Most people in the southernmost part of Nigeria have probably heard of Jaja of Opobo; well, at least I hope they have. The story of the Igbo boy sold into slavery in Bonny who not only became a successful business man, but also went on to be the Amayanabo of Opobo, a new town he founded, was part of the school curriculum in Rivers State. Jaja of Opobo by E. J. Alagoa (I swear I didn’t have to google it) was the official text and should be an okay start for those willing to learn about Jaja. If I remember correctly, Nana of Itsekiri is also mentioned in the same book. They both ended up being tried by the British and sent into exile; in Jaja’s case, never to return alive. If you are interested in Nana, Nana of Itsekiri by Obaro Ikime is a very good place to start.
I had never seen a boat regatta live, so I went looking for one. I called up a friend from Opobo and asked if he knew of any boat regattas that would be taking place in or around his locale;luckily for me, he said one was going to be taking place on New Year’s Eve in Opobo. I had never been to Opobo before so I thought this was going to be a short and easy trip. “Opobo was founded by families who left Bonny so it shouldn’t be that far away from Bonny” I thought; It should be as easy as getting a boat from one of the various jetties in Port Harcourt right? Wrong. A grown man born and bred in Port Harcourt should know these things. I blame my Opobo friends for this knowledge gap.
There are various ways to get to Opobo from Port Harcourt. The route we took required us to leave Rivers State to Akwa Ibom State; specifically Ute-Ewa in Ikot Abasi LGA; we then took a short boat ride back into Rivers State. This route is longer on land and really short on water. An older route requires going by land to Kono waterside in Ogoni land (still in Rivers State) and then taking a boat across to Opobo. The Kono route is shorter on land and longer on water. Another option requires getting to Andoni and then on to Opobo. This route, if the information I have is correct, can be used without the need for a boat.
The boat regatta is held on New Year’s Eve every year; there is also a masquerade display every New Year’s Day which I didn’t stay for. Hotel accommodations are also available on the main island although I didn’t take a look at any as I left the same day I arrived.
I was really impressed with what I saw during my admittedly short stay. It is the most visually appealing island I have been to in Rivers State (I haven’t been to Buguma or Bonny so if you are from there and you think they are more beautiful, I am sorry in advance). I hear Andoni has some really beautiful beaches so that might be next.
I hope you like the photos.