Long before the Advent of Western civilization introduced by the Europeans, the Ekoi(Ejagham) people in present day east of Nigeria that also extends to Calabar had developed a unique form of ideographic writing called NSIBIDI. It was a kind of primitive secret writing painted on split palm stems.
Although, there is no generally accepted date but Scholars say it has been in existence in Ekoi for as long as 400CE – making it one of the oldest archaeological evidence dating back to 2000bc.
This form of writing was used to decorate calabashes, skin, sculptures and clothing items, as well as communicate messages on houses.
According to a book, The Foundation Of Igbo Studies by Nnamdi Oraka, in 1766, there was gradual replacement of of the NSIBIDI with the Isuama Igbo Alphabets from Isu in Nkwerre, Imo State,made popular by Olaudah Equiano.
The Transatlantic slave trade saw the export of NSIBIDI to the Caribbean Islands like Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Venezuela.