Rivers State is considered the sixth-largest geographic area in Nigeria according to 2006 census data. The state has an indigenously diverse population with major riverine and upland divisions. In addition to these, the state has at least, fifteen autochthonous ethnic groups residing within Rivers State’s boundaries. Amongst these ethnic groups are the Ogba.
Situated in the extreme south-west of Igboland, in the modern Rivers State of Nigeria is the Ogba people (also called the Ogbah). Basically, they are indigenous Igbo-speaking people. The Ogba people comprise fourteen extended families divided into clans and occupy an area of about 600 km² in the Niger flood plain. Oral history and folklore have it that these wonderful set of people migrated to what is now called Ali-Ogba from the area of the then Benin Empire across the Niger about the 16th century.
Though they are an indigenous Igbo speaking people, they are, however, in the real sense speakers of a unique dialect of Igbo, referred to as the Ogba language. This particular dialect of the Igbo language consists of the Egi and Igburu Sections. Both sections actually speak one dialect with little variations from each other.
The Geography and the Economy of the Ogba People
The Ali Ogba people are blessed with the abundance of rainfall, reasonably so, because of the geographical orientation of their habitation. Their geographical location enables them to enjoy an all year round high temperatures averaging 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day, and a night temperature that ranges from 65 to 70 degrees. Also, the area has at least ten months of rainfall totalling over 80 inches per year with very high humidity in the summer months. The climatic conditions and topography support a wide variety of plant and animal life. The flora consists of economic trees especially oil palm trees and a variety of plants species of great pharmacological value as a human elixir.
In addition to these, the physical landscape of Ali-Ogba presents a variety of natural resources: relatively well-drained land and rich soils in many areas, freshwater rivers, creeks and wetlands, secondary forests and abundant sunshine and rainfall all year round. Underneath the earth, surface are pools of natural gas and oil. It is one of the major producers of Crude oil that fuels Nigeria’s economic development in recent decades. According to current oil company records, no local government in Nigeria produces as much crude oil and gas as the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) local government
As a result of these endowments, the natural environment supports an agricultural economy based on fishing and farming for production of a wide variety of crops such as cassava, yam, maize, coco-yam, plantain and banana, including many vegetables such as okra, pepper and different types of melon. In addition, fruit trees such as paw-paw (papaya) oranges, guava, mango and pineapples are widely grown in gardens around buildings in the communities. Thus, in many respects, Ali-Ogba mirrors other upland communities of Rivers state in the production of a variety of agricultural products.
Ellah, Francis J (1995). “Ali-Ogba: A History of Ogba People”. www.africanbookscollective.com. Fourth Dimension Publishers.
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