Artist Health

Video: The Calabar Christmas Festival + Difference Between the Kalabari, Akwa-Ibom and Calabar People

For those joining me for the first time, I was born in the USA, raised in Lagos, Nigeria and for the longest time thought I was Yoruba i.e. from what was the Southern part of Nigeria. I read, spoke and wrote Yoruba fluently and better than most Yoruba natives. I also wasn’t called Uduak. I had a nickname everyone called me. I became aware I was not Yoruba when my mother was renewing my US passport and I saw my name “Uduak” inscribed on it and my picture. Later, my maternal grandma came to live with us and she neither spoke English nor Yoruba, only the Eket language where my family hails from in Eastern Nigeria. Communication, needless to say, was tough but since I pick languages easily, I would later come to understand her well.

In any event, I did a recent post congratulating my fellow legal colleague based in Nigeria on her award. Her name is Mfon Ekpo. I have never met her but her PR agency solicited me for the story. I made reference to the Kalabari people. To my knowledge and from historical archived stories, the Kalabari people were the aforementioned ethnic groups and while they are now Calabar and Akwa-Iboms, their history originates from there. I also knew the Calabar people speak Efik and that Akwa-Ibomites were Ibibios. I also know I’m from EKET and my family speaks EKET independent from the Ibibio language that most from Eket also speak. But, I thought these region and group were all lumped historically as the Kalabari people.

One of my AML readers sent this in response to that article. She is a very gorgeous lady who happens to be from Akwa-Ibom. Hey what can I say, the gorgeous and highly intelligent women reside/are from Akwa-Ibom. LOL! Here is what she had to say:

“Hey Uduak,

I read your article: and I see you mixed up the present day Kalabari people with the Calabars. Although people refer to us as Calabar people, The Cross Riverians and Akwa Ibomites are known as the Efiks and Ibibios, respectively.

The Kalabari people are now the Ijaw people of Rivers State

There’s a shared history between the Kalabaris and Calabar but they are now very distinct. Just thought to let you know. :)”


SIDE NOTE: By the way, every group in Nigeria now claims I am from their area before they even know my name. Looooooooool! I get Hausa, a lot. I also get Ibo. As one Igbo man told me, “you are very beautiful so you must be from Ibo because everyone knows the beautiful girls from Igbo land.” Hahahahaha. NOT! Looooooool!

Anyway, now we are all educated about the difference between Akwa-Ibom and Calabar. Clearly I have more studying to do.

Oooh! You guys, for tourists and Nigerian locals, I hear Calabar has the best Christmas festival, almost like the way Trinidad and Tobago do their carnivals. I hope to visit the festival some day but be sure to check it out this Christmas if you will be in Nigeria.Watch clips below on Xmas in Calabar! The Calabar and Akwa-Ibom people are known for great hospitality and great food. In addition, have you all paid attention to some of the best personalities in media. Hmmm . . . . lots of Calabar/Akwa-Ibomites. What about the creative arts, especially the theater/arts? I am noticing lots of Calabar/Akwa-Ibomites dominating this area.


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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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