People and Culture of Nigeria: The Obolo Tribe

Obolo People

Let’s journey to Rivers, Abia, and Akwa Ibom States simultaneously don’t bother to soliloquies how that will be because just one tribe called the Obolo or Andoni tribe will be leading us to part of the Obolo, of Rivers, Abia, and Akwa Ibom States, of Nigeria. This tribe is an Ijaw sub-ethnic group with strong historical relations with Oron people of Niger Delta in Nigeria.

Historically, Wikipedia recorded that the Andoni (Idoni or Indo before the colonial era had commercial contacts with European traders and with other neighbouring Ijaw clans, such as the Bonny, Okrika, Kalabari, Nkoro, Ette people of present Ikot-Abasi as well as the Okoro-utip and Mkpanak people of Ibeno. There is also a strong historical lineage between the Ohafia people in Abia State and the Obolo. In the past, Obolo people frequently fought wars with the Bonny and Ogoni people.

Andoni villages and towns are situated on islands. Thus, Island I is comprised of Ngo Town, Akaradi province Ikuru Town, Okoroboile, Unyeangala, Asukama, Agana, Egwede, Ayamboko Town Agwut-Obolo, Agbauchima, Ilotombi, Ekede and stretched to Oyorokoto, the largest fishing settlement in Rivers State. Island II includes: Asarama Town, Unyeada, Egendem and other small villages. Island III has Ebukuma Town, Okoloile, Agbalek-Ama (Agbalama), Mbuban, Ama Ubulom, Ama Ngere Nkpon, Otako, Okorobo-Ile, Down Below, Asuk-Oyet, Ama Esuuk, Ama jaba, and several other smaller villages.

In fact, it is believed that Island Three stands at the centre of Andoni as it is the link between Island One and Two. Island Four includes four major communities – Dema, Ibotirem, Samanga and Ajakajak, Dema being the largest. Across this stretch of land are parts of Ogoni. Other towns of Andoni that are situated on Island includes, Ataba Town, Oron-Ijah, Egbormung, Ajakajak, Ibot-Irem, Isiodum, Inyon-Oron, lwoma-asarama, Afaradigi, Emenudung, Asarama-ija and many smaller fishing ports. Aerial view of these island displays a sort of shattered constellation on the surface of water.

In case you want to learn their language, the Obolo people speak Obolo as the only native language. Obolo language is a distinct language based on the original Ijaw intonation. Though it contains a few words borrowed from the language of its neighbours like Efik/Ibibio, Oron, and other Ijaw dialects, statistical provisions clearly mark Obolo out as originating from greater antiquity than its other neighbours of the region. It is one of the four language the European explorers met with in the Niger Delta area about six centuries ago.

On the other hand is their festival which could be centre of attraction if you want to tour Obolo land.   The Nwantam masquerade of Andoni celebrated every first January is one of the highlights of Obolo festivities, which they share with the Opobo, Nkoro, and Bonny. Their ancient practices include a writing system known as Nsibidi, Ofiokpo cult, Ngbegbengbe and the war dance. The fishing festival (Ijok-Irin) is special and peculiar to the people of Unyeada Kingdom.

Also, Ijok-Irin annual fishing festival was originated by migrant fishing folks who always return home from fishing expeditions at end of each traditional fishing season between July and August for the presentation of their biggest catch, usually through smoked preservation to the King of the kingdom (Okaan-Ama) as trophies; it is the culture of Obolo people that the biggest catch cannot be ate alone or sold. Due to it ecotourism potential, the festival in recent years is been rebranded to attract tourists.

A quick fact, the Andoni people refer to God as Awaji or Owaji.

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