NANA OF ITSEKIRI
The story of Nana olumu,known in his hey-day as the ‘’Governor of the Benin River’ ’is very similar to that of Jaja.in 1848, the Olu of Warri ,Akenbuwa 1, died with his two sons also dying soon after. With the Olu and his sons, Warri entered a long interregnum as no olu was appointed until 1936.
During those eight years when Warri had no olu, the only authority among the Itsekiri was someone known as the ‘’Governor of the River’ ’who was chosen from among the traders on the Benin River . Even the Europeans recognised the authority of such a person.Olomu was the Governor from 1870 until his death in 1883.He was succeeded by his son Nana.
Nana’s power and wealth derived from his position as the middleman between the hinterland palm oil producers of Urhobo and the European traders on the coast. Like Jaja, Nana did not want the Europeans to by-pass him and trade directly with hinter land market. In 1893, following complaints that Nana was preventing the Europeans from getting into the hinterland and stirring the Urhobo against the British, the consul-General stopped the grant of £200 which he was being paid each year.
With further complaints by European traders that Nana was still blockading trade, the Acting consul-General Ralph Moor in June 1894 invited him (Nana) to come to the consulate headquarters. Nana was aware of Jaja’s fate and so he turn down the invitation. In anticipation of a British attack, Nana fortified his own capital (Ebrohimi).He built a strong barrier across the creek leading into Ebrohimi.
The British soon sent in a gunboat,HMS Alecto to blow up the barrier, but while it did so, Nana’s troops were firing it.Another gunboat had to come to the rescues of Alecto. Moor then organised with three warship, took place on September 25, 1895.Nana’s capital was taken. Nana escaped to Lagos .There he was tried for waging war against the British, found guilty and exiled first to calabar, then to Accra, where he spent twelve years. He was release in 1906.and he returned home. Nana died on July 3, 1916.
The exist of Jaja and later Nana removed the last obstacles which hindered the expansion of British influence not the Niger Delta, but also into the hinterland beyond the Delta. In other words, the deportation of Jaja and Nana left the arena open for British manoeuvres.
By Onoriode Favour: Student of New Total Child Academy Secondary School, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.