Kingdom in the Creeks : An Early History of the Warri Kingdom

Publication Date

April 2018


Laura Ann Twagira


History (HIST)


English (United States)


This thesis counters the on-going colonial emphasis in historical literature to examine the long history of the Warri Kingdom. The Warri kingdom that has been in existence for over five centuries ruled by a dynasty of Olus (Kings). By looking at this extensive pre-colonial history, this study also examines what has long captivated the individual Itsekiri: the deep roots of Itsekiri identity in the Niger Delta region and the role of pre-colonial history in contemporary life.The three main chapters of this thesis investigate the significance of the pre-colonial history of the Warri kingdom. Chapter one examines the origins of the kingdom from the migration of Prince Ginuwa and his retinue from the Benin kingdom to the kingdom?s founding at Ode-Itsekiri by Ginuwa?s son. Chapter two takes a biographical approach and examines the reigns of three Olus during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The encounters and exchanges between two kingdoms with power over the water (Warri and Portugal) frame the chapter?s central questions surrounding the changing nature of the Olu institution, his authority and Itsekiri identity. In particular, the introduction of Christianity in these exchanges brings about profound changes in the spiritual authority of the Olu. Chapter three looks at the legacy of the early pre-colonial history, and how this history is performed in in the twenty and twenty-first century. Ending on a study of the importance of the study of pre-colonial African history and how it continues to inform contemporary politics.

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