Nembe Kingdom

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Nembe Kingdom
Traditional state
Ijaw States, including Nembe
Ijaw States, including Nembe
Coordinates: 4°32′N 6°25′E / 4.533°N 6.417°E / 4.533; 6.417Coordinates: 4°32′N 6°25′E / 4.533°N 6.417°E / 4.533; 6.417
Country Nigeria
StateBayelsa State

The Nembe Kingdom is a traditional state in Niger Delta. It includes the Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The traditional rulers take the title "Amanyanabo". Today, leadership is split between the Amanyanabos of Ogbolomabiri, Bassambiri and Twon Brass.[1]


The Nembe are an Ijaw people of the Niger Delta region, settled in the region that now includes the Edumanom Forest Reserve. The date of foundation of the old Nembe kingdom is unknown. Tradition says that the tenth king was called Ogio, ruling around 1639, the ancestor of all subsequent kings. A civil war later split the city into two factions. At the start of the 19th century, king Ogbodo and his followers moved to a new settlement at Bassimibiri, while king Mingi remained at Nembe city.[2]

With the arrival of Europeans on the coast, the Nembe kingdom became a trading state, but was relatively poor compared to Bonny and Calabar.[3] European traders knew the area as "Brass" based on the people's use of the phrase "ba ra sin" when trading, meaning "I don't accept that deal", and at first used "Brasstown" to refer to the inland city of Nembe. Later they used "Brass" to refer to the coastal town of Twon, now known as Twon-Brass.[4]

The Nembe slave trade picked up in the second quarter of the 19th century when the British attempted to suppress slavery by blockading the ports of Bonny and Calabar. The position of Nembe town 30 miles up the Brass River became an advantage in these circumstances. However, with dwindling demand for slaves, by 1856 the palm-oil trade had become more important and trade had moved to Twon/Brass on the coast.[4] In the later 19th century, Christian missionaries contributed to the existing factional tensions among the Nembe. Ogbolomabiri acquired a mission in 1867, while Bassambiri remained "heathen".[3]

After 1884, the Nembe kingdom was included in the area over which the British claimed sovereignty as the Oil Rivers Protectorate. The Nembe, who by now controlled the palm oil trade, at first refused to sign a treaty, and fought to prevent the Royal Niger Company obtaining a trade monopoly.[2] In January 1895 the Nembe King William Koko led a dawn attack of more than a thousand warriors on the company's headquarters at Akassa, with no European casualties. This triggered a retaliatory raid in which the British destroyed the town of Brass and slaughtered four thousand [5] Nembe.[6] Many more Nembe died from an outbreak of smallpox.[2] The British later established a consulate in Twon-Brass, from where they administered the area. Traditional rulers were reinstalled in the 1920s, but with an essentially symbolic role which they retain today.[7]

Recent times[edit]

The Nembe region is plagued with violence. In early 2003 several people were killed at Nembe Bassambiri when two rival factions disagreed over the distribution of electoral materials for the general elections.[8] In 2003/2004 the community was torn by fighting with a rival community in which many homes were destroyed, people were killed and others fled and went into hiding. The cause was a dispute over revenue from oil extraction in nearby Obioku village by Shell Nigeria, which was claimed by both Nembe Bassambiri and by the village of Odioma.[9] In October 2004 King Ralph Iwowari conducted elaborate ceremonies to mark the end of the crisis.[10]

Agip Oil Company and Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas operate terminals in Twon Brass.[11] In February 2009 gunmen in two speedboats attacked troops guarding the Agip oil terminal, but were repelled. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had threatened to target Italian companies since Italy had apparently offered to supply two attack boats to the Nigerian military.[12] In May 2009 the Nembe-Bassambiri Council of Chiefs accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of stirring up trouble by transferring part of their constituency to Brass.[13] In April 2010 the Bayelsa State government attempted to resolve the ongoing discord between the Bassambiri and Ogbolomabiri communities, bringing together Edmund Daukoru, Mingi XII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom and Ralph Iwowari, Mein VII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Bassambiri with other chiefs to find a solution.[14]



Rulers of Ogbolomabiri:[15]

Start End Ruler
1745 1766 Mingi I
1766 1788 Ikata Mingi II
1788 1800 Gboro Mingi III
1800 1832 Kulo Mingi IV "King Forday"
1832 1846 Amain Mingi V "King Boy"
1846 1846 Kuki
1846 1863 Kien Mingi VI
1863 1879 Joshua Constantine Ockiya Mingi VII
1879 1889 (vacant)
1889 1896 Frederick William Koko Mingi VIII (d. 1898)
1896 1926 (vacant)
1926 1939 Joshua Anthony O. Ockiya Mingi IX (b. c.1873 – d. 1939
1939 1954 (vacant)
1954 1979 Francis O. Joseph Allagoa Mingi X (d. 1979)
1979 2007 Kien Ambrose Ezeolisa Allagoa Mingi XI (b. 1914 – d.
23 February 2008 Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru, Mingi XII (b. 1943)


Later rulers of Bassambiri:[15]

Start End Ruler
1870 Arisimo "King Peter"
1870 1894 Ebifa
1894 1924 (vacant)
1924 1927 Albert Oguara
1928 Ben I. Warri
1978 1993 King Collins Festus Amaegbe-Eremienyo Ogbodo VII Born 29 November 1930 died July 1993 and buried in 1994
1996 2013 Ralph Michael Iwowari, Mein VII B1930 buried November 2014


Start End Ruler
1978 Alfred Diete-Spiff (b.30 July 1942)


  1. ^ "Nembe Bassambiri". Nembe Ibe USA. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Mogens Herman Hansen (2000). A comparative study of thirty city-state cultures: an investigation. Kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab. p. 534. ISBN 87-7876-177-8.
  3. ^ a b G. I. Jones (2001). The trading states of the oil rivers: a study of political development in Eastern Nigeria. James Currey Publishers. p. 85ff. ISBN 0-85255-918-6.
  4. ^ a b Joanne Bubolz Eicher (1995). Dress and ethnicity: change across space and time. Berg Publishers. pp. 168–169. ISBN 1-85973-003-5.
  5. ^ "Saro Wiwa attorney Oronto Douglas - Drilling and Killing".
  6. ^ "Tourist Attraction Sites in Bayelsa State". Bayelsa State. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Tourism in Bayelsa State". Bayelsa State Union of Great Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  8. ^ John Iwori (21 April 2003). "'Why We Declared Bayelsa UNPP Guber Candidate Wanted'". ThisDay. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  9. ^ LYDIA POLGREEN (1 Jan 2006). Blood Flows With Oil in Poor Nigerian Villages. New York Times. ISBN 87-7876-177-8.
  10. ^ John Iwori (21 October 2004). "Nembe Settles Crisis, Exiles Return Home". ThisDay. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  11. ^ "Twon-Brass, Baylsa State Nigeria". Nembe Ibe USA. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  12. ^ "Nigeria Troops Repel Attack On Agip Oil Terminal". Reuters. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  13. ^ Chris Ejim (7 May 2009). "Group accuses INEC of causing confusion in Nenbe, Brass". Nigerian Compass. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  14. ^ "Bayelsa promotes peace in Nembe". 234Next. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Traditional States of Nigeria". Retrieved 14 September 2010.