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The Efik people are a branch of the Ibibio, who in the early 1600s migrated down the Cross River and founded numerous settlements in the Creek Town-Duke Town area (now in Cross River State, Nigeria), and across the river in Cameroon. This area of Nigeria is now known as Calabar and is not to be confused with Kalabari (sometimes 'New Calabar') in the Rivers State, 160 kilometres to the west.
Although their economy was originally based on fishing, the area quickly developed into a major trading centre and remained so well into the early 1900s. Incoming European goods were traded for slaves, palm oil and other palm products. The Efik kings collected a trading tax called comey from docking ships until the British replaced it with 'comey subsidies'.
The Efik were the middle men between the white traders on the coast and the inland tribes of the Cross river and Calabar district. Christian missions were at work among the Efiks beginning in the middle of the 19th century. Even by 1900, many of the natives were well educated, professed Christianity and dressed in European fashion.
A powerful bond of union among the Efik, and one that gives them considerable influence over other tribes, is the secret society known as the Egbo.
In 1884 the Efik kings and the chiefs of the Efik placed themselves under British protection. These treaties and attendant territorial economic rights, are documented in CAP 23 of Laws of Eastern Nigeria, captioned 'Comey subsidies law'. The Efik king known as Efik Monarch and Obong of Calabar still (2006) is a political power among the Efik.
- Waddell (1846) Efik or Old Calabar Waddell, Old Calabar;
- ^ a b Fubara, Dagogo M.J. (5 March 2006) "Legendary legacies of Dappa-Biriye" The Tide Rivers State Newspaper Corp., Port Harcourt, Nigeria;
- ^ >Nwagbara, Friday (2 June 2006) "Efik monarch withholds blessing for South-South" The Tide Rivers State Newspaper Corp., Port Harcourt, Nigeria;