BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Inter-group relations is indeed very common among the various groups in Nigeria. One way or the other, people of different ethnic background were at one time or the other engaged in some sort of relations. At one time such relation was peaceful, at other times, the people engaged in violent confrontation. Whatsoever shape the relation assumed, it is important to uphold the fact that inter-group relations existed and still exist between and among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria. The relations existed before colonialism, it continued during and even after Colonial Rule. Among the different dimension of inter-group relations in Nigeria include but not limited to the following; marriage, trade, war, politics, and exchange of cultural troupes etc.
Although, inter-group relations has an undertone of an affair between immediate neighbors, it is not limited to immediate neighbor only. However, the focus of this topic is on two immediate neighbours, namely: Annang and Igbo ethnic groups. Considering the division of Nigeria into six geo-political zones, the Igbo people occupies the five south eastern states, while the Annang people are a component of Akwa Ibom State which is in south-south region of Nigeria.
Thus, among the five Igbo States – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, it is Abia State that are immediate neighbours to the Annang people. In Abia State, the communities that are immediate neighbours to the Annang are Ikwuano, Onicha, Ngwa, Abala, Ndoki etc. It is important, perhaps pertinent to use these Igbo groups that are immediate neighbours to Annang people since Igbo is a large ethnic group with many dialect and a variety of culture. Again, inter-group relation between Annang and Igbo could be seen clearer with these Igbo communities than with the entire Igbo ethnic group.1However, there exist some challenges in the discussion of this topic and these challenges include the following.
Firstly, some scholars make no difference between some part of Annang and Igbo. This could be based on the level of migration between the two groups. Secondly, the people of Annang are seen as member of the Ibibio group rather than as a different group altogether.2 In discussing Annang and Igbo relations, using this mindset, one might think that the entire Ibibio is involved, thus giving the research work a different outlook.
Thirdly, Eurocentric scholars with their attitude of describing Africa as war like people have often painted the Annang-Igbo relation as a war-like affair.3 Hence, the tendency of people being misled to think that these two neighbours does not live peaceful at all is high.
Last but not the least, the traditional political system of Igbo and (Ibibio) Annang seems very similar especially as both of them are describe as decentralized societies4. It becomes very difficult to know if they were the same people that later separated from each other or because of their closeness they have this similarity. Language wise, there are some similarities5.
Therefore, having noted all these, it is pertinent to note that this work will take an in-depth look into Annang-Igbo relation from 1959 through 1970. The concern of this research work is the relation between these two ethnic groups with the aim of investigating the areas of marriage, trade and commerce, warand diplomacy, culture, language, traditional beliefs system and religion values etc.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
As a discipline in academic institutions, the study of history has always involved national, continental and world topics. Apparently, there seems to be a neglect of local histories. As a result, many young historians are deficient in information on immediate local histories. However, this project is considered necessary in view of the fact that certain form of inter-group relations existed between the Annang group Igbo group which undoubtedly have some element of conflict.
Thus, his research work would attempt to divulge the extent of inter-group relations that existed between the Annang ethnic group and that of the Igbo ethnic group between and 1970.
On this note, therefore, the researcher intends to reveal to the general public the various factors of relations between both aforementioned ethnic groups, as well as the existence of certain conflictual events between both groups. This is necessary because, there cannot be a robust inter-group relations without clashes of interest which might eventually lead to conflict at a certain point. On the whole, some of these conflicts still serve as a continuation of inter-course between the aforementioned groups.
1.2 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
Research work, as an academic exercise, is expected to be significant and meaningful. Therefore,
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study provides additional knowledge to the myriads of literatures on inter-group relations in Nigeria, with special reference to Annang-Igbo relations. This study reveals various socio-political, socio-economic, socio-cultural, traditional and religious belief practices which have been playing tremendous roles in strengthening the relations of the aforementioned ethnic groups.
In addition, this study will immensely guide any student or researcher who intends to carry outa research work on any of the aforementioned groups, as it contains some level of vital and credible information on both groups.
Furthermore, the study will not only act as an instrument of revelation to the Nigerian populace on the existence of inter-group relations between Annang and Igbo ethnic groups, but will also educate them on the groups’ various socio-cultural practices which might differ from those within their scope of knowledge.
1.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
A number of constraints were experienced in the course of this research work. The inadequacy of the opinions and views of some indigenes from both ethnic groups under discourse who were interview based on the scope of his study of this research work is the researcher’s regrettable limitation. Again, the inaccessibility to some titled chiefs from both ethnic groups who could have had a firsthand experience, which would have summed up as an eye-witness account under the scope of this research work is also a limitation of this study.
Moreso, inaccessibility to most of the documents that is related to Annang-Igbo relations within 1959 through 1970 which would have aid the researcher in the course of this study is another serious limitation.However, the inadequacies will not affect the research findings as efforts have been made to forestall the limitations affecting the quality of the research. Nevertheless, these leave room for further research on the subject matter and the researcher will strongly welcome and appreciate criticism arising therefrom. This is in line with the view of Arnold Toynbee “for a person to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of knowledge, his or her study must have provided some criticisms and further researches6.