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While this was a truly beautiful thread, I must correct the inaccuracies about the life of great King Jaja of Opobo with a short thread of my own.
First, all respect to the people of Ibani and Opobo, and permit me to speak on the history of your Chief and King (respectively) Jaja, as an amateur historian, and a successor of his in the Ijaw institution of War Canoe House Chieftaincy.
Jaja was not born Ijaw. He was not born Efik or Ibibio or Isoko, or any other a Niger Delta nationality. He was born Igbo, in a village in Amaigbo.
Jaja was born at a time when slave trade was still rife in what is today the southeast and South-South. There was both an older "domestic" slave trade, and a newer one, which historians call the "Transatlantic Slave Trade", and which fed itself on the supply lines of the older.
The older trade was mostly to populate the Niger Delta. Coastal communities were severely underpopulated. They were first peopled by waves of migrants, but it was tough getting people to reach, stay in, and SURVIVE the conditions of the coast and mangrove.
So the strongest and richest settlers turned to kidnap and purchase of slaves to meet their labour needs. They found a willing seller in Arochukwu. The Shrine of Ibini Ukpabi received people as atonement for sins or as victims of judgment. It's priests sold them to Ijaws.
Once there was a strong enough market in slaves, more sellers in the Igbo hinterland and buyers on the Niger Delta coast sprang up.
As with most ancient trade routes, one set of goods tended to go in one direction. Slaves went from igboland to the Niger Delta.
This makes the idea of Jaja being an Ikot Abasi boy sold to an Igbo man as a slave a bit implausible.
But leaving that aside, we have Jaja's own recollection of his dad's name being "Ozurumba", and his being from a village in Amaigbo, whose name escapes me.

Remember that Jaja was 12 when he came to Ibani as a slave, so he knew himself.
Remember we said the older slave trade was for populating settlements. This need meant there was a LOT of upward mobility for slaves. Coastal Ijaw communities created a "pathway for citizenship" for slaves. Those who passed through it became Ijaw.
Academics call it "acculturation". If the slave is able to show absorption of the Ijaw culture, she is freed and made a citizen. In Okrika, it was considered taboo to remind a person of their slave or non-indigene origin.
So the young Ozurumba boy was either captured or sold into slavery in Amaigbo. He was brought to an established trading post, and sold to an Ibani/Bonny chief, who named him JUBO JUBOGHA. He was then sold to Chief Alali, the chief and head of Anna Pepple War Canoe House of Ibani.
Young Jubo was kept under the care of one of the female relatives of the chief. She would be his foster mother, responsible for teaching him the ways of Ibani/Ijaw culture. Together they underwent a ceremony imitating childbirth.
As he approached adolescence, his mastery and acceptance of the culture would be monitored and tested by the most feared male secret society: the Peri Ogbo. Open only to men who have killed for the community. Peri Ogbo will kill a slave child whom they feel fails to assimilate.
Obviously, young Jubo passed the Peri Ogbo's tests. He lived.
He went to work for Chief Anna Pepple, working as a "Boy" on his war canoe.

I think next I need to fully explain what a War Canoe House was at the time.
By this point, the NEWER slave trade had come. Europeans had come to the coast, and wanted to buy slaves. Because of malaria and uncertainty, they were reluctant to go inland. So the Ijaws, among others, became middlemen. They were now sellers of slaves, not just end users.
But now the volumes of slaves required had increased dramatically. Each European ship, landing at an Ijaw settlement, would only be there for a few weeks, and wanted a large quantity. All the traders were now in a race to bring as many slaves from the hinterland as possible.
The fastest way was by water. The larger your boat, the more slave a you could bring. The traders therefore started an "arms race" to build bigger and bigger canoes.
We end up with the omuaru war canoe, that can take 50 to 100 people.
But why "war canoe" (Omuaru)? Why not "trade canoe" (Tuboniaru)?
Because the waterways were swimming with bandits, and you had to fight your way from slave market to coast. And because each kingdom tried to destroy the canoes of its rivals. Real Trade war, not US/China bants.
Private enterprise built the war canoes, not the state. Rich traders built canoes, and got family, slaves, and hired hands to crew them, and to conduct trade at both ends of the chain.
As the state needed war canoes for defence and attack, the owners negotiatied political power.
The owners of the war canoes got the kings of their states to accept that any man who can build & run a War Canoe should have permanent power as chief over the men that crew it, and over the lands/neighbourhoods they have settled in. War Canoe Houses were born.
By Jubo's time, the war canoe house as an institution was at its zenith. Both a private corporation making profit for its chief as some shareholder while paying working members, and as a government office providing justice and social services to all members.
By the time Jubo worked on the canoe as a "boy", the British no longer wanted slaves. They wanted palm oil.
Industrialization was taking off, and it was needed as a lubricant. It also served numerous purposes as an ingredient for various products.
Jubo's first real job was accompanying the oil from Pepple's mills in igboland to the coast where they were sold by the barrel to the British.
He made side cash selling small oil, and also from "the dash", a customary tip given by merchants. (From Portuguese dás, "you give").
Jubo saved his dash money. He so impressed Chief Anna Pepple, that he started bringing the boy along when the chiefs and King would meet the British ship captains to negotiate the terms of trade before each season.
Soon, Jubo was a trader for Anna Pepple House. He had his own boat(s), and was allowed to source his own quota of palm oil in each season, giving a cut of his earnings to his chief. His British trade partners could not pronounce Jubo Jubogha, so gave him the "trade name" JAJA.
A word about trade names in my (Eastern Ijaw) culture.
They were given or assumed for ease of pronunciation of the British. They were often transliterations of the actual name (Ibiama becomes Finecountry), or simplifications of pronunciation (Jubo Jubogha becomes Jaja).
Amma Pepple House was one of the top 2 Houses in Ibani, in size, trade volume, and prestige. The other was Manilla Pepple, its sibling house from an earlier split. Both houses held the monopoly on kingship. On the death of a king, his successor is chosen from the 2 chiefs.
In Jaja's day, the rivalry between the Pepple houses was heated. Chief Oko Jombo of Manilla Pepple and Jaja's Chief Alali of Anna Pepple hated each other.
Both were descendants of Igbo slaves. Alali's father, chief before him, was named Madu.
Houses were businesses, & at times businesses go under. If a house could no longer trade (no capital or credit lines), another House could step in and buy it. Mergers & Acquisitions took place all the time. Both Pepple Houses bought out many others, becoming Groups Of Houses.
Chief Alali died. It was time to elect his successor.
When the books of the House were opened, a shocker: the office of Chief of Anna Pepple House owed the British trade companies £15,000.
The British often extended credit before trade expeditions. Alali had blown his.
War Canoe Houses weren't limited liability companies. The debt of the House was the debt of the chief. So the successor would inherit that debt, & risked personal bankruptcy.
All Alali's sons & siblings declined.
Finally, Jaja the slave accepted the challenge. He was made chief.
Jaja realized that Alali's 2 major failures were poor revenue collection from house members, and poor negotiation of deals with the hinterland.
It seems that he just had better skills and charisma. He got the Igbo planters to give him better prices.
He borrowed a bit more to fund the House's trade, but watched the House traders like a hawk. Within 2 years, he repaid the British, and put Anna Pepple back in the black.

Soon other distressed Houses were running to him, and he bought them.
The success of Anna Pepple under Jaja worsened its rivalry with Manilla Pepple under Oko Jombo.
When King William Pepple died in 1865, 2 years after Jaja became chief, rumours that the foreign born Jaja wanted to be king led to actual fighting on the streets.
In 1868, there was a great fire in Ibani, on the Anna Pepple side of town. Jaja's Group Of Houses lost personnel, buildings, equipment, stock, and weapons.
Oko Jombo saw his edge, and pressed for war.
Jaja saw his disadvantage, and sought to avoid it.
In 1869, Oko Jombo had his way. Fighting erupted between both Houses. Cannon fire rocked Ibani.
Jaja fled Ibani with his supporters, and called for peace talks. The new king George, son of King William, joined by the British captains, brokered the peace.
However it soon became clear that Jaja's flight was an attack. He moved his people to land among the Andoni people, with whom he had been building ties for years. The site was right at the point where Ibani's river meets the Imo River. He was cutting off Ibani from Igbo trade.
Oko Jombo sent attack after attack to dislodge Jaja from the junction, but they failed. Jaja's men fought bravely, and received aid of all types from the Andoni. Soon 14 of Ibani's 18 War Canoe Houses had joined Jaja at his new settlement.
Jaja named his settlement Opobo, after Opubo, the legendary first king of Ibani. The chiefs, elders, and priests proclaimed him the first Amayanabo (Land-owner, King) of Opobo.
The British Govt took the side of Oko Jombo & Ibani over Jaja & Opobo. They wanted stability, not changes. Also, Manilla Pepple House had accepted Christianity, while Anna Pepple under Jaja was hostile to it.
The British TRADERS on the other hand were mostly with Jaja. They disobeyed their govt and moved trade activities to Opobo.
Eventually the British govt relented and recognized Opobo after 3 years of tension.
Jaja worked hard to build an ironclad trading position for Opobo. He secured the loyalty of palm growers in Igboland with intermarriage. This is part of why Opobo is the Ijaw Kingdom with the most Igbo influence on language.
But times were changing. Because of widespread availability of quinine, malaria was no longer a mortal danger for Europeans, and so British traders increasingly wanted to go to the hinterland. This would have wiped out the middleman economies of the Ijaw Kingdom. Jaja refused.
Jaja's strong links to the suppliers Igboland, in large part built on his being Igbo by birth, kept enough of them loyal enough to reject the few white traders who got past Jaja's heavy blockades to penetrate to the hinterland.
He also took advantage of British fears of German entry into the market. He signed a Protection Treaty with Britain which kept Germany away, but also prevented the British from attempting free trade or entering his affairs.
But once Germany ceded Opobo to Britain at the Berlin Conference of 1885, Britain had no further need to honour its treaty with Jaja.
British traders, hit by recession, were pressuring for the right to reduce costs by going to the Hinterland.
British Govt declared Opobo part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate, & permitted its traders to penetrate.
Jaja protested, and pulled possibly the greatest boss move in colonial West African history:
He boycotted the brit traders, and started shipping his palm oil to Europe directly.
In the midst of the trade war, he accused the British of faithlessness, for going back on the terms of their treaty with him.
This was a king who had sent troops to fight the Ashanti alongside the British, and received a Sword of honour from Victoria. He was disgusted.
But quinine and Berlin had changed everything. When the British had to fear malaria killing them and the Germans giving Ijaws a better deal, they played nice and negotiated. Now with those fears gone, they brought in the gunboats.
Under threat of invasion, Jaja signed a new treaty giving the British free trade rights.

"Gunboat Diplomacy".

Jaja knew he was vulnerable on the coast. He started transferring assets to the hinterland, especially to his birthplace in the Amaigbo area.
The British summoned him for another round of talks aboard a boat. He was suspicious, and declined.
The Vice Consul himself gave Jaja personal word and assurance that regardless of the outcome of the talks, he would have safe passage back.
Jaja, scrupulously honest, believed him.
Jaja boarded the Goshawk, and never saw Opobo, Ibani, nor Amaigbo again. He was deported to the Gold coast, and from there to the Caribbean.
It is said he insisted on his kingly honours for the rest of his life.
He successfully argued for repatriation, but died on the trip home.
My thanks to all who read this.
May we be remembered by our descendants as we remember our ancestors.
My thanks to the ancestors, and to those who taught me the history, those who collected it, and those who lived it.
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