The Ijaw People

The Ijaw people are known to be the most populous indigenous group in their region, arguably ranging from 14 million to 15 million population. These people spread across Ondo, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers area of Nigeria but they are basically indigenous people of Niger Delta. Who are mostly migrant fishermen from Sierra Loeone and Gabon basicially.


The Ijos (Ijaws) of the Niger Delta are the descendants of the autochthonous people or ancient tribe of Africa known as the ORU. Which they have kept the ancient language and culture of the ORU.

They have about 50 clans which spread across Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Edo and Delta, some of the clan are Akassa, Andoni, Apoi, Arogbo, Bassan, Bille, Bumo, Bonny, Buseni, Egbema, Opermor, Ekpetiama, Engenni, Epie-Atissa, Furupagha, Gbaranmatu, Gbaran, Iduwini, Isaba, Kabo and many others


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. Which is very close to Niger-Congo.


Majority of the Ijaws are Christians who are majorly Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal members. Other are traditionalist with their ancestors known as Owuamapu (water spirits). They also practice a form of divination called Igbadai.

Food: Some of their major delicacies 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.
  • 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.

Compiled by SEUN APHOR

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