ugom (Agwagwune). They saw that there were no inhabitants in Orum-Ugom, but the area was very marshy in the interior. They found the Orum-Iton, an area full of raffia palms in the course of time. That is the present location of Adim which was called ‘Akana’, meaning no dispute. This is to say that there was no unit opposed the idea of the formation of the united force against their enemies. Later the name was changed to Arum Igiliga. The name was likened to a life stick called Egiliga singular to Igiliga. Egiliga’s symbolism is likened to it’s thorny back which makes it difficult to carry or easily handled.

It is on record that the site chosen had some basic characteristics which attracted the people; as it was a hill which made it militarily strategic and had water within a radius of one kilometre. The union was indeed a federation with each federating unit or clan retaining as much of her unique cultural trait and institutions as possible.



In Adim, the concept of marriage is well institutionalized as a social affair. In those days, parents made choices of whom their sons or daughters should marry. They may have contracted this since childhood of the would-be partners. The first approach is for the parents of the boy to present some token coconut, a bunch of indigo and a piece of cloth not more than one yard to the parent of the girl. The girl will then be betrothed to the boy. The presentation will be done during the new yam festival. They may or not have reached school age when the contact was made on their behalf. Both boy and girl grow up with this but if the proposed partners had a violent objection to the union, it will be possible to break off the agreement.

Another tradition discloses that when a boy saw himself fit to enter into marriage contract, he had to tell his father who would guide him into choice making. If the girl he intended to seek her hand in marriage was approved by the father and mother, then the father had to go with him to his would-be father in-law with a keg of fresh palm wine for the traditional asking ceremony. If this wine was accepted, he will be expected to start sleeping in his in-law’s house but not allowed to sleep on the same bed with the girl.

1.3.2           AGE GRADE SYSTEM IN ADIM

The institution of age grade (Egop) played a very important role. It consists of persons born with approximately three years of one another. It is said to be a social group based on grade. Age grade is the advancement of boys and girls to adult status by ritual equivalent to confirmation where those initiated at the same time constitute a definite company. Hence, every man or woman belongs to an age grade. Basically, there used to be four male age grades named after the four days in one native week of Ekes, Ibums, Igbegbets and Ikpos in Adim. As members, (new initiates) of a junior age grade rose in rank, they passed through many stages like Egop Ewala, Egop Otu until they are finally initiated into an age grade proper.

The importance of age grade cannot be overemphasized. The social aspects of the village life depended entirely on the age grade. For instance, they were responsible for discharging such social services as clearing of bush paths, collecting community levies, guarding the community at both day and night against external attacks, some aspects of administrative duties and other related social services.

1.3.3           THE ECONOMY

The standard living of any community is a reflection of their economy based on the management of the variety of their resources. Although, most men and women were engaged in farming, there was a marked division in the type of work they performed. Men did most of the cleanings. They cleared the bush and other sundry activities that go with farm cultivation.

Apart from farming, the people practised other economic activities like hunting, fishing, trapping of animals; small scale animal husbandry and livestock keeping of goats, pigs, etc. Fowls were also raised to supply eggs and chicken.

The local crafts practised in Adim were carving, smithing and weaving. Carving and smithing were mainly the occupation of men while women specialized in weaving industry.

1.3.4           BELIEVE PATTERN

The people of Adim believe in the existence of a supreme being called Obasi-golok Ekpeyong. The believe in the continuity of life and a community of interest between the living and the dead and the generation yet unborn was fundamental to the religious life of people of Adim

The belief of the people in life after death was portrayed in the system of burying the traditional head (Onum) and titled men in the society. On the death of Onum or any titled man in the society, some of the properties (including his matchet, snuff box, sleeping mat, etc.) will be buried along with him. Human heads, particularly those of slaves or strangers were buried alongside with the dead man. The significance of this practice lies in the belief that the dead would make use of these items buried along with him in the world to come. The people also believe in the existence of many gods of inferior dignity compared to the supreme deity. Some lineages or compounds possess their own gods in the form of a stone or tree. In these compounds especially Onun-eko, Onunegor, Igbase, Ete-Inyangbe, Ekpet and Etigale usually make sacrifices of goat, fowl and yam to these lesser deities from time to time.

In the process of sacrificial offerings, prayers for good tidings such as bountiful harvest, long life and increased population were made. The smaller gods were regarded as subjects of the chief deity and were seen as mediators between the chief deity and mankind. The people believe that they could communicate with the Supreme Being by offering sacrifices to the smaller gods who were clearly visible to them. The spirits of the ancestors were usually invoked by the pouring of liberation. In the process, prayers and thanks are offered to the ancestors calling on them to convert their message and demands to the Almighty God (the Supreme Being).


(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)


The use of copper rod as a medium of exchange was less cumbersome and more convenient than the barter system.

Another type of currency that was widely used not only in Adim but Biase area in the Nineteenth century was Manilla currency. In Adim, the manilla was called ’Okpogo’. It was believed that the Ibibio traders, possibly from Itu, introduced the Manilla currency in Biase area. Manilla was whitesh in colour and the standard size of a Manilla was about 15cm. Eighty Manillas was equivalent to one pound.

Other Manillas in circulation included the snake Manilla weighing (5 ½) and the king Manilla weighed (6lbs). Four Manilas were equivalent to one Shilling. In the colonial years of the 20th century, the colonial masters began to regard these different currencies as anachronistic, inefficient and cumbersome in nature. Consequent upon this, in 1897, Sir Ralph Moor, who was in charge of the protectorate of southern Nigeria between 1896 and 1903, saw the problem associated with these currencies in counting and carrying such currencies about. About 30 Shillings worth of Manilas is a load for one person. For these reasons, he strongly believed that the continuous use of these currencies would retard the expansion of trade in southern Nigeria and Biase area. He therefore perceived the necessity for handy and easily managed currency and was determined to change the existing currencies as quickly as possible (Eyong, 2005).

After several attempts and opposition, Moor finally introduced a coinage type of currency and so on 1st December 1902, the native currency (Copper and Brass rods) was abolished from circulation. The popularization of a coin currency took a native step forward. With the instruction of Penny and a tenth of Penny pieces in 1908.

Some of these currencies were one white Shilling with a person’s head inscribe on the coin and the white penny with a hole in the middle. After some time, a brown Shilling was introduced. On the one side of the brown shilling was inscribed the effigy of George VI of England, wearing a crown on his head. On the other side were inscribed a palm tree, the figure 1947 and the words, ‘British West Africa’, Twelve penny made a shilling. These currencies were used until the Pounds, Shillings and Pence (£: s: d) came into circulation in Biase in about 1950.


(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)



(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)


(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)


(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)


(The history and development of Adim, Raphael o. Eyong)


Phylo-genetic classification is one of the major area of comparative or historical linguistics.

According to Heine and Nurse (2005:25), genetic or phylo-genetic classification involve putting together related languages into families or language groups that can be presumed to have derived historically from a common ancestors.

The Cross River or Delta-Cross languages are a branch of the Benue-Congo language family in south-easternmost Nigeria posited by Joseph Greenberg. It is one of the few of his branches of Niger-Congo that has withstood the test of time.

The original name was Cross River. The Bendi languages were soon seen to be aberrant, and the other branches united under the term Delta-Cross. However, the inclusion of Bendi is doubtful, and it has been tentatively reassigned to the Bantoid family, making the two terms Cross River and Delta-Cross synonymous.

There are four clusters of languages in Delta Cross:

  • Central Delta, 8 languages, the most populous being Ogbia   with 100 000 speakers
  • the 5 Ogoni languages, with Ogoni proper (Khana) having    200 000 speakers
  • Upper Cross River, 22 languages, the most populous being            Lokaa with 120 000 speakers
  • Lower Cross River, 23 languages, including Ibibio-Efik (3½            million)
  • The internal structure per Cornell (1994), reproduced in Williamson and Blench (2000), is as follows:

Cross River

Upper Cross



Oring (Koring), Kukele, (Kohumono, Agwagwune, Umon), Ubaghara


Ikom, Lokaa, Mbembe, Legbo, etc.


Agoi, Doko, Iyongiyong

Kiong, Korop

Lower Cross

Iko, Ibino, Ibibio (a dialect cluster), Oro, Okobo, Ebughu, Ilue, Enwang-Uda, Usaghade





Central Delta

Abuan, Odual

Kugbo, Ogbia, etc.


Cross River

Cross River languages are spoken primarily in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers State. There are about 60 languages classified in two sub-groups: Bendi and Delta-Cross. The largest members are Ibibio, Efik, and Anaang.

The following classification of the Cross River languages is taken from Crozier and Blench (1992):

  1. Bendi  i) Bekwarra ii). Bete-Bendi iii). Obanliku cluster (incl. Basang, Bebi, Bishiri, Bisu, and Busi) iv). Ukpe-Bayobiri v). Ubang vi). Alege vii). Obe cluster (incl. Obe, Afrike, Utugwang, Okworogung, and Okworotung) viii). Bumaji ix). Bokyi
  2. Delta-Cross i). Central Delta a) Abua, Odual b) Kugbo, Mini, Kolo cluster (incl. Kolo, Oloib,.iri, and Anyama), Ogbronuagum, Obulom, Ogbogolo
    ii). Ogoni a) Eleme, Ban b) Kana, Gokana
    iii). Lower Cross a) Central:Anaang, Efai, Efik, Ekit, Etebi, Ibibio, Ibuoro, Itu Mon Uzo, Nkari
    b) Ebughu c) Enwang, Uda d)Ibino e) Iko f) Ilue g) Obolo h)Okobo i) Oro j) Usakade (in Cameroon)
    iv). Upper Cross group
    a). Central: i). North-South
    a) Oring cluster (incl. Ufia, Ufiom, and Okpoto), Kukele, Uzekwe
    b)Ubaghara cluster (incl. Biakpan, Ikun, Etono, Ugbem, and Utuma)
    Agwagwune cluster (also incl. Erei, Abini, Adim, Abayongo, and Etono II)
    a) Olulumo-Ikom b) Lokaa, Nkukoli, Lubila c) Mbembe, Legbo, Leyigha, Lenyima
    d). Ukpet-Ehom e). Agoi, Doko-Uyanga, Bakpinka f). Kiong, Korop, Odut


(Dr. Uwe Seibert,Department of Languages and Linguistics Faculty of Arts
University of Jos)





African languages



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