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The Life and Times Of Chief (Captain) Wogo Dappa 1812-1889 


Adaye Orugbani Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Port Harcourt & Edna Adagogo-Brown Department of Foundation Studies, Port Harcourt Polytechnic, Rumuola, Port Harcourt. 


 Opobo Kingdom has experienced periods of political glory through a hierarchy of indigenous Council of Chiefs as officials. The Council of Chiefs is made up of the founders of the Polo or their successors in office and founders of the Sub houses or their successors in office who were traders in palm produce. These aristocratic traders were presided over by the Amanyanabo who is the paramount ruler of the Kingdom. Wogo Dappa was the founder of the Dapu Section and therefore the head (Polo Dabo). 



Opobo Kingdom in contemporary times is generally acknowledged to comprise fourteen sections (Polo). The sections are derived from the original chiefs that eluded bonny in 1869. 

Fifteen Chiefs in their war canoes eluded Bonny in 1869 as listed below: 

Chief Jack Jaja Annie Pepple, 

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Chief Black Fubara, Chief Jim Wariso, Chief Wogo Dapp,a Chief John Africa, Chief Annie Stew,art Chief George Darr,ia Chief Uranta, Chief How St,rong Face Chief John To,m Brown Chief Ubani (O,baney) Chief Fine Bone, Chief Diri Tolofa,ri Chief Jungo Mani,lla Chief Jack Tolofari, (Cookey 1974:170) 

Source:, Out of the fifteen Chiefs, Jack Jaja Annie Pepple clearly emerged as the leader of the secession and recognized Chief Sam Annie Pepple and handed the Opubo Annie Pepple house to him. Meanwhile Jack Jaja Annie Pepple established his own war canoe house in Bonny and by 1870 his war canoe house assumed the status of the big house (Opuwari) with a palace and Annie Pepple house became the first sub house under the new arrangement in king Jaja group. 

Chief Wogo Dappa was part of the Opubo Annie Pepple group who signed jointly the Agreement of 1865 with other principal Chiefs of Annie Pepple group to divest the Annie Pepple group from further dealings with the under listed independent houses viz: Chiefs Jack Jaja Annie Pepple, Uranta, Annie Stewart, Toby Stewart (Alagoa and Fombo, Jones and Cookey). 

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Tradition of Origin 

Chief Wogo Dappa traced his origin to Itshekiri. The tradition of the house has it that Prince Dapu, the second son of King Opubo married the daughter of the Olu of Itshekiri, Oba Akingbua who reigned from 1809-1848 (Ikimi 1980:263-264) at the age of eighteen years, Wogo in company of other members of the family of the Olu of Itshekiri escorted the princess to Bonny to join her husband, Prince Dapu. The tradition maintained that Wogo did not return back to Itshekiri land but remain in Bonny and became part of the household of Prince Dapu. To confirm this tradition, Ikimi (1980: 90) noted that the Olu was very violent and autocratic and his leading men fled from him. Ikimi recorded that it was also at this period that Uwangu Uwankum fled and founded Jakpa along the Northem Banks of Benin River (1980:90). In Bony, Chief Wogo Dappa became the adopted son of Prince Dapu. Prince Dapu had a son named Fubara and Fubara appeared in history as king Dapu-ye-Fubara or King Agba Fubara (Alagoa and Fombo 2001:21). According to this source, Fubara became king in January 1854 and died August, 1855 (Alagoa Fumbo 2001:21). The only surviving son of Dapu became Chief Wogo Dappa (Jones 1963:104). Chief Wogo Dappa could not be described as a bought slave or a free born in the context of Bonny tradition. Wogo Dappa was an in-law to Prince Dapu, having left his own community and having no intention of going back. He came to be regarded more and more as a Bonny man. 


In Bonny Annie Pepple Group had ten war Canoe houses vis: Opubo Annie Pepple – Main house Wogo Dappa – Sub house Annie Stewart – Sub house Uranta (Iruanya) – Sub house Jack Jaja Annie Pepple – Sub house Source Jones 1963: 122-123 

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When King Fubara (Dapu) died in 1855, trouble erupted in Bonny. This led to the Consul, Lynslager to appoint four Chiefs as regents, Chiefs Iloli, Ada Allison, Captain Hart and Jack Ncheke Pepple (Alagoa and Fombo 2001:23). One of the regents, Captain Hart died in 1858. By the death of Captain Hart, a vacuum was created in the regency. The Consul appointed Chief Wogo Dappa, the head of King Dapu’s house as a regent in place of the late Hart. (Jones 1963:126). It was not long chief Iloli had a stroke and became incapacitated. Although Chief Iloli was not replaced, Chief Wogo Dappa continued as a regent with the other two Fubara Manilla Group Members. By this appointment, Chief Wogo Dappa had risen to the highest level of political engagement in Bonny history, sharing comey with the other regents and whatever other privileges that accrued to the office of the monarch of Bonny. This appointment was a stepping stone to greatness for Chief Wogo Dappa. He stayed in this acting position for four years from 1858-1861 when King William Dappa Pepple returned and assumed the kingship of Bonny again. 

Chief Wogo Dappa also signed both the January 1869 Agreement of neutrality of the independent houses in case of trouble between the two major group of houses. Signatories to the January 1869 Agreement is as follows:- 

King George Pepple, Wogo Dappa , Oko Jumbo, Captain Hart, Jack Brown, Ada Allison, Wariso, Dublin Green, Wilcox, 

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Sema Sunju (now Shoo Peterside), Jack Tolafari, Strong Face, George Good Head, King Halliday, Tobin (Kiepirima Toby), Young Trader, Annie Pepple (Jaja), Duke Noofolk, Black Fubara, Fine Bone, Jongo Manilla, Antonio, Dick Tolofari, John Africa, Ogi Africa, Bonny Face (Teriyon, Darria) now Bruce Jaja, Oko Epelle, Taribo, (Alagoa and Fombo 2001:112) 

He also signed the purported Minima Agreement of 13th October, 1869 as listed below: 

Jack Jaja Annie Pepple, Wogo Dappa, Black Fubara, Jim Wariso, John Africa, Annie Stewart, George Darria (now Bruce Jaja), Captain Uranta, How Strong Face, John Tom Brown, 

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Ubani, Fine Bone, Diri Tolofari, Jungo Manilla, Jack Tolofari, (Cookey 1974:170). 


The two business partners of King Jaja, Charles Da Cardi and Achie Mac Eurchen who were accused by Bonny men of aiding Jaja to leave Bonny, were residing in Brass territory and marking time there. These two Scottish traders had advised Jaja to move closer to the mouth of the Imo River. So after settlement at Opobo, King Jaja mandated Chief Wogo Dappa to convey them to Opobo. According to Epelle (Epelle 1970), Chief Wogo Dappa sort the assistance of elder Onyeanwusi who was already settled at Abazibie, an Opobo settlement located on the South bank of Opobo River. By June of 1872, Charles de Cardi and Mac Euchem arrived Opobo River. Alexander Miller joined them later in the year. 

A major breakthrough took place in early 1873. It was the acknowledgement of Jaja as King of Opobo by Her Britanic Majesty through the Consul on the River. On the 3rd January, 1873, Consul Livingstone arranged a peace treaty between Opobo and Bonny. The reconciliation was considered to be paramount for better understanding and better flow of trade in the river. According to Prof Cookey (Cookey 1974:77), five worships including H.M.S. Pioneer and two city states of Kalabani and Okrika served as arbitrtators. King Jaja was accompanied by only his first Son Prince Saturday Jaja and Chief Wogo Dappa. The three of them signed on behalf of Opobo Kingdom. The economic significance of this treaty was that Azumini, Onaubele Essene and so many other markets were given to Jaja. 

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On the 4th January, 1873, another treaty was signed, it was the treaty of acknowledgement of Jaja as King of Opobo. This treaty conveyed the right to receive comey from the super cargoes to Jaja as in Bonny (Cookey 1974:77). This time his Secretary, William, Chiefs Wogo Dappa, Sam G. Toby and Black John (John Africa) accompanied him. 


In 1881, King Jaja waded into the matter in Kalabari Kingdom between Chief Will Braide and the rest of Kalabari. King Jaja was invited but he was indisposed to attend rather he sent Chief Wogo Dappa who led the delegation to Degema to dismantle the blockade by Will Braide as directed by the Consul. Chief Will was sent back to Bakana and that settled the problem that would have erupted. 


Chief Wogo Dappa felt that settling his people along the line they were settled in Bonny would eliminate over crowding in Opobo and also to avoid identity clash. So when the two boats, Ngia (the war canoe) and Okpani (the gig) set out from Bonny in 1869, the Okpani berthed at Kalaibia and Kulol Brown Agent and Biribo (Doctor Dappa) alighted with their families. 

The war canoe, Ngia ferried Chief Wogo Dappa, Omoni, Kalasunju, Opusunju, Ebranga, Tilibok, Faa, Tilibo Tamunotoru, Women and Children including the queen mother of King Fredrick Sunday Jaja, Onugba were all in that boat. 

The other settlement of the Dapu descendants was Epellema in Bonny. Ada Omuso, Tilibo Tamunotoru and Ada Omoni also sourced strategic settlement around Opobo and its environs for settlement to name Epellema. They discovered a new settlement and named it Epellema after 

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their settlement in Bonny. Ada Omubo, Tilibo and Omoni moved out of Opobo and settled there. 

Chief Wogo Dappa also established a settlement at Kaa in Ogoni land called Ikaa Wogo which he used for recreation when stressed. He also established a trading post at Minimafe, Azumuni, Ohambele, Okoro-Ete and Okoro Inyang. 


King Jaja was deported in 1887 and by 1888 all the hinterland markets were thrown open to the British super cargoes, and they directed that any local trader who wanted to trade directly with Europe must pay comey like the supercargoes (Jaja 1991:74). They built factories in the hinterland but the investment failed to yield the desired profits. Rather they suffered stagnation and according to Prof Cookey, they sold out their trading establishments and reverted to the former system of remaining at the coast and receiving palm produce from Opobo traders. (Cookey 1974:152). 

Out of frustration Consul Johnston threatened arrest of the ring leaders of the resistance to British free trade policy. He also proposed the confiscation of the war canoes and guns belonging to the Chiefs and consequent withdrawal of Opobo from the hinterland markets for a period of four months (Jaja 1991:153). A security of £1,000 was also proposed to secure good behaviour from the Chiefs. Before we say Jack Robinson, the trade centres at Azumini were blockaded against Opobo traders and they were asked to remove their settlements. 

As part of the punishment, three hundred puncheons of palm oil were required as fine from the Chief. In March, 1889, a commission of enquiry headed by Major Mac Donald also convened a meeting of the principle Chiefs. By the 30th March, the war canoes and guns were being 

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delivered to the appropriate quarters. A total of 25 war canoes were surrendered together with 24 guns and 450 rifles (Cookey 1974:151). 

Jaja (1991:116) enumerate the names of veritable chiefs and the numerical strength of the war canoes including their guns as follows 

Chiefs War Canoe Guns 

Chief Sam Annie Pepple 1 2 

“ Cookey Gam 1 2 

“ Black Fubara 1 2 

“ Fine Bone 1 2 

“ Wogo Dappa 1 2 

King Jaja (1) 1 2 

King Jaja (II) 1 2 

Chief Ogolo Annie Pepple 1 2 

“ John Africa 1 2 

Chief Saturday Jaja 1 2 

“ Jacob Annie Stewart 1 2 

“ Oko Jaja 1 2 

“ Toby 1 2 

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“ John Tom Brown 1 2 

“ Bruce Jaja 1 2 

“ How I. Strong Face 1 2 

“ Sam Oko Epelle 1 2 

“ Diri Tolofari 1 2 

“ Ubani 1 2 

“ Jungo Manilla 1 2 

“ Cockeye Brown 1 2 

“ Wariso 1 2 

“ Jack Tolofari 1 2 

“ Sam Toby 1 2 

“ Duke Norfolk 1 2 

The war canoes had been a source of defence for the trading Chiefs and trading houses. By 1892, Her Britanic Majesty’s government promised to pay a compensation of £9,600 to the Chiefs and their successors whose war canoes and guns were confiscated if this treatment was not metted out to any other city states in the Oil Rivers. The Deputy Commissioner and Vice Consul W. Cairns Amstrong prepared the document stating that 

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within 50 years ensuing from the 1st of January, 1893, after an interim of 30 years shall commence payment of the above compensation (Jaja 1991:336). 

When it was worked out each of the 25 Chiefs or their successors in office would receive the sum of £369:4:7 from His Excellency, Sir Arthur Fredrick Richards, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, acting for and on behalf of Her Britanic Majesty’s Government. Those to receive the said compensation in due time is listed below as representing Chief Wogo Dappa main house. 

Fred Wogo Dappa, 

Amos Wogo Dppa, 

Abel Idarefa Wogo Dappa, 

George Wogo Dappa, 

Natheniel Wogo Dappa, (Jaja 1991:238). 


The term Polo Dabo is not popular in Opobo Chieftaincy tradition but since we all belong to the Ijaw extraction there is need to adopt some of these terms in order to properly designate each Chief in his domain. In Kalabari Chieftaincy tradition, the Polo Dabo is either the founder of the Polo or his successors on that stool. For instance, Chief Wogo Dappa was the founder of the Wogo Dappa Chieftaincy War Canoe House. He was also the one who was entrusted with both Prince Dapu and King Fubara’s wealth. As a worthy son, he did not disappoint his ancestors, rather he managed the resources in his charge and kept the name of Prince Dapu by reconstituting the Polo as Dapu Polo in Opobo from 1870. 

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Wogo Dappa became the first and the pioneer Polo Dabo of the section. It follows that all his successors would also be designated Polo Dabo in order to differentiate them from the Alapu (Sub-Chief). It is therefore expected that the incumbent Chief of the Polo, should be known and addressed as Polo Dabo Princewill Nathaniel Wogo Dappa and not Alabo Princewill Wogo Dappa as it is at the present. 


Polo Dabo Wogo Dappa greatest achievement was the evolution, growth and expansion of the Dapu group of houses. He used the wealth of the house judiciously. He extended financial assistance to the up coming young men in the house. King Jaja alone had fourteen war canoe houses to his credit. Polo Dabo Wogo Dappa came second with eight war canoes. To his credit, two out of the five war canoe houses in Kalaibiama were established by Chiefs Biribo Doctor Dappa and Igbi Brown Agent; his descendan Chief Tilibo Omubo Dappa founded Epellema which accommodated Chief Opusunju when he fled from the Main house in 1895. Chief Kalasunju Dappa fled to a new settlement and named it after himself. Chief Ada Tom Pepple moved into the heart of Prince Saturday Jaja and worked out his “salvation” there with fear and “tremble” and Prince Saturday, (later Chief Saturday Jaja) allocated a piece of landed property to Ada Tom Pepple where he established his war canoe house amongst the Jajas but still maintained his route in the Dapu section. Chief Ebranga Dappa also fled to Epellema with his brother Chief Opusunju but returned after some years back to the main house for the love of his father’s house. He repaid a debt of 60 puncheons of palm owed to the Opuwari (King Jaja house). Chief Ebranga Dappa later established his own war canoe house in Opobo in Dapu section in Opobo main town. Ada Sootari later built a village known as Ebranga Villa in memory of Chief Ebranga Dappa. No wonder the drum name of Polo Dabo Wogo Dappa captured his ability in leadership. – 

Obie Girigri 

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Obie Bere Meaning the man who matches word with action. 

To put or present the houses in Dapu section in proper perspective would be as follows: 

1) Polo Dapo Wogo Dappa – Main house 

2) Chief Kalasunju Dappa – Sub house 

3) Chief Ebranga Dappa – “ “ 

4) Chief Opusunju Dappa – “ “ 

5) Chief Ebranga Dappa – “ “ 

6) Chief Brown Agent – “ “ 

7) Chief Doctor Dappa – “ “ 

8) Chief Tilibo Omubo Dappa – “ “ 

9) Chief Ada Tom Pepple – “ “ 


Cultural heritage has been considered as tangible objects or intangible items that are carriers of a testimony from the past quoted in Derefaka 2002:247). According to Derefaka (2002:247), cultural heritage consists of cultural resources or cultural property. They include language (Drum language), arts (Mask heads) depicting fish specie or animal specie in different communities. Local artists are gifted or talented to express themselves in terms of objects which are used during festivals and ceremonies to entertain Kings, Chiefs and also the ordinary people in a given society. To come home to Opobo, there is a season known as Fongu 

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season when fisher folks returned home because of the high tide and storms between July and September every year when the sea becomes too dangerous for fishing activity to continue. 

Fongu is the local name for weather type experienced along the Niger Delta during the period from May to September which is called Disturbance lines weather (Oyegun and Ologun Orisa 2002:57). This weather type has its peak in July and September, and that is why the fisher folks observe their vacation during the period and use it for masquerade festival. During the festival, the water spirits were appeased and atonements made. This period too, children observe their holidays and also participate in the masquerade festivals. The festival had its calendar with each Polo date of performance indicated. From July to August, the local weather forecast or climate experts would be able to indicate the time for the August break which was normally two weeks within which all the compounds would have performed their masquerade. The masquerade of the Dapu Polo is called Ndaa (fish) found mostly in blackish water environment locally called shine nose by women fish traders. Another masquerade of the Polo is called Kworokondo and has very mysterious attribute, one of which was that the carrier of the masquerade must be an only child of the parents. The oral tradition of the Wogo house recounted of how an only son and carrier of this masquerade got drowned in the river and since then, the performance of Kworokondo was banned. The national shrine of the Asimini deity is also domiciled at Wogo Dappa’s side of the water front shared by the Kalaomuso Polo. Luko, a personal deity of King Jaja domiciled at King Jaja’s court yard was mostly attended to by the priests from the Dapu Polo. 


Polo Dabo Wogo Dappa joined his ancestors in 1889 and after the rite of passage. The ceremony connected with the burial of an Amanyanabo should normally last for sixteen days (Cookey and Adagogo-Brown 

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2005:11). After the Akaka-Pele which lasted for thirty-two days and the induction into the awa shrine (also called Luko) and translating him into a deity, the Kingdom would go into mourning for one year (Cookey and Adagogo-Brown 2005: 11). 

On the other hand the ceremony for the burial rites of a Polo Dabo would last for eight days and a period of mourning for six months. The period of mourning is used for the preparation of the Polo Dabo-elect for the responsibilities of leadership. The period of mourning will involve all the eight war canoe houses in the Polo. The succession to the main house:- 

1) Chief Kalasunju Dappa – Dapu II 

2) Chief Opusunju Dappa – Dapu III 

3) Chief Ebranga Dappa – Dapu IV 

4) Chief Ada Tom Pepple – (Care Taker) 

5) Chief Josiah Ebranga Dappa – Dapu V 

6) Chief Amos Wogo Dappa – Dapu VI 

7) Polo Dapo Princewill Nathaniel 

Dappa – Dapu VII (2005 – ) 

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This study had shown that the Chieftaincy institution had positively impacted on the lives of the members of the Dapu Polo. A member of a different ethnic group who meant to rise from obscurity to prominence in far away Bonny Kingdom, Polo Dabo Wogo Dappa had presented the Ibani society as a place of possibilities. He was entrusted with the wealth of his father and managed it to the best of his ability. The portion he inherited continued to grow and expand in his hand until it yielded seven other sources of wealth. He lived out his drum name: a man who matches words with action. 

In their essay, Historical Consciousness and Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta Orgi and Okorometa defined Historical Consciousness as that aspect of human activities in the past for the sole purpose of living well in the present and facing future challenges (Orji and Okorometa 2010:172). For Wogo, he responded to the challenge of not going back to Itshekiri land but rather turned his sojourn in Bonny into a blessing not just for himself and his immediate family, but for posterity. 

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References Alagoa and Fombo (2001) A Chronicle of Grand Bonny, Port Harcourt. 

Onyoma Research Publications. Cookey, S. J. S. (1974) King Jaja of the Niger Delta: His life and Times 1821- 

1891, New York. NOK Publishers. Cookey, S. J. S. and Adagogo-Brown, E. N. (2005): Monarchy In The Niger Delta: The coronation of King Dandeson Jaja, Amanyanabo of Opobo, Port Harcourt. Colbeg Associates Ltd. Derefaka, A. A. (2002) “Cultural Heritage” in The Land and People of Rivers State: Eastern Niger Delta (ed) Alagoa, E. J. And Derefaka A. A., Port Harcourt. Onyoma Research Publications. Epelle, E. M. T. (1970) Opobo in a Century. Ikime, O. (1980) “The Western Niger Delta and the hinterland in the Nineteenth Century” in Ikime, O. (ed,) Ground Work of Nigerian History Ibadan. Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. Jaja, S. O. (1991) Opobo Since 1870: A Documentary Record with An 

Introduction. Ibadan University Press. Jones, G. I. (1963) The Trading States of The Oil Rivers: A Study of Political 

Development in Eastern Nigeria. London, Oxford University Press. Oyegun, C. U. and Ologunorisa, T. E. (2002) “Weather and Climate” in Alogoa, E.J & Derefaka, A.A (eds,) The Land and People of Rivers State: Eastern Niger Delta Port Harcourt. Onyoma Research Publication. Orji, K. E. and Okeremeta, M. E. (2010) “Historical Consciousness and Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.” In Icheke: Journal of The Faculty of Humanities, Rivers State University of Education, Rumuolumeni. Vol. 8 Nos. 1 & 2. Unpublished Work History of Dapu Section, Opobo Kingdom, Rivers State, 

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List of Informants Jeki Opusenibo (Jos) Boma Jaja. Polo Dabo Princewill Nathaniel Wogo Dappa. Amaopu Orubo Pauline Furo Batubo. 

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