King Jaja of Opobo: The Sad History of a Brave Leader

Who was King Jaja of Opobo?

King Jaja of Opobo was the charismatic and brave leader of Opobo, a city-state in modern-day Rivers State, who fought against the penetration and domination of British trade in the Igbo hinterland.

Jaja was a Nkwerre man, born around 1821 in Umuduruoha in Amaigbo. His real name was Mbanaso Okwaraozurumba; he later took up the name Jaja because of his dealings with the British. For cutting his top teeth which is an abnormal and evil phenomenon in Igbo tradition, he was sold off to a wealthy man, Iganipughuma Allison of the Delta town of Bonny which as at then was populated by Igbo slaves.

In Bonny, Jaja was given the name Jubo Jubogha and was ranked on the lowest rung of slaves which included the ones born outside the town, and because he was difficult to control, Jaja was gifted to Chief Madi of the House of Anna Pepple by his own master.

Jaja’s rise to power

While in the house of Anna Pepple, Jaja earned respect and rank with his skills in trade. He was admired by the leading members of the house and was later elected head of the house.

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