The History Of Egbema Kingdom – A True Izon (Ijaw) Kingdom

cropped-polobubo11.jpgThe ancient Kingdom of Egbema is politically split into the present day Edo and Delta States of Nigeria. Egbema Kingdom is bounded on the north by the Olodiama of Edo State and the Itsekiri of Delta State, west by the Arogbo Kingdom of Ondo State, east by Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Itsekiri of Delta State and South by the Ilaje of Ondo State and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Egbema people are the most likely Ijo sub-group to which the allegation of Ijo piracy on the Benin River could have made. The only other sub-group with access to the Benin River are the Gbaramatu.

Egbema traditions, in fact, give indirect evidence of their predatory activities in the region of the Benin River. While they refer to the Oba of Benin as Ugbo Pere (lord of the Lands), the priest king of Egbema was Bini Pere (lord of Waters). Apart from cultural and other relations with other Ijo groups, therefore, Egbema history was affected by relations with the Benin Empire to the North, and with the Itsekiri to the south and with white traders in slaves on Benin river and its estuaries.

The dual relationship with the Edo and the Itsekiri is now reflected in the demarcation of the Egbema into the administrative areas of the Benin Division and Warri Division.

Origin and Settlement:
According to G.O Tiemo (2006), there are nine traditional towns in Egbema known as Egbema Isenabiri, namely – Ofiniama, Ajakurama, Abere, Gbeuba, Jamagie/Abadigbene, Opuama/Polobubo, Ogbinbiri, Ogbudu-Gbudu and Jamagie. In addition there are over one hundred and fifty villages and hamlets. The people are fishermen, hunters, canoe builders, distillers of local gin and farmers. Continue reading

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Chief EK Clark Shared Insight About Nigeria Politics


He is a man with a plethora of prefixes to his name. Former senator, former federal commissioner, former Midwestern Commissioner, former headmaster among others, but consistent social and political commentator, Chief Edwin Clark, in this gives his role in the remaking of Nigeria, his role in the process among other issues.

The National Conference has come and gone. Many say it was five months of robust discussion. Would you say that the conference was a panacea to Nigeria’s major problems?

I think before we talk about that, the first thing we should go about is to congratulate Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for taking the bold step in convoking that conference which many Heads of State in the past reluctantly refused to convoke for one reason or the other. There were those who were asking for sovereign national conference.

There were others who were asking for national conference. Remember people like Gani Fawehinmi, even Tinubu: these were people who were talking about national conference and for a very long time, nobody cared about it. But when we formed the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, we went to Mr. President, appealed to him on several occasions, argued with him. He had his own case.

And he said, yes, there are problems in Nigeria that cannot be solved by amendments to the constitution alone and finally he agreed to convoke a national conference. He did not just only announce it, he set up a committee under Senator Femi Okurounmu who used to shout in the Senate as if that was the only purpose for which he was elected into the Senate. So, the committee went round the country, saw the modalities and everything and how it should be organised.
Continue reading

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This is just an insight to what oil does to the environment…this is what the people of Polobubo/Opuama community are daily going through!

Join the campaign #savePOLOBUBO #saveOPUAMA #OML40 #NigerDelta

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The Halliburton Case And Corruption In Nigeria – A Niger Delta Story

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Oil Pollution In The Niger Delta – CNN

Nigeria’s Niger Delta is one of the most oil-polluted places on the planet with more than 6,800 recorded oil spills, accounting for anywhere from 9 million to 13 million barrels of oil spilled, according to activist groups.

But occurring over the 50 years since oil production began in the Delta, this environmental disaster has never received the attention that is now being paid to the oil-spill catastrophe hitting the U.S. Gulf coast. “The whole world is trembling and even the president of America had to do a personal visit to the site. The U.S. will have put serious measures in place to stop such situations happening in the future,” said Ken Tebe — a local environmental activist who is visibly shaken by what he regards as a double standard.

“It’s funny because we’ve been dealing with this problem for 50 years. I even heard BP will pay $20 billion in damages (for the U.S. spill). When will such hope come to the Niger Delta?” Tebe asked.

The U.S. imports about eight percent of its oil from Nigeria. That is nearly half of Nigeria’s daily oil production and makes Nigeria the fifth-largest exporter of oil to the United States. Tebe, like other activists, focuses his energy and anger against his own government and the oil companies he blames for neglecting the region — but he feels the U.S., as the largest consumer of Nigerian oil, also must also play its part. Continue reading

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Brief History Of The Izon (Ijaw) Tribe In The Niger Delta

We the Izon (Ijaws), the predominant indigenous people in the Niger Delta, moved to the Delta over 7,000 years. We have a distinctive language. The Niger River Delta, one of the largest and beautiful deltas in the world, is the largest delta in Africa, and it covers approximately 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometres). Its origination is in the highlands of the Fouta Djallon Plateau in western Guinea 150 miles (240 kilometres) from the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger River is Africa’s third longest river covering approximately 2,600 miles or 4185 kilometres.

It flows northeast into Mali. In central Mali, the Niger forms a vast inland delta, a maze of channels and shallow lakes. Just below Timbuktu, the Niger bends, flowing first east, then southeast from Mali through the Republic of Niger, and finally into Nigeria. At Lokoja in central Nigeria, the Niger is joined by its chief tributary, the Benue. The Niger then travels south 250 miles or 400 kilometres, becoming a great fan shaped delta before emptying into the Gulf of Guinea. The Ijaws have called this delta home for over 7,000 years.

The Niger Delta covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometre, and is spread across eight of the 36 Nigerian states. These are Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Abia and Imo. It is endowed with immense natural resources, particularly crude oil.



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The Ijo (Ijaw) People Of Delta State: Their Early History And Aspects Of Social And Cultural Practices

This paper is a historical exposition of the Ijo people of Delta State in the South-South and Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria. A literature gap exists on these groups compared to their kith and kin in the States of Bayelsa and Rivers, also in the Niger-Delta. Thus, motivated by this, the author employs a descriptive and analytical schema to present the early history of these people with regards to their origins, migrations and settlement patterns. The study also examines aspects of their social and cultural practices. At the end, it is observed that, these groups, like their other Ijo counterparts in the central and eastern delta are equally of considerable antiquity in the Niger- Delta spanning over 7,000 years, blended with a rich heritage that has been developed over time. Keywords: Ijo (Ijaw), Origins, Delta State, Antiquity, Eponymous, Migrations, Settlements

1. Introduction In this study, the attention is on the Ijaw (Ijo) people who are located in the local Governments of Patani, Bomadi, Burutu, Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West in Delta State of Nigeria. In all there are fifteen clans (Ibes) which includes the following: Egbema (Warri North), Ogbe-Ijo (Warri South), Gbaramatu (warri South West), Isaba (Warri South West), Diebiri (Warri South/ Burutu), Obotebe (Burutu), Seimbiri (Burutu), Tuomo (Burutu), Ogulagha (Burutu), Iduwini (Burutu), Operemo (Bomadi/Burutu), Mein (Bomadi/Burutu), Tarakiri (Patani), Kabowei (Patani) and Kumbowei (Patani).

Together, these groups constitutes what Alagoa (1972) in his division of the Delta  into eastern, central and western zones along physiographic, linguistic and ethnic lines as, the Ijo clans of the western Delta and fringe. Apart from the general outline of their geography, the broad themes covered here, are their traditions of Origin, migrations and settlements; their economic and political systems in pre-colonial times as well as their social and cultural practices with regards to birth, marriage, death, festivals etc.

2. Geography  The area covered by this brief survey extends from the east of the Benin River (Warri North L.G.A), in the west of Delta state and the Niger Delta up to the Kabowei settlement of Abare (Patani L.G.A), on the west Bank of the Forcados. Thus, the area bordering on the estuaries of the Rivers Benin, Escravos and Forcados represents the home of the Ijo of Delta state. This area is bordered in the south by the Atlantic Ocean and the Nigeria state of Bayelsa, in the north by the Urhobo, in the west, by the Itsekiri and in the east by the Isoko and Ukwuani (Asabase).
It has been observed that the entire delta area is divisible on physical terms into three belts. These are: the sandy beach ridges, the salt-water swamp areas and the fresh water swamp areas (Alagoa, 1972:12). Alagoa posits that these belts correspond to differences in the nature of the water, type of deltaic soil deposited and in vegetation. Accordingly, they are also belts along which the lives of the communities change, population densities differ and occupations suitable to the particular environment are carried on. With particular reference to our area of study, Ijo communities such as Ogulagha and the Gbaramatu settlements occupy the area of the sandy beach ridges. Further inland, most of the communities in the local Governments of Burutu, Warri south west, and Warri north inhabits the salt-water swamp belt. Lastly, the Ijo communities in Bomadi and Patani L.G.As are within the fresh water swamp belt of the Delta.

3. Traditions of Origin, Migrations and Settlements
One apt general observation that can be made of the Ijo in general is that they are of considerable antiquity in the Niger-Delta. Much of the evidence for this is drawn from Alagoa’s use of the linguistic parameter which establishes a separation of the Ijo language from that of its immediate neighbours by about 7,000 years. More- over, Alagoa’s findings based on the oral traditions of the people suggests a pattern of movement from the central Delta (approximating present day Bayelsa State) to the west (Delta state) and east (Rivers State). In this sense therefore, the central theory of Alagoa’s postulation is that the Ijo’s are of central Delta Origin (Okorobia, 2009) and with time spread out or migrated westward and eastwards to settlements in present day Delta and Rivers states.  It must be noted that as plausible as Alagoa’s theories are, they do not tell us the exact time the people came into being, rather they merely tell of migrations, movements and the formation of break away groups in more recent times. Indeed, in a recent study, Robin Horton (1997) has given some fresh thoughts on the place of the central Delta as the cradle of the Ijo people. He informs that the eastern Delta, rather than the central is in fact the home of the Ijo. Employing a combination of linguistic and archaeological sources, Horton avers that the Obolo (Andoni) region in the eastern Delta (Rivers state) is the probable home of the Ijo. With all the possible defects inherent in the various theories on the ultimate place of origin of the Ijo, to avoid confusion, each cluster of clans will be examined separately before pre-colonial economic, political and social systems are discussed.

3.1. The Egbema: According to Alagoa (1972), the traditions of origin of the Egbema suggest that the mother settlement Ofiniama was founded by two traders from the Mein town of Gbekebo. The two traders, Alopomini and Opiti used to stop at the site to shoot birds (Ofini) for food on their way to Ukuroama, Iko, Eko or Lagos.  There are nine traditional towns in Egbema known as Egbema Isenabiri, namely-Ofiniama, Ajakurama, Abere, Gbeoba, Jamagie/Abadigbene, Opuama/Polobubo, Ogbinbiri, Ogbudu-Gbudu and Jamagie (Alagoa, Kowei, Owei and Dunu, 2009). The founders of Ajakurama, Gbeoba, Abere and Polobubo first lived at Ofiniama for some time before they settled in their present site. Later, new groups of immigrants came from Operemo in the western Delta and founded the settlement of Jamagie. The main unifying force in Egbema traditions is the common worship of Egbesu.

3.2. The Gbaramatu: The tradition of origin of this Ibe raises important issues for the settlement history of many other Ijo groups in the Delta. It has been observed that Oproza; the mother settlement of the Gbaramatu is mentioned in the traditions of origin of other groups such as the Kabowei and Kumbowei. Alagoa, (1972) informs that the ancestors of the Gbaramatu migrated from Gbaraun in Apoi Ibe of the central Delta (present Bayelsa state). The Gbaramatu live close to the coast between the Forcados and Benin Rivers, with most of their settlements lying along the Escravos River and adjoining creeks (Alagoa, Kowei, Owei and Dunu, 2009).

3.3. The Ogbe-Ijo: According to their traditions, Ogbe, the mother settlement was founded by Ewein who came from Ekeremo in Operemo Ibe of the Western Delta in present day Bayelsa state. The Ogbe claim to have arrived at the site of Warri before the Itsekiri, and that Ewein’s settlement was there when the Oba of Benin sent men after the Itsekiri migrants from Benin. Ewein’s settlement grew into six compounds namely, Aruteingha, Perebiri, Ikiyanbiri, Otunibiri,  Lotiebiri and Temebiri. Presently, the Ogbe are a clan of about thirty settlements on the creeks south of the modern town of Warri and Ogbe Ijo is the administrative Head-quarters of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. Continue reading

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