The Legend of Inikpi: The Igala Sacrificial Hero

The Legend of Inikpi is a story that is sometimes referred to as morbid but is revered by the Igala people of Kogi State, Nigeria. According to some texts, ‘The history of the Igala kingdom would not be complete without the significant role Princess Inikpi played, with a selfless commitment and sacrifice to the course and survival of the Igala nation.

Though some parts of this historical account differ depending on who is telling the story, however, there are many parts that are clear and similar.

According to historical records, a war was imminent between the Bini kingdom and the Igalas. Nowhere was safe in Igala land anymore. The farmlands were already cordoned off by the enemies and the streams poisoned so that anyone that drank from them would die. The Igalas feared imminent death from starvation and lack of water. When oracle was consulted, it proclaimed that a reversal of their misfortune and victory in the war could only come when the princess, the only daughter of the king is buried alive.

The King of the Igala Kingdom, Attah, strongly revolted against this oracle consultation but Princess Inikpi herself did not object, she did not fight. She went voluntarily on that day to the bank of River Niger, where she was buried alive. It was a sad resolution but the Igala people hailed her for her heroism. after the sacrifice, the story went on that as the Bini armies advanced to swoop, they saw the whole town in FLAMES and retreated feeling that there was no need taking war to a place already on fire; but it was the blood of Inikpi that deceived them.

Till this day, the Igala people honour the role played by the Princess in averting destruction and bringing peace to Igala land. In her honour, many of the land indigenes name their daughters after the Princess Inikpi.

Also, a statue of the princess stands was placed at “Ega” in Idah, which is considered the Igala traditional headquarters today. Several plays and films have also been produced to celebrate her story.

The story has been remade into stage plays and a 2020 box-office hit produced by Mercy Johnson-Okojie, with a star-studded cast that included the actress herself.

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