Nwaotam in Opobo


Wrapper tying ceremony of Opobo, featuring the two daughters of the Amanyanabo (king) of Opobo. The wrapper tying ceremony is a female rite of passage in the town of Opobo in the delta regions of south eastern Nigeria. 


First photo:

King Jaja in his Juju dress”

Portrait of king Jajah from Opobo in the Niger delta. As Martha G. Anderson and Lisa Aronson wrote “…he emulates, if not plays, the role of a local priest (a traditional authority figure upon which Ibani Ijo royalty came to be based) by pouring libations. […] Jaja’s choice of attire […] was not only appropriate for the role he was playing, but deeply embedded in Bonny royal tradition. The Eastern Ijo imported the Ijebu Yoruba cloth from the opposite side of the Niger Delta and renamed it ikakibite, or ‘cloth of the tortoise’.”

Second photo:

"King Jaja with rappa”

Portrait of king Jajah. “Resting his arm on a British-imported rattan chair, he wears a small-brimmed hat, and sports a suit jacket and shirt over a 'wrapper’ a British-borrowed word describing the cloth that covers the lower half of his body. […] …the plaid cloths draped over his right shoulder and on the imported rattan chair are unquestionably Indian madras, a type of cloth the British were trading to the Ijo in large quantities after 1850.” (Martha G. Anderson and Lisa Aronson in Schneider, Röschenthaler, Gardi: Fotofieber. Basel 2005. Original English version.

1870—1880, by John Parkes Decker, from [http://africaphotography.org/].


Letter Signed by King Jaja of Opobo

King Jaja of Opobo (1821-1891). In an era of gunboat diplomacy, he was one of the most powerful men in the eastern Niger Delta of Africa in 1880s. Astute in business and politics, his insistence on African independence exposed British imperialism. He was eventually arrested and found guilty of “treaty breaking ” and “blocking the highways of trade.” Summarily deported to the West Indies, he died four years later en route back to Nigeria. LS, 3pp, 5"x8", Opobo Town, Mar 29, 1883. To French traveler and explorer Charles de Cardi. JaJa acknowledges receipt of Bill of Lading for seven

“casks Palm Oil for which accept my thanks…You must be looking for a shipment of Palm Oil soon from me say about two steamers more. The trade is very bad for me this year, that’s why I couldn’t ship you as frequently as I wanted. The Consul has been to the Qua Iboe to settle some dispute about trade matters. When he went he sided altogether with George Watts. I lost two of my boys in the Qua Iboe and although I complained to the Consul about it, he has not given me any satisfaction…”

He inquires graciously regarding de Cardi’s family and speaks of sending 

“Sunday to England bye and bye when he has grown a little big…”

Boldly signed.

— Signature House


Bajan folk music about Jaja of Opobo. Jaja of Opobo (1821-1891) was the king of Opobo town in present day Nigeria, which was the centre of the palm oil trade in Africa. Jaja of Opobo was exiled by the British in 1888 for supposedly breaking treaties pertaining to the palm oil trade. He was first sent to Grenada in 1888 and arrived to Barbados in 1891 because of his ailing health. King Jaja died July 7 of the same year on his journey back to Opobo. His presence made an impact on the black population of Grenada and Barbados. [Detailed information at Barbados Museum & Historical Society Facebook].