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The Burial of Attah of Igalaland

The Burial of the Atta of Igaraland

THE Igaras are an important [pagan] race living on the left bank of the Niger, their territory extending formerly from the Anambra Creek (opposite Asaba) up to the Benue. 

They have never been conquered by any of the great tribes of Northern Nigeria, but for some generations they have profited by the civilising influences of Mohammedan traders Nupes, Hausas, and Yorubas who have taught them, among other things, the use of clothes and musical instruments.
The people of Igaraland used to be on friendly terms with the people of Benin. At the death of an Atta ("Father"), or King of the Igaras, his eunuchs used to be sacrificed at the funeral, and the new Atta, having chosen six young men from among his people, used to send them over the river to Benin, where they were made eunuchs, the King of Benin keeping three, and sending three back to the Atta.
The Atta is but seldom allowed to go outside his compound, and a native law forbids the shedding of his blood. One Atta was murdered by suffocation, a bag of pepper being forced over his head. The present royal family are "strangers," but they have held the throne for many generations. 

The older race is represented by the Asadu, a hereditary title signifying Prime Minister. The Asadu calls himself " the Atta's Wife," and is a great land-owner, having as much power as, if not more than, the Atta himself. Long ago, the older race voluntarily made over the throne to these " strangers." 

The first Atta was a woman named Ebblejjono, but her rule was so unsatisfactory that the Salic law was instituted, and still prevails.

* photo from Crisis - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1922

Charles Partridge, Political Officer in Southern Nigeria
Blackwood's magazine

September 1904

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