THE IGBO PEOPLE, BY WILLIAM BALFOUR BAIKIE,OCTOBER 30, 1854, by Clement Udegbe
Here is an extract from the book titled “Voyage up Rivers Kwo’ra, [Niger] and Bi’nue[Benue]” by William Balfour Baikie in 1854.It was brought to my attention by a good friend brother, lawyer and trusted Igbo son.
I requested to buy it from Thrift Books, where I find books at affordable price, but they ran out of copies. However,graciously Google has the digital free copy, which enabled me to bring this part which concerns Igbos to you.
Some of the Banes of Nigerian society today is that History of the tribes have been manipulated so much, that your enemies has been projected as your best friends;
The history they teach is so warped, that we spend more time in studying Mungo Park and his sea route to India, than the real history of my race,the Igbo race; A naturally belligerent, stubborn, killer squad in the name of a tribe has been allowed to fester and uphold wrong narratives about us all especially Igbos;
Yoruba and Igbos who in the whole Nigeria got first contact with the white man, have been hoodwinked to fight each other, and in that bizarrely foolish situation, they both subjected themselves to a majorly white-resistant, or European-education resistant race from the 15th century;
Yorubas got the first contact with the white men, followed quickly by the Calabar People who from this account, in 1854, were mostly Igbos, then the Coastal regions people, Igbo hinterland, before, Edo, Igala,and Tivs, who are closely tied to Igbos;
Adamawa, and lastly Kano, Kaduna, and Sokoto etc; resisted the Western contacts, were very bugerent to their neighboring tribes. Same game plays out today in the mismatch of tribes called Nigeria;
The first people who started killing their neighbors displacing them were Fulanis, who came from Senegambia area, they attacked their neighbors the Housas in the wee of the night, killed, displaced and took over their land, same madness we see today;
Igbos have always worshiped on deity unseen and unknow God, who created the heavens and the earth; Igbo Kings had always worn the Leopard Skin, and dresses in the Leopard Colors;
Asaba, Idoma, Calabar, Ogoja, Opobo, Nembe, Abonima, Most Coastal regions of Southern Nigeria, Igala, are all Igbo People; Any person from any these areas who says he is not Igbo, lacks knowledge, or is mischievous;
The palm wine is the original Igbo drink with great health abilities, when some honey is added to it.No wonder it called “Palm Wine powerless” by Chief Zeburudaya of Itche Oku!
ALL IGBOS IN BIAFRA AND ANIOMA MUST TREAT EACH OTHER AND THESE OTHER TRIBES AS BROTHERS PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU ALL. This is the purpose of this write up, which is long, and deservedly so. Iam only interested here in Chapter Ten(X) of the Book.
“We now bade adieu to Igára and Adó , and entered the l’gbo territories . Immediately adjoining Aháji to the southward is Inám (Anam), the people of which , though an I’gbo race , formerly paid tribute to the Attá , and afterwards to Obí . A branch here joins the river , known as the Inám river , and the Inám country is nearly a day’s canoe – journey up this stream . The people trade chiefly at Asabá and Onitshá.. Next to Inám , but nearer the river , is Nsúgbe or Isúgbe , founded upwards of twenty years ago by a man from Abó , who , having killed one of his wives had to leave that place . The dialect spoken is Abó , and tribute was formerly paid to Obí ; but , since his (Obi’s) death , to nobody . Their town , also named Nsúgbe , is on the north side of the Inám river , but the district extends on both sides . The people deal in similar articles to those of Inám , but trade principally at Onitshá . Inám and Nsúgbe are supplied with muskets mostly from Iddá , to which place they are brought from Abó . Below Walker Island , on the right bank , stands a small village belonging to Asabá , and named A’param – U’gboru . The language is Abó , and its market is visited by traders from Igára , and from Inám . The inhabitants , at first rather alarmed , soon became reconciled to our appearance , and we were conducted to their King , followed by a large and gradually increasing crowd . Asabá is finely situated on a rising ground , about 100 feet above the river , and is surrounded by walls , and by palisades of tall trees . The huts are numerous , but widely apart ; they are oblong , well – constructed , and many are whitewashed or coloured . The inhabitants , extremely numerous , were disposed to be friendly , but are a wild , rude – looking people,much tatooed.The gardens are hedged in with tall coco – palms , plantains , and bananas ; yams are abundant , and fowls,fine sheep , and cattle seem plentiful . Altogether we felt surprised that such an unprepossessing race should have a town so rich,so clean,and so well laid out . All the men carry arms , muskets , knives , swords , & c . , and many have in their hands a kind of musical , or rather , an acoustic instrument , made of a small elephant’s – tusk such as a scrivelloe , polished and neatly ornamented externally , with a small square hole near the apex communicating with the central hollow , and through which , when they blow forcibly , a loud and disagreeable sound is produced . I was anxious to purchase one of these but did not succeed . We were conducted to the King’s house , and seated , some on mats , some on carved wooden stools , under a verandah , which sheltered us from the intense heat of the sun.There are a number of petty chiefs in Asabá , who made their appearance in full costume , all clad in a similar manner . Each had round the waist a large piece of white calico , and a belt of leopard’s skin . They wore red caps , decorated with white and red feathers , which I found are only borne by warriors , each feather denoting an enemy slain in actual war fare . Some of our entertainers had as many as five or six , and I am told that Ajé at Abó is entitled to display seven . Round the eyes was a white – coloured ring , on the arms were ivory wristlets ; strings of cowries and charms hung round their necks , and each carried in his hand a fan . At length the head chief , an old man , named Ezebógo , came forward , habited like the rest , but with more ornaments . After our salutations , I spoke of friendship , of trade , and of education , and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war , and the benefits of peace , all of which was well received . Some most delicious palm – wine was then handed round , of which we all drank deeply , and , refreshed by this delightful beverage , we arose , and , after another look round this extensive place , returned to our ship , accompanied by a messenger , who came for a present for Ezebógo . The district behind Asabá is named Igbúsa , and in it are two towns called Ogbóri and Ogbóbi . A little above Asabá is said to be a village named Asabútshi . Palm – wine is the drink of all the l’gbo towns , and its use extends as far as Iddá , above which beer replaces it . The Muhammadans , though they will not touch beer , yet readily drink palm – wine . The palm – wine which we so admired at Asabá was obtained from the oil – palm , and had been sweetened with honey .
Half – an – hour brought us to Onitshá , where on landing we found the market , which is held close to the river. Among the canoes were several from Abó . The town is situated from two to three miles from the river , and we had not time to visit it ; but we met the King’s son , who is named Odíri , and by him I sent a message to Akazúa his father . Onitshá is in Eʼlugu , and the dialects spoken are Elugu , Isuáma , and Abó . The first king of Onitsha was named Udógu , who was alive about the time of Laird and Lander’s voyage . Odíri told us that the fancy cloths about which we had been so often inquiring , were made near Onitshá . He gave us the names of the following E’lugu towns , from which people attended the market held here every five days , namely , Obótshi , Ojá , U’mu , Oʻbba , Nkpó , Abája Ezongánran , Abája – O’bba , Uké , Akúku , Obú , Otó , Newú , Ozhi – Owére , Ofú – Abája , Ntéja , Nkuére , Nzhíbe . Different kinds of fancy cloths are distinguished by different names , as Owówo , A’naba – Obíri , and Nwéga . Mr. Crowther spoke to Odíri about sending teachers , and mentioned to him the desire of many E’lugus to come and settle here , on which Odíri said all would be willingly received and welcomed , and would be protected as long as they continued to conduct themselves properly . The country about and behind Onitshá is elevated and dry , and quite as eligible for a settlement as Asabá . Here also , canoes are few and small . By half – past three we were again wending our way down the river , passing on the right bank some villages named Oʻko , and on the left , the district of Odégbe , which is close to the river . I was anxious to have visited A’kra – A’tani ; but not knowing the exact locality itself , and trusting to Alihéli , he allowed us to pass it before mentioning anything about it . It is said to be oppo site a creek named the O’ko creek . Tradition relates that the original inhabitants of Abó were named A’kra , and when driven away by the race who came from Adó , they went and settled in different directions , their towns being distinguished by the prefix of A’kra to the previous name of the spot ; thus we have Aʼkra – A’tani , A’kra – U’gidi , and A’kra – Utéri . About six o’clock we anchored off the mouth of a creek running behind Ossamaré , and down which is said to be a town named Osútshi . Opposite to our anchorage , on the right bank of the river , is a village named Ut’shi . Two persons named Kaiméne and Eyín brought me presents of yams , and I offered them some things in return The one was satisfied , but the other grumbled , on which I recommended him to take back his yams , which made him alter his tune , as he had only come to see what he could make . At eight o’clock I went ashore to pay a visit to the King , an old man , called Nzedégu . The town is very inferior in situation to either Asabá or Onitshá ; it stands close to the river , and now especially , after the heavy rain of the night , was particularly muddy and filthy . Our conversation was of the usual nature , and though the King at first made some complaint about our not stopping off his town during our ascent , yet we contrived to give a satisfactory reason , and to establish a perfectly friendly under standing. Mr. Crowther explained to Nzedégu the nature of his visit , and the wishes of the Church Missionary Society to send teachers among them ; a statement which was eagerly listened to. Osameré is in Isuáma , but is closely connected with Abó , to which until the death of Obí it was tributary . A considerable quantity of palm oil is brought from the interior for shipment , being the principal port of Isuáma . In speaking of Isuáma it is often used in the contracted form of I’su . On the right bank below Bullock’s Island stands Okpái , after which the Abó territory proper commences , the first town in it being A’se . Opposite the south end of Bullock’s Island , to the eastward , is the district of Obágwe , with a town of the same name , below which is U’gidi , in which is situated Aſkra – U’gidi . To the southward of Uʼgidi , still near the river is Ogú , and further down the district and town of Egbóma .
Rather behind Egbóma stands Ugúta , the inhabitants of which come to the river for fishing and trading . At the mouth of the affluent , commonly marked in charts as the Bonny creek , is Ndóni , inhabited by a trading people , who go as far as Iddá for oil , which they bring to Abó for sale .
They speak the Abó dialect , and are reputed as skilful artisans. We were told that there were many Isuáma and Ndóni people resident in Abó at this time ; that many canoes had been lately from Brass and Orú , but none from Bonny ; and that cowries were of but little value in the Abó market , as he had seen 2000 paid for a single fowl . The name by which the river is known in the interior of I’gbo is “ Anyím . ” Alihéli related to me a circumstance regarding King Obí , which I heard confirmed at Iddá , and at Igbégbe , and which seems quite to free him from any suspicion of being concerned in Mr. Carr’s murder .
On hearing of this untoward event , Obí immediately sent to the Attá , to acquaint him of it , saying it was very unfortunate and would injure their prospects of trading with white men , and asking what steps ought to be taken about it .
The Attá not feeling himself sufficiently powerful to act , sent to Dásaba , requesting his assistance in punishing the murderers . This the latter readily agreed to , and offered to lead an army to the sea , provided the Attá would furnish canoes when required . Accordingly he marched along the right bank , until opposite A’da – mugú , when getting into swampy ground , he was afraid of losing his men , and therefore retraced his steps , making up for his disappointment by pillaging and destroying all the Kakanda towns and villages in his way .
Obí’s father was named Ogbóma . Ajé has four large war canoes , and about 250 slaves , while Tshukuma has five smaller canoes , and about 50 or 60 slaves . In the morning I went ashore with Mr. May , and with difficulty finding ground firm enough to support us , we got a set of sights . I seon Jonas in the gig to bring off Ajé and Tshúkuma , whom I had invited on board , and in the meantime I settled with Alihéli , who now returned to his own abode and his two wives . About half – past eleven , Tshúkuma and his head wife came alongside in the gig , on which I ordered two guns to be fired . He was attired almost exactly as he had been when I last saw him . Presently Ajé was seen to approach in a large canoe with seventeen paddles of a side , and accompanied by several of his wives , and some of his brothers and their wives . Another salute was fired , after which we received our visitors on board , and with some difficulty got them all seated on the poop . Ajé is a tall , rather stout , young – looking man , very superior in appearance to his brother , and is said in manner and countenance greatly to resemble his father . He appeared dressed in home made scarlet – cloth trousers , a scarlet uniform coat , a pink beaver hat , under which , apparently to make it fit , was a red worsted night – cap , no shoes , beads round the neck , and in his hand a Niger – expedition sword . After talking of general matters , I spoke of his father , of Captain Trotter , of trade , and of our wishes and intentions , on which he replied that he considered that whatever his father wished or promised was binding on him , adding , however , that we seemed very long in carrying out our part of the agreement . I gave him a double – barrelled gun , a large sabre , a scarlet tobe , some cloth and beads , and some scissors , mirrors , and needles for his wives , and also three krus ( 27,000 ) of cowries for his kindness to Simon Jonas . I explained to him that as our provisions were nearly expended , I could offer him but little ; on which he said he would merely ask for some biscuit , which I gave him . much amused with the shower – bath , which he called all his wives to look at , and was much pleased with a German accordian which I gave him . Some one , rather foolishly , asked him to a dinner of salt pork and yams , with a glass of sour claret , however he sat down with us , and the meal passed over tolerably . The palm – oil was all rejected , as it could not be started on board , and no casks were sent on shore for it . Ajé told Mr. Crowther and me , that if any order had been left in July , he could have had plenty for us . The river was now falling quickly , and the decrease of the water was perceptible daily . Our sick – list was gradually diminishing , and the few who remained were convalescing rapidly under good food . On examining our stock of edibles , we found that we had made our calculations very fairly , as by the time we should reach Fernando Po , we should have nearly consumed everything . I resolved to start in the afternoon .
I got much information about I’gbo from persons belonging to that country at Fernando Po , and at Sierra Leone , it will be advisable here to embody all the interesting facts connected with it .
I’gbo , as I have formerly mentioned , extends east and west , from the Old Kalabár river to the banks of the Kwóra , and possesses also some territory at Abó to the west ward of the latter stream . On the north it borders on Igára and A’kpoto , and it is separated from the sea only by petty tribes , all of which trace their origin to this great race .
In I’gbo each person hails , as a sailor would say , from the particular district where he was born , but when away from home all are I’gbos . And yet considerable differences exist between different parts of this extensive country . Those of which we heard during our voyage as being well marked are the Abó , E’lugu , Isuáma , and A’ro , of which that of Isuáma is the most widely diffused , the softest , and the best adapted for the lingual standard . Elugu is in the far north , close to Igára , and near it , to the eastward , are two smaller districts , Isiélu , and Isiágo . Of Abó I have already spoken fully . Isuáma is the most central division , and at the same time the largest . A’ro is more to the south – east , and is , as I shall presently have reason to mention , a very important place . Of other minor districts I may mention the following . About a day’s journey up the river from Okúloma ( Bonny ) is “ Ndóki ” as it is termed by its own inhabitants , but by the I’gbos of the interior it is styled Oſkwa . Near this is “ Ngwa through which it is said , no rivers nor creeks run , so that the people have to dig wells for water . In it are many villages , in which the streets are left very wide .
North – west from Ngwá is Oʻzuzu , where the language differs slightly in dialect , and in which every town has its own chief . Oʻzuzu people trade much with New Kalabár , which they know as Bom , but also as Karabári or Kalabári . There is plenty of palm – oil in Oʻzuzu , and abundance of cocos and yams . To the north or north – north – west of O’zuzu lies “ Mbóhia , ” called at Bonny “ Ikpófia . ” There are few towns here , it being chiefly a bush country . The derivation being from Mba country , and Ohia bush . Close to it is another similar district , and with in habitants of like propensities . It is named Ogóne , but at Bonny is known as Egáne . The people of Ndoki and Ngwá are reputed cannibals , that is to say , after war they eat the flesh of their enemies , but generally in secret . One of my informants assured me that , when a slave in Ngwá , he was an eye – witness to a repast of this nature . It took place after the death of a lady of property , when some slaves , purchased for the occasion , were slain and feasted on . From two to four days ‘ journey north from Bonny , is a large and important market town , named Ogobéndo , but which at Bonny is always called Bénde . It is a grand dépot for slaves , as well as for palm – oil and provisions , and supplies with the former New Kalabár , Bonny , and Andony , as well as other neighbouring countries . When the foreign slave trade was being actively carried on , this town was in the zenith of its wealth and importance , and even since has declined but little , as it still remains the centre of the home slave mart for the coast , and the south of l’gbo .
The word Brétshi is wrong , Mbrítshi being the correct term , but I’tshi is more frequently employed . To the northward and eastward of Ndóki is a large district named Abányim , where the l’gbos and people from Old Kalabár meet for trade . Not far from this stands the noted city of A’ro or A’no , where is the celebrated shrine of Tshúku , or the deity to which pilgrimages are made , not only from all parts of I’gbo proper , but from Old Kalabár , from the tribes along the coast , and from Orú , and Nímbe or Brass .
The city is described as being nearly three times the size of Abó , and as extremely populous . The inhabitants are skilful artisans , and manufacture swords , spears , and metallic ornaments , specimens of all of which I have seen , and can therefore testify to their being very neatly finished .
“The town is always mentioned with great respect , almost , at times , with a degree of veneration , and the people say “ Tshúku abyama , “ God lives there . ”
The dialect of A’ro is peculiar , but Isuáma and E’lugu are also much spoken , as well as E’fik or Old Kalabár , and numerous other languages are to be heard among the crowds of pilgrim – votaries who throng the shrine . I may mention Abám to the north of Ogobéndo , Isiápo a small district between Ndoki and Bonny and which may be reached by canoe , Oráta to the eastward of O’zuzu , and finally Omiúnsi , a town in Elugu , the inhabitants of which are said tobe The religion of I’gbo is entirely Pagan , mixed up with numerous rites and ceremonies , neither in general so frightful nor so bloody as those practised in Bíni , in Dahómi , and other more western countries , but still all of a pre – eminently superstitious character .
“The I’gbos all believe in an Almighty – being , omnipresent and omnipotent , whom they call Tshúku , whom they constantly worship , and whom they believe to communicate directly with them through his sacred shrine at A’ro . But they speak also of another and a dis tinct Deity , who at Abó is known as Orissa , but throughout other parts of I’gbo , as “ Tshúku – Okéke , ” “ God the creator , or the supreme God . ” Abó people believe that after death , those who have been good on earth may either go to Oríssa and abide with him , or they may , if they like , visit any country on earth ; and so slaves often , when dying , say that they will go and revisit their native land ; if , on the other hand a wicked man dies , it is understood that he is driven to Qkómo , or hell ; derived from oko , fire , and mo spirit . In Abó every man and every woman of any consequence keeps as djú – dju or sacred , the lower jaw of a pig , or , until they can procure this , a piece of wood fashioned like one . This is preserved in their huts , and produced only when worshipped , or when sacrifices are made to it , which are at certain times , at intervals of from ten days to three weeks . The particular days are determined by the djú – dju men or priests , and by them intimated to the people . They sprinkle this djú – dju with palm – wine , and touching it with a kola – nut , speak to it , and ask it to be good and propitious towards them . It is named A’gba , meaning pig , or A ‘ gba – E’zhi , or pig’s – jaw ; but when kept as djú – dju , it is also termed Ofúm , or “ my image , ” and also Tshúku . People also select particular trees near their huts , or , if there are none in the neighbourhood , they transplant one ; these they worship and call Tshúkum , or “ my God . ” They hang on these bits of white baff ( calico , ) as signs of a djú dju tree , and as offerings to the deity . No one ever touches these , and if they rot off they are replaced . Little wooden images are also used , and are styled O’fo – Tshúku , or “ images of God , ” and to these they talk and pray . When a man is suspected of false hood , one of these is placed in his right hand , and he is made to swear by it , and if he does so falsely it is believed that some evil will speedily befal him . Sacrifices , principally of fowls , are made to these latter , as to the former . In Isuáma and in Eʻlugu there are similar usages , but the pig’s – jaw is not employed , and no white baff is hung on the trees . At Abó one large tree is held as djú – dju for the whole district , it is covered with offerings , and there is an annual festival in honour of it , when sacrifices of fowls , sheep , goats , and bullocks are made . When a man goes to A’ro to consult Tshúku , he is received by some of the priests outside of the town , near a small stream . Here he makes an offering , after which a fowl is killed , and , if it appears unpropitious , a quantity of a red dye , probably camwood , is spilt into the water , which the priests tell the people is blood , and on this the votary is hurried off by the priests and is seen no more , it being given out that Tshúku has been displeased , and has taken him . The result of this preliminary ceremony is determined in general by the amount of the present given to the priests , and those who are reported to have been carried off by Tshúku are usually sold as slaves . Formerly they were commonly sent by a canoe , by a little creek , to Old Kalabár , and disposed of there . One of my informants had met upwards of twenty such unfortunates in Cuba , and another had also fallen in with several at Sierra Leone . If , however , the omen be pronounced to be favourable , the pilgrim is permitted to draw near to the shrine , and after various rites have been gone through , the question , whatever it may be , is propounded , of course , through the priests , and by them also the reply is given .
A yellow powder is given to the devotee , who rubs it round his eyes , which powder is called in I’gbo , E’do . Little wooden images are also issued , as tokens of a person having actually consulted the sacred oracle , and these are known as O’fo – Thúku , and are afterwards kept as djú – dju . A person who has been at A’ro , after returning to his home , is reckoned djú – dju or sacred for seven days , during which period he must stay in his house , and people dread to approach him . The shrine of Tshúku is said to be situated nearly in the centre of the town , and the inhabitants of A’ro are often styled Qmo – Tshúku , or God’s children . Mo ndjó means a bad or evil spirit .
The greatest or worst of evil spirits , is named Kamállo , possibly equivalent with Satan . His name is frequently bestowed on children , and in some parts of I’gbo , especially in Isuáma , Kamállo is worshipped .
No images are made , but a hut is set apart , in which are kept bones , pieces of iron , as sacred . Persons make inquiries of this spirit , if they wish to commit any wicked action , such as murder , when they bring presents of cowries and cloth to propitiate this evil being and render him favourable to their designs . If the individual intended as the victim suspects any . thing , or gets a hint of his adversary’s proceedings , he also comes to worship , bringing with him , if possible, more valuable offerings , to try to avert the impending danger , and this is called Erise náo , or “ I cut on both sides .
” Kamállo means “ one going about everywhere and in all directions . ” Another evil spirit is named Igwikálla ; álla , meaning “ ground , ” and I’gwik , “ one who lived above before coming down . ” In Isuáma if a man is sick , the doctor often tells the friends to consult Igwikálla , and he is also worshipped by persons wishing to injure others . His supposed abode is generally in a bush , which has been well cleared all round , but occasionally huts are dedicated to him , and priests execute his decrees . Throughout l’gbo the bodies of the dead are generally interred . In Abó this is invariably done , and the grave is always in the hut of the deceased , but this does not prevent the place remaining in habited . In Abó slaves used always to be sacrificed on such occasions , and so late as the decease of King Obí , Simon Jonas told me that forty slaves were killed , these being specially purchased for this horrid purpose , domestic slaves never being so treated . As far as I could learn , however , this practice is gradually dying out at Abó , if it is not altogether extinct . Graves , therefore , of chiefs are large pits , into which are first thrown a number of dead slaves , then the body of the departed , and lastly some more slaves . In Isuáma it is only rich persons who are buried in their own houses , the bodies of slaves being simply interred in the bush . In Isuáma a part only of the clothes of the deceased are thrown into the grave, but in Abó almost the entire wardrobe and all the ornaments descend with their late possessors into the tomb ; thus women , too , are buried with their rings and anklets , a practice which serves to keep up the enormous price of the latter , which , again , are seldom , if ever , worn in Isuáma . Bullocks are killed and eaten , guns are fired , Dancing and other amusements take place . In E’lugu , Isuáma , Ebane , In Abó , A’ro , Bóm , Ndoki , Orú , In addition to these above mentioned , slaves are killed . In l’gbo time is measured by years ; by seasons , as the dry season , the rainy season , & c .; by moons , of course about twenty – eight days ; and lastly , by a shorter period , analogous to our week but consisting only of four days . These are termed as follows : First day , Eſke , Second day , O’ri , Third day , Nkwó , Fourth day , A’fo . Eſke corresponds to our Sunday , and on it no regular work is done . Some pass this day in idle ness , others consult their Oʻfo Tshúku and other images or sacrifice to them . But they are not very strict about its observance . This last division of time shows itself in many ways , thus their markets are held every four days . The food of the inhabitants of I’gbo consists of yams , corn , rice , bananas , plantains , coco – nuts , palm oil , and other esculent vegetable matters , also fowls , sheep , goats , bullocks , or the flesh of any wild animals Dogs are occasionally eaten at Abó , as also in Igára and Núpe , but not so regularly as in Bíni , Orú , Nímbe , Ebáne , and New Kalabár . There is a con siderable traffic carried on at Abó in dogs , which are purchased at Iddá , and are sold to supply the delta of the river . Cats are pro cured from Iddá for killing vermin , but are not used as food . Rats are eaten , as far as I could learn , at Nímbe ( Brass ) .
Monkeys are prized as food all along the river , except by the Hausa Muhammadans , who hold this animal in great abhorrence . At Abó a great medium of barter is salt , which is brought up from Nímbe and from Bíni , and is always in demand Throughout I’gbo great wars are now seldom heard of , but petty quarrels often occur . The last time Abó was at war was about 1851 , with Dásaba , when one Abó man , and ten or twelve of Dásaba’s party were killed . The usual style of disputes generally ends in the capture of a canoe , or the confiscation of a cargo . When King Boy was at Abó , in 1842 , about the time of Lieutenant Webb’s visit in the “ Wilberforce , “
Obí taxed him with having been concerned in Mr. Carr’s murder , which , however , Boy would not admit . But his precipitate retreat from Abó was . looked on as strong evidence of his guilt , and from that period none of his canoes ever came to Abó until about three years before our visit , at which time several arrived for trading purposes . The village , which is the first one in the Orú country , is named Agbéri , and the chief , called Agbekúm , had been on board as we passed on our ascent . Since that time he had been on a pilgrimage to A’ro , to inquire why his wife had no children , and from this place he had but just returned . Mr. Crowther and I were delighted at such an opportunity presenting itself of getting some direct information about this mysterious place , so as soon as the trading operations were fairly set a – going , we got closeted with this man in his hut . He was still djú – dju , but we did not feel any particular dread in sitting by him , and besides as strangers it was permitted to us to visit him . He went by canoe from Aghérito a creek nearly opposite Abó , and entering it , proceeded to a place named Igbéma ( Egbóma ? ) , whence he finished his journey by land . On arriving at A’ro the priests gave him some yellow powder , which he showed us , and which they said would kill him if his heart were bad : he also exhibited some articles , as guardian images , also obtained from the priests . He was un willing to speak freely of Tshúku , whom he told us could not be seen , but could only be heard through the priests . He told us there were many people from Old Kalabár living in A’ro , and also some whom he termed “ Ibíbi , ” whom I believe to be from the country known to white traders as “ Egboshári , ” near the Cross river , as the E’fik name for that place is Ibibio . We saw here an A’ro slave , when I had an opportunity of examining the distinguishing mark of that place , to which I have already alluded . Some of the people were much interested in seeing Mr. Crowther writing , and were extremely astonished when handing his note – book to me , I read “ Agbéri and “ Agbekúm , ” the names of their town and of their chief . The chief said that if any intimation had been given to his people , they could have col lected plenty of palm – oil ready for us to ship now . He told us also , that the nearest district inland from Agbéri was Akpófia ( Mbóhia ) , from the borders of which they were distant about a day’s journey , or from fifteen to twenty miles ; while we were wooding.
This channel is in Allen and Thomson’s Narrative * called the O’gu borìh river , but I see on referring to Vogel’s Journal , that on asking some natives who were at a distance their name for it , they only fancied that they gave it as “ Oguberri . ”
I had a second interview with the King , whose name is Ndáwa , to whom I spoke of the folly of his people in trying to obstruct the free navigation of the river , and in attempting to keep all trade in their own hands . I told him we were desirous of being friendly with them , but that if ever the Orú men tried to oppose or injure us , we had the power , and should feel obliged to resort to force ; but that instead of driving us to employ such unpleasant means , how much better would it be for all , were enmity laid aside , and quarrelling , which would only lead to bloodshed , entirely foresworn . To all this the King returned most peaceable replies , and ended by giving me a sheep , and some yams and coco – nuts , on which I presented him with a red cloak , which pleased him no less than it delighted the spectators . On walking through the town I fell in with a doctor’s shop , a great curiosity , but was unable to see the learned gentleman himself , and to claim him as a pro fessional brother . It was a small room , wonderfully clean , and painted , the sides being striped with blue , black , red , and white , and the back checked with the same colours . Two pots of herbs in steep were placed on a tripod , composed of three branches springing from a common origin . Two divining rods , many long pointed sticks , ( one cut like a crocodile’s head , another carved to resemble a tortoise , and a third painted rudely to represent a man , ) were in different corners , while hanging around the walls were numerous strings of cowries and other charms . Coco – palms were very abundant , and at that time hung all round with fruit . This is the place where Lander was attacked when returning in an open boat to rejoin Oldfield . Since that time the village has been moved about 300 yards further up , but the place opposite which he received his mortal wound is marked by a tall palm – tree .
I will here relate what had occurred in the Brass river very shortly before this period . A white trader , then agent for an English house , had , out of a mere freak , ordered a native who came on board his ship one day to be seized and flogged . This lad’s father , however , was a man of consequence on shore , and , on hearing of this outrage , he summoned his friends , and in two large canoes attacked and boarded the ship . The white Captain armed his Kruboys with muskets , but they , unwilling to quarrel with the natives , or to fight in a bad cause , gave way ; the captain then retreated towards his cabin , but just as he was entering it , he was laid violent hands on , in the scuffle had one of his thumbs nearly cut off , was put into a canoe , taken ashore , and fastened to a tree , where he was left for twelve hours , and the natives said openly they would have killed him , but that they feared a visit from an English man – of – war . This same individual trained his Krúmen to fight with the Krúmen of the other trading ships in the river , and in short , endeavoured to carry on his trading by brute force . Such transactions as these were formerly of daily occurrence , but now fortunately they occur but rarely ; but what can be expected of native tribes , who see before them , acted by so – called civilized men , deeds which would disgrace a very savage ? About nine o’clock a canoe from Brass came along side , bringing two black men , coopers , natives of British Akrá , who begged of me to take them away . From their statement it appeared that they had been in the employ of the supercargo to whom I have above alluded , but had been summarily dismissed by him some eight or nine months previously , without their wages being paid , and since they had been living on shore in a very poor way , chiefly by the kindness of the man who now brought them in his canoe . They had on several occasions tried to get away from Brass , by ships leaving , but their captain had always interfered to prevent this , and the masters of vessels to whom they had applied , unwilling to give offence to the stronger party , or anxious to avoid any misunderstanding , had invariably refused them . I examined the men separately , and got the same story from each , and their tale was confirmed by the native . I had no jurisdiction , nor had I the means of inquiring into the merits of their case ; however , it would not do to leave the poor fellows to their fate . I therefore resolved to look on them as distressed British subjects , and determined to carry them to the nearest English consulate , when I could hand them over to the authorities . I paid the native for his kindness in caring for them , that he might know that all white men are not ungrateful brutes . This man told us that the native name for Brass is Nímbe , but that by Abó it is termed Itebú . Nímbe calls Orú , Ejó . The Brass dialect differs but slightly from that of Orú . Akássa is , he said , an Orú village .
The Brass name for the Nun is Akássa toro , for the Río Bento , Tuwon tóro , for the San Nicolas , Kóla toro , for the New Kalabár river , Kálaba tộro , for the Bonny , Okúloba tóro , and for the Old Kalabár , Efíngi toro , toro being water or a river . I mention these circumstances to show , that under proper precautions , Europeans may not only live quietly , but even commit with impunity what , some years ago , would have been considered as terrible indiscretions .”
All italics are mine for emphasis purposes.