King Jaja of Opobo…. And the British seized Niger Delta

 

In the beginning, there was no Bonny and neither was JaJa nor Opobo, because all were creations of the foreign businessmen from Liverpool, Glasgow and London.

There was no Bonny known to the people of Niger Delta before the arrival of the white. What existed was a city known as Ubani. In the early years, there was a group of people known as Ndoki in the Southern Igbo whose traditions of origin and immigration linked them, to some extent, with the Edo and Ijaw peoples.

The ancestors of Ndoki were part of a larger migration that left Benin at an unspecified time in the past. After wandering through parts of central and southern Igboland, the party settled at the Ndoki area, from where the ancestors of Ubani and allied peoples moved to the Delta.

The first name given to Ubani by the settlers was Okoloma and the hereditary king who held the title “Amanyanabo,” was of the Pepple dynasty. But later, because the people called themselves Ubanis, the town soon changed to Ubani and it was the corruption of the name “Ubani” by the Portuguese and the British that renamed the town “BONNY.”

Now about Pepple: Asimini, the first King of Bonny was said to have married his daughter to the Chief of Azuogu village in order to learn the secret of overseas trading from Owerri Daba of Kalabari. The marriage brought forth a fruit, a son, Kamalu, who succeeded as King of Bonny. Kamalu also had a brother named Papa, who begot Perekule. Perekule was the original name of Pepple.

It was a period of general warfare through which King Pepple led his people to victory over all their enemies in the middle of 18th century. For this, the name of Pepple became synonymous with Bonny leadership.

Bonny was one of the traditional states in Nigeria and was founded before 1600 AD. It was around this period that the city became famous as one of the very few existing ports for slave trading. It was the Portuguese that first arrived and later the British and the Dutch.

When slave trading was abolished, Bonny became the only major port in the whole of the Niger Delta from where palm oil, ivory and guinea pepper could be exported to Europe. In fact, it was the British that renamed the Ubani port as “Bonny Port” or “Port of Bonny.”

Now, slave trading was being abolished and legitimate trade introduced in its stead, but the mode of operation remained the same: the rulers in the hinterland were those who controlled the trade by serving as the middle men between the producers of oil and pepper and the traders from Europe.

It was indeed a fratricidal struggle among the members of the ruling houses then, for they were the ones always in charge of the business of the port, while preventing their people from getting closer to the white traders. They also ensured that the white traders did not get to the hinterland, for it was from this agency that they got paid.

And it was during this time that the name Jaja came to be popularised. Before then, there was no Jaja, but one of the powerful men of Bonny named Jubo Jubogha. Of course, he was not born powerful, he was indeed a slave. Born at Amaigbo village to the clan of Umuduruoha, he was Igbo.

No one knew how actually he became a slave. Some historians said he was sold into slavery because, as a baby, he cut the upper teeth first, something that was abominable in Igboland of then.  But others said that was not the case, he was caught by his father’s enemies and sold away. Whatever the case, Jubo Jubogha found himself in the Delta area.

When he was brought to Bonny, Chief Iganipugbuma Allison bought him. Allison was a leader of one of the houses that made Bonny and a wealthy man in his own right. In those days, the strength and buoyancy of a house showed the influence and strength of its leaders. Why? It was because the Bonny of that period was controlled by canoe trading houses.

Then, the Delta society was organised in these canoe houses. A canoe house was the pivot of success and influence, since it was at the head of social organisations. It was also a cooperative unit and could be regarded as a local government institution of today.

A canoe house was usually composed of a wealthy merchant who founded it, his family and numerous slaves owned by him.  A prosperous house could comprise several thousand members – freed and bonded – owing hundreds of canoes. Bigger houses swallowed the smaller ones and the families that had the biggest house controlled the apparatus of rulership, though might not produce the king.

Because of this, the competition among houses became so intense, since only prosperity determined one’s place in the Delta society. It was leadership by merit and not by birth or by ascription. All a house needed to make headway in that era of stiff competition was to choose a leader who had the charisma and proven ability, even if not a free-born.

Jubo was not a freeborn and, in actual fact, was on the lowest rungs of slavery in Bonny, because he was an imported slave. But give it to him, he was very strong, bold and courageous and despite the presence of many before him and in his adolescent age, he started acting as the leader of the Allison boys.

Iganipugbuma Allison was not an ambitious man; he was satisfied with the little he could achieve in the city. So he thought Jubo was headstrong and driving him too fast; he could not handle the restive boy and was so dissatisfied with him that he gave him out as a gift to a more prosperous house leader, Chief Madu or Maduka, the then leader of the Anna Pepple House and also the number one leader in Bonny.

Who was Madu or put differently, who owned the Anna Pepple House and how did Maduka become its leader? As earlier mentioned, Pepple was the most famous king of his time and when he died, he left two sons: Fubra and Opobo. As the custom, Fubra, being the elder, became king after the death of their father.

Fubra, a hunchback with webbed fingers and toes, was very intelligent and a man of strong character. He founded a trading house known as Manilla Pepple House and, while alive, the house was the most strong and lucrative, for there were other smaller houses that combined to enlarge the conglomerate. Painful as it were, Fubra died young and childless. Since he had no son to succeed him, his younger brother, Opobo, ascended the throne.

Opobo was a strong ruler with a retentive recollection that stunned even the white traders and administrators. To many of them, he was a supernatural recorder of events. All you required to do was to mention a vessel that once came from Liverpool to Bonny, King Opobo would smile, give you the name of the commander and the months and days that the ship spent in Bonny before it sailed back home.

And when considered that without the slightest of education, he could transact business with between 13 to 20 vessels laying on the sea at the same time, bear all the minute and complicated details in his remembrance, never forgetting what he promised to do for them nor omitting to send for what they promised him, the shrewdness of Opobo became disarming.

For this, his business acumen and political sagacity could not be matched by any of his contemporaries. He arm-twisted and cajoled the white traders to extract an agreement documented from them. It stated that King Opobo or any other King of Bonny, was the only person to whom the Europeans should refer for settlement of their disputes or trade arrangements.

Opobo had also founded the Anna Pepple House which became the first house of reckoning. His power derived to a large extent from his business ability which made his house the wealthiest and, therefore, the most powerful in Bonny. And by the time he died in early 1830s, he had taken Bonny to a height which remained unmatched till the dismemberment of the kingdom, for when Opobo died, the problem of Bonny surfaced.

At the time of his death, he had few sons, but only two were born on the throne and both could aspire to the throne. The two sons were Dappo and William Dappa, but they had different stories, though both were from the same father, Opobo.

Dappo was the true son of his father and his first born on the throne. Although he was also the father of William Dappa, customs looked upon the son as that of Fubra. Fubra was the elder brother of Opobo and his predecessor on the throne, who died without an offspring. He, however, left a younger and beautiful wife, who was inherited by Opobo when he became king. It was this wife, who gave birth to William Dappa. So Dappa was seen as the son of Fubra.

Things would still have been normalised were it not for the fact that Dappo, the first son and direct heir apparent, predeceased his father, Opobo the King. When Dappo died, he had just a toddler as his only son. And that was the state of things when Opobo passed on.

Maduka was the head of Opobo House even while the King was alive, he was the leader of his trade missions and warriors and as should be expected, he became the leader of Anna Pepple House at the demise of Opobo. He was well respected and feared. Were he not a former slave, he would have become the next King of Bonny after Opobo, but tradition forbade him.

In the absence of Dappo, his son would have been chosen as the king, but he was too young for that and this was why William Dappa, the second born, desired the throne. He was fiercely opposed by Maduka, who by then was the most powerful chief in Bonny because Dappa too was just a boy.

William Dappa, as the traditional son of Fubra (the founder of Manilla Pepple House), would naturally have the support of the House, while Dappo’s death had left the Anna Pepple House with no satisfactory candidate for the throne since Dappo’s son was still an infant.

But Pepple also had a daughter who had a son, Bereibibo. He was appointed to act as the ruler pending the time Dappa would be old enough to take over the throne. Bereibibo almost immediately became a failed compromise and was quickly deposed. There were no more tricks left in the heart of Maduka and the chiefs of Anna Pepple House than to allow William Dappa to be king, though they would still continue their regency under the excuse that Dappa was too young to succeed.

But the Manilla House would not have that. They believed that if William Dappa had been elected as the king, the support of the members of the house was enough to make him succeed. That was the root of the tussle between the families of the two brothers and their houses; it was this rivalry that split the once formidable Bonny Kingdom.

It was at this time that Jubo Jubogha came to Madu, the head of the Anna Pepple House. It was timely for the young man, because the growth and decline of the Kingdom was witnessed by him. He started as a paddler of his owner’s great canoes, travelling to and from the inland markets. Quite early, he demonstrated exceptional abilities and business know-how, quickly identified with the Ijaw custom of the Delta and won the heart of the local people as well as that of the European supercargoes.

Then the Europeans who found it difficult to pronounce Jubo Jubogha looked for a shortcut to his name and came out with a masterpiece: Jei Jei, or Jai Jai, then Ja Ja, and later, Jaja!

Now, William Dappa Pepple was the King of Bonny. And to the European traders on the river, his ascension in 1836 meant an end to a period of anarchy and return to the system of King Opobo. Around this, they built a lot of hope.  Unfortunately, Dappa Pepple was not like Opobo, his father and not long, things started going their different ways.

As a result of British intervention, King Dappa Pepple had been placed on his throne and this became the source of unfettered power to the European traders who asked and got excessive and, at times, unnecessary concessions. It was soon glaring that the King lacked the capacity of his father, as his subjects thought he was being led by the nose.

While his father was making money and repositioning his house, King Dappa Pepple was losing money and thereby weakening the house. Soon, not only that he was unable to caution the Europeans, he lost their respect because he continued to owe them and could not fulfill a gentleman’s agreement. To them, he was a bad debtor.

King Dappa Pepple’s relations with his own people were as unfortunate as with the English trading community.  Here again, his position was difficult. He could count on the active hostility of Anna Pepple House and its leaders, but he was not prepared to work with the Manilla House and other smaller houses that supported his ascension. And soon, he was fishing in troubled waters.

It started when they were about to commemorate the funeral of King Opobo. There and then some members of the Anna Pepple House captured, killed and ate some natives of Andoni in order to celebrate Opobo’s victory over them. This angered the people of Andoni and they avenged, killing some Bonny sons and daughters. The Bonny people decided that Andoni must be taught a lesson or two and they prepared to go to war with them.

King William Dappa did not want any war and he tried unsuccessfully to stop them. When they went to war and it turned against them, they held Dappa responsible, saying he caused their defeat, for they had not seen where a people decided to go to war and their leader refused to lead them. The war was eventually settled by the consul and the leaders of the European traders. An agreement was also signed which became a sort of law that from then on, no one must eat human flesh again.

The leadership face-off between the two Pepple houses became escalated when, in May, 1852, King Dappa Pepple had a stroke and the supercargoes, at the request of the Manilla Pepple chiefs, recognised and appointed the two heads of the house to act for the King. They were Yaniboo and Isacco alias Fred Pepple.  The Anna Pepple House rejected this and when the disagreement was about to lead into a bloodbath, the consul rushed down, met the chiefs on both sides and ratified Yaniboo and Isacco as agents, and not deputies for the King. But the stroke was only temporary and the King soon recovered from it.

By now, however, he had succeeded in mobilising the Africans as well as the European traders against himself. He was accused of many atrocities, but when he tried to trick his chiefs to go and wage a war against the people of New Calabar, they called for his removal from office as the king. There was a petition and all the houses, including his Manilla House, signed it. The cry was “We no longer want Dappa as our King!”

On January 20, 1854, the consul again went to Bonny and held discussions with the king and his chiefs who all insisted that he must go. The consul now asked who they wanted as a successor to the dethroned king and all chorused “Prince Dappo.” Prince Dappo was the small boy left behind by his father, Dappo the son of Opobo and elder brother of King Dappa Pepple. And on January 23, 1854, Prince Dappo became the King of Bonny. He was supported by all and the boats of Her Majesty’s ships, “Antelope” fired a salute of 21 guns.

But there was problem for the chiefs. Soon after his deposition, Pepple had begged the consul for protection and asked to be taken to Fernando Po. This confounded the chiefs. Dappa Pepple owed a lot of money and they had envisaged only his removal from the throne and not from Bonny. The fear was that if allowed to go, the House may be forced to pay his debt. No one was ready for that.

Since the European trading community also wanted the King to go in order to have more laxity to operate, it was not difficult to forge a compromise. The main house would not pay; it was the King’s personal house that would settle his debts. This was as good as writing off the debts, for it was known that the so called personal house could not save itself not to talk of offsetting the weighty indebtedness of its founder. So King William Dappa Pepple was allowed to go!

Now that the foreign traders and administrators had enthroned Prince Dappo as king, the problems of the most prosperous city of the Delta had refused to go. One, the Europeans had cut all his powers to the extent that he was not allowed to trade, which meant he would not own a house of his own and the leadership of the Anna Pepple House would be in another person’s hands. Two, the economy of the state was nose diving.

It was the Europeans who were gradually destroying the economy. They were now everywhere in the hinterland, doing business directly with the producers since they had made Dappo to sign an agreement not to disturb any European from carrying out his business in any part of the state. With this, the influence and power of the various houses was being undermined and most of them were now finding it difficult to survive, except those who ingratiate themselves to the white.

This was the bad situation King Dappo found himself and it exacerbated the enmity of the houses, as the rivalry had become so intense that there were open confrontations between members of the houses on a frequent scale.

In the Manilla Pepple House, Ibani had been succeeded by Iringeresibo, who left the chieftaincy of his own house with his slave, William Ibanigo. Iringeresibo was succeeded by Imo (John Bull), who also left his own house with his slave, Long John. After this, Ibulu, the son of Ibani, became the leader. But his management of the main house was so disastrous that by the time he died, Manilla House had been greatly indebted.

It was the same in Anna Pepple main house. Madu had been succeeded by his two sons in turn, first, Alali then, Iloli. Like Ibulu, Iloli’s management of the main house was very bad and in no time, the House owed more than what it could pay in foreseeable years. Of course, Bonny citizens were blaming their misfortunes on the leaders, but for the fact that this was happening in the two main houses, showed the hand of the European traders who had succeeded in taking away the initiatives from the leaders.

This was the time Oko Jumbo, the slave successor of Okponkata (Jumbo Manilla) and Jaja of the Anna Pepple House began to amass the fortunes and followers that later made them the dominant chiefs of the Bonny two main houses.

By this period, the leaders of the houses were struggling to fight the harsh economic situation and come out stronger. But they took the wrong approach antagonising one another instead of putting up a concerted effort and face the Europeans who were the real opponents. So, Iloli of the Anna Pepple House, planned to destroy the William Dapppa Pepple personal house and was ardently supported by King Dappo.

Dappa, the deposed King, was owing a lot and it had been agreed that his personal house should pay, rather than the main Manilla Pepple House. The Europeans were not expecting the settlement of the debts, but surprisingly, the head of William Dappa House was paying and he had nearly liquidated all the debts. His name was Yanibo. Remember him? Yanibo was one of the two slaves who were appointed to rule in acting capacity when King Dappa had stroke. When King Dappa was to go away, he had put in the name of this slave as one of the chiefs in his own personal house and subsequently, he had become the head of the house.

Now that Yanibo was performing wonders, he cut the anger of the leader of Anna Pepple House, Iloli. He insisted that Yanibo was a member of Anna Pepple House and could not cross over to William Dappa or Manilla Pepple House. This became an open discord and the matter was taken to court.

But Yanibo had the support of the Europeans; at least, he was paying their debts and was credit worthy. It was not difficult then to get the judgment against Iloli and his House. This infuriated Iloli the more and he organised a protest of women, claiming that if it was not possible for Yanibo to return to them, then their King, Dappo, should be allowed to trade.

While this agitation was on and so many people were in support of the Iloli and his house, King Dappo just dropped dead! It was on August 13, 1855, and had just spent a year and some months on the throne. The English doctor that attended to him said he died of chill caused by an inflammation of the chest. But the people of Bonny knew nothing about chill or inflammation. To them, Yanibo and his colleague, Isacco (Fred Pepple) had killed the King through sorcery.

This united the whole of Bonny against the two, and they quickly sent for the Europeans for protection. Captain Witt sent them a boat and brought them to his ship. This annoyed the people the more. They attacked the William Dappa House and massacred between 600 and 700 of its people. All sons of Dappa were killed safe for three that had earlier escaped to Finnema.

The Bonny people now asked the Europeans to bring back Yanibo and Fred to them, saying they had committed an abominable offence and must come and answer for it, but the white administrators on the sea refused. The chiefs ordered an embargo which did not last because of the lopsided economic standing and they soon returned to trading. But who would now rule Bonny?

King Dappo had an unborn child and no one was even sure if it would be a boy or a girl. They would have to wait, or in the alternative, bring back William Dappa from exile. Many did not want that, so a council of regents was appointed from both Anna Pepple and Manilla Pepple houses and some neutral houses. This council would consult Oko Jumbo of the Manilla House.

But this would not work and in the next three years, there was enough trouble that the Bonny people were clamouring for the return of the deposed King William Dappa Pepple. Were they to be of the royal families, Oko Jumbo or Jaja would have been made king, for they were the two greatest men of the time. While Oko Jumbo was held in awe at the Manilla House, Iloli had died and the boys had selected Jaja to lead them, for things were so bad that no elderly chief wanted to be head of Anna Pepple House.

The two were slaves, but they had made their ways from paddling canoes to trading and, probably because of where they were coming from, had been very honest with the Europeans and very loyal to their houses.  But they could not be King of Bonny.

And the absence of a king continued to expose Bonny to internal wrangling and external interferences, while it was evident that if nothing was done to arrest the tempo, it may turn calamitous. Captain Hart had been tried as a regent, Wogu Dappa the head of the house of King Dappo had also been tried, but things seemed not to be working. Then there came a serious fight.

It was on April 25, 1859, and it started between the Anna Pepple subordinate house of Oko Eppelle and the Oko Jumbo House. The supercargoes quickly came to douse the tension and both parties were fined. But on May 22, the fighting began afresh.   The two houses faced themselves at an open square, firing guns between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Now, the Consul had to rush down and stop the fracas and inflicted heavier fines on them. After the fight, an agreement was reached and a law passed that no group should use gun to fight again in Bonny.

At this juncture, both the Anna Pepple and Manilla Pepple houses were now tired of regent rules and a stronger petition was written to the consul. Manilla chiefs like Ada Allison, Oge Hart, Ossa, Ominoma Brown (Jack Brown) were in the forefront of the struggle to bring back the deposed king. And in 1861, William Dappa Pepple was returned as the King of Bonny.

Of course, he was the king, but everyone knew where the powers laid: Oko Jumbo of Manilla House and Jaja of Anna Pepple House. Dappa Pepple knew the source of their powers: it was their trading capacity that had made them so strong. He decided to revive his own house and strengthen his business empire. In doing this, he fell foul of some of the laws signed while he was away and once more, he became the enemy of the English traders on the sea.

Meanwhile, the tension between the two major houses was now ominous and because the kingship belonged to the Manilla House, Oko Jumbo was gaining the upperhand.  He was able to entice Oko Eppelle after the fight between him and a subordinate house of his, whereas Eppelle was part of the Anna Pepple House. For this relationship, Oko Eppelle remained the only man who challenged the leadership of Jaja in Anna Pepple House.

But even then, there was a gulf of difference between Jaja and Oko Jumbo, the dominant leaders of the two houses. Jumbo was as shrewd as Jaja in business; in fact, he was a ruthless competitor who would use all it would take to gain a business advantage. He was not, however, politically ambitious. Jaja was.

Immediately he became the leader of Anna Pepple House, Jaja saw the weakness and rot in the royal leadership of Bonny and he thought of how he would have turned things around were he to be the king. He knew this would not be. Neither he nor Oko Jumbo could be King of Bonny.

Again, Jaja knew if the situation remained the way it was, it would take a longer time before anyone from Anna Pepple House became the king again. William Dappa, who was now king would be succeeded by any of his sons around and things would go on like that for a while. And Jaja wanted to be king.

Besides, it was becoming clearer to more farsighted European and African traders that the need to keep the port close to the sea may no longer arise because the principal reason for it had ceased: steam was now superceding sail and vessels of shallow draft had been developed for use on inland waterways. And to top the ease, there were no more mosquito threat. The killer malaria had then been subdued by a prophylaxis.

With this, the leader of the future business of the creek would be the one who moved closer to the oil markets. Of considerable advantage would it be for the first set of people to get there. This was where Jaja wanted to be, to make the first move, to found his own town and to be the king of such town.

This was dangerous then. The Manilla House chiefs must not hear of this. Once Oko Jumbo knew, it would be clear to him that Jaja wanted to break the trade hold of Bonny, and his house would be declared the enemy of the state and the people. So Jaja kept all his thinking to himself. But he was moving, because he realised as well that the Anna Pepple House could be overrun if they were seen as weak, yet the Manilla House in the hands of Oko Jumbo was becoming a monster.

Smaller houses were joining the fray, yet some were claiming neutrality. Because there would always be fight between the two main houses, Jaja made the first move. He announced that the Anna Pepple House would release any smaller house that wanted to be independent. He discussed this with the Europeans and told them to encourage it, as the neutral group would be able to check the excesses of the two main groups. This sounded so logical and the English people bought into it.

But Oko Jumbo was not convinced. He knew somewhere that this was some sort of tricks, but he could not place his finger on it. All he knew was that he was not ready to give any house independence because they were all happy together. Then some houses under him were grumbling, while others were arguing that it was just a stunt, Jaja would not allow them to go.

On January 7, 1865, however, Jaja led the group of Anna Peple House and signed an agreement which read thus: “We, Anna Pepple House, party chiefs, etc., do hereby and for future, agree to give up the following parties viz: Tillibor alias Gogo Foobra, Fine Bone, Sonjo, Black Foobra, Strong Face, Oko Eppelle, Anthonio, Tom Brown, Tobin, John Africa, Jack Tellifare, Warrisoo, Semah Sunju, Young Trader and Tarribor, to be masters of their own houses and to have no interferences with their houses and trade businesses and management and they, the above parties, also promised not to give or sell themselves to Anna Pepple House, Mannilla House or to any person or persons whatever; but in the event of any disputes arising between any of the two houses, they were to endeavour with the Juju men to settle such disputes amicably.”

Those who signed this agreement were Anna Pepple (Jaja), Wogo Dappa, Annie Stuart, Uranta and Toby Stuart. Despite this so-called agreement though, all those named as independent were firmly behind Anna Pepple and should there be cause for arms struggle, you would find them in Anna Pepple’s line. The advantage there was that other independent houses which had been behind Oko Jumbo and Manilla Pepple House, were now eyeing Jaja and his house as a preferred ally.

That was the beginning of a greater conflagration in Bonny. Tension between the two groups continued to mount until March 2, 1867, when it was temporarily relieved by a brawl between members of the houses of Allison (Manilla Pepple faction) and Charley Africa (Anna Pepple).

It was a simple argument that soon turned to a civil skirmish among the supporters of the two houses. Soon, all the low men in Bonny were fighting with machetes and gin bottles, since the 1859 agreement had banned the use of guns. King Dappa Pepple was dying and his son, George, was taking over. So it was George who came out, brandished a pistol and threatened to blow out their brains before the fighters could disperse.  At this time, Jaja was ready to move.

He had known where he would go with his people, an area close to the Imo River and Andoni.  All he was now waiting for was an ignition to start the engine of his voyage. It soon came; it was through his main opponent in the Anna Pepple House: Oko Eppelle.

Despite the agreement of 1865 which made it abundantly clear that not any of the houses made independent by the main house of Anna Pepple must associate with any other main house or its persons, Oko Eppelle was flirting with Oko Jumbo. For this, Jaja secretly withdrew his independence, saying he and his house belonged to the main house of Anna Pepple.

Oko Eppelle refused, claiming to be an independent house on the grounds that his master, the founder, was a freeman who had voluntarily attached himself to the main house because he wanted to trade and could not speak English. This soon became a dangerous contention, because the Manilla Pepple House stood firmly behind Eppelle, saying he should be allowed his independence.

Jaja allowed the situation to develop until Sunday, September 12, 1869, when the Anna Pepple House sent a challenge to Manilla Pepple House to fight. The Manilla group, stunned by this challenge coming from a group that had been the worst hit in a fire outbreak that had just ravaged Bonny, immediately replied: “We serve God today, but will be ready for other service tomorrow at noon.” So, on Monday,  September 13, 1869, the bombardment began at noon.

Oko Jumbo was more than ready and his troops were fighting with such confidence that everyone thought they would soon conquer the challenger. But Jaja knew what he was doing. He started moving outside the city, pushing his men more and more into the bush.  When he had advanced a great deal, he called for a ceasefire.

The European traders were very happy and plans to resolve the crisis at a round table were being assembled. Oko Jumbo, who was basking in the euphoria that he had finally put Jaja in his rightful place, was not in a hurry to call a meeting; he wanted Jaja to remain in the bush. Had he known!

If he had known Jaja’s plan, he would have sent for a fresh attack immediately, for Jaja and his people did not waste an hour, they continued to move into the hinterland and after about a month, they got to Andoni country, just at the boundary of the Imo River and became the first person to be contacted by the producers of oil and pepper, and in fact, the first market for the Europeans.

When Oko Jumbo thought he now had time for Jaja, he sent for the supercargoes that he was ready and they, in return, sent to Jaja, who told them there was no need for any settlement or agreement; he was satisfied to remain where he was with his people. He named his new settlement Opobo after that powerful King of Bonny and by May 1870, he declared the independence of Opoboland. And there was trouble from Oko Jumbo and his house.

How did Jaja survive the Oko Jumbo threat? How did Opobo become the largest market in the Delta region? What happened between Jaja and the British? How was he arrested and to where was he deported? Who killed him? You will have to see the next edition of Flashback on October 24, 2012.

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