Kingdom of Bonny

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Kingdom of Bonny
Traditional state
Ijaw States, including Bonny
Ijaw States, including Bonny
Coordinates: 4°26′N 7°10′E / 4.433°N 7.167°E / 4.433; 7.167
Country  Nigeria

Rivers State Founders = Premier Kings Ndoli, Opuamakuba, Alagbariya and Asimini

(Founded about the 13th century)
 • Amanyanabo Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III
Time zone WAT (UTC+1)

The Kingdom of Bonny is a traditional state based on the town of Bonny in Rivers State, Nigeria. Founded in the 13th century AD, it became an important slave trading port, later trading palm oil products. During the 19th century the British became increasingly involved in the internal affairs of the kingdom, in 1886 assuming control under a protectorate treaty. Today the King of Bonny has a largely ceremonial role.

Early history[edit]

The Ibani kingdom was a state in the South Atlantic Coast, founded about the 13th century AD. The modern name "Bonny" is a distortion of the original name.[1] According to tradition the island on which the town of Bonny is sited was full of curlews, and some of the first settlers therefore called it Okoloma, meaning curlew town. This name is still used locally.[2]

The hereditary king, who had the title "Amanyanabo", originated from the founding fathers and premier kings of Bonny kingdom. Thus, the first four kings are founding fathers of the kingdom. These are namely Kings Ndoli, Opuamakuba, Alagbariya (Founder of Bonny: 'Okoloamakoromabo') and Asimini. After these initial four kings, their direct-blood descendants ruled the kingdom as kings until the era of King Awusa (Halliday). It was after King Halliday-Awusa, the twelfth king of Bonny kingdom, that King Perekule emerged and established the Pepple dynasty.

Bonny kingdom became important in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese and the growth of the Atlantic slave trade. At its height of power, Bonny was one of the main entrepôts on the Slave Coast. Later the Dutch and then the British took control of the slave trade in the region, with the British renaming the port "Bonny". When the British passed an act to abolish the slave trade in 1807, the port turned to export of palm oil products, ivory and Guinea pepper.[1]

Growing British influence[edit]

William Dappa Pepple I ascended the throne in 1830.[3] He became increasingly incompetent, particularly following a stroke in 1852, and stirred up opposition to his rule. In 1854 the British deported the king.[1] King Dapu Fubara II Pepple ("Dappo") was appointed in his place, but died on 13 Aug 1855.[3] The acting British Consul in the Bight of Biafra, J.W.B. Lynslager, signed a document on 11 September 1855 appointing the chiefs Anne Pepple, Ada Allison, Captain Hart and Manilla Pepple as a regency, required to consult with Banigo and Oko Jumbo, "two gentlemen of the river".[4]

Oko Jumbo, who became leader of the Manilla Pepple house and effective ruler of the kingdom, became engaged in a struggle with the Annie Pepple house, which was led by a chief named Jubo Jubogha, known as Ja-Ja to the British.[5]

Royal Canoe of the Kingdom of Bonny, 1890

In an attempt to stabilize the situation, the British restored King William Dappa Pepple I in 1861, and for the next five years until his death on 30 September 1866 the kingdom was relatively peaceful. King William Dappa was succeeded by his son George Oruigbiji Pepple (born 1849), who had been educated in England.[1] George Pepple was a Christian, and on 21 April 1867, supported by Oko Jumbo and other chiefs, he declared the iguana was no longer the sacred deity of the kingdom.[6] The tension between the Manilla Pepple and Annie Pepple houses revived. In 1869 a major battle between the two factions led to Ja-Ja founding a new state at Opobo, further inland, taking some of the palm oil trade away from Bonny.[5]

Bonny had previously been on reasonably good terms with the Kalabari Kingdom, a trading state on the New Calabar and Imo rivers. With the loss of trade to Opobo, Bonny began pushing up rivers traditionally controlled by Kalabari, causing a series of armed clashes. Bonny was at times assisted by the Nembe Kingdom to the west and Okrika further inland, while Opobo allied with Kalabari. In 1873, and again in 1882 the British consul had to intervene and force the feuding parties to agree to treaties.[7]

Protectorate and later history[edit]

The unstable balance of power within Bonny deteriorated. On 14 December 1883 King George was deposed.[1]

Bonny Chiefs with Naval Commandant 1896

The next year Oko Jumbo fell out with the other chiefs in Bonny. There were rumors that he wanted to place one of his sons on the throne, although a planned coup attempt in January 1885 came to nothing. Another son, Herbert Jumbo, who had been educated in England, quarreled with his father and placed himself under the protection of the British consul.[5]

In February 1886 a protectorate treaty was concluded between Bonny and Britain. A ruling council was established, and King George Pepple was restored to his throne. Oko Jumbo was publicly degraded, his bans on Christianity were repealed and afterwards he was a spent force in Bonny politics.[6]

King George died in October 1888, and was succeeded by a series of regents, kings and at one time a Chiefs Council before Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III (Perekule XI) took the throne in 1996.[3]


Independent state[edit]

Following were the later independent rulers of Okoloma.[3]

Start End Ruler
1759 1760 Awusa "King Halliday"
1760 Perekule I "Captain Pepple"
1792 Fubara I Agbaa Pepple
1792 1828 Opubo Fubara Pepple
1828 1830 Bereibibo Bristol-Alagbariya (Pepple IV)
1830 23 January 1854 Dappa Perekule (1st time) (installed Jan 1837)
23 January 1854 13 August 1855 Dapu Fubara II Pepple "King Dappo" (d. 1855)
11 September 1855 18 August 1861 Regency
18 August 1861 30 September 1866 William Dappa Pepple I (Dappa Perekule) (2nd time)
30 September 1866 14 December 1883 George Oruigbiji Pepple I

Protectorate and Nigerian Federation[edit]

Rulers after the kingdom became part of the British protectorate, then the independent Federation of Nigeria:[3]

Start End Ruler
22 Jan 1887 31 Oct 1888 George Oruigbiji Pepple I (2nd time)
31 Oct 1888 28 Feb 1892 Waribo (Regent)
1892 1923 Ate (Regent)
1932 14 Feb 1932 Claude Sodienye (Regent, d. 1952)
14 Feb 1932 1937 Secondus George Pepple II (d. 1939)
1937 1952 Claude Sodienye -Regent (2nd time)
1952 27 Dec 1957 Francis D. Banigo (Regent)
27 Dec 1957 1970 Eugene William Dappa Pepple II
1970 1978 Regency
1978 1993 Opuada Pepple
1993 1996 Chiefs Council
1996 Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III (Perekule XI)


  1. ^ a b c d e Cliff Pereira & Simon McKeon. "BLACK AND ASIAN PEOPLE IN VICTORIAN BEXLEY. GEORGE PEPPLE". Bexley Council. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  2. ^ Kenneth Onwuka Dike (1959). Trade and politics in the Niger Delta, 1830–1885: an introduction to the economic and political history of Nigeria. Clarendon Press. p. 24. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Traditional States of Nigeria". World Statesmen. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  4. ^ Great Britain. Foreign Office (1866). British and foreign state papers, Volume 47. H.M.S.O. p. 548. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  5. ^ a b c S.J.S Cookey (2005). King Jaja of the Niger Delta: His Life and Times 1821 – 1891. UGR publishing. p. 117ff. ISBN 0-9549138-0-9. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  6. ^ a b G. O. M. Tasie (1978). Christian missionary enterprise in the Niger Delta 1864–1918. BRILL. p. 108. ISBN 90-04-05243-7. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  7. ^ G. I. Jones (2001). The trading states of the oil rivers: a study of political development in Eastern Nigeria. James Currey Publishers. p. 15ff. ISBN 0-85255-918-6.