Ogoni

Author: smith on 17-09-2013, 18:00, views: 3 772

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Following the NA reforms of the 1930's, the Ogoni were organised into one Superior Native Authority (SNA or Tribal Council) which met at Yeghe, and five Clan Councils (or Subordinate Native Authorities-SUNA) which met at Tai, Gokana, Eleme, Southern and Northern Kana. A Native or Clan Court was also established for each clan, and, in 1936, a Tribal Native Treasury.

 

British colonial officials, who lived or worked with the Ogoni invariably described them as a spirited, virile race (Smith, 1937), possessing great vigour and less culture, and the least exposed to European influence of all the peoples in Opobo Division (Dewhurst, 1938). All this portrayed their true spirit of independence and virility, derived from the resilience of their traditional institutions against injustice or external colonial domination.

 

Despite their late start in Western education, some progress was eventually made. As from late the 1930's, several Ogoni youths trained at the T. T. C, Uyo, returned to teach in the NA, Methodist and Roman Catholic schools, in which position they contributed significantly to social change (Gibbons, 1935). In December 1937, of the 24 members of the Executive Committee of the Tribal Council, about one-quarter were literate and the rest were influential chiefs. Thus, in Ogoni, enlightenment on the part of the few educated elite combined with shrewd common sense on the part of the non-literate chiefs to motivate social, economic and political development (Dewhurst, 1938). A government report in 1938 described the Executive Committee as a vigorous, progressive body which has done most useful work.

 

In 1944 the Ogoni were excised from Opobo to Degema Division during an adjustment of divisional boundaries. In the new Division, the Ogoni continued to make steady progress. By the early 1950's, an Ogoni Union had been formed comparable to the improvement unions in Obolo and Opobo Town, and poised to participate in the late colonial and post independence development of Nigeria.

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