Kingdom of Bonny
Ijaw States, including Bonny
|Founded by||King Ndoli |
|• Amanyanabo||Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, Perekule XI|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (WAT)|
The Kingdom of Bonny, otherwise known as Grand Bonny, is a traditional state based on the town of Bonny in Rivers State, Nigeria. In the pre-colonial period, it was an important slave trading port, later trading palm oil products. During the 19th century the British became increasingly involved in the internal affairs of the kingdom, in 1886 assuming control under a protectorate treaty. Today the King of Bonny has a largely ceremonial role.
The Ibani kingdom was founded before the 15th century. Its modern name, "Bonny", is a corruption of the original Ibani. According to tradition, the island on which the town of Bonny is situated was full of curlews, and some of the first settlers therefore referred to it as "Okoloama", meaning curlew town (lit. the land of curlews). This name is still used traditionally.
The hereditary king, who has the title "Amanyanabo", originated from the bloodline of the earliest kings of Bonny. These kings are seen as the original owners of the kingdom and its lands and territories, and so it is from them that the current monarch derives his authority. The kings, namely Ndoli, Opuamakuba, Alagbariya (who bore the praise name Okoloamakoromabo) and Asimini, were all related to one another.
The dynasty and the chieftaincy houses
King Asimini modified the dynasty that existed and ruled Bonny before his reign. King Halliday was the first crowned king of the realm and lost his crown to Asimini. Presently only his descendants of Asimini were enthroned as his successors. The Asimini lineage of kings includes Edemini, Queen Kambasa, Kumalu, Wari, Amakiri, Awusa and Perekule I.
Today, all of the houses (or basic societal units, akin to the clans in Scotland) also claim descent from the four original founders. The current house system that consists of 34 chieftaincy groups is directly descended from King Asimini and King Alagbariya. Apart from the Bristol house (which is tracable to Alagbariya), all of the houses of the kingdom belong to the Asimini lineage.
The Brown house is descended from Opu Ipuo, great-grandson of Kumalu, while the Tolofari house is traceable to Ndende, a grandson of Kumalu. House Green is likewise descended from Agbaa Fubara, a great-grandson of Kumalu, while House Halliday is traceable to Pulotu, a grandson of Bupor and great-grandson of Kumalu.
The other houses of Bonny are descended from Perekule, the son of Siriye, grandson of Papanye, great-grandson of Queen Kambasa, great-great-grandson of Edimini and great-great-great-grandson of Asimini. Kumalu and Papanye were both the sons of Queen Kambasa, a fabled monarch that was herself the granddaughter of Asimini.
The original monarchs, along with the rest of the founding generation of the kingdom, established its civilization and commonwealth during what is known as the classical era. After the four of them died, their blood descendants ruled the kingdom as its kings until the reign of King Awusa (alias Halliday) at the start of the modern period. King Awusa Halliday was the twelfth monarch to rule the kingdom of Grand Bonny. After his reign, King Perekule I emerged as his successor.
The House system
|House of Perekule Pepple|
|Nigerian royal dynasty|
|Current region||Niger Delta|
|Current head||Perekule XI|
|Connected families||Opobo royal family|
|Religion||Ijaw religion |
King Awusa Halliday was succeeded in the kingship by King Perekule, who was crowned by Chief Adapa Alagbariya. This was long before King Perekule created a new class of chiefs in the kingdom, one that began with Chief Allison Nwaoju (of the Allison Nwaoju Major House) in about the second half of the 18th century. The chieftaincy titles created by King Perekule, which were based on the lineage/house/family system that was itself first established by the founding generation of the ancient kingdom, are distinct from the hereditary traditional rulership chieftaincies of the "Duawaris" (or original royal houses) of Grand Bonny.
According to Ibani traditions, the kingship of Perekule I and his descendants is not supposed to interfere with the inalienable internal autonomy of these Duawaris. Their traditional rulers - who are not kings - are styled as "Aseme-Alapu" (lit. high chiefs of royal blood) and "Amadapu" (lit. district heads). As a result of this, the traditional ranks and titles of the rulers of the Duawaris are different from those that are within the personal gift of the monarch, the Amanyanabo. Rather than being derived from the king creating his own chiefs (a tradition which, as we have seen, is of a relatively recent origin), they are instead derived from the high chiefs and district heads' direct descent from the founding fathers of the kingdom.
Bonny became important in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese and the growth of the Atlantic slave trade. At its height of power, Bonny was one of the main entrepôts on the Slave Coast. Later the Dutch and then the British took control of the slave trade in the region, with the British renaming the port "Bonny". When the British passed an act to abolish the slave trade in 1807, the port turned to the export of palm oil products, ivory and Guinea pepper.
Growing British influence
William Dappa Pepple I ascended the throne in 1830. He became increasingly incompetent, particularly following a stroke in 1852, and stirred up opposition to his rule. In 1854 the British deported the king. King Dapu Fubara II Pepple ("Dappo") was appointed in his place, but died on 13 Aug 1855. The acting British Consul in the Bight of Biafra, J.W.B. Lynslager, signed a document on 11 September 1855 appointing the chiefs Anne Pepple, Ada Allison, Captain Hart and Manilla Pepple as a regency, required to consult with Banigo and Oko Jumbo, "two gentlemen of the river".
Bonny civil war
Oko Jumbo, who became leader of the Fubara Manilla Pepple house and effective ruler of the kingdom, became engaged in a struggle with the Anne Pepple house, which was led by a chief named Jubo Jubogha, known as Ja-Ja to the British.
In an attempt to stabilize the situation, the British restored King William Dappa Pepple I in 1861, and for the next five years until his death on 30 September 1866 the kingdom was relatively peaceful.
King William Dappa was succeeded by his son George Oruigbiji Pepple (born 1849), who had been educated in England. George Pepple was a Christian, and on 21 April 1867, supported by Oko Jumbo and other chiefs, he declared the iguana was no longer the sacred deity of the kingdom. The tension between the Manilla Pepple and Anne Pepple houses was revived at this time. In 1869 a major battle between the two factions led to Ja-Ja founding a new state at Opobo, further inland, taking some of the palm oil trade away from Bonny.
Bonny had previously been on reasonably good terms with the Kalabari Kingdom, a trading state on the New Calabar and Imo rivers. With the loss of trade to Opobo, Bonny began pushing up rivers traditionally controlled by Kalabari, causing a series of armed clashes. Bonny was at times assisted by the Nembe Kingdom to the west and Okrika further inland, while Opobo allied with Kalabari. In 1873, and again in 1882 the British consul had to intervene and force the feuding parties to agree to treaties.
Protectorate and later history
The unstable balance of power within Bonny deteriorated. On 14 December 1883 King George was deposed.
The next year Oko Jumbo fell out with the other chiefs in Bonny. There were rumors that he wanted to place one of his sons on the throne, although a planned coup attempt in January 1885 came to nothing. Another son, Herbert Jumbo, who had been educated in England, quarreled with his father and placed himself under the protection of the British consul.
In February 1886 a protectorate treaty was concluded between Bonny and Britain. A ruling council was established, and King George Pepple was restored to his throne. Oko Jumbo was publicly degraded, his bans on Christianity were repealed and afterwards he was a spent force in Bonny politics.
King George died in October 1888, and was succeeded by a series of regents, kings and at one time a Chiefs Council before Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III (Perekule XI) took the throne in 1996.
Independent state during the early modern era
The following were the independent rulers of Okoloama.
|1759||1760||Awusa "King Halliday"|
|1760||Perekule I "Captain Pepple"|
|1792||Fubara I Agbaa Pepple|
|1792||1828||Opubo Annie Pepple the Great|
|1828||1830||Adumtaye-Bereibibo Adapa Bristol-Alagbariya (Pepple IV?)|
|1830||23 January 1854||Dappa Perekule (1st time) (installed Jan 1837)|
|23 January 1854||13 August 1855||Dapu Fubara II Pepple "King Dappo" (d. 1855)|
|11 September 1855||18 August 1861||Regency|
|18 August 1861||30 September 1866||William Dappa Pepple I (Dappa Perekule) (2nd time)|
|30 September 1866||14 December 1883||George Oruigbiji Pepple|
Protectorate and Nigerian Federation
These are the rulers that reigned after the Kingdom of Bonny became part of the British protectorate, as well as the ones that have reigned in the independent Federation of Nigeria:
|22 Jan 1887||31 Oct 1888||George Oruigbiji Pepple (2nd time)|
|31 Oct 1888||28 Feb 1892||Waribo (Regent)|
|1932||14 Feb 1932||Claude Sodienye (Regent, d. 1952)|
|14 Feb 1932||1937||Secondus George Pepple II (d. 1939)|
|1937||1952||Claude Sodienye -Regent (2nd time)|
|1952||27 Dec 1957||Francis D. Banigo (Regent)|
|27 Dec 1957||1970||Eugene William Dappa Pepple II|
|1993||1996||Osobonye Rogers Longjohn (Regent)|
|1996 till date||Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, Perekule XI|
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