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The Kalabari are a tribe of the Ijaw people living in the western Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Originally, they were known as the Awome. The name Kalabari was derived from their ancestor PEREBO KALABARI who was a son of MEIN OWEI. Their original settlement was spelt as Calabar by the Portuguese which was pronounced KALABARI. This settlement (town) was abandoned as the people moved to other fishing settlements. Portuguese settlers continued to maintain the name Calabari which became surrounded by Efik people of Duke town. When the British came the word Calabari was pronounced as CALABAR (KALABA) instead of (KALABARI) . At this time the original Ijoid Kalabaris had moved to a new location which then became the new Calabar territory since the old Calabar has now been occupied by different people. Old Calabar became an Efik town with time which still maintain the name CALABAR till date. Elem Kalabari (New Calabar) became a Large Kingdom that has about 35 settlements including Buguma, Abonnema, Bakana, Tombia and others.
The Kalabari people are Ijaw speaking settlers who came from the Bini fringes of Ijaw land from the lineage of a certain man called Mein Owei. The people were originally fishermen before the coming of the Portuguese to the West African coastline who opened up trade relations and later carried on the slave trade.
The Kalabari, like most Nigerian coastline tribes, were wealthy as a result of their interactions with the Europeans. The wealthiest of the large families had access to early western education and culture and stood out in early Nigeria. However, they had little influence in Nigeria's political structure until recently.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kalabari tribe|
- "Spirits in Steel: The Kalabari". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
- G. I. Jones. The trading states of the oil rivers: a study of political development in Eastern Nigeria. LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2000.
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