The people of Ayande tribe were the craftsmen and blacksmiths in the Mbiu nation. The traditional blacksmith’s identity was brought by the almost-mythical prestige that he commands and by the near-mystical power that he wields and manipulates, after an extensive, secretive initiation. The blacksmith was a veritable force-tamer, with his uncanny, trans-mundane ability to harness iron and clay that is believed to animate all things. They believed in benign power of a god, Inake the god of iron and metal working. Apart from being blacksmiths, the Ayande tribesmen were traditional weavers who made objects and fabric from sisal and reeds and practised tanning in the process.
The Ayande blacksmith holds an important position in society.
Blacksmiths were often called upon by the King for guidance in major decisions
regarding the village. The power of the blacksmith was thought to be so great
that they are also feared. Ayande Blacksmiths control a force called Bayanze.
This means that they control all energy and power in the village as well as the
makeup and workings of the Ayande society. The ability to control such a force was
not given to just anyone. A single family in the village is designated to
produce blacksmiths. The boys from that family are taught the secret knowledge
about the use and nature of Bayanze. It is the foundation that nourishes
the institution of smiting, so that it may nourish society, is the simple axiom
that knowledge can be power when properly articulated. They begin training at an
early age, as an apprentice in order to master the techniques of blacksmithing
by the time they reach adulthood and become an Ayande Blacksmith.
The Ayande were more traditional in their way of life and less
inclined to exploration. They were more sociable and eager to belong, which was
quite evident in their pure love for entertainment. They welcomed people from
other tribes into their community through trading. Items exchanged included
their woven baskets, fabric and iron knives, swords, amulets, arrowheads and
shields for food items like honey, meat, fruits, milk and sometimes gold. In as
much as the Ayande were social, they were more conservative than liberal and
not open to intermarriages albeit openly interacting with other tribes of the
nation. Their keen attention to detail was more evident in their
detail-oriented dance that was taught from a very early age and was an
essential fabric to their identity. Ayande music and dance was however not a
substitute for happiness, but an expression of it.
The children start learning dance routines and drum playing at an
early age. As they start spending less time with their grandmothers and more
time with other children, they begin to participate in music making more often
and sing songs and musical games. The little children would enjoy making things
and many of the top craftsmen started learning their skills at a very early age
from their grandmother or father. Little boys would make toy cars which they
push a round for most of the day. The Ayande children and adults played several
games, probably the best known was played by making a few holes in the ground
and moving stones around in a logical and tactical manner. The women would
spend most of their time in between weaving baskets and sisal mats and taking
care of the homestead.
The Ayande tribe was a monarch led by a King and assisted by his
wife, the Ayorwe, the Queen. As the King performed duties that affected the
tribe, the Queen carried out the rituals and consecration ceremonies. The
monarch was assisted in its duties by a council of ministers, appointed by the
King. The tribe was subdivided into three clans; the royalty, the blacksmiths
and the weavers- managed by a council of elders. Each clan had a military
sub-unit that was selected after the traditional circumcision ceremony presided
over by the King. The young men were initiated and trained by older and more
experienced men on how to fight and protect themselves using the phenomenal
Ayande shield. Each military subunit took turns in protecting the monarch
against external attacks and often carried out competitions to showcase their
expertise amongst themselves in different social celebrations in the monarch.
Read Also: Who is a Ayande?