In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ijo/Niger Delta

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Reference Works
  • Primary Sources
  • Collections
  • Narrative Accounts
  • Journals
  • Major Theoretical Works
  • Ijo/Niger Delta Historiography
  • Oral Traditions and Early History
  • Ijo/Niger Delta in the 19th Century
  • Indigenous and Community-Based Historiography
  • Traditional Religion, Christianity and Islam
  • Archaeology and Prehistory
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Ijo/Niger Delta and the National Question
  • Governance and Public Administration
  • Ijo/Niger Delta and the World
  • Social and Cultural Heritage
  • Languages and Literature
  • Women’s History and Gender Studies
  • Tourism, Economic and Social Development
  • Environmental and Human Rights Issues
  • Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs

African Studies Ijo/Niger Delta
Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, Atei Mark Okorobia
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0157


Extending over approximately 70,000 km2, the Niger Delta is reputed to be the world’s largest wetlands with diverse ecology. The area is criss-crossed by innumerable rivers and rivulets cutting through its sandy coastal ridges, brackish/saline mangrove swamps, freshwater swamps, and lowland rainforests. The core delta extends from the Benin River in the west to the Imo River in the east, and from the southernmost tip at Palm Point in Akassa to Onya/Samabri in the north, where the Niger River biforcates into its two main tributaries, Rivers Nun and Forcados. The region is also an area of immense cultural diversity with an estimated population of 31 million people speaking over two hundred languages and dialects and belong to about forty ethnic groups, of which the Ijo are the dominant. Others with lesser visibility include the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ukwani, Ogbia, Epie-Atissa, Engenni, Abua, Odual, Abureni/Mini, Eleme, Ogoni, Ikwerre, Etche, Ekpeye, Ogbah, Egbema, Ndoni, Obolo (Andoni), etc. In contemporary Nigeria, these peoples inhabit the states of Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers. The key cities of the core Niger Delta include Port Harcourt, Bonny, Warri, Sapele, Ughelli, Yenagoa, and Twon-Brass. Ijoland in particular, and the Niger Delta generally, are among the best documented areas of Nigeria, and perhaps Africa. The primary reason for this is that the area has been in contact with the literate world for about five hundred years, now. This is not to say that every Ijo sub-group or all sections of the Niger Delta are known. Some are better documented than others due to differences in historical and environmental circumstances. Generally, however, the people of Itsekiriland around Warri in the Western Delta, and the Nembe(Brass), Kalabari (New Calabar), Okrika (Wakrike), Obolo(Andoni), and the Ibani city-states of Bonny and Opobo have been better documented than the other ethnic nationalities, such as the Ogoni, Urhobo, Isoko, Eleme, Ikwerre, Etche, Ogbia, Engenni, Epie-Atissa, Abua, Odual, Bukuma, Udekema, etc. Generally, these documentations have focused on explaining three issues about the Ijo and the Niger Delta. First, they have tried to explain the nature of societies established by the Ijo and other groups. Second, they have tried to explain the ways by which these societies came to acquire the peculiar characteristics that distinguish them from their neighbors. In recent times, the writers have also being trying to explain the roots, manifestation, and consequences of the environmental and developmental challenges facing the land and the people.


A number of bibliographical works exists on different aspects of the Ijo and Niger Delta. Prominent among them are Sanni 1974/1975 (“A Bibliography of the Linguistic Study of Ijo”), a compilation on the Ijo language; Ayalogu 1984, a compilation on the life and works of Professor Williamson; Ayalogu 1985, a compilation on the life and works of Professor Alagoa; Osiobe 1989, and Ombu 1970.

  • Ayalogu, Meg Chio. Linguistics and African Languages: Kay Williamson and Her Works. Unipolib Bibliographic Series No. 2. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: University of Port Harcourt Press Library, 1984.

    This is an official compilation of Professor Williamson’s confirmed books, practical booklets, articles in books, journal articles, unpublished materials, bibliography, and work in progress as of 1984. Though not yet updated, this useful research resource to scholars serves as an aid to scholarship.

  • Ayalogu, Ayalogu Chio. Perceptions of the African Past: Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa and His Works. Unipolib Bibliographic Series No. 5. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: University of Port Harcourt Press Library, 1985.

    An official compilation of the confirmed books, book chapters, journal articles, archival finding aids, book reviews, tapes, forthcoming publications, unpublished materials, and general criticism on Professor Alagoa as of 1985. Though not yet updated, this useful research resource to scholars serves as an aid to scholarship.

  • Ombu, J. A. Niger Delta Studies 1627–1967: A Bibliography. Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press, 1970.

    Though, not updated, this remains one of the most comprehensive bibliographies covering all aspects of Niger Delta studies.

  • Osiobe, Stephen Achavwuko, ed. Nigerian University Dissertation Abstracts (NUDA): A Comprehensive Listing of Dissertations and Theses Undertaken at the Universities of Nigeria. Vol. 1, 1960–1975. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: University of Port Harcourt Press, 1989.

    Helps to bring under one cover all the theses and dissertations undertaken in Nigerian universities, making same easily accessible to researchers. These volumes indicate that Nigerian universities have made immense contributions to knowledge generally, and to national development, in particular.

  • Sanni, G. A. “A Bibliography of the Linguistic Study of Ijo.” Ibadan, Nigeria: Post-Graduate Diploma in Librarianship, 1974/1975, University of Port Harcourt.

    This is a pioneering attempt at bringing together the accessible studies bordering on the Ijo language. Though not as comprehensive as later efforts, it remains a useful research tool for scholars in Niger Delta and Ijo studies.

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