Thursday, November 26, 2020

Flora Nwapa - The Lake Goddess


The giants of African literature sprung up during the 1950s when the spirits of revolution and freedom were spreading throughout the continent. The most famous figures to pop up during this time being Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Amos Tutuola, and a little bit after them was Flora Nwapa. She’s an icon of both world and African literature that needs to be remembered.

Flora Nwapa was born Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa on Januray 13, 1931. Her family and childhood were not the ordinary upbringing that an Igbo in Oguta would have had in colonized Nigeria. The Nwapa family line was a powerful and influential one with ties into religion, politics, and commerce. All of these things were integral in her art, career, and life directly or indirectly.

Her parents, Christopher Ljeoma and Martha Nwapa, were prominent figures in the Igbo community and Oguta, Enugu at large. Christopher worked for the United African Company and Martha taught both drama and history. Flora’s uncle, A.C. Nwapa aka Golden Water Boy was the first Nigerian Minister for Commerce and Industries. Her grandparents were huge figures in introducing the Anglican Church to Igbos. Christianity was important to Flora but the Igbo religion was equally as important. 

In her schooling, they celebrated and taught about the Igbo culture and religion. Even with the strong Anglican presence in the region, the people made sure that the children knew more than just the imported British culture. In addition to English, Igbo was spoken as well to maintain the pre-colonial practices were encouraged at large.

Martha Nwapa also had a sewing and mending side business. Flora helped her mother. The local women would regale her with the Igbo folklore and mythology. The tales of goddesses fascinated her, in particular the water goddess. This was the initial spark of inspiration. Hearing the folk tales and seeing the lives of local women, these were subjects that weren’t covered in the literature she was exposed to. Since there was not many female African writers at the time, she didn’t make that first step to write yet. She was always an avid reader. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and William Thackeray were her favorites. 

Throughout her childhood, talk of breaking away from Great Britain was abundant. There are the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria - Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani. The Yourba are in the west, Igbo in the east and Hausa-Fulani in the north. A Nigerian nationalistic movement started with the Igbo and Yoruba. The Hausa-Fulani were resistant and held most of the political power among the Nigerians. The independent fervor with the Igbo and Yoruba only intensified during World War 2. The British mostly left Nigeria alone since they could rely on the Hausa-Fulani to maintain colonial way. 

Great Britain was gradually withdrawing but was still present. The cultural tensions between the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani increased. The movement towards decolonization, independence, and modernization reached a fever pitch. Two leaders in particular led the charge to independence, Jaja Wachuku and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Eventually, they came to an agreement for their own nation. On October 1, 1960 Nigeria became independent but more problems cropped up shortly after freedom was attained.

In 1953, Flora started at the University of Ibadan and also served as an education officer for the Ministry of Education. After a BA from Ibadan, she continued her education at the University of Edinburgh pursuing Education. She became an English teacher in Enugu after Edinburgh. It was around this time that Efuru was started. There are several stories from different family and friends of how and when it started but I will stick with Flora's version. She was driving to her brother's house when the idea first popped up. Once she got to her brother's place, started writing down everything before she forgot. This is also her brother's version of the story.

Contrary to popular belief, Nwapa was not the first African or Nigerian woman to be published. She was the first African and Nigerian female novelist to be published in English and internationally. Prior to her, there were female poets and children’s authors who were had already been published internationally and nationally. She had a rival of sorts in Mabel Segun, a poet and children’s author. Segun was internationally published before Nwapa, Germany to be specific. The difference for Flora was that she had the support of one of the biggest names in literature, Chinua Achebe. He is integral to Efuru getting published to begin with. When Achebe got a hold of it, he sent it to Heinemann Publishing in London. It was printed and shipped worldwide. History was still made. (Sidenote: She and Chinua never saw each other again after he needed a wheelchair.)

Mabel Segun, at 90

The critical response was lackluster, but it was a success regardless. Western critics perceived it as weak writing with inauthentic story. One of these is an argument that I can understand and the other is nonsense. You can’t ignore the potential of built-in racism with the new wave of African literature and Western response to it. Efuru broke and expanded what was expected in the emerging African literature movement. The women in the previous works, in particular novels by Cyprian Ekwensi, lacked much life outside of something to hinder or support the lead male characters. Achebe was also guilty of this to a lesser degree. Flora populated Efuru and her later novels with complex and complicated women. Even though her work is undeniably Igbo, it’s still universal.

At the time of Efuru’s release, she was working at the University of Lagos. This ended when the Biafra war broke out. The tensions between the the three large ethnic groups (Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani) only grew since the birth of an independent Nigeria. Abubakar Tafama Balewa, the first prime minister was Hausa. He was assassinated in 1966 during the first of 2 military coups that year. This was January, 1966. There was an anti-Igbo pogrom starting in May, about 100,000 died. It continued until October. Several Igbo fled to the west and north. The Igbos were treated with disdain and distrust, especially the North. The second military coup was July the same year. Igbos were still being harassed and targeted in parts the other regions particularly, Hausa-Fulani. An estimated 1 million Igbos returned to their home state. 1967, Emeka Ojuku, the Igbo military governor declared that his region was independent from the rest of Nigeria. The new president, Yakubu Gowon, sent in the military and cut off supply lines of food and resources. 2 million civilians starved to death, this took up majority of the death toll. 3 years later, the Igbos were forced to concede. Things have not reached this boiling point again but there is still tensions between the Igbo and rest of the nation.

Google celebrating what would have been her 86th birthday on January 13, 2017

Nwapa returned to Oguta to help out where she could. She saw how the women were running things while the men fought off the Nigerian army and navy. The women would sneak into Yoruba villages in disguise to get food and resources. This and other things she saw on the home front inspired her 2nd novel, Idu. At this time, she also married Gogo Nwakuche. They had 3 children (all of them lawyers now). Gogo was an industrialist but she was the breadwinner. This marriage surprised many. Gogo married up but her family and friends were always confounded by her choice of a husband. Already independent minded, the experience of the Biafra War kickstarted her into a political career, along with boosting her writing one. 

Following the war, there were 350,000 orphans that needed care and a home. The Nigerian government shipped them off to several other African nations. Nwapa, as a person and the Minister for Health and Social Welfare in the Igbo region, did not like that approach. She organized a program to retrieve the shipped off orphans, track down their family remained, and reunited broken families as much as they possibly could. This was largely successful in bringing families back together from the war. She was then the Minister for Land, Survey, and Urban Development. During her time in office, she opened up Oguta Lake for the public. Oguta’s economy boomed with the influx of visitors. Her political career was voluntarily over in 1976, but in that time she garnered a lot of respect in that brief 6 years. She was the first women to hold between of those offices.

Oguta gave her the chieftaincy title Ogbuefi (Killer of the Cow) of Oguta. This title was traditionally saved for men. Flora was the first (or one of the first) woman to hold this title. Also President Shehu Shagari bestowed the OON, Officer of the Order of the Niger, onto her in 1983. In the twilight of her career, she was a regular speaker and teacher at universities around the world. When she traveled, her kids would come along with her if possible. By all accounts, she was a warm and lovely person. Flora was also a big fan of Fela Kuti (son of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti) and Tony Allen. She reached levels that weren't given to women and didn't change who she was.

She achieved many things throughout her political career. The achievements above are the most prominent but she did more. In her literature, women are central. The stories, plight, and triumphs of African women were always central. Efuru is the mission statement. It’s centered on Efuru, a successful trader, and her life. She’s independent and goes after what she wants despite the societal barriers. Politically, she always pushed women's issues and ways to help and empower women every chance she could. Perhaps, the most baffling aspect of this is her take on feminism. She did not call herself a feminist, instead she preferred the term, womanist. This does not change the outlook or impact of her career. The work speaks for itself.

In 1976, she went full-time as a writer. By this point, she had enough clout and influence to create her own publishing company. This was Tana Press. With this, she had the power to put out her work at the pace she wanted and created a space for other women in the writing world. Flora forged a path for herself and left it open for others to follow. During her lifetime, she was a towering international figure but was seemingly forgotten as soon as she died.

Flora Nwapa died on October 16, 1993 in Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu from pneumonia. At the time of her death, she was working her final novel, The Lake Goddess. This was later published in 1995.




-Efuru, 1966, Heinenmann

-Idu, 1970, Heinenmann

-Never Again, 1975, Tana Press

-One Is Enough, 1981, Tana Press

-Women Are Different, 1986, Tana Press

-The Lake Goddess, 1995, Africa World Press

Short Fiction and Poetry

-This Is Lagos and Other Stories, 1971, Nwamife

-Wives At War and Other Stories, 1980, Nwamife

-Cassava Song and Rice Song, 1986, Tana Press

Children’s Books

-Emeka, Driver’s Guard, 1972, University of London Press

-Mammywater, 1979, Tana Press

-The Adventures of Deke, 1980, Tana Press

-The Miracle Kittens, 1980, Tana Press

-Journey To Space, 1980, Tana Press


References, House of Nwapa documentary by Onyeka Nwelue, Biafran War Explained, Nigeria’s Civil War Explained - BBC News

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ebrohimi Expedition - Nana Olomu's Resistance - Part 2


The Ebrohimi Expedition was a devastating event that changed history for West Africa and what would become Nigeria. The British had lingered in the region for decades and grew to find the Itsekiri as a nuisance that only seemed to grow stronger and stronger. In the typical routine, the British first invade economically and culturally. Embedding themselves into their target before using military force. They were ready for military force but they needed a legitimate reason to invade and force themselves onto the Itsekiri. Before the Nana Olomu took over, his reputation preceded him. He was rich, persuasive, and respected (or feared, depending on who was asked). In 1884, he was elected Gofine. Shortly after, British emissaries led by Edward Hyde Hewitt sent him a treaty with several conditions. The major items that were integral to said treaty were three articles - Articles I, II, and V.

Article I - This would extend Great Britain and the Queen’s “protection,” if the Itsekiri wanted it.

Article II - The Itsekiri were forbidden from diplomacy with other foreign nations without Great Britain’s permission.

Article V - The Itsekiri must consult with Great Britain consular officers in matter dealing with administration of Justice and Development of national resources of the country.

Nana accepted these terms. He rejected allowing anyone enter his territory and letting in British missionaries. Even though was there was some Catholicism in Itsekiri culture, it was minimal and Nana didn’t want to force another religion onto his people. This offended the British even more. Their relationship was strained and then another negotiation in 1889. This time led by Major Claude Macdonald. This was not like the first. Macdonald informed Nana that Great Britain wanted the Itsekiri’s land. Their reason to justify taking the land - “unacceptable” prices for palm oil. Nana boycotted trade with the British from then on.

2 years later, Claude Macdonald had been promoted to Commissioner and Consul-General. He had established a 2nd counsul in Itsekiri territory (one in Warri and other by Benin River). Olomu’s reputation had spread and he was even more powerful than before. A survivor of 7 “wars” - 3 vs Itsekiri, 3 vs Urhobo, and 1 vs Ijo, everyone knew taking him down was a challenge. The Europeans in the region (British, Germans, French, and Portuguese) couldn’t make headway into the Itsekiri state. Rumors (possibly started by the British or rival traders) that he was raiding Urhobo for slaves, turning them against the British, and organized midnight raids at his rivals’ port. This might have been true but regardless this was enough to start the events leading up to the Ebrohimi Expedition. Nana had to go.


Claude and Nana met in 1891. Nana showed up in a massive war canoe manned by hundreds of slaves. No agreement was reached. In November 1893, Benin River Vice-Consul Henry Lionel Gallwey got reports that Nana’s men were in Urhobo trying to turn them against the Great Britain Niger Coast Protectorate. This was a direct threat to their standing. He began sending warnings to Nana and threatened to stop paying their 200 pound tax. April 1894, Claude was notified that Nana didn’t take threats seriously. So he ‘removed’ Nana’s authority as Gofine but he continued to ignore their empty warnings. Another notice was sent, this one accused him of meddling in others’ affairs and injured trade in the Benin and Warri districts. He wanted to maintain peace and his status so he figured if he proved himself innocent, it would all go away.

A new British emissary was sent, Ralph Moor, on June 21, 1894. More reports of tampering in Urhobo, this time seizing people in Abraka, Urhobo. Moor demanded to see Nana but he had a family issues to handle. 3 deaths and his brother was sick, so leaving was not an option. Offering to send his messenger, Tonwe, but this was rejected. Naturally, this sounded like a trap. They wanted him in person to board a British warship. This trick had been done to a few years before to King Jaja of Opobo. He was trapped into a bad surrender deal by boarding a warship. King Jaja was deported and Opobo was lost. Moor sent more accusations. This time it was worse. Ologum, Nana's head slave in the Eku area, was terrorizing people to get what was owed to him: 200 puncheons of oil. Recall him or no canoes allowed on the River Ethiope. Nana refused.


Moor ordered more soldiers and one officer to the Benin River post. War canoes were banned and anyone caught would be guilty of, “hostility towards her majesty’s Governor of Protectorate.” Late July, more soldiers and officers arrived - 87 soldiers and 3 officers. Rumor of a planned attack on royal family rivals Dogho and his family by Nana was enough to justify increased military presence. Moor wanted to isolate Nana, so he had a treaty for all the Itsekiri leaders to sign. Nana had to sign in person but refused to attend. He stationed himself and family in Ebrohimi by this point. On August 2, every other Itsekiri leader ratified treaty on August 3. This was enough proof that Nana was anti-Great Britain and marines were sent in. In the meantime, Nana had blockades set up on the way to Ebrohimi that the British had struggled to destroy. This was the first time that fire was exchanged. No one was injured. Each blockade took about 10 mines to dismantle, throwing off their pre-conceived notions.

On August 8, the British burned down the home village of Nana’s mother, Effurun. They razed every Nana-friendly village in the area. He sent for the Governor of Lagos, but he said no and that Nana needed to figure it out on his own. Moor called up for more soldiers - 100 soldiers and 5 officers now plus a Naval force. Nana wanted a truce but Moor marched onto the Itsekiri village, Oteghele. Lt. Commander Heugh, who was in charge of dismantling blockades, sent in armor-plated boats to Ebrohimi. An ambush was in place. The Itsekiri killed 2 British, and wounded 6 including 2 that needed to be amputated. Also, one of the armor-plated boats sank. Dogho started helping the British at this point.


There were minimal attacks over the next weeks. August 29, they returned with a land attack on a stockade garrison. Seven-pounder cannons were used to break it down. They were surprised by the strength of the Itsekiri structures but it fell. This was the final step before Ebrohimi except the swamp getting there was particularly dense and tough to traverse. It took 4 hours to bridge their way to Ebrohimi. Once there, no attack was launched. He instead offered diplomacy, but that meant boarding a British warship, HMS Phoebe. August 30, Moor getting rejected again  continued to bombard Ebrohimi. By September 21, two more warships appeared. The HMS Philomel and HMS Widgeon arrived with 3 other ships as well. The Supreme Commander of the African Squadron, Rear Admiral F. G. Bedford took command over from Heugh. Moor offered one last chance to surrender. Nana refused.

At 5:30 am on September 25, the final attack started. The British used cannons, Maxim guns, and rockets. They burned Ebrohimi but Nana had already left. 9 am, Ebrohimi surrendered. Nana had his people make artificial creeks as an escape route. He ended up in the friendly Ijo village, Okotobo. Dogho had a 400 man force trying to find Nana. Some of those men tracked him down. A day long battle ensued but Nana escaped to Lagos. His friend, Seido Olowu, let him stay but this was brief. Nana gave himself up to the Governor of Lagos. He was tried for breaking peace treaty and found guilty. Losing his home and rank, he was deported to the nearby Calabar state then later Accra. From December 1894 to August 1906, Nana was not allowed in his own home. Upon returning, he resumed his business. 

He died July 3, 1916. During the fight, he fought off a global professional army with a non-professional militia for longer than anyone predicted. He forced the British into using overwhelming force. There are many stories like these but they need to told as much and more than those of the European colonizers. The legacy of Nana's fighting spirit and resistance to foreign colonizers lives on today.




West African Resistance, 1971, 1972. Ikime, Obaro. 205 - 232.

History of West Africa, 1971, 1972. Crowder, Micheal. Ajayi, J.F. Ade. Alagoa, E.J. 269-274, 280-283, 293-294, 302-303.

A Thousand Years of West African History. Ajayi, J.F. Ade. Espie, Ian. Akinjogbin, I.A.. 300-308

History of Nigeria, 1983, 1984. Isichei, Elizabeth. 53.,_1480_to_present

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Ebrohimi Expedition - Itsekiri in the Niger Delta - Part 1

Nana Olomu, last Gofine of the Itsekiri

When it comes to Nigerian history, the major peoples are the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. They are the three largest ethnic groups out of the 300 or so different peoples living in Nigeria (that means roughly 300 different languages and everything that goes along with that). Historically, the main 3 are important but that’s only the tip of iceberg in exploring the Nigeria's cultural history (a brief aside…Nigeria was never a unified empire. That Nigerian prince scam is playing off of ignorance and casual racism. Back to the topic at hand).

One of the major peoples that should be more known is the Itsekiri of the Warri Kingdom or Iwere Kingdom. There are several names but refer to the same people. Here, I’ll use Itsekiri since that was how I first learned about them. They are not only monumentally important in Nigerian history but also have a rich and complicated history. They’re central in one of the key events that led to the colonization of what became modern Nigeria, the Ebrohimi Expedition.

First, where are the Itsekiri? They were one of the many states in the Niger River Delta. The other Delta states were the Nembe (who adopted the Itsekiri god of War, Ogidiga, as their own state god), Okrika, Ogoni, Ikwere, Odual, Ogdin, Apoi, Bassom, Kalabari, Urhobo, and Arogbo. All of these were connected by a complex intertwined system of rivers on the Atlantic coast. The region is swampy, wet, and humid so imagine the Everglades or Atchafalaya Basin. Mangrove trees, freshwater rain forests, and low level rain forests line the waterways. The Delta is a complex ecosystem with distinct and varied fauna and regions. The Itsekiri moved into the northern saltwater area, which was integral to them dominating the region.

To get around, you traveled via canoe. Bigger boats were not functional throughout the delta. The canoe is life blood of survival. It was your way of get around and to defend yourself. Naturally, these would turn into war canoes. These were specialized canoes with cannons that needed a lot of manpower as well. Their accuracy was not the best, by many accounts. They were effective but were not used regularly. In general these were saved for “wars.” Not the full-scale, months long ordeals that their non-Delta neighbors raged. The Delta “wars” were infrequent but common enough that the major states had several at hand for just-in-case. 

When compared to the other nearby kingdoms and empires to the North (Oyo, Benin), the Itsekiri are notably different from the rest. They were not a military power. There was never an organized army or navy. They specialized in trade. The “wars” that broke out were always between traders either from the same state or a nearby state. These lasted a few days at the most and causalities were typically low. Each state had there own specialties. The Itsekiri were kings of salt, vegetation salt to be specified. There are 3 types of salt - vegetation salt, sea salt, and mineral salt. Itsekiri harvested leaves from white mangroves. The process from leaf to salt was a 4-step method - 1) Burn the leaves, 2) Soak the ashes, 3) Wash the ashes, and 4) Evaporate the ashes and collect the salt residue leftover. According to legend, salt-producing predated fishing. It was an integral part of their culture and trade. Overtime, they were forced into expanding into more markets than fish and salt. Then the Portuguese arrived. The slave trade was already active but Portuguese were less interested in salt than slaves. Eventually, the salt trade died down and palm oil became the dominant trade. Also, ivory and timber but these were a lesser industry compared to palm oil.

Itsekiri Emblem

Before diving fully into the Europeans, I need to get to the Delta societies. Even though there are several different states in the region, there are several similarities and cultural crossover. First the important aspect the House system, this is a common factor across the Delta. The house broke down into four different levels - Chief, Sub Chief, Freeman, and Slave. The focus will obviously be the Itsekiri but this carried over throughout the Delta. As was mentioned above this area was an economic powerhouse not military, everyone was a merchant or trader. Especially the Itsekiri, to have any social status at all you had to have a product, trade route, wealth, and connections. Even the slaves, were traders too. Slavery here had a different context. It didn’t mean property, it was a social rank with the potential to move up but not be royalty. The House was a trade organization. The ranks were not set in stone, a slave could become chief of a house potentially. These chiefs were the advisory council for the king. However, there was still a royal family. Rivalry between the houses was always a threat. For the Itsekiri, the royal family had a house and were traders with their own House as well. 

The House system was integral to the Delta states (rumored to have come from the Ijo people but it’s still unclear). These held political and financial power in each city in the region. There was a royal family for the Itsekiri but they were also traders and had to actively maintain their status as much as everyone else. These were states with multiple cities within them but they functioned closer to city-states than a totally unified kingdom. They had their own sub cultures and customs. Assimilation and mono-culture was fundamental in taking new slaves, which was a class (still people under the law but social mobility was possible and greatly encouraged). The success of a House was determined by the number of slaves, war canoes, trade partners, and how many members of that House have moved up a class or two. If a House, had several slaves that retained their native culture and did not move up socially that House was seen as weak and would their status in their city. This could be result in them leaving the royal council and a line to the king.

Mangrove Roots

To maintain a House, you needed to have money, slaves, and a growing business. Slaves were typically foreign and brought into Houses to handle the labor. Each city had societal groups to encourage and even force assimilation into their culture. They were ceremonially shaved, given a new name, and given a new “mother.” This was the first step in building them up and the House. Next, the slaves were taken over to the Sekiapu. This was a societal group that known the drum language, all the dances, customs, and everything else that was needed to become a full citizen. Like everything else, the Sekiapu was picked by merit and money not bloodline. Another group that was integral in this routine was the Peri Ogbo. This was a club for veterans of business and the “wars” that had killed or captured people. If a slave resisted too much, they were called in to investigate and/or punish depending on the case. In the Kalabari state, they had the Koronogbo (club of the strong), who would roam the streets checking that the lower classes were properly assimilated. The individual cities (or city-states) were naturally suspicious of outsiders and even a foreign accent could be a sign of a spy from a rival. Without an overwhelming military their was not a strong sense of unity. Inter-House and Exterior conflicts between Houses, cities, and states were common. Bloodlines didn’t give you status but how successful your trade organization made you. The lack of a strong central government and military eventually led to their downfall centuries later. The Houses held political power as well as the village elders. The heads of Houses made up the Ojoye, the Olu’s noble advisory council.

Nana's sons and nephews

The Itsekiri were not always an independent kingdom but they maintained a sense of independence. They were a part of the Benin Kingdom (or Dahomey). The Benin Kingdom goes back to the 12th century and became one of the major players. Technically, they were under the Benin until the 19th century. Seemingly, they were left alone in the swamps to do what they wished. So, they developed a capitalistic monarchy system and controlled the waterways. The Benin Kingdom among others relied on them and the other states for trade. The Itsekiri broke off, sort of, from Benin in the late 15th century. Settling in the Niger Delta, they had to focus on trade since empire-building and military operations weren't possible in the area. The first Warri ruler, the Olu, was the Benin Empire’s Prince Ginuwa. He was forced out of the Benin Empire after ordering the deaths of “ungrateful” people who were too critical of his father’s, Oba Olua, kindness and perceived lack of strength. This is oral tradition and legend so who knows how accurate the story but it’s a good story. He left with 70 sons of Benin chiefs in 1473 to settle in the riverine part of the empire. Starting around 1460, Itsekiri refugees started appearing in the neighboring state, Nembe. By 1480, the Warri Kingdom was established and Ginuwa ruled for 30 years. The Itsekiri don’t consider themselves Benin but the royal family and nobles are Benin. Initially, their background was a mix of Yoruba, Benin, and Ijo peoples. Eventually, morphing into the Itsekiri.

Europeans eventually showed up and the Portuguese were first. They were impressed and started to trade firearms for slaves and salt. This only boosted the already strong commerce. Some used guns for defense but the general consensus was firearms for trade. Besides weapons, the Europeans also brought religion. Roman Catholicism wasn’t frowned upon but wasn’t that common. They still actively practiced their own religious practices. By the 1800s however, Roman Catholicism was yet another transgression by the Europeans and repressed more.

At the start of the 1800s, the Itsekiri had maintained such strict control of their region that the Benin Kingdom no longer had any strong influence or presence. There was no civil war or formal separation process. The slave trade was still in full effect but not for long. When the slave trade with the British faded and the switch to Palm Oil followed suite. This still required slaves but the British seemingly didn’t bother to learn the Itsekiri definition of slavery or willingly ignored it. They needed more slaves and got more slaves. The British were not happy and would later be used as a reason to interfere by the British. The Itsekiri royal family, that had ruled since 1480, were gradually losing power. 

A major river for trade that also bordered their capital Ode Itsekiri, the Forcados, had been taken by a neighboring state so they had to switch to the Benin River. With this shift, several successful Houses founded 3 new towns. These were Jakpa, Batere, and Ebrohimi. Ebrohimi was a major trade center and in the best position defensively. It was founded by Olomu, the father of the future Nana Olomu. That will became important in a little bit. The royal family’s attempts at maintaining economic presence and power failed. After losing their economic place, they lost favor with the nobles and other powerful Houses. In 1848, there was no royal family in power, Akengbuwa I, stepped down. His sons, Omateye and Ejo, died afterward. 

The Interregnum period lasted from 1848 to 1936. The government shifted into the Age of the New Man. The nobles still held power but they were not necessarily in control. There was an election for an executive officer, the Gofine aka Governor of the River. There were only 4 governors before getting conquered - Idiare (Ologbotsere Family), Tsanomi (Royal Family), Olomu (Ologbotsere), and Nana Olomu (Ologbotsere Family). The Ologbotsere effectively replaced the royal family, by being both the most feared and respected House in the state. The former royals, Numa and his son, Dogho, were jealous of the Ologbotsere and specifically, Nana Olomu. They were not alone, The British equally didn’t like Nana and how much he had. He was a stronger and more successful leader than his father. This jealousy led to the fall of Nana Olomu and in turn the Itsekiri.



West African Resistance, 1971, 1972. Ikime, Obaro. 205 - 232.

History of West Africa, 1971, 1972. Crowder, Micheal. Ajayi, J.F. Ade. Alagoa, E.J. 269-274, 280-283, 293-294, 302-303.

A Thousand Years of West African History. Ajayi, J.F. Ade. Espie, Ian. Akinjogbin, I.A.. 300-308

History of Nigeria, 1983, 1984. Isichei, Elizabeth. 53.,_1480_to_present

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Welcome: Me and Why I Started Red, Black, and Green

A Yoruba fertility statue with a beaded Sankofa.

Hujambo! Ndeewo! E n le! Agoo! Gyebale ko! Hallo! Assalamu Alaikim!

African history was barely present in my education. Even in college history classes, it was still the same old topics every time. Slavery, civil wars, and Ancient Egypt is seemingly the only thing that most Americans will ever learn in school in terms of African history. The continent is massive and has endless stories and people throughout its history that should be celebrated. There are nearly 3000 different cultures and languages on the entire continent. The thing that unlocked this passion in me and make this massive subject seem approachable was the Asante Empire (which will be in multiple articles if I'm being realistic). This fully kicked off my obsession to educate myself and fill in the blanks that I never see in pop culture, school, and movies.

After my first run of college, I made a choice. I was going to learn as much as African history as I possibly could. In my collection, I have over 50 books on the subject - from Basil Davidson and Walter Rodney to several out-of-print dry (but still interesting) academic texts to encyclopedias of kingdoms and art. I have spend a lot on these and plan on spending more to teach myself more. 

I'm mixed but mostly black (it's too complicated to fully explain) and look high yellow. I still don't know my family's history. I first realized this in elementary school, when we did projects on our cultural heritage. Everyone else picked a nation and most had multiple nations to choose from. My choices were New York, USA, and West Virginia. It was alienating being the one kid that didn't know my family history past the American Civil War. It's a privilege to know where and when your family came from and have records to back it up. 

I am part white too but we didn't even know where that was from. I know I'm not alone. A few years back, my family did a DNA test. I've finally got some vague answers but answers nonetheless. This has only intensified my thirst to learn more. 

African history is equally as valid and important as European, American, and the rest of the histories worldwide. There are just as many exciting, complicated, and relatable people, kingdoms, ideas, and everything else as their global counterparts. It's not as accessible but there are still many ways to educate yourself about a part of the world that's still stigmatized and misrepresented. 

Red, Black, and Green are the colors of the Pan-African flag adopted in 1920. The UNIA adopted it in response to the popular minstrel songs of the era, mainly Every Race has a Flag, but the Coon. Marcus Garvey led the Universal Negro Improvement Association in passing the red, black, and green flag as the flag representing everyone in the African Diaspora. This site is a celebration of the forgotten, hidden, and necessary history from the African continent and the diaspora. 

Flora Nwapa - The Lake Goddess

  The giants of African literature sprung up during the 1950s when the spirits of revolution and freedom were spreading throughout the conti...