Eleme people

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The Eleme people are one of the various groups of indigenous peoples that inhabit the Niger Delta region of South-South Nigeria.


The Eleme live in ten village-clusters situated in Eleme Local Government Area (ELELGA), Rivers State, around 20 km east of Port Harcourt. The total territory occupied by the Eleme people expands across approximately 140 square kilometres.[citation needed] Eleme is bounded in the north by Obio Akpor and Oyigbo, in the South by Okrika and Ogu Bolo, in the east by Tai and the West by Okrika and Port Harcourt.


In early colonial records Eleme is called Mbolli. The name came from the slave merchants of Arochuku who used the words "Mbolli Iche" which means "one country that is different" in Ibo language to describe the people of Eleme. When the British colonising force entered Eleme in April 1898, their escorts introduced the people of Eleme to the British as Mbolli people.[1]

Linguistically and ethnographically the Eleme Kingdom is a separate entity from the Ogonis, their neighbours. The Eleme language is very distinct, though phonetically sounds like Ogoni Language, and this has raised the debate over whether or not Eleme is part of Ogoni. Nevertheless, Eleme is not part of Ogoni. Eleme is a unique ethnic group, and the people of Eleme have their unique way of doing things.

"The inclusion of Mbolli and, to a lesser extent that of Ogoni, spoken by two isolated and distinct tribes on the western border as within the Ibibio stock is only proposed tentatively, and the former is chiefly included because of its kinship with Ogoni." Vol IX, p. 96 [2]


Eleme has a future role to play in the development of the Niger Delta Area of Nigeria. Before now, the Eleme people were behind in the educational sector, but now they are one of the most educated Local government areas of the state. Again, they are the center of trade in the region, the Eleme market being the most popular market in the region. Eleme is traditionally an agricultural society, with farmers travelling out to farms situated around the villages, though the emergence of white-collar jobs and the industrial activities going on in modern-day Eleme tend to shift the paradigm.

Crops include yams, cassava, oil palm fruit, fluted pumpkin, and bitter-leaf. In traditional Eleme society, the crops cultivated were primarily used to sustain the family (a system of agriculture known as subsistence farming), but each family also typically traded their excess crops at one of the town markets. Family members who were employed outside of the agricultural industry, still farmed their own land as a supplementary income. Farm workers were usually women and hired labourers. A trend that has remained typical of the agricultural workforce in Eleme. The men sometimes helped their wives and the women folks out with the farming.

Eleme has two clans, the Odido and the Nchia, with same dialect, but with the western education and civilization pronunciations are changing. Those from the odido still speak the correct dialect.[3] The eleme language means, Eleame(which means who wins)


Christianity is the dominant major-religion in South-Eastern Nigeria and is widespread in Eleme. Traditional animist beliefs are also upheld by the majority of the population, including those who identify themselves as Christians.[citation needed] Marriages are traditionally polygamous and commonly exogamous with both other Ogoni and non-Ogoni groups across the Niger Delta. While the introduction of Christianity has undoubtedly led to a greater number of monogamous marriages in the region, polygamy and Christianity do not appear to be mutually exclusive in some families.[citation needed]


The Eleme language is potentially endangered.[4] The eleme is the language they speak. There Name is Mboli which is not meantioned. The complete History of Eleme can explain this more. Written By Chief Obo Ngofa.

Industrial activity[edit]

Eleme area is heavily concentrated with heavy industry. Two major refineries, a foremost fertiliser plant in west Africa, a sea port, with so many other companies located in Onne such as Panalpina, Intels, Dangote Cement, P&O, Federal Lighter Terminal, Federal Ocean Terminal, WACT, etc. The privatised petrochemicals (EPCL) now Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals limited (IEPCL), the newly-built Indorama Eleme Fertilizer Company Limited (IEFCL). There are two fertilizer companies in one LGA and others within the same complex.

Socio-political system[edit]

Eleme is not just a territory occupied by related clans in a cofederal relationship, as falsely presented in some literature. The Eleme kingdom is ruled by a king known as Oneh Eh Eleme (Owner of Eleme). Beneath him are the paramount rulers of each of the two major clans Oneh Eh Nchia (Owner of Nchia) and Oneh Eh Odido (Owner of Odido). Each clan is further divided into small communities (and then further into areas of the community). The traditional ruler of each community is known as Oneh Eh Eta (Owner of the Town). The king of Eleme was His Royal Majesty Emere Samuel Oluka Ejire, Oneh Eh Eleme X. The kingship is not hereditary, as it rotates from community to community.The late king of Eleme Kingdom, His royal majesty, King Samuel Oluke Ejire has been buried 10 January 2019 in his hometown of Abonchia in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers state. Late King S.O. Ejire died on the 5th of December, 2018 in Port Harcourt at the age of 89.


The Eleme are traditionally an agricultural society, with workers travelling out to farms situated around the villages. Crops include yam, cassava, palm-oil fruit, fluted pumpkin and bitter-leaf. Crops are primarily used to sustain each family, but each family also typically trades their excess crops at one of the town markets. Even where family members are employed outside of agriculture, they still farm their own land as a supplement income. Farm workers are usually women.

With the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta in the 1958, the Eleme territory has become home to both Oil Refineries and Fertilizer industries, increasing the role of a more industrial economy. The nearest oil refinery is within a mile of an Eleme village, and around 100 wells are thought to be in use throughout the Ogoni territory. The mining of oil has had notable political and environmental effects on the status of the Niger Delta, with pollution from national industries based on Ogoni-land increasing acid rain and reducing soil, water and air qualities.

Ogoni-land has become an area of much political interest over the last 40 years since oil exploration is estimated to account for around 65 percent of Nigerian Government budgetary revenue and 95 percent of all foreign exchange earnings (www.odci.gov). Consequent high levels of migration into Eleme territory by other ethnic groups in Nigeria have made a sizeable impact on Eleme society. The presence of non-Elemes hoping to find work within the chemical industries has affected the social importance of Eleme cultural identity, raising concerns over the retention of Eleme cultural practices and language use.


  1. ^ Ngofa O. O. (2006). The Complete History of Eleme. Freedom Press. Ibadan
  2. ^ Talbot, Percy Amaury (1926). The Peoples of Southern Nigeria. Vol I - IX. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Bond, Oliver (2004) "Eleme Ethnography - Eleme Society"
  4. ^ Living Tongues Institute For Endangered Languages


  1. ^ A. N. Osaroejii, (2005) Decision-making without focus : the bane of development in Nigeria