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Predominantly found in the Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. The Engenni people (also referred to as Egeni) are considered by themselves and some to be a distinct ethnic nationality. Though often muddled up and attributed to as of the Ijaw stock, probably because of their close relations with a neighbouring Ijaw tribe such as the Zarama as well as a fellow Edoid tribe Epie-Atissa. The Engenni people are however a branch of the Urhobo-Isoko ethnic group and they speak a language called the Edoid language. Some sources, however, state that, the language of the Engenni people has metamorphosed into three major dialects namely Enuedua, Ogua, and Ejiro dialects.

Historicity of the Engenni Tribe

Historically, it is claimed that Engenni migrated from the old Benin Empire about 1000 years ago. In the cause of migration, they first settled in an Isoko community and later founded a settlement called Ewurebe. The Engenni clan is believed to have first settled in and around their present habitations over nine hundred years ago, as depicted by historical artefacts collected at Okilogua, Enusha, and the Ede-emu lakes at Ewurebe, Okilouga, Enusha, and Ikodi communities. The Engenni people are regarded as one of the very first settlers in the Niger Delta region. This fact is further buttressed by some aspects of the early history, culture and environmental characteristics of the kingdom as documented in the works of historians and early Christian visitors to the early 1800s.

The Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Engenni People

The Engenni people are generally regarded as very proud but respectful, very friendly and hospitable. This is a fact that is evidenced in their whole-hearted acceptance of the early Christians and European traders who established churches, schools and hospitals in the area as early as the late 1800s. In ancient times, they were people, deeply engaged in traditional heathenism before the advent of Christianity in the mid-1800s. Today, however, Engenni communities and people are largely Christians and the towns and villages of Engenni are filled with churches of every denomination. Also, the Engenni people are very much inclined to western education and known to have the highest percentage educated population in Rivers State. The first primary school in Engenni was built in Okarki in the year 1903.

The economy of the Engenni kingdom is traditionally characterized by farming and fishing, and crafts making skills like canoe and paddle making, blacksmithing, basket and trap making and other forms of partisanship. Also, its geographical location positions it in the part of Nigeria that is very rich in crude oil and natural gas. The presence of these natural deposits makes for exploration and exploitation of these minerals, an activity that began since 1956. The Shell Petroleum Development Company (formerly Royal Dutch Shell) found petroleum in commercial quantities at the Adebawa wells of Joinkrama, and have since then been engaged in commercial oil and gas activities in the area. The Adebawa oil wells of Joinkrama ranks only second to Oloibiri, where oil was first found in commercial quantities in Nigeria.

Socio-Political Structure of the Engenni People

Geo-Politically, Engenni forms part of the present-day Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, and host the local Government Headquarters at Akinima. Engenni is made up of 5 Major clans known as Enuedua (Joinkrama), Ogua, Ejiro—Ede, Ejiro-Ekunu, and Ogbogolo Clans. The Engenni clans are made up of about 31 towns and villages. The kingdom is ruled by one Government recognized traditional ruler, who is the paramount ruler of the Kingdom. This Paramount ruler is referred to as the Okilom-Ibe of Engenni kingdom. All five federating clans of the kingdom have a Group-head known as the Okilom-Opiri, while communities within the clans that make up the Engenni kingdom have traditional heads known as the Okilom-Akie.


Alagoa, Ebiegberi Joe (2005). A History of the Niger Delta, Port Harcourt: Onyoma Research Publications. 


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This article was first published on 30th June 2019


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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