Sunday, 19 February 2017


Nembe is one of the major communities in Bayelsa state Nigeria. Nembe people cut across Nembe local Government Area and the ancient town of Town Brass and Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of the state.

Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, in "The land and People of Bayelsa state", said the towns of town Brass and Okpoama have traditions of early settlements by Ijaw-speaking people from the dispersal centre of Obiama.

The community was later divided into six wards, with a number of outlying settlements, the most significant of which were Olodiama, Oboloma, and Onyoma while the second segment of development witnessed the coming of Itsekiri migrants.

The migrants arrived with their 'god' called Ogidiga and a sared sword, Ada and settled at a place called Oromabiri. The "god" according to Alagoa, assisted in unifying all the components of the communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions.

Nembe people can be found in the coastal areas of the state and they are predominantly fisherman, traders and farmers. Apart from their common religion, they also speak a common language known as Nembe. Since every tribe across the globe has its dos and don't, Nembe people are of no exception.

Inspite of the enmity that God has put between the snake and the man, sequel to what happened in the Garden of Eden, killing of snakes is forbidden in Nembe Kingdom, as any attempts to do so often attracts severe penalty.

The people of Nembe relate freely with Pythons without getting hurt or harmed by the snake species. Even the young ones are a breast of the historic linkage between the Nembe people and the python. A youth leader from the area, Mr  Nengi James, in his account, stated that it is Ogidiga the god, which was named after its priest, that metamorphosed into python.

The god is so dear to the people of the area, having assisted in unifying all components communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions that they have now outlawed the killing of pythons n the area, having assisted in unifying all the component communities of the state through religious ties and sanctions that they have now outlawed the killing of pythons in the area.

Nembe kingdom is surrounded by mangrove forest and this is the common place to find the python in their different sizes. Most people said that whoever attempts to kill the python would incur the wrath of not only the people in the community but the god (Ogidiga) as well.

Outlawing the killing of the python is a means of revering the god that has contributed immensely to the growth of the area. Aside the killing of the python, the sale of periwinkles is also forbidden in the area. you can gather as much as you can, but it must not be turned into a means of livelihood.

Unlike in other communities in the state, whoever is caught selling or making a living from the sale of perinwinkles in the area would be dealt with in accordance with the tradition of the land.

Another culture that differentiates the people of Nembe kingdom from their neighbours is the adoption of matrilineal family style.
In this area, female children have equal rights with their male counterpart. This system is also being practiced in neighbouring West African country, Ghana.

Unlike in most parts of the world, where it is traditionally believed that male children are heir apparent, it is not so in Nembe Kingdom.
Traditionally, they are of the opinion that women should have more control over the children than men. This is why Nembe people can go to their maternal families and contest for any position, title or property.

While the coming of the missionaries into the country had adversely affected most African tradition, it is not so in Nembe Kingdom. They still hold their culture very close to their chest. This is not peculiar to Nembe people.

All communities in Bayelsa state so much cherish their culture and traditions that they are ready to defend them with their might. They pride their tradition and customs above others, with the belief that such cultural values should be progressively preserved.

In the Nembe marriage tradition, whoever marries from the area is not allowed any right over the corpse of his wife, as they have a saying that "the bone must get back to his owner". The husband only has right over his wife when she is alive. As soon as she dies, Nembe tradition demands that her final resting place is her father's compound.

The burial tradition is well celebrated, not only in Nembe Kingdom, but the entire states as a whole. Both families take active part in the burial ceremony.
That is why it is allowed that the wake keeping must take place both at the husband's compound and deceased family's compound.

The wake keeping, according to the tradition, is the real burial ceremony unlike what obtains in the western part of Nigeria. It is an all-night affair. During the burial, a vest is printed; a banner is placed at a strategic position while the celebrants are entertained with Owugiri dance.

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