Opobo, otherwise known as Opubo, is a city-state in the southern region of Nigeria. The Kingdom was founded in 1870 by King Jaja, originally an Igbo from Nkwere. A greater part of the city state is still referred to as Opobo in Rivers State. Opobo is made up of several islands and communities, mainly Opobo Town (Opuboama), Queenstown, Kalasunju, Oloma, Ayaminimah, Iloma, Minimah, Okpukpo, Iwoma, Ekereborokiri, Kalaibiama, and Epellema. The major language is Igbo. A part of the city state is now in Akwa Ibom State, made up of Ikot Abasi, Kampa.[1][2]


City state
Ijaw States, including Opobo
Ijaw States, including Opobo
Coordinates: 4°30′41″N 7°32′24″E / 4.51139°N 7.54000°E / 4.51139; 7.54000Coordinates: 4°30′41″N 7°32′24″E / 4.51139°N 7.54000°E / 4.51139; 7.54000
Country Nigeria
StateRivers State
Founded byKing Jaja of Opobo
 • AmanyanaboDandeson Douglas Jaja V
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)


Opobo (Or Opubo-ama, being a name derived from that of a revered Bonny king, Opubo the Great) is located to the east of the Kingdom of Bonny. Bonny and Opobo are of the same origin, both belonging to the Ibani tribe. An Igbo man (who was subsequently initiated into the Ibani) called Jubo Jubogha rose from slavery to lead the Anna Pepple chieftaincy house of Bonny. In 1870, Jubo first arrived in what is now Opobo, having moved there due to a civil war in Bonny between his followers and those of Chief Oko Jumbo, the leader of the rival Manilla Pepple chieftaincy family.[3] He was accommodated by the Nkoro leader King Kpokpo,[4] and formed what he called the "Kingdom of Opobo" soon afterwards. The king named his new state after Amanyanabo Opubo "Pepple" Perekule the Great, a Pepple king in Bonny that had reigned there from 1792 to 1830.

Jubo Jubogha became involved in palm oil trading with Europeans. He started a trading post at Opobo Town, close to Ikot Abasi and 4 miles southwest of the Opobo river. Due to his dealings with them, he soon acquired the trade name Jaja. Jubo Jubogha was never on good terms with the Ngwa people to the north, or the Annang and the Ibibio to the east, as he declared himself as the middleman in palm oil trading, thus asking them to stop trading directly with the Europeans. This resulted in a war (the Ikot Udo Obong War) between Jubo and the Annang and Ibuno people as recorded by Nair.[5] In 1887, he was deceived when he was told to go and negotiate with the Queen of the United Kingdom by the British. He was captured upon his arrival on the consul's flagship, and was sent into exile in Saint Vincent in the West Indies thereafter.


The following are a few of Opobo's unique customs:[6]

  • Dogs are forbidden. This tradition, which has its roots in ancient times, is one of the most important taboos the people of this coastal town hold on to. While the people are free to bring in dog meat to eat in their homes whenever they feel like it, they are not allowed to keep dogs as pets or bring them into the community.
  • Shooting a gun is not allowed. Such a thing is only to occur by royal sanction during a war.
  • Individuals are forbidden from wearing caps while passing through the gateway linking one compound to another. The gateways are small roofed passages, essentially a series of tunnels, connecting one compound to another. On the floor of such gateways is a crossbar, which those passing are forbidden to set foot on. Adhering to this rule while passing through the place is a mark of respect for the high chief of a particular compound, which is also referred to as a war canoe house.
  • Making noise, pounding or quarrelling at night is forbidden. Making any form of noise at night is one of the biggest offences anyone can commit in this island community. You could be labelled an enemy of the town. Similarly, quarrelling and fighting at night is taboo here as well. Regardless of how provoked you are, you must wait till the break of dawn to vent your anger on whoever has provoked you.

Breaking any of these rules attracts a fine of N7,000 each or a serious punishment by the community heads.

The Initiation into WomanhoodEdit

A certified wife who has not been initiated into womanhood with the appropriate initiation ceremony, known as the Mgbede, is not allowed to tie a special wrapper called 'George'. Such a woman would also be denied many other rights: there are sacred places that she cannot enter and she will not be entitled to mix freely with women that have been initiated. In fact, she can be traditionally disgraced by the other women in the community at any time.

King Jaja of Opobo's Palace


The rulers of Opobo were:[7]

Start End Ruler
25 December 1870 September 1887 Jubo Jubogha "Jaja I" (b. 1821 - d. 1891)
September 1887 1891 Perekule (chairman Council of Chiefs)
1891 1893 "Cookey Gam" (political agent)
1893 12 October 1915 Obiesigha Jaja II (Frederick Sunday)
1916 1936 Dipiri (Arthur Mac Pepple)
1936 1942 Sodienye Jaja III (1st time) (Douglas Mac Pepple) (d. 1980)
1942 1946 Stephen Ubogu Jaja IV (acting)
1952 31 July 1980 Sodienye Jaja III (2nd time) (Douglas Mac Pepple)
1980 2002 Vacant
1 October 2004 Dandeson Douglas Jaja V (b. 1947)

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ "Ikot Abasi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ "About Opobo". Opoboregatta.com. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  3. ^ G. I. Jones (2001). The trading states of the oil rivers: a study of political development in Eastern Nigeria. James Currey Publishers. p. 15ff. ISBN 0-85255-918-6.
  4. ^ https://www.scribd.com/doc/36981645/The-Izon-of-the-Niger-Delta-Chapter-22
  5. ^ Cf. Nair, 1972, page 183
  6. ^ "Opobo: Land of the 'great' King Jaja where making noise at night is forbidden". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  7. ^ "Traditional States of Nigeria". World Statesmen. Retrieved 2010-10-17.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Burns, Alan. History of Nigeria, George Allen & Unwin, 1929.
  • Dike, Kenneth O. Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830-1885, Oxford University Press, 1956.