THE IZON PEOPLE

E. J. Alagoa (Emeritus Professor)17 November, 2021

Our knowledge of the history of the Izon people has expanded in recent times beyond what our oral traditions can remember. Advanced study of the languages of the Niger Delta has confirmed that the language is rooted in the ancestral Negro languages of West Africa from the region of the Futa Jalon mountains.

Our Ijoid ancestors migrated down the River Niger into the Central Niger Delta in times beyond human memory.  The oral traditions of the Izon people in the Niger Delta record the dispersal of the different groups out of the Central Niger Delta across the region over the millenia.

The antiquity of Izon settlement and expansion over the Niger Delta has also been confirmed by archaeological excavations in parts of the Central and Eastern Niger Delta. It is out of this ancient heritage that the oral traditions claim relations with civilizations across the continent to Egypt and beyond.

The trading states of the Eastern Niger Delta and Izon groups around the Escravos and Forcados Rivers participated in overseas trade with European adventurers in the early 15th century. Our trading states also did business across the Niger Delta and up the River Niger and Benue to bring merchandise for sale. They signed treaties of peace and amity but also fought and paid the price of resistance.

The archaeological excavations in the Niger Delta have uncovered ancient works of art comparable with the better known Benin and Nok arts. Research continues to uncover Ijo Footprints across Nigeria up the Niger and Benue to Lake Chad; and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

Izon fishermen plied their trade along the African coast from the Niger Delta west wards to Liberia and eastwards to Congo and beyond.  It is gratifying that the scholars came back with good reports concerning the Izon adventurers in this entire distant contact arena.

These are some of the footprints that our ancestors have left for us on the sands of time.  Let us act well our part in the present and future. Let us praise our heroes past to raise heroes present and future.