Ijaw people (also known by the subgroups ” Ijo ” or ” Izon“) are people in Niger Delta in Nigeria, inhabiting regions of the states of Ondo , Bayelsa ,Delta, Edo, and Rivers State.
Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon.
Population figures for the Ijaws vary greatly, though most range from 13 million to 15 million.
They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century.
The Ijaw speak nine closely related Niger–Congo languages , all of which belong to the Ijoid branch of the Niger–Congo tree.
The primary division between the Ijo languages is that between Eastern Ijo and Western Ijo, the most important of the former group of languages being Izon , which is spoken by about five million people.
There are two prominent groupings of the Izon language. The first, termed either Western or Central Izon (Ijaw) consists of Western Ijaw speakers:
Tuomo Clan ,Egbema, Ekeremor , Sagbama (Mein) , Bassan , Apoi , Arogbo , Boma (Bumo), Kabo (Kabuowei) , Ogboin, Tarakiri, and Kolokuma-Opokuma. Nembe , Brass and Akassa (Akaha) dialects represent Southeast Ijo (Izon) Buseni and Okordia dialects are considered Inland Ijo.
The other major Ijaw linguistic group is Kalabari . Kalabari is considered an Eastern Ijaw language but the term “Eastern Ijaw” is not the normal nomenclature. Kalabari is the name of one of the Ijaw clans that reside on the eastern side of the Niger-Delta (Abonnema, Buguma, Bakana, Degema etc.) who form a major group in Rivers State, Other “Eastern” Ijaw clans are the Andoni, Okrika , Ibani (the natives of Bonny, Finima and Opobo) and
They are neighbours to the Kalabari people in present-day Rivers State , Nigeria.
Other related Ijaw subgroups which have distinct languages but very close kinship, cultural and territorial ties with the rest of the Ijaw are the Epie-Atissa , Engenni (also known as Ẹgẹnẹ), and Degema (also called Udekama or Udekaama).  The Ogbia clan, as well as residents of Bukuma and Abuloma ( Obulom).
It was discovered in the 1980s that a now extinct
Berbice Creole Dutch , spoken in Guyana, is partly based on Ijo lexicon and grammar. Its nearest relative seems to be Eastern Ijo, most likely Kalabari (Kouwenberg 1994).
Clans in Ijaw
The Ijaw ethnic group consists of 50 loosely affiliated clans. These clans are based along kinship lines under the Benin Empire . Shared cultural and religious traditions.
The ijaw are found around most state in nigeria eg Ondo, akwa ibon, edo, Delta and mainly River and bayelsa.
The Ijaws were one of the first of Nigeria’s peoples to have contact with Westerners, and were active as go-betweens in the slave trade between visiting Europeans and the peoples of the interior, particularly in the era before the discovery of
quinine , when West Africa was still known as the “White Man’s Graveyard” because of the endemic presence of malaria . Some of the kin-based trading lineages that arose among the Ijaws developed into substantial corporations which were known as “houses”; each house had an elected leader as well as a fleet of war canoes for use in protecting trade and fighting rivals. The other main occupation common among the Ijaws has traditionally been fishing and farming.
Being a maritime people, many Ijaws were employed in the merchant shipping sector in the early and mid-20th century (pre-Nigerian independence). With the advent of oil and gas exploration in their territory, some are employed in that sector. Other main occupation are in the civil service of the Nigerian states of Bayelsa and Rivers where they are predominant.
Extensive state-government sponsored overseas
scholarship programs in the 1970s and 1980s have also led to a significant presence of Ijaw
professionals in Europe and North America (the so-called Ijaw diaspora). Another contributing factor to this human capital flight is the abject poverty in their homeland of the Niger Delta, resulting from decades of neglect by the Nigerian government and oil companies in spite of continuous petroleum prospecting in this region since the 1950s.
Lifestyle of Ijaw
The Ijaw people live by fishing supplemented by farming paddy – rice , plantains, Cassava , yams,
cocoyams , bananas and other vegetables as well as tropical fruits such as guava , mangoes and
pineapples ; and trading. Smoke-dried fish, timber ,
palm oil and palm kernels are processed for export. While some clans (those to the east- Akassa, Nembe ,
Kalabari , Okrika and Bonny ) had powerful chiefs and a stratified society , other clans are believed not to have had any centralized confederacies until the arrival of the British. However, owing to influence of the neighbouring Kingdom of Benin individual communities even in the western Niger Delta also had chiefs and governments at the village level.
Marriages are completed by the payment of a bridal
dowry , which increases in size if the bride is from another village (so as to make up for that village’s loss of her children). Funeral ceremonies, particularly for those who have accumulated wealth and respect, are often very dramatic. Traditional religious practices center around “Water spirits” in the Niger river, and around tribute to ancestors.
Religion and cultural practices
Although the Ijaw are now primarily Christians (65% profess to be), with Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Pentecostal being the varieties of Christianity most prevalent among them, they also have elaborate traditional religious practices of their own. Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits, known as
Owuamapu figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai , in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. Ijaw religious beliefs hold that water spirits are like humans in having personal strengths and shortcomings, and that humans dwell among the water spirits before being born. The role of prayer in the traditional Ijaw system of belief is to maintain the living in the good graces of the water spirits among whom they dwelt before being born into this world, and each year the Ijaw hold celebrations in honor the spirits lasting for several days. Central to the festivities is the role of masquerades, in which men wearing elaborate outfits and carved masks dance to the beat of drums and manifest the influence of the water spirits through the quality and intensity of their dancing. Particularly spectacular masqueraders are taken to actually be in the possession of the particular spirits on whose behalf they are dancing.
The Ijaw are also known to practice ritual
acculturation (enculturation ), whereby an individual from a different, unrelated group undergoes rites to become Ijaw. An example of this is Jaja of Opobo , the Igbo slave who rose to become a powerful Ibani (Bonny) chief in the 19th century.
There are also a small number of Converts to Islam the most notable being the founder of the Delta People Volunteer Force , Mujahid Dokubo-Asari .
Jeremiah Omoto Fufeyin Edwin .K. Clarke comes from the Ijaw ethnic group. Other notable leaders from the Ijaw ethnic group are the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, Heineken Lokpobiri amongst others.
Food customs in Ijaw
Like many ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Ijaws have many local foods that are not widespread in Nigeria. Many of these foods involve fish and other seafoods such as clams, oysters and periwinkles; yams and plantains. Some of these foods are:
Polofiyai — A very rich soup made with yams and palm oil
Kekefiyai — A pottage made with chopped unripened (green) plantains, fish, other seafood or
game meat (” bushmeat “) and palm oil
Fried or roasted fish and plantain — Fish fried in palm oil and served with fried plantains
Gbe — The grub of the raffia-palm tree beetle that is eaten raw, dried, fried in groundnut oil or pickled in palm oil
Kalabari “sea-harvest” fulo — A rich mixed seafood soup or stew that is eaten with foofoo , rice or yams
Owafiya (Beans Pottage) — A pottage made with
Beans , palm oil, fish or bushmeat, Yam or Plantain. Then taken with processed Cassava or Starch.
Geisha Soup — This a kind of soup cooked from the geisha fish, with just adding, pepe, salt, water and Boiling it for some minutes.
Opuru-fulou — Also referred to as prawn soup, prepared mainly with prawn, Ogbono (Irvingia gabonensis seeds ), dried fish, table salt, crayfish, onions, fresh pepper, and red palm oil.
Onunu; made with pounded yams and boiled overipe plantains mostly enjoyed by the Okrikans
Kiri-igina — Prepared without cooking on fire with Ogbono (Irvingia gabonensis seeds ), dried fish, table salt, crayfish.
Ignabeni — A watery soup prepared with either yam or plantain seasoned with teabush leaves, pepper, goat meat, and fish.
Ethnic identity As Ijaw
Formerly organized into several loose clusters of villages (confederacies ) which cooperated to defend themselves against outsiders, the Ijaw increasingly view themselves as belonging to a single coherent nation, bound together by ties of language and culture. This tendency has been encouraged in large part by what are considered to be environmental degradations that have accompanied the exploitation of oil in the Niger delta region which the Ijaw call home, as well as by a revenue sharing formula with the Nigerian Federal government that is viewed by the Ijaw as manifestly unfair. The resulting sense of grievance has led to several high-profile clashes with the Nigerian Federal authorities, including kidnappings and in the course of which many lives have been lost. The Ijaw people are resilient and proud. Long before after the colonial era, the Ijaw people traveled by wooded boats and canoes to Cameroun, Ghana and other West African countries. They traveled up the River Niger from River Nun.
Warri Crisis One manifestation of ethnic violence on the part of the Ijaw has been an increase in the number and severity of clashes between Ijaw militants and those of Isekiri origin, particularly in the town of Warri.
Deadly conflicts had rocked the South-South region, especially in Delta State, where intertribal killings had resulted in death in both sides.
In July 2013, local police discovered mutilated corpses of 13 Itsekiris killed by Ijaws, over dispute over the candidate for a local council chairman. Several Itsekiri villages, including Gbokoda, Udo, Ajamita, Obaghoro and Ayerode-Zion on the Benin river axis, were razed down while several Itsekiris lost their lives.
Oil conflict main article: Nigerian Oil Crisis The December 1998 All Ijaw Youths Conference crystallized the struggle with the formation of the
Ijaw Youth Movement (IYM) and the issuing of the kaiama Declaration .
In it, long-held Ijaw concerns about the loss of control of their homeland and their own lives to the oil companies were joined with a commitment to direct action. In the declaration, and in a letter to the companies, the Ijaws called for oil companies to suspend operations and withdraw from Ijaw territory.
The IYM pledged “to struggle peacefully for freedom, self-determination and ecological justice,” and prepared a campaign of celebration, prayer, and direct action ‘ Operation Climate Change ‘ beginning December 28, 1998.
In December 1998, two warships and 10-15,000 Nigerian troops occupied Bayelsa and Delta states as the Ijaw Youth Movement (IYM) mobilized for
Operation Climate Change .
Soldiers entering the Bayelsa state capital of Yenagoa announced they had come to attack the youths trying to stop the oil companies. On the morning of December 30, 1998, two thousand young people processed through Yenagoa, dressed in black, singing and dancing. Soldiers opened fire with rifles, machine guns, and tear gas, killing at least three protesters and arresting twenty-five more. After a march demanding the release of those detained was turned back by soldiers, three more protesters were shot dead including Nwashuku Okeri, Ghadafi Ezeifile and Onwinkron Ibe.
The head of Yenagoa rebels- Chief Onwinkron Ibe- was burned alive in his mansion on December 28, 1998. Amongst his family members to flee the premises before complete ruins was his only son, Desmond Ibe. The military declared a state of emergency throughout Bayelsa state, imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and banned meetings.
At military roadblocks, local residents were severely beaten or detained. At night, soldiers invaded private homes, terrorizing residents with beatings and women and girls with rape.
On January 4, 1999 about one hundred soldiers from the military base at Chevron ’s Escravos facility attacked Opia and Ikiyan , two Ijaw communities in Delta State. Bright Pablogba , the traditional leader of Ikiyan, who came to the river to negotiate with the soldiers, was shot along with a seven-year-old girl and possibly dozens of others. Of the approximately 1,000 people living in the two villages, four people were found dead and sixty-two were still missing months after the attack.
The same soldiers set the villages ablaze, destroyed canoes and fishing equipment, killed livestock, and destroyed churches and religious shrines.
Nonetheless, Operation Climate Change continued, and disrupted Nigerian oil supplies through much of 1999 by turning off valves through Ijaw territory. In the context of high conflict between the Ijaw and the Nigerian Federal Government (and its police and army), the military carried out the Odi massacre , killing scores if not hundreds of Ijaws.
Recent actions by Ijaws against the oil industry have included both renewed efforts at nonviolent action and militarized attacks on oil installations but with no human casualties to foreign oil workers despite hostage-takings. These attacks are usually in response to non-fulfilment by oil companies of memoranda of understanding with their host communities.
Notable Ijaw People
Goodluck Jonathan , Politician and former President
J.P. Clark , Poet and Playwright
Owoye Andrew Azazi, Former Army general and National Security Adviser
Timi Dakolo , Nigerian singer-songwriter
Ibinabo Fiberesima , Nigerian Nollywood actress
David Ibiyeomie, Nigerian Pastor and televangelist
Julius Arebo , Nigerian Web Developer
Biokpo Diali George , Nigerian Brand, Strategic & Innovative Developer
Ben Murray-Bruce , Nigerian Media mogul and Senator
Finidi George , Nigerian football legend
Samson Siasia, former Nigerian footballer and coach
Timaya, Nigerian singer
Susan Oyinbrakemi Charles , Nigerian Education expert
Tom Tonpribo Inko-Tariah , Real Estate Developer, Chartered Arbitrator
Bestie Tamara Atti, Entrepreneur and Digital Evangelist
Ijaw people know way to fight for thier right and this bring alot of organisation
Andoni Forum USA (AFUSA)
Ijaw Youth Council
Ijaw National Congress
Ijaw Elders Forum
Ijaw Youth Congress
Congress of Niger Delta Youths
National Union of Izon-Ebe Students
Tuomo Youth Congress
Sagbama Youth Movement
Ekine Sekiapu Ogbo
Bayelsa Youths Council
The Ogbia brotherhood
Izon Progressive Congress (IPC)
Ogbinbiri Progressive Movement
Egbema Youths Progressive Agenda
Progressive Youth Leadership Foundation(ND-PYLF)
Ijaw Nation Development Group (Ijaw Peoples Assembly)
More update coming.
Man Commits Suicide In Sapele Over Wife’s Infidelity
A 48 years old father of six, Felix Edore, has taken his life in Sapele, Delta State, after finding out that his wife of over l6 years was cheating on him.
Sources said the cab driver who shuttle between Abraka – Eku and Sapele took his life when he opted to drink Sniper on Friday night and was rushed to a private clinic in the Amukpe area of Sapele, where the doctors battled to save his life until he gave up on Saturday morning.
Residents described him as an easy going man, who was passionate about his job and had just bought a second hand car that he was using to play his route.
A neighbor who identified herself as Mama Rita told Vanguard that “Edore decided to end it all when he suspected that his wife was indulging in extra-marital affairs.
“The deceased was married to the wife and they have six kids, the man was always complaining of his wife infidelity and most times they would quarrel over it, and he was always saying he would kill himself because of her infidelity so that day we never knew he had bought a sniper insecticide and before we knew what was happening, he drank the insecticide in his car and people who saw him raised alarm, that was how we found out and people rushed him to the hospital, only to give up on Saturday”
A neighbor, who beg not to disclose her name, recalled how Edore drank the Sniper that evening without drawing suspicion “He came home that evening and was as usual very lively, he brought his car and was complaining about the radiator or so, it was when he left and came back that we learnt he had drank Sniper, I think he must have taken the insecticide inside the car”
The incident was reported at the Okirighwre Police Station, while relatives were said to have assisted in burying Edore’s body in his village, Kpokpogiri, along Warri – Sapele road.
Two Injured As Ambulance Conveying Corpse Causes Multiple Accident In Ughelli
The ambulance with registration number, Delta AA 232 TDU, was said to have been heading to Owerri in Imo State from Ughelli with the corpse when the driver of the ambulance lost control according to an eye witness at the scene of the accident.
Two children who were by the roadside sustained injuries during the accident involving three other vehicles.
However, the driver of the ambulance narrowly escaped mob action from sympathizers at the scene of the accident who blamed him for the crash after he was alleged to have lost control and rammed into a building by the roadside.
It took the timely intervention of a police officer from the Ughelli Police Area Command who rushed to the scene of the accident to rescue the driver from being lynched after the angry mob that had gathered had already started beating him.
Confirming the incident, a police source from the Ughelli Police Area Command said: “From investigations carried out at the scene of the accident, it appears the driver of the ambulance lost control due to break failure and rammed into a building leading to an accident involving three other cars.
“The driver had to be rescued and taken to the police station to avoid a mob action on him while the children injured during the accident, were also taken to the hospital for treatment.”
Schools In Urhobo Communities Where Students Sit On Bare Floor To Learn
Isherhe Primary School and Adagwe Grammar School in Ughelli North local government area of Delta State are places where pupils and students sit on the bare floor to learn despite provisions by the state ministries of Basic Education and Higher Education.
Founded in 1980, Adagwe Grammar School, located in Eruemukohwarien, plays host to hundreds of students from Ekrokpe and Ekakpamre communities while Ishwrhe Primary School, founded in 1929, accommodates pupils from Oviri, Orho-Agbarho and a host of other communities.
While Eruemukohwarien also plays host to the Transcorp Power Station, Beta Glass Company, the OML30 and 34 and a tank farm, known as the Ughelli Pumping Station, UPS, owned by ND-Western/Shoreline/NPDC joint ventures, Agbarho is the traditional headquarters of Agbarho Kingdom.
Similar to the Success Adegor story of the Okotie-Ebor Primary School, Sapele, who protested after being sent away from school for non-payment of school fees, students of both schools are forced to learn in ridiculous environment while using their thighs as table as others sprawl on the floor for their daily lessons.
The current Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, who was Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, had, while responding to an Instrgram post by a youth corps member in May 2019 on the poor state of Adagwe Grammar School, affirmed the efforts of the state government to transform the physical infrastructure in schools in the state with a promise that the challenges of the school will be looked into soonest.
However, a visit to the school by Sunday Vanguard proved that the promised transformation of physical infrastructures in schools in the state by the Delta government is yet to get to the school as things are going from bad to worse.
At Ishwrhe Primary School, the pupils, who seem elated by the visit, were seen on the bare ground owing to the non-availability of furniture while others, who seemed lucky, were seen kneeling on the ground while using a makeshift table without a chair as their writing pad.
Though the Headmaster and Principal of the schools refused to comment on the level of infrastructural decay in the schools, the students lambasted Delta State government for being insensitive to their plight, with one of them lamenting, “Government refused taking care of our school because we are in a rural community.”
Amrore Faith, a 12-year-old JSS 1 student of the school, said: “Delta State government is not trying at all. We need chairs in our school. Our ceilings are not good. We don’t have boards to write on. We don’t have chairs to sit down to learn; we are pleading with the government to bring chairs.”
Okeoghene Thompson, an SSS 2 student, said: “We receive our tutorials while standing or sitting by the windows.”
On his part, Senior Perfect of the school, Atumrigho Matthew, said: “Since we have no chairs in our classes. We have to move to the empty laboratory and call in teachers to teach. Students find it difficult to cope with their studies because right from SSS 1 till now, we have not been taught a single practical.
“I am appealing to the state government and the Commissioner for Education to please come to our help by providing us chairs and enabling learning environment.”
N2, 500 furniture levy
Speaking on efforts taken so far to draw the attention of government to the school, the Parent Teacher Association, PTA, Chairman of the school, Prince Felix Ogbobore, said: “We have written severally to the local and state governments all to no avail.
“There was a time when a PTA meeting was called at the instance of the immediate past Principal, Mrs. Onome Polokor, and, in that meeting, it was resolved that every parent should pay the sum of N2,500 in order to construct desks but the Principal refused, claiming that she needed to formally inform the state government first.
“After a while, she told parents that the state government had turned down the proposal of the N2, 500 levy, saying it was illegal to levy parents.
“She told us that government will do the needful by supplying desks to the school, but for the past five years, nothing has been done and we have not heard from government and that Principal has left the school now.
Govt. accuses communities
Contacted, the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Patrick Ukah, while accusing the host communities of failing to maintain and manage furniture provided for learning in schools in Delta, warned them to use government properties properly.
He said: “Go to the schools and see how many chairs are being destroyed and ask what is destroying these chairs?
“But we have just given four awards for the supply of chairs again and we have done the needs’ assessment and already know how many schools that do not have.
“We have done our own manual of going round all the primary and secondary schools in the state to do the needs’ assessment and that is how we are going to intervene.
“So, we have awarded the contract for chairs for schools in the South, Central and North senatorial districts, then Warri and the state capital and any moment from now they will begin to come out and we embark on the needed intervention.”
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