This makes the idea of Jaja being an Ikot Abasi boy sold to an Igbo man as a slave a bit implausible.
Remember that Jaja was 12 when he came to Ibani as a slave, so he knew himself.
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.
We end up with the omuaru war canoe, that can take 50 to 100 people.
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.
As the state needed war canoes for defence and attack, the owners negotiatied political power.
Industrialization was taking off, and it was needed as a lubricant. It also served numerous purposes as an ingredient for various products.
He made side cash selling small oil, and also from "the dash", a customary tip given by merchants. (From Portuguese dás, "you give").
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).
Both were descendants of Igbo slaves. Alali's father, chief before him, was named Madu.
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.
All Alali's sons & siblings declined.
Finally, Jaja the slave accepted the challenge. He was made chief.
It seems that he just had better skills and charisma. He got the Igbo planters to give him better prices.
Soon other distressed Houses were running to him, and he bought them.
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.
Oko Jombo saw his edge, and pressed for war.
Jaja saw his disadvantage, and sought to avoid it.
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.
Eventually the British govt relented and recognized Opobo after 3 years of tension.
British traders, hit by recession, were pressuring for the right to reduce costs by going to the Hinterland.
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.
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.
Jaja knew he was vulnerable on the coast. He started transferring assets to the hinterland, especially to his birthplace in the Amaigbo area.
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.
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.
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.