Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ụ̀banị̀

"Water play Bonny For Oko Jumbo" – Jonathan Adagogo Green (Ibani photographer). 1895-1905. British Museum.

Bonny was a powerful coastal state and major port during the slave and palm oil trade. Bonny, Ibani, known as Ụ̀banị̀ in the Igbo interior, set on trading expeditions into the creeks with dozens of canoes holding up to 120 people each. During the slave trade, a group of Bonny slaving canoes could reportedly carry back up to 2000 people from the interior. The creeks were major highways for trade. The Ụ̀banị̀ people brought European cloth and other goods such as gin, pomade, and other European-made drinks to the traders in the interior.

Bonny was settled by people coming through the Ndoki area; the Ibani and Ndoki people maintain a close relationship. Ndoki Akwete cloth is the main cloth used by Bonny's monarchy and for coming-of-age ceremonies and weddings in Bonny. The settlers of Bonny Island eventually moved towards the estuary, founding Okoloama (Bonny town), meaning curlew town. The estuary was apparently widened for Portuguese ships through a sacrifice by Asimini, a king of Bonny, of his daughter, Ogbolo, to the sea around the late 15th century. And so Bonny came to the forefront of the Trans-Atlantic trade as the first to receive the Portuguese.

As early as the 1490s, Europeans were describing the large size of canoes around this area. From around the 18th century, Bonny's war canoes were equipped with European-made cannons in their prows. Many old cannons can still be found in Bonny.

Bonny developed a sort of complex because of their success. Igbo people involved in direct trade with Bonny named their children Ubani and Nwaubani after Bonny as a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Bonny were arbiters of taste for people in the interior when it came to foreign cloth and other European products. The fashions from here influenced what many consider their traditional dress today.

Bonny had several trading rivals, including Old Calabar (Calabar), New Calabar (Elem Kalabari, or Owome), Brass (Nembe), Andoni, Okrika, and during the oil palm era, Opobo (also Ubani to the Igbo) which split from Bonny to Egwenga or Igwenga in Andoni under Jaja of Opobo.

See: E. J. Alagoa. "The slave trade in Niger Delta oral tradition and history..."

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