The concept of the Trinity in Efik Traditional Belief

©Philip Nosa-Adam

A trinity can be defined as the belief in the existence of three coeternal and consubstantial persons in one God. The concept of three persons in one God can be found in several faiths across the world. Followers of the Hindu religion, affirm a belief in a triune God i.e, Brahma the Creator; Vishnu who represents sustenance and Siva the Destroyer. The Ancient Babylonians also believed in a triune God which consisted of Ninki (also known as Ishtar), Enki (also known as Namakh) and Marduk. The most notable example of a trinity can be found in the Christian faith. Christian adherents affirm a belief in, God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. Thus, the aforementioned trinities represent the Divine in its threefold nature.

Before the introduction of Christianity, underlying beliefs of the trinity existed in the Efik traditional religion. Such concepts were more visible in folk tales and were noticed by Rev. Hugh Goldie and Rev. Hope Waddell. Rev. Hope Waddell in his Twenty-Nine Years in the West Indies (1863)…stated,

“It may be added that remnants of a tradition involving the idea of a trinity were found among them. There was one God Abasi and a son of God, mentioned in their inkes or fables and a third or middle God of whom they had heard little and knew nothing. But only a few admitted the existence of such traditions”

Goldie reveals the identity of the supreme God as Ibom Eno. He further defines Ibom Eno in his 1862 dictionary as,

“In Efik mythology, the father of Abasi, according to some nkes*. Hence some derive the names Abasi Ibom and Inyang Ibom, both being sons of Ibom Eno.”

Goldie’s description indicates that Ibom Eno was regarded as the supreme God who bore two sons. Richard Burton in his Wits and Wisdom from West Africa (1865), hypothesizes that the sons of Ibom Eno were personifications of Earth and Ocean. Thus, Abasi Ibom representing the Earth and Inyang Ibom representing the Ocean. With the arrival of the missionaries in Old Calabar in 1846, the Efik traditional belief in a triune God would be replaced with the Christian concept of the trinity. Today, the belief in the Christian interpretation of a Triune God is represented in the Efik prayer, “Itoro enyene Ete ye Eyen ye Edisana spirit, nte emi ekedide ke editọñọ, edi ntre idaha emi, edinyuñ idi ntre ke nsi-nsi. Amen”

©Philip Nosa-Adam

Image caption: A Celtic three headed deity

Image source: Christoph Bacher Archäologie


Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
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