THE IJAW PEOPLE
Ijaw people (also known by the subgroups “Ijo” or “Izon”) are people in Niger Delta in Nigeria,
inhabiting regions of the states of Ondo, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers state.
Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon.
Population figures for the Ijaws vary greatly,though most range from 13 million to 15 million.
They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other
areas by trade as early as the 15th century.
The Ijaw speak nine closely related Niger–Congo languages, all of which belong to the Ijoid branch of the Niger–Congo tree.
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The other major Ijaw linguistic group is Kalabari. Kalabari is considered an Eastern Ijaw language but the term “Eastern Ijaw” is not the normal nomenclature. Kalabari is the name of one of the Ijaw clans that reside on the eastern side of the Niger-Delta (Abonnema, Buguma, Bakana, Degema etc.) who form a major group in Rivers State, Other “Eastern” Ijaw clans are the Abua, Andoni, Okrika, Ibani (the natives of Bonny, Finima and Opobo), and Nkoroo. They are neighbours to the Kalabari people in present-day Rivers State, Nigeria.
Like many ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Ijaws have many local foods that are not widespread in Nigeria. Many of these foods involve fish and other seafoods such as clams, oysters and periwinkles; yams and plantains. Some of these foods are:
- Polofiyai — A very rich soup made with yams and palm oil
- Kekefiyai— A pottage made with chopped unripened (green) plantains, fish, other seafood or game meat (“bushmeat”) and palm oil
- Fried or roasted fish and plantain — Fish fried in palm oil and served with fried plantains
Gbe — The grub of the raffia-palm tree beetle that is eaten raw, dried, fried in groundnut oil or pickled in palm
- Kalabari “sea-harvest” fulo— A rich mixed seafood soup or stew that is eaten with foofoo, rice or yams
- Owafiya (Beans Pottage) — A pottage made with Beans, palm oil, fish or bushmeat, Yam or Plantain. Then taken with processed Cassava or Starch.
- Geisha Soup — This a kind of soup cooked from the geisha fish, with just adding, pepe, salt, water and Boiling it for some minutes.
- Opuru-fulou — Also referred to as prawn soup, prepared mainly with prawn, Ogbono (Irvingia gabonensis seeds), dried fish, table salt, crayfish, onions, fresh pepper, and red palm oil.
Did you know that Formal Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is from Ijaw
Learn more about the Ijaw people here