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Historic Festivals And Tourism Development In The Niger Delta: The Adigbe Fishing Festival In Focus.

 By Bina Odogu (Ph.D) Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State & O.O. Osusu (Ph.D) Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State 

Abstract 

Post-independence Nigeria has witnessed agitations for and against resource control and management. This is largely so because the nation relies virtually on crude oil and allied minerals for its economic survival. However, recent “clamour” for diversification has necessitated the need to explore other means of boosting the economy. One of the most favoured in this direction is the tourism industry which is seen as a viable source of revenue. The present effort is an investigation into the dynamics of the tourism industry with specific reference to the Adigbe fishing festival. 

Introduction 

The Nigerian state has held so many “talk shops” aimed at diversifying her mono-economy from crude and oil activities. While it is a commendable venture, enough has not been done to actualise this vision, most scholar are of the view that the country have the potentials to diversify her economy if encouragement is given to other critical sectors that are ‘begging’ to be tapped. One of such sector is the tourism industry. As divers as the tourism industry is, if properly packaged, it can and will surely satisfy the government’s desire at diversifying the economy. Historic cultural festivals 

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that have evolved over the years and attracted people from all parts of the country and beyond can ‘change the face of the Nigerian Economy’. One of such histotric festivals is the “Adigbe Fishing Festival of Ossiama”. It is Perhaps necessary to begin this discuss by considering who the Ossiama People are, where they came from and what they stand for, to properly appreciate the topic. 

The Ossiama People 

The Ossiama people are Izon-speaking group of people in the central Niger Delta area of Bayelsa State. The Ijo dialect spoken by the Ossiama people is quite different from other Izon-speaking communities in the Niger Delta; it is simple but rich with words of expression. However, the Ossiama Ijo dialect is easily understood by all the core Izon-speaking people except the Kalabari, Okrika and Bonny (Ibani). There are two schools of thought about the origin, migration and settlement of Ossiama people. The first school of thought has been traced to a man called, “Ossi” in an oral interview with Meshach Asei, the name “Ossiama was probably derived from the founder “Ossi” who was the tenth son of Oyakiri and equally the great- grandson of Ijo” The legend further explained that Ijo the great-grandfather of “Ossi” lived in old Benin Empire.1 As a result of incessant inter-tribal wars that characterized pre-historic and pre-colonial days in African, in search of security, he left Benin with his wife and moved southwards along the Niger River. He eventually settled at the bank of a river called Toru- Ebeni and this river is one the tributaries of the River Niger. Ijo (Ijaw) gave birth to a son called Oyakiri who is today believed to be founder of Oyakiri clan in old Sagbama District and now in Mein Oyakiri Local Government of Bayelsa State. After the death of Ijo, his son got married to a woman who allegedly believed to have migrated from Benin too. According to the tradition of origin, Oyakiri had “twelve sons”. Namely: Ebainowei, Adagba Alai, Kunuowei, Lola, Egbesu, Anyama, Odoni, Akei, Ossi, Isoiowei and Eri. The legend also had it that Oyakiri was a core traditionalist which was the characteristic of present day Ossiama and the surrounding communities 

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that share common ancestral heritage. Oyakiri was the chief priest to his well-respected god called “Egbesu”. The importance he attached to this god made him to name his sixth son Egbesu” after the god. He was devoted to the service of this god all through his lifetime. When he was stricken with age, he transferred the duty of feeding and serving the god to his second son, Adagba. He (Oyakiri) transferred the duty of feeding and serving the god to is second son, Asagba. He (Oyakiri) later died and buried at Toru- Ebeni. 

In an oral interview with one Meshack Osei, where he submits that after the death of Oyakiri their father, the cordial relationship that had once existed among the children was shattered”. In fact, the children were bedeviled by crises. A very serious controversy arose among them on who would be the next chief priest to the god (Egbesu) their father left behind. When the matter could not receive an amicable resolution, all of them fled Toru-Ebeni, leaving behind the first son, Ebainowei who acquired some properties him (Ebainowei) married, got children, built boots and settled in the land.2 The tradition of origin also has it that, Ebainowei was the founder of Toru-Ebein near Amassoma in southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Adagba who was believed to be a hero over-powered his brothers and fled with the god to a place he finally settled, called Adagbabiri. He built alter and worship the god in the land. This god is still being served in Adagbabiri and popularly called “Oyakiri-Egbesu”. Also, the third son, went and settled in a place called Alaibiri, the fourth son equally migrated to a place called Kunu, the fifth son called Lala went, settled in a place called Lalabiri. The sixth son settled and developed a place called Egbesuwari, while the seventh son, moved some nautical mile northwards to establish Anyamabiri today called Anyama. The eight sons migrated and established a town called Odoni. Also Akeddei that is some miles away from present Ossiama was also believed to be founded by the ninth son of Oyakiri called Akei. Ossi the tenth son of Oyakiri migrated and settled in a place later known as Ossiama. The eleventh son name Isoni-owei, founded a community today known as Isoni after his name and the twelfth son also migrated and 

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settled in a place now called Eriama. The tradition of origin also added that the sons of “Ossi” latter founded other three communities namely; Egbopulo-ama, Aweama and Ogbunuama due to economic survival and other reasons. According to an oral interview with one Sarrow in Atika,”Ossiama witnessed another migration in the 18th century. It was said that the fourth son of Ossi called Abia violated the popular Adigbe Lake situated some meters away from the town in the eastward direction from Ossiama. Abia killed the forbidden Lake Adigbe crocodile which is still considered sacred. They considered this an unpardonable abomination. As a result of this, he was made an outcast and the family jointly sent him away. This led to the migration of Abia and his family southward to the Atlantic Coast and founded the Koluama community”. In their characteristic practice both Ossiama and koluama people have a lot of similarities in their culture and socio-political structures. At present, the Ossiama kingdom is a conglomeration of four (4) autonomous Communities excluding Koluama town, namely; Ossiama, Egbopuo-ama, Awa-ama and Ogburu-ama. And Egbopulo-ama is also known as Ossiama II Awe-ama is also known as Ossiama III and Ogbunu-ama is also known as Ossiama IV. 

The second school of thought equally believed that the name “Ossiama was probably, derived from its founder, “Asiyai” which has now been wrongly pronounced “Ossi” (meaning snail). It was believed that “Asiyai” was one of the son of Oyakiri; the founder of Oyakiri Clan in Aleibiri District of old Sagbama now in Mein Oyakiri Local Government of Bayelsa State. According to W. Freeman and E.J. Alagoa’s report in his book, “A history of the Niger Delta” (1972), the grandfather of Oyakiri, Ijo (Ijaw). Migrated from old Benin Empire and subsequently founded the Oyakiri Clan. Alagoa’s record explained that: 

… Ijaw (Ijo) lived at Benin but left because of incessant wars here. Hecame to Aboh on the Niger Delta. Ijaw (Ijo) died at Aboh, and his son Oruma was driven out. He came to Toru-Ebeni. Oruma’s son, Oyakiri, moved into Kanu Creek and founded Anyama-Ebeni. The 

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people, accordingly, derived their name from Oyakiri, whose sons founded the component towns, but the alternative name Benin or Beni, apparently belonged to Oyakiri’s wife, and mother of the sib- group.3 Asiyai, one of the sons of Oyakiri migrated southward from Toru- Ebeni because of a dispute triggered off by the division of “meat killed in a hunt”. In his Southwards migration, he came and settled at Apoi Creek near the estuary of the river. He got married to a woman who allegedly migrated from Benin Empire and gave birth to seven sons and a daughter among whom were, Akodi, Boi, Kuro, Abia, Tanyian, Akoromo and Sumum. After the formation of Lake Adigbe, the prevailing conditions at the settlement became unfavourable, with the result that the seven sons of Asiyai left him, came out of the creek and had their individual settlements. In the course of time, Asiyai equally deserted his settlement and joined his sons at the main river. By and large, all the segmented settlements of Asiyai’s sons were incorporated to form the “Asiyama” which because of mispronunciation, became known as Ossiama. The people are agitating to change its name since it is relatively a mockery name meaning snail or “warrior’s town”. 

Ossiama also witnessed series of migration, especially in the 18th century” according to the usual legend; a sharp controversy arose between the sons of Assiyai over the division of meat killed in a hunting expedition. The commotion could not be resolved amicably. As a result of this, the descendants of the fourth son of Abia, called Abiabiri left the town (Ossiama). These people migrated southwards to the Atlantic coast and founded the Koluama community. Besides the Abia’s descendant’s migration out of Ossiama, Boibiri, Iyo, Awe and Ogbunu migrated some three nautical miles southwards and “founded” four villages namely; Egbopulogbene, Awegbene; Ogbunugbene, and Iyogbene. Iyogbene which because of an epidemic disease totally got evacuated in the late fifties. As of now, Ossiama is a conglomeration of four main communities. Notwithstanding the two versions of migration, there is a link between the 

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two which the people of the kingdom believed as their origin and migration. 

Geographic Location and Life Style 

Ossiama is a town in present day Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State. It is situated along the bank of a branch of one of the tributaries along River Niger. Ossiama is bounded by Akeddie to the north, Sampou and Lake Adigbe to the West, East by a thick mangrove forest Island which terminates in a tributary creek of River Nun and South by Ondawari, Isoni and Ogboinbiri communities. The main town has other three villages namely, Egbopulo-ama, Aweama and Ogbunu-ama which extended some nautical miles in the Southern part of it (Ossiama main town). Ossiama is located between latitude 4045 north of the equator and longitude 605 east of the Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT). The 1963 census figure of the town was about 4,000 but now the population of all the four communities in the kingdom would be estimated to be above 15,000. “It is one of the largest communities in the Oyakiri clan”. Ossiama is located at the mesh of the Niger Delta; in Swampy Zone under the influence of fresh water. Several Creeks surrounded the towns, a few of which are navigable while others are not, except during flood seasons. The first settlement of the founding fathers of Ossiama, the Apoi Creek, connects the Ossiama is a confluence town that has tropical ever-green forest which on its part’ virtually have rainfall throughout the year. Though in Ossiama, a break is normally experienced between November, December, January and early part of February. The peak of the rain which is usually characterized by annual flood season is between July and October, Ossiama experiences an annual rainfall which ranges from 70cm3 – 89cm3 and its peak is during the flooding period which is duration of five months. The flood commences around May with its peak in the month of September and recedes in October. Over some years, there has been a remarkable decrease in the volume and velocity of the flood water, except the year 2012 devastating flood. The resultant effects of this decrease are detrimental to the economic activities of the people. 

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As earlier noted, the Ossiama are Izon-speaking people in the Niger Delta Region of Bayelsa State and they are situated in Sagbama Local Government Area. The most common occupation engaged in by the people of the area is fishing and to some extent subsistence farming. Fishing takes the central occupation of the people because of the riverine nature of the area, with few cultivable lands for agricultural purpose. Apart from fishing as earlier pointed out, subsistence agriculture is also practiced by the people. They cultivate various types of food crops like plantain, cocoyam, cassava, water yam, sugar-cane and sugar-beet, okro and among others etc. The people further engages in other lucrative forms of occupations ranging from Snail hunting, canoe carving, hunting of bush animals, lumbering and trading has also featured significantly in recent times, and others work as civil servants in the Bayelsa State. The Ossiama people are very hospitable and peace-loving in terms of their social lifestyle; also they place a high premium on the customs and traditions of their community. Their socio- cultural lifestyle is guided by the norms and values of their founding fathers. Religiously, the Ossiama people practices African Traditional Religion, to the core and at the same time, they believed strongly in the existence of a supernatural otherwise called Oyin (our mother). Aside African Traditional Religion, a very reasonable number of the people are now Christians. And since the inception of Christianity in the kingdom, African traditional Religion is on a steady decline. An integral part of the people’s existence is the annual celebration of the Adigbe Fishing Festival. 

The Adigbe Fishing Festival 

The celebration of Festivals among different ethnic groups and nationalities can be traced to antiquity. The ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated different festivals for several reasons such as worshipping idols, celebrating great victories or marking an important event. Even in The Holy Book, precisely Exodus 12:14, the importance of festival celebrations is vividly emphasized. 

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This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord a lasting ordinance for seven days. 4 Thus, it is obvious from the above portion of the scripture that festivals have divine origin because God himself instructed the Israelites to celebrate on several occasions. It also proves that festivals have historical antecedents since these events had happened several thousand years ago. Most importantly, festivals have universal appeal because people of all ethnic origins in every nation have their own festivals, which they celebrate for social, religious, political, economic, and historical reasons and also to commemorate an individual event, activity and so on and so forth. 

Consequently, the origin and development of Adigbe Fishing Festival of Ossiama kingdom occurred along similar line or trend. Its origin is traced to the history of a woman named Suman and her “Seven grown- up daughters”, which according to oral traditions, accidently formed the “Adigbe fishing lake in the 16th century” which details shall be provided later in the work. More so, it is obvious that festivals are important cultural events in the history and life of any people, so it was with the people of Ossiama particular and the Izon Nation in general. Due to this relevance, Prince Kainga made this statement: 

Festivals are very significant Aspect of the Izon culture; 

Many communities’ exhibit different forms of festivals, which are Associated with harvesting, fishing, and merry-making, exchange of Gifts, eating, drinking, dancing, and wrestling among others; a few Community festivals are characterized with special event such as Liberation from war etc. The festivals are usually annual in nature.

The Adigbe Fishing Festival of Ossiama kingdom developed from a kingdom-based event to become an event of national and international repute. 

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The Adigbe Fishing Festival is an annual festival of Ossiama Kingdom in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The Ossiama kingdom is a conglomeration of four autonomous communities which are independent from one another. However, all the four communities traced their origin to one another named “Asiyai or Ossi” The names of the four communities are; Ossiama, Egbopulo-ama, Awe-ama and Obgunu-ama. The annual fishing festival normally holds in May and ends in August but the processions of the festival last for seven (7) days. The strategic location of Lake Adigbe has inevitably made Ossiama a home of tourism. It is located at the western border of the main town and it is about 1.5 kilometers away from the main town (Ossiama 1). Though an accurate measurement was not given or taken but the lake is about 3,000 meters in length and 200 meters wide it may likely be one of the “largest Lake in the country” (Nigeria). Adigbe in the people language means a wide place or area. 

The exact date of the origin of Lake Adigbe is not known that is, it is still a mystery. According to an Oral Interview with one Pa. Nathan Aladei “Lake Adigbe might have been formed or discovered in the early quarters of the 16th century not too long after the settlement of the people”.6 It is important to state here that the origin of the festival is also tired to the origin of the Lake (Adigbe) itself. Over the years the possible origin of Lake Adigbe has generated an intense controversy among the people of the area (the Ossiama people). However, there are two divergent schools of thought concerning the possible origin of Lake Adigbe. The first school of thought which is generally regarded as legend, has it that Adigbe lake which is situated at the outskirt of the western border of the main town was formed as a result of sudden erosion. According to this legend, a woman named “Sumun” and her seven daughters (a family of Asiyai descendants) was said to have` formed the lake. That Sumun who was in search of food discovered a small portion of water seemed to be a reservoir near a cotton tree; she went closer to know exactly the true situation and heard a noise which she believed were from those fishes in water. She thought that she alone could 

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not do all the fishing effectively and as such decided to go and bring her seven daughters. The legend also added that as they approached the scene in a bid to kill those fishes but they were encompassed by a sudden eruptive action. In a frantic bid to escape the terrible accident and save their lives, each ran to different directions. The whole area they followed while running back to escape from the scene was claimed by the earth quake-like erosion. Eventually, the affected area emerged as “Lake Adigbe”, with seven other creeks in the Lake indicating were each of the daughters’ ran to, got tired and consequently died. Their mother Sumun being more experienced and stronger ran until she burst out to the main river through a place known as Apoi Creek. The creeks allegedly formed by her (Sumun) daughters include Opuba, Apele, Opuatebi, Dimuba, Kala-oba etc. The fishermen who met her stranded conveyed her home where she narrated her predicament to the villagers. They went, saw things for themselves joined her to mourn her daughters and subsequently occupied the place as a fishing ground and that led to the age-long Adigbe festival. 

This tradition of origin was also corroborated by an Ossiama community Leader, Pa. Nathan Aldei, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice; he himself battled about the mystery, but said it is the chronicle given them by their ancestors. Pa Aladei said: “according to the explanation and stories told by our great grand fathers, there was a married woman in the family of Akodi simply called Sumun, who went on a particular day to a forest known as Adigbe to get some food for her seven children..7 Shallow water under a tree with fishes “in the process of gathering what she could take home she discovered beneath a tree many species of fish swimming in shallow water, and was confused on what to do to catch those fishes. She decided to go home and call her seven children to accompany her back to the spot she discovered the fishes. The next day, she and her seven children went to the bottom of the tree where she saw the migrating fishes. On reaching there they did not hesitate to catch the fishes.” He said in his word; “In the excitement of a great catch by the family of eight but suddenly, they heard vibration and before they could realize, it was danger around them, 

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as the spot they were catching the fishes was eroding in quick succession”. He added “As the place they were standing started boiling and rumbling, they ran towards different directions to escape to safety. Their mother, Sumun could not take any of her children to safety, rather she ran for her own life. ” Pa Nathan Aladei said “the quake continued to chase them and in the end, none of Sumun’s seven children survived, the mysterious depleting site swallowed the children that went for fishing expedition with their mother.”8 However, their mother succeeded in fleeing to a place now known as Apoi Creek, where Isoni and other communities are settled. Some villagers, paddling canoe saw her and took her to Ossiama town, where she narrated what tragedy befell her seven children. Her story amazed the people. They followed her to Adigbe forest to confirm her story and saw the unbelievable. The place had turned to a mighty Lake adjudged to be the largest in “Nigeria and West African”. There are still traces of the points in the form of little streams where the seven children of Sumun perished. “I can still remember some of the names of the seven children of Sumun, which are Apele, Opuh, Dimu, Kala and the little streams, are names after them as a memorial. They were children and mainly girls of age seven, who were not married”. Pa Nathan Aladei asserted that “the cause of the vibration and quake that resulted to a great lake was traceable to the handiwork of some spirits.”9 He added that following the mysterious occurrence, crocodiles took over the lake and occupied it. He said “due to the carnivorous nature of crocodiles, nobody could fish inside the Lake and this made Kurobiri and Tanyi families of Ossiama to consult some spiritual powers which they invoked on the crocodiles not to be harmful to human when fishing, and really, since then the crocodiles have not been harmful to human being up till now”. He said that “ancient Lake Adigbe is about 500 year-old”. The other school of thought has it that, Lake Adigbe is a natural gift from God to the people of the area (Ossiama people). They also argue that, the Lake Adigbe was never a man-made Lake and that it is even older than Ossiama kingdom itself. They vehemently argued that the lake Adigbe has 

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been there from time immemorial. They said the “legendary origin of tradition which credited the formation of Lake Adigbe to a woman and her seven children is not correct”. They further argued and said that, it was as a result of legal battle of ownership on who should own Lake Adigbe between Ossiama and Akeddi one of her neighboring community that led to the framing up of that Sumun and her seven children formation origin- theory. However, in spite of the two conflicting tradition of origin of Lake Adigbe, majority of the people in the area aligned themselves to first tradition of origin. 

Preparation for the actual fishing festival to the people is normally an exciting one. Prior to the fishing day which is commonly regarded as the climax of the festival, the people were usually engaged in different ceremonial activities including “Agene” dance by woman and children, wrestling, canoe racing and movement of the war boat from Ossiama I to Ossiama IV and back to Ossiama I which attracts several gun shots and cannons from each village. The festival that normally last for seven days is brought to a close by traditional dances on the seventh day. Preparations proper involves building of thatch houses around the bank of the lake where the family would stay for four months. Food materials of various types were brought and stored. Wrappers and shirts with crocodile’s symbol printed on them were the most sought for during the period. The people are reminded by the symbol, the sacredness of the lake Adigbe crocodiles and equally the covenant made with the gods in the lake. Some others were eager to complete the weaving of their nylon nets. The seven days’ festival is normally flagged off with “Agene” procession. The procession usually performed in Ossiama kingdom. They sing songs of joy and dance round the town to express their happiness for the forthcoming fishing festival. Following the “Agene” procession were several competitions like wrestling, canoe race and swimming etc. with due prizes given to winners. The day of wrestling normally attracts other neighboring communities. Wrestling champions were invited from the nearby villages with their supporters. The rhythm of the wrestling drums and gongs were 

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used to control the wrestlers. The Champions were usually rewarded. In the same vein, swimming competitions were organized for categories of people and winners equally rewarded. Canoe races were organized for compounds and the winning groups go homes with gifts. The celebration is usually lively, because it is occasioned by a lot of drinking and merriment. In recent times, guest artist like late king Robert Ebizimo and Perema Freedom and other Ijaw prominent musicians display their popular “Owigiri music” for the pleasure of the guest. 

Another very important aspect of the festival is the masquerade dances. This is the last phase of the ceremonies that precedes the actual fishing festival. To the people it is more or less the peak of the ceremony. Peculiar among the masquerade found in Ossiama is that mask featured during the Adigbe Masquerades dance. Prominent among them is the “Kabi” (the chief masquerade), which is the strongest and biggest fish found in the lake. It belongs to the family of “shark” and “Apede” (tilapia family). This exemplifies the numerous fishes found in the lake. “Oko” masquerade, reminds the people of the fastest fish found in the Lake, though rarely found in recent times. The last but not the least, is the “Itoyin”-Masquerade. It is the second specie that has the largest numerical strength after the “Apede”. Shortly after all the procession, the Amaokusuowei, (the eldest Man) and (Chief priest of Adigbe) and the kabi masquerade would enter into the lake to perform rituals with associated incantations. All these are geared towards ensuring security of lives and properties and also to ensure maximum yield of fish from the lake. When they come back from the Lake, they danced again with the people and that marks the closing of the seven days’ ceremony. At this junction, it is pertinent to note that nobody is allowed to go to the Lake for whatever reason until after three days when the fishing proper starts. To the people, the essential of that action is to scare away evil spirits from the town and the lake itself. 

However, there were some taboos, which usually last for the duration of the festival. There were certain specific things that are 

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forbidden. According to an Oral Interview gathered from one Mr. Samuel Olotu, he opines that “during this period (the festival) nobody is allowed to pass human waste into the water of Lake Adigbe; the reason from oral sources state that, it will desecrate the sanctity of the Lake”.10 Another forbidden thing is that women are strictly prevented from participating in active fishing in the lake. Also in case someone dies in the lake, the body is ignominiously treated in secrecy with the native tradition and burial rites done in silence. On such occasions, there will be no cannon shots to announce the death and interment of the deceased. Also the family of the deceased would provide some items for the chief priest to carry out some ritual and cleansing in the lake. Stealing in the Lake is considered a taboo and any person caught is barred from the lake for seven (7) years and with a payable fine of N50,000.00. 

Institution of Okoroso and Amene gods 

Shortly after the formation of the Lake, the people adopted it as fishing ground. Fishing in this lake was a big risk because of the violent nature of the crocodiles dominating it. In an oral interview with one Pa Nathan Aladei: when a leaf fails down from a tree, the crocodiles jump out of the water to catch it, this only depicts their level of aggression”. Paramount in the minds of the people was to enjoy their new fishing ground. To this effect, the people went to Warri and ordered certain charms, which they used in checking the menace constituted by the crocodiles. “Okoroso” a god brought by Kurobiri family was responsible to check the menace posed by the male crocodiles while “Amene” goddess was brought by Tanyian family takes care of the female crocodiles. The chief priest of Okoroso (god) and Amene (goddess) must come from Kurobiri and Tanyian families respectively. Some male and female crocodiles were caught, after several incantations and associated rituals. The charms were applied and these crocodiles were subsequently buried alive. Fishing activities started in earnest having checked the menace constituted by the crocodile. In order to reciprocate, the people were still prohibited from killing the “sacred 

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crocodiles”. Today “Okoro brought by Kurobiri compound. The celebration is normally performed at the bank of Adigbe Lake and equally at the evil forest near Apoi-creek Amene (goddess) is worship because of its ability to protect the worshipers. 

Evolutionary Trend and Tourism potentials of the Festival 

The Adigbe Fishing Festival in the past was a very unique festival of the kingdom. However, with modernization and its resultant effects, the once cherished festival is now on its decline. According to Pa Nathan Aladei in the past “before the festival takes-off, there were certain things being forbidden throughout the kingdom. Such things like eating food cooked with a pot that the cover was not removed or opened; the reason for this was that, one of the gods which the natives brought to check the restiveness of the crocodiles, called Okoroso, forbade the people from doing so during the period of the festival. Now, the practice has been jettisoned”. 

In an Oral Interview with one Mr. Meshach Asei he submits that “in the past, pregnant women and set of twin babies were forbidden to grace the activities of the festival and equally, they were not allowed to reach the lake”. In contemporary times, Christianity and modernity have challenged and changed all that and have provided liberty for such persons in the involvement of the events. Mrs. Susanna Congo, says “it was a practice in the past for women who were experiencing their menstrual flow to avoid going near the lake that this was so because it was believed then that such women desecrates the sanctity of the lake”.11 At present, the reverse is the case. In the past, the festival was only celebrated among the people of the kingdom but today people from all neighbouring towns and villages troop into the kingdom during festival period. Also Mr. Flint Atika, opines that “in the past, activities, and events of the festival were not as elaborate as it is today. In recent times, before the festival commences, an appeal of financial support is usually sent to the Bayelsa State Government. The grant received from the State Government would be used to sponsor the activities and events line-up for the festival such as wrestling matches, football 

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competitions, Igbe-le-Igbe-le cultural dance groups, and sometimes Ijaw- music icons like late Dr. King Robert Ebizimor, Barrister S. Smooth, Pereama-Free-Town and others will be invited to entertain guest. 

The Adigbe Fishing Festival of Ossiama Kingdom has great impact on both indigenes and non-indigenes of the kingdom. Firstly, it is clear that the Adigbe Festival is a unifying factor among the people of Ossiama Kingdom. This is because; it is a period in which the people come out-en-mass as a people of the same history, tradition, and culture to share their similarities. The festival also brought family members together as those who have been away for long would use the festival as a period to reunite with their families, friends and loved ones. Therefore, the festival has a unifying impact on the people of Ossiama Kingdom. With the home-coming of indigenes and non-indigenes, adding to the already swollen population, the population of the kingdom increases during the period which implies that businesses would flourish much more than in the previous months. The prices of commodities and transport fare rises very sharply as huge sums of money are believed to be in circulation in the kingdom, during this period. This clearly shows that; the Adigbe Fishing Festival brings about a rise in commercial activities. 

Lastly, the Adigbe Fishing Festival makes Ossiama and the entire kingdom a tourist destination. Some people visit just to have a view of it probably because of what has been said and heard about the Adigbe fishing festival. Because of the stories behind the festival, some persons plan and work towards attending the festival annually. This is largely so because they want to have a first hand and probably see for themselves the festivities that surrounds the Adigbe fishing festivals with the massive lake as its main attraction. With the call for the diversification of the Nigerian economy, it won’t be out of place to propel the Bayelsa State Government to “Repackage” the Adigbe fishing festival with a few to attracting tourist from within and outside Nigeria. These they can do by building more befitting hotels, construction of road to Osiama Town, provide adequate 

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security for all round protection of visitors and publicize the event through the local and international media. 

End Notes 1Interview with Meshack Asei. Age 69, Traditional Historian, Ossiama, 

February, 2016. 2Meshack Asei, Ibid 3 E.J. Alagoa “A History of the Niger Delta; An Historical Interpretation of Ijo Oral Tradition” (Onyoma Research Publications, Port Harcourt 2005). Pp78-79. 4 Holy Bible (Authorized King James Version) 5 P.E. Kainga “Amassoma in the core of the Niger Deltaand Izon Culture; Historical perspective” (Port Harcourt: Pro. Joe Publishers 2004). P 53 6 Pa Nathan Aladei. Age 63, Civil Servant and Community Leader, February 

10th 2016. 7 Pa Nathan Aladei, Ibid 8 Pa Nathan Aladei, Ibid 9 Pa Nathan Aladei, Ibid 10 Mr. Samuel Olotu, Age 70, Farmer, Ossiama, May 21, 2016. 11 Mrs. Susanna Congo, Age 45, Farmer, Ogbunu-ama, August 12, 2016 

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Research Publication, 2006 Alagoa, E.J. A History of the Niger Delta, Ibadan, University Press, 1972. Alagoa E, Tamimo T.N & Clark J.P (eds.), The Izon of the Niger Delta Port- Harcourt, Onyoma Research Publications, 2009. Conference Proceedings on “International Conference on the Nigerian State, Oil Industry and the Niger Delta. Port-Harcourt, Harey Publication company, 2008 Crowder M. West Africa under Colonial Rule, London, Hutehinson and Co. 

1968 Gabriel A. Eshofine. The Arogbo Ijaw of Nigeria. Ibadan, End-tim Publication 

House, 2009. Owonaro S.K. The History of Ijo (Ijaw) And Her Neigbouring Tribes in Nigeria

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Published inNumber 1Volume 4