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Gele-Gele: A Historical Landmark Of The Ancient Bight Of Benin

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By Ekaiwe Iginua Osemwekha

About a decade ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria established a school for nomadic Fulani and their Ijaw counterparts in the South Eastern part of the country. The aim was to bring education to the door step of these people who have no permanent abode due to their movement from one place to another.

While a remarkable progress have been recorded in the Fulani community of the North whose offspring have benefited from such a laudable educational initiative, the Ijaws who migrated with the different varieties of fishes and shrimps are still shrouded in a dismal academic knowledge due to mismanagement funds provided for the project in their area.

The ignoramus should be pitied and pardoned for laying claim to ownership of Gele-Gele, Okomu and other villages which already had traditional leaders like Okao, Odionwere and Oben before the advent of the Portuguese traders in the 15th century.

These nomadic fishermen need orientation by the state and local governments in order to put paid to the incessant harassment from the Ijaw militants who continuously brandish sophisticated weapons to intimidate the true sons of the soil.

Gele-Gele as a sea port to Benin Empire and the Portuguese traders in the 15th century can be spotted in all museum across Europe, the ancient Greeks and beyond.

The commercial activities at Gele-Gele port flourished so much in this period that the Benin monarch established an embassy in Portugal with a Benin Crown Prince as first Ambassador.

Another important landmark in the area is a cenotaph of the Philip’s party of British Orion came to the empire in 1897 and were anihilated by Ologbosere, a Benin warlord. warlord. He accused the foreigners of trying to circumvent the Benin immigration regulation.

The killing of Philip’s Party that eventually led to an international conflict between the British and Benin empires was not at the instance of Benin monarch rather Ologbosere says the white men are trying to have, undue interference in the sovereignty of Benin kingdom.

However, the British government averred that although the Benin empire have right to defend their territorial waters but they should not have killed their ambassador that was being recommended, by the British Monarch to the Benin Monarch, consequently, they had to resort to war in order to seek redress.

The enormous potentials of Gele-Gele embodied With rich mangrove forest harbouring more than two hundred species of fishes, wild life, oil and gas is now the main focus of Ijaw nomadic fishermen who knew nothing about the historic antecedent of the ancient port.

Mangrove forest provides shelter for so many endangered species of animals, reptiles ant. birds. They also protected the environment by filtering polluted water.

In the Bight of Benin, about 85 percent of game, fish from nomadic fishermen depend on them.

The historical landmark of these trees could also be found in more than half of the world tropical sea shores, mangroves are a type of tree or shrub that includes members of several families. They thrive in the intertidal areas between land and sea where the water is a mixture of sea water and fresh water. Despite the fact that the water is much saltier than most plants can stand, mangroves handle the conditions with ease. The trees achieve this by using several fascinating methods, sometimes in combination.

The trees are usually referred to as salt-exchider, because they have filters that hinders the entry of salt through the root surfaces. This process is so effective at excluding salt that a thirsty traveller can obtain fresh water by braking open the roots of such plants.

In some other related species, the mangrove allow the salt into its system and accumulates it, depositing the salt in old leans or other parts of the plant which is systematically dropped. Yet, others are salt secreters, letting the salt into the plant but then quickly secreting it, usually through special salt glands in the leaves, If you sample the taste by putting it in your mouth, it would taste very salty.

The latex from such leaves are said to be very poisonous because it can lead to temporary blindness if it gets into the eyes so one has to exercise caution when experimenting for fresh water in the mangrove trees.
However, it has been established by scientist that the latex has medicinal values and can be employed, for the treatment of sores and stings.

Other facinating areas in this environs are Okomu National Park. At this tourist place you can enjoy the following facilities:-

1 Wilderness Hiking
2. Park Viewing
3. cruising/Boating
4. Swimming Pool
5. Nature Trails
6. Cazy Restaurant
7. Tree House Climbing
8.Environmental Friendly Atmosphere.

Other attraction includes “Cassava Belt”. The only way through which farmers in Benin speaking areas of Edo State can benefit from the dividends of the current cassava revolution initiated by the Federal Government is by developing community based small holders farms and small size cassava factories in Gele-Gele area. The original inhabitants should be the main beneficiaries, Let the Ijaws implement the nomadic schools initiative by building schools in moving boats as recommended by the Federal Government of Nigeria
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