There hardly can be a more authentic history than that told by a king, than that told by the first king of a people. HRH Charles Onoye Amiebi, first king of the Okoroma Kingdom, comes up with a fascinating title with an attempt to rewrite history, or rather disengage from an earlier history as false and as unrepresentative as the word.
THE HISTORY OF THE OKOROMA PEOPLE iIs an ambience to a hitherto distorted past, it breaks away from the previously accepted stories of the Okoroma people, stories so unbecoming that they easily could have passed for a stereotype. The book, child of rigorous research and interviews, tells a crystal clear and genuine history of the Okoroma people
One can only imagine how assiduous it was for the author while producing this masterpiece, as with all works involving a high level research this volume must have presented myriads of problems for the author; ”The history of the Okoroma people is one that has suffered a great deal of suppression”, the author states in the introductory pages. ”This was due to the interplay of two main factors—the strong desire of stronger and bigger neighboring communities to deliberately distort the true history and origin of the Okoroma people, with a view to oppressing, dominating and exploiting them for social, economic and political advantages and the weakness of majority of Okoroma indigenes in not shouting loud enough about their separate identity and historical heritage.”
The Okoroma people, cast politically in the Nembe local government area of Bayelsa state, Nigeria, are one people who have braved victimization, marginalization, deprivation, oppression and man-made obscurity. The Okoroma people, although next door neighbors with the Nembe people, have a strong linguistic similarity with the Ogbia (Oboinya) people, so strong that they are well taken to be Ogbias. Afterall, they have one ancestry which is traced to the eleventh century. As the king of Okoroma would make us believe…“At about eleventh century, three men believed to be natives of Igala or Idoma in the Middle Belt of Nigeria left their homes on a sojourn to the unknown seeking for a new home” [page 14]. It is one of the travelling men, Agoin, who migrated farthest south and found a home in the tip of the country. The origin of the word Ogbia comes from Agoin’s deity ”oboin”, later corrupted to oboinya and subsequently to Ogbia by others who joined Agoin’s expedition down the rivers of the south. It was from Oboin, the deity of Agoin, that the name Ogbia came to be after many generations of Oboinya, the first son of Agoin.
One cannot successfully talk about THE HISTORY OF THE OKOROMA PEOPLE without dropping a hint of the tribal distinctions in Bayelsa state. Bayelsa is made of five major tribes: The Ijaw (majority tribe), the Nembe’s, the Ogbia’s, the Epie and the Atissa (owners of the Yenagoa land). These are all different tribes with unique cultures and differing languages. In state politics, an Ogbia man is an Ogbia man, but in the national context an Ogbia man becomes an Ijaw man. The larger Ijaw have successfully swallowed the other tribes in terms of identity alone, and national and global identity at that. The Nembe’s, however, are bent on swallowing Okoroma people just in the way the Ijaw has done to the southernmost tribes of the Niger delta. And this is something HRH Charles Onoye Amiebi has vehemently and yet diplomatically rejected in his new book THE HISTORY OF THE OKOROMA PEOPLE.
The king has placed microscope in front of our eyes to see the untold intrigues and politics that has for long stalled the progress of the Okoroma kingdom and more devastatingly, the deliberate attempts from some quarters to strip the Okoroma people of their identity. Aside the chronological stating of events and acts that make this book a treasure trove of information, the book is further embellished with stunning prose that presents an easy, entertaining read. This is a book so masterfully cratfted such that its 107 pages suddenly becomes not enough. At the end the reader is still engrossed, seeking more pages to leaf through, such that going over the book once again to satiate rising appetites is the only thing that’s left to be done.
The book, “The History of the Okoroma People”, might also be considered a last gift by HRH Charles Onoye Amiebi, for he died a year ago at the ripe old age of seventy six. The publication of this book is thus an example of his descendants being alive to the legacy he has given them. There is little doubt that the late king would look down on them, and on us who have gained an insight into the Okoroma people of Bayelsa State, and smile.
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