Okrika is a port town in Rivers State, Nigeria, capital of the Local Government Area of the same name. The town is situated on a small island just south of Port Harcourt, making it a suburb of the much larger city.
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Aerial view of part of Okrika mainland (foreground) and island (background)
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The average elevation of Okrika is 452 metres. It lies on the north of the Bonny River and on Okrika Island, 35 miles (56 km) upstream from the Bight of Biafra. The town can be reached by vessels of a draft of 29 feet (9 metres) or less.
Formerly a small fishing village of the Ijo (Ijaw) people in the mangrove swamps of the eastern Niger River delta, Okrika became the capital of the Okrika kingdom in the early 17th century and actively dealt in slaves. It served as a port for the exportation of palm oil after the abolition of the slave trade in the 1830s, but it was a less significant port facility than either Bonny (18 miles [46 km] south) or Opobo (32 miles [81 km] east-southeast). By 1912, Okrika had been completely eclipsed by Port Harcourt, and it was not revived as a commercial port until 1965, when the nearby Alesa-Eleme oil refinery was completed and pipelines were built to a jetty on Okrika Island. It also has a major gas plant facility (Alakiri gas plant) that supplies to the refinery and others.
Refined petroleum products are Okrika’s only significant exports. The town has considerable local trade in fish, oil palm produce, locally processed salt, cassava (manioc), taro, plantains, and yams.
The 2006 census determined the population of the Wakirike Local Government Area of the Rivers State of Nigeria was 222,026. An estimated 145,000 Okrika natives live elsewhere around the world, mostly in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Nine traditional towns constituted the Okrika Kingdom before 1913, these towns are Kirike, Ogoloma, Ogu, Bolo, Abuloma, Ogbogbo, Ibaka, Ele and Isaka. Most of these traditional towns also have satellite villages. Today the constituent towns of Okrika kingdom has increased to eleven towns. The additional two towns are Obumoton (Part of Port Harcourt City) and Koniju Town (Koni-ama). Obumoton is a collective name for Okrika villages acquired by the British Colonial Government in 1913 to establish a sea port now Port Harcourt. Some Ikwere Igbo villages were also acquired by the Colonial Government. Obumoton (old Port Harcourt township) is also part of Okrika Kingdom. The Koniju section of Kirike was declared Koniju town by a Rivers State high court in 1995. It is now also a constituent town of Okrika Kingdom. The traditional towns that constitutes the Okrika nation has therefore increased from nine towns prior to 1913 to thirtheen towns as at 1995. The constituents towns are therefore:
Okrika Town (Kirike) - the capital city of Okrika Ogolome (Ogoloma Town) Ogu Town Bolo Town Okuru Ama (Town) Amadi ama Tere - Ama (Ukukalama,Somiari,Fimie) Ozuboko Ama Abulome (Abuloma Town) Ibaka Town Ogbogbo Town Ele Town Isaka Town Obumoton (Part of Port Harcourt City) Koniju Town (Koni-ama)
The Okrikans like all other Ijo sub-groups of the Niger Delta are organised into autonomous and co-equal War-Canoe houses (Omuaru-wari). Kinsmen living together in the same area make up each War-Canoe House. Although the War-Canoe is an institution of kinship, historically, it deals principally with war and defence. War-Canoe houses may be different in terms of size and man power. however, Benefits and community assets are shared to the War-Canoe house equally and not based on their numerical strength. Every War-Canoe House is headed by a Chief who is assisted in various capacities by sub-chiefs. The Chief is addressed as the 'Warinyanabo' or 'Waridabo' showing his status as head of the entire War-Canoe house (Omuaru-wari). Each War-Canoe house also known as Omuaru-wari or Warinyengi is constituted by sub-units known variously as 'Warikubu' or 'Oko'. Each sub-unit (Warikubu or Oko) is headed by a sub-chief known locally as the 'Oko-tibidabo'. Each sub-unit (Warikubu or Oko) is further divided into extended family units known as 'Furo'. Characterised by strong kinship ties, the Furo is composed of grandfathers, parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces.
Class System: Within each War-Canoe house, there are four classes for men and three for women. Classes are referred to as 'Mumbu'. Male members of the War-Canoe house apart from the Chief and the King (Amayanabo) are classed into 'Opu Mumbu' (first class), 'Ogbobiri Mumbu' (second Class), 'Kala Mumbu' (third class) and 'Owuapu-awo' (teenagers below 18 years of age). Similarly, females members of a War-Canoe house are classed into the 'Opu Mumbu' (first class), 'Kala Mumbu' (second class) and 'Iria-Soka Awo' (Maidens). The class system is an ordinary ranking system, however it ensures hard work and progress within the War-Canoe House. Ranking is usually based on age and achievements. However, the main factors that determines promotion to a given class may vary between War-Canoe Houses. As opposed to a Caste system, classes are not heritable nor transferable. Therefore, no member of the War-Canoe house is born into a class. Members higher up the class have a greater share of the benefits and financial burdens of the War-Canoe House but decision making within the War-Canoe house is democratic.
The Languages spoken by the Okrika people include, but are not limited to, Okrika and Kalabari.
•Historically, the Okrika people of old were polytheist believing in several gods and deities. Others where animist who believed in many spirits including marine spirits and in the spirits of their ancestors. Finibeso was considered the chief god of the ancient Okrika people and his priest where most reverend among other priests. The Fenibeso shrine was most sacred and divine. Traditionally, no restrictions were imposed on the worship of any god, for there has always been a freedom of worship in Okrika.
In modern Okrika, Christian religion has emerged as the dominant religion and the St Peters Cathedral is the most prominent religious building in Okrika. Traditional religion however still exists side by side with Christianity.
There are several Christian denominations in Okrika today. Some of the Christian denominations in Okrika are as follows:
· the Anglican Church
· the first African Church (FAC)
· the Roman Catholic Church
· the Christ Army Church (CAC)
· the assemblies of God Church the redeemed Christian church of God · Apostolic Church
· Deeper Life
· Greater Evangelism
· El Shaidai Church
· Church Of God Mission
· Winners Chapel
· Christ Embassy
· Cherubim and Seraphim
· Salvation Ministries etc.
Fishing, Farming and Trading before the onset of Oil and gas activities.
The Okrikese kingdom is faced with a serious threat of air pollution that is caused by the flaring of gas in the oil and gas refinery which could cause large quantity in greenhouse gases that could lead to acidic rain and ozone layer depletation, furthermore men production capabilities are weakened by this activity. Also the Okrikese kingdom aquatic life suffers greater threat of species extinction due to the continuous spill of oil mostly caused by bunkery and oil vandalism in the region and this results to poor economic sustainability as a large number of residents and indegenes are Fisher men (been the major trade in this region). The aquatic life suffers firstly from the emmernation of oil waste product that comes from the refinery. It has been on a continuous spill that goes straight into the river and it has been spilling long before there were any bunkery or oil vandalism.
As of March 2017, residents have complained of soot in the air.
Chief Rufus Ada George, ( former Governor of old Rivers state ) . Sen. George Thompson Sekibo CON, ( senator of the federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Rivers east senatorial district). Dr. Abiye sekibo, ( former federal minister of transport) Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, ( former first lady of Nigeria ), Group Captain (retired) John Ibiwari Ben Kalio was Administrator of Yobe State from August 1996 to August 1998 during the military regime of General Sani Abacha, and Professor Tekena Tamuno, one time Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and a renowned historian.