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Opobo is a city-state in the southern region of Nigeria. The state was founded in 1870. 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 while 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
 • AmanyanaboDaneson Douglas Jaja V
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)


Opobo (Original Opubo-ama name after a bonny king "Opubo the great") was to the east of the Kingdom of Bonny. Both Bonny and Opobo are of the same origin. An Igbo man (turned Ibani) called Jubo Jubogha (known as "Ja-Ja" to Europeans) led the Anna Pepple house (Wari) of Bonny. In 1870, Jaja arrived in Opobo from Bonny, moving due to a dispute with chief Oko Jumbo, the leader of the rival Manilla Pepple family (Wari).[3] Jaja was accommodated by the Nkoro leader, King Kpokpo[4] and formed what he called "Kingdom of Opobo" which he named after Amanyanabo Opubo "Pepple" Perekule the Great, a Pepple King in Bonny that reigned 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 4 miles southwest of the Opobo River. The European traders called him King Jaja. Jubo Jubogha was never on good terms with Ngwa people to the north, Annang and the Ibibio to the east, as Jaja declared himself as the middle-man in palm Oil trading, thus asking them to stop trading directly with the Europeans. This resulted in a war (Ikot Udo Obong War) between Jaja 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 England by the British and sent on exile to Saint Vincent in the West Indies.


Dogs are not allowed in opobo [6]The 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, they are not allowed to keep dogs as pets or bring such into the community. For those, who flout this grand rule, the penalty is usually grave. In addition In Opobo, one is not allowed to shoot a gun. Also, individuals are forbidden from wearing caps while passing through the gateway linking one compound to another.

The gateways are a small roofed passage, just like a tunnel, connecting one compound to another. On the floor of such gateways is a crossbar, which those passing are forbidden from stepping foot on. Adhering to this rule while passing through the place is a mark of respect for the chief of a particular compound, which is also referred to as war canoe house.

Making noise , pounding or quarrelling at night is forbidden. But while these taboos could be said to hold sway during daytime, other sets of unusual ones rule the land at nighttime. For example, while it is not uncommon to hear giant loud speakers blaring music at hundreds of decibels at night time with a cacophony of voices providing background percussion in other communities; in Opobo, such is totally 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 in the 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 .

initiation to womanhood:- A certified wife who has not been initiated into womanhood with the appropriate initiation ceremony is not allowed to tie a wrapper called 'George' , Without undergoing this process, a woman cannot tie a George wrapper in Opobo and she would be denied many things, If a woman has not fulfilled this aspect of the tradition, there are some places she cannot enter and she cannot freely mix with other women. In fact, she can be disgraced by 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". 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. ^
  5. ^ Cf. Nair, 1972, page 183
  6. ^ Published. "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.
  1. ^ Published. "Opobo: Land of the 'great' King Jaja where making noise at night is forbidden". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 2019-09-01.