Mbakara: Ibibio Ghost Of Chains
Mbakara: Ibibio Ghost of Chains - By Ak Kingsley One of the most ‘sarcastic’ meanings of diplomacy says that it is the ability to tell someone to go hell in such a way that he’d look forward to it. This case is similar to the contemporary usage, implication and acceptance of the Ibibio word, ‘mbakara’ among the Ibibio speaking people of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Like many other grossly misconstrued words, ‘mbakara’ happens to be the most ironical Ibibio word, arguably so. Worse still, it blows a sweet breeze of dark and tragic legacy on the one hand and constantly suppresses what was left over as pride and dignity of the Ibibio. ‘Mbakara’ is an Ibibio word used as noun to mean the white (as in white man - westerner). It is also used as adjective to describe what is exceptionally beautiful, excellent, charming or of superior quality. For instance, in teasing a beautiful (and handsome) or light skinned lady/ young man, one would say in Ibibio, 'afo ado mbakara' (you are mbakara). An Ibibio man or woman often calls his/her lover 'mbakara' as petname. Also, to describe the absolute beauty, excellence, or superiority of something, an Ibibio person would refer to such as mbakara. Simply put, mbakara is an ideology in Ibibio representing absolute beauty, excellence and superiority. Before the last half of the 1800's, the Ibibio people knew no such word as mbakara. It did not just exist in their vocabulary. However, in the beginning of the 20th century after the end of transatlantic slave trade, the pursuit of British anti slave trade crusaders brought them down the Efik-Ibibio area, till when colonialism was subsequently birthed. Seen as a strange set of people and judging from their iron fist treatment on the Ibibio, the natives often referred to the white colonialists as, 'mme akara owo' (rulers of men). Although the initial name given to the British before colonialism (during slave trade) was 'afia owo' (white man), this name did not suffice when colonialism was invougue. Over time, the name 'Mme akara owo' gradually corrupted into 'Mmekara' and then 'Mbakara' (or mmakara in some cases) as presently used. That said, it is a total misconstrusion of the meaning and implication of mbakara as is the case in contemporary Ibibio. Mbakara rekindles the legacy of dark history in Ibibio and Efik speaking areas, a story that hurts deeply. Mbakara is the ghost of colonial chains that cuffed Ibibio and everything it stood for during colonialism. Mme akara owo as a name and phenomenon, prevailed in Ibibio land, much so because they (the whites) ruled the affairs of people in Efik-Ibibio area to a large extent. They directly influenced family life, religion, economy, tradition tion and social life of the natives, barely leaving them with any form of freedom. In fact, 'mme akara owo' ruled absolutely. In the usage of the word, it is pertinent for one to be conscious of its history and fully understand its implication. The chains of colonialism must not continue to have effect today. The knowledge of the past is to comprehend the present and forge a way to the future. Ibibio isongo!