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PROJECT TOPIC: SOCIO-ECONOMIC HISTORY OF UKANAFUN IN PRE-COLONIAL ERA

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CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 Background to the StudyAccording to Oto-Abasi Akpan, history is not only concerned with past facts about a people but it is also the collective memory of a people.1 It is what identifies a people, showcase their uniqueness and trace their ancestry.The history of pre-colonial Ukanafun like most ethnic groupings and communities in Africa is faced with the problem of documentation unlike western societies. This does not however denote the lack of history as was widely asserted by some Eurocentric scholars. Pre-colonial African societies kept their history through oral tradition and so in historical reconstruction, the historian will highly depend on oral history.History was passed on generationally in pre-colonial Ukanafun in forms of folk tales, folklores, didactic stories, songs, adages amongst others. Ukanafun not only enjoys a rich history but this history also shows that Ukanafun had several social, political and economic structures (tangible or intangible) which facilitated for a great extent, its development.Ukanafun people are part of the Annang ethnic group and thus share a migratory history with the Ibibio. They traced their origin to the Bantu speaking tribes who due to war and other associated reasons migrated to the lower Niger Region.2 Ukanafun people engaged in farming and cultivated a range of crops including yam, cocoyam, palm fruit and cassava.3 These were mainly for subsistence as such family unit mainly cultivated what would be enough to feed the household. However, trade still occurred as members of the community had to trade in produce which they had for that which they desired (the trade by barter system). There was also another means of exchange by which some sort of currency called ‘apoho’ was used in trade.4 Trade was also conducted between villages and with external communities including Igbo communities.5 Labour was communal and not paid for as members each took turns to help other members in their farmlands. Bush fallowing was practiced extensively to increase yield as there were surplus of farmlands.In terms of political organization, Ukanafun operated a non-centralized system of government. They were organized into lineages, villages and clans, with the most elderly people being part of the lineage, village or clan councils. Every family, lineage and village were represented at each council and so laws were made and administered by the representatives of the people.In the village, there were age-grades representing the pattern of authority. The general basis of governance was custom and tradition which are handed down generationally. Interpreters of those customs were the elders, mostly members of families or villages represented in the council.6 The ‘family’ was however the basic unit of production and reproduction and traced descents from a remote common ancestor.7Traditional institutions in pre-colonial Ukanafun performed not just the roles of conflict management but also served as agents of socio-economic development and custodians of indigenous culture.1.2 Statement of the ProblemEarly European scholars believed and asserted that African societies were stateless and without viable economic structures. More so, they declared that Africans lacked history and the only history existing is that of European activities in Africa. They claimed that Africans lacked political structures and good economic practices and thus were stagnated economically.Ukanafun, a part of the African society however contradicts this, as there were several economic practices that were very viable and clearly advanced the economy of the area before the introduction of western economic practices. Due to the fact that those economic practices were indigenous to the Ukanafun people, it clearly suited the indigenous terrain, politics, geography and economy of the Ukanafun people unlike a foreign economic policy.Ukanafun history also boosts of great functional and dynamic political structures which also understood the orientation and composition of Ukanafun people and thus was great in solving the people’s patriarchal problems.This work intends to highlight in detail, the economic and social practices of Ukanafun people in order to correct the erroneous belief.1.3 Objectives of the StudyThe aim of this work is to; first, treat the history of Ukanafun people, her origin, migration and settlement, beliefs, cultural practices and political organization. Second, examine the diverse social practices engaged in by the people of Ukanafun in pre-colonial era. Lastly, examine the economic history of Ukanafun people before the advent of European colonialism.1.4 Significance of the StudyThis work is significant as it brings to light the activities of Ukanafun people before colonialism. It exposes the numerous socio-economic practices and structures used by Ukanafun people in pre-colonial era, providing an understanding of the social and economic endeavours undertaken by the Ukanafun people in the past. It is important as it dwells on the history of Ukanafun, an area with a very insignificant level of written history.1.5 Scope of the StudyThis study covers the history of Ukanafun before colonialism. It focuses on the social and economic aspect of the Ukanfun people in the past. It covers the period from the settlement of Ukanafun people in their present location to 1901 when Nigeria became a British protectorate.1.6 MethodologyThis work strongly depends on primary sources of history in the form of oral information from individuals who are vested with the history of Ukanafun. It also makes use of some secondary sources of history such as textbooks, articles, magazines amongst others.Interviews were conducted between June and September 2018. Local leaders, family heads, aged personages and community authorities were amongst those who provided information that aided this research.



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