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Ogoni people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ogoni flag designed by MOSOP[1]
Total population
Over 2,000,000 and lays claims to the single largest ethnic group in Rivers State Nigeria. 500,000 (1963 census).
Regions with significant populations
Ogoni languages
Traditional beliefs, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Ibibio, Igbo, Ikwere, Ijaw, Efik, Ejagham, Bahumono, Ukelle people, Annang, Oron, Korring

The Ogoni is an ethnic group located in Rivers South-East senatorial district of Rivers State, in the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria.[2][3] They number just over 2 million and live in a 1,050-square-kilometre (404-square-mile) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoniland. They share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta.

The Ogoni rose to international attention after a massive public protest campaign against Shell Oil, led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which is also a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).


The territory is located in Rivers State near the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, east of the city of Port Harcourt.[3] It extends across three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Khana, Gokana and Tai. Ogoniland is divided into the Five kingdoms: Babbe, Gokana, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana and Tai. Nyo-Khana is on the East while Ken-Khana is on the west.[4]


There are multiple languages spoken by the Ogonis. The largest is Khana, which mutually intelligible with the dialects of the other kingdoms, Gokana, Tai (Tẹẹ), and Baen Ogoi[5] part of the linguistic diversity of the Niger Delta.


According to oral tradition, the Ogoni people migrated from ancient Ghana[6] down to the Atlantic coast eventually making their way over to the eastern Niger Delta region and getting absorbed into the already existing Ibibio, Annang, Igbo and Ijaw population. The name "Ogoni" originated from the Ibani/Ijaw word- Igoni, which means strangers. Linguistic calculations ns

People on the Guinea coast, the Ogonis have an internal political structure subject to community-by-community arrangement, including appointment of chiefs and community development bodies, some recognized by the government and others not. They survived the period of the slave trade in relative isolation and did not lose any of their members to enslavement.[citation needed] After Nigeria was colonized by the British in 1885, British soldiers arrived in Ogoni by 1901. Major resistance to their presence continued through 1914.

The Ogoni were integrated into a succession of economic systems at a pace that was extremely rapid and exacted a great toll from them. At the turn of the twentieth century, “the world to them did not extend beyond the next three or four villages”, but that soon changed. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late president of MOSOP, described the transition this way: “if you then think that within the space of seventy years they were struck by the combined forces of modernity, colonialism, the money economy, indigenous colonialism and then the Nigerian Civil War, and that they had to adjust to these forces without adequate preparation or direction, you will appreciate the bafflement of the Ogoni people and the subsequent confusion engendered in the society.”[7]


Ogoni Flag designed by the M.O.S.O.P.

Ogoni nationalism is a political ideology that seeks self determination by the Ogoni people. The Ogonis are one of the many indigenous peoples in the region of southeast Nigeria. They number about 1.5 million people and live in a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoni, or Ogoniland. They share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people of Niger Delta.

The Ogoni rose to international attention after a massive public protest campaign against Shell Oil, led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).[8][9] MOSOP's mandated use of non-violent methods to promote democratic principles assist Ogoni people pursue rights of self-determination in environmental issues in the Niger Delta, cultural rights and practices for Ogoni people.[10]

Human rights violations[edit]

The Ogoni people have been victims of human rights violations for many years. In 1956, four years before Nigerian Independence, Royal Dutch/Shell, in collaboration with the British government, found a commercially viable oil field on the Niger Delta and began oil production in 1958. In a 15-year period from 1976 to 1991 there were reportedly 2,976 oil spills of about 2.1 million barrels of oil in Ogoniland, accounting for about 40% of the total oil spills of the Royal Dutch/Shell company worldwide.[11]

In 1990, under the leadership of activist and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) planned to take action against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the oil companies. In October 1990, MOSOP presented The Ogoni Bill of Rights to the government. The Bill hoped to gain political and economic autonomy for the Ogoni people, leaving them in control of the natural resources of Ogoniland protecting against further land degradation.[12] The movement lost steam in 1994 after Saro-Wiwa and several other MOSOP leaders were executed by the Nigerian government.

In 1993, following protests that were designed to stop contractors from laying a new pipeline for Shell, the Mobile Police raided the area to quell the unrest. In the chaos that followed, it has been alleged that 27 villages were raided, resulting in the death of 2,000 Ogoni people and displacement of 80,000.[13][14][15][16]

Environmental restoration[edit]

In a 2011 assessment of over 200 locations in Ogoniland by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), they found that impacts of the 50 years of oil production in the region extended deeper than previously thought. Because of oil spills, oil flaring, and waste discharge, the alluvial soil of the Niger Delta is no longer viable for agriculture. Furthermore, in many areas that seemed to be unaffected, groundwater was found to have high levels of hydrocarbons or were contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen, at 900 levels above WHO guidelines.[17]

UNEP estimated that it could take up to 30 years to rehabilitate Ogoniland to its full potential and that the first five years of rehabilitation would require funding of about US$1 billion. In 2012, the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, announced the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, which intends to follow the UNEP report suggestions of Ogoniland to prevent further degradation.[18]

A trial project in the region was able to achieve mangrove restoration in one of the significant waterways Bodo Creek which helped improve soil and water quality.[19]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Contributors. https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ng%7Dogoni.html. “The Ogoni People(Nigeria)”.2015.
  2. ^ "The Ogoni of Nigeria". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  3. ^ a b "Ogoni | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  4. ^ Sebtalesy, Cintika Yorinda; Kristanti, Lucia Ani (2020-06-30). "Descriptions of Infertile Couple Attitudes About Nyo Khana Traditional Medicine". Jurnal Midpro. 12 (1): 110. doi:10.30736/md.v12i1.199. ISSN 2684-6764. S2CID 225773285.
  5. ^ "Browse by Language Family". Ethnologue. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  6. ^ "AFRICA | 101 Last Tribes - Ogoni people". www.101lasttribes.com. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  7. ^ Quotes from Ken Saro-Wiwa, "Letter to Ogoni Youth."
  8. ^ "Ogoni". unpo.org. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. March 25, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  9. ^ "Ogoni: Oral Intervention on the Human Rights Situation of States and Territories threatened with Ex". unpo.org. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  10. ^ "About Us - Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)". Archived from the original on 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  11. ^ Crayford, Steven (1 April 1996). "Ogoni Uprising". Africa Today. 2. 42 (Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Africa): 183–197.
  12. ^ The Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People. "Ogoni Bill of Rights". Saros International Publishers.
  13. ^ David Kupfer, "Worldwide Shell boycott", The Progressive, 1996
  14. ^ PBS documentary, The New Americans: The Ogoni Refugees
  15. ^ Ken Saro-Wiwa, "Genocide in Nigeria: The Ogoni Tragedy"
  16. ^ Bogumil Terminski, Oil-Induced Displacement and Resettlement: Social Problem and Human Rights Issue Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ United Nations Environment Programme (August 4, 2011). "UNEP Ogoniland Oil Assessment Reveals Extent of Environmental Contamination and Threats to Human Health". UNEP News Center.
  18. ^ United Nations Environment Programme (August 1, 2012). "UNEP Welcomes Nigerian Governments Green Light for Ogoniland Oil Clean-Up". UNEP News Center.
  19. ^ Zabbey, Nenibarini; Tanee, Franklin B.G. (September 2016). "Assessment of Asymmetric Mangrove Restoration Trials in Ogoniland, Niger Delta, Nigeria: Lessons for Future Intervention". Ecological Restoration. 34 (3): 245–257. doi:10.3368/er.34.3.245. ISSN 1543-4060. S2CID 89436150.
  20. ^ Teniente, Davio (March 8, 2014). "hon-tn-paul-birabi-the-forgotten-nigerian-nationalist". www.thenigerianvoice.com. p. 1. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  21. ^ Isuwa, Sunday (2023-03-13). "Magnus Abe Remains Our Gov'ship Candidate In Rivers – SDP". Retrieved 2023-04-29.


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