Critical Review of Some Assertions by Dr Tamunoemi David West (II)

by Opubo G Benebo

Enthronements in the Last Interim 300 years in Kalabari Lands:
Critical Review of Some Assertions by Dr Tamunoemi David West – PART II

(Click here for Part 1)

A critical review of the validity and veracity of the foundation and the inference drawn on the foundation was started in Part I in relation to a recent newspaper article entitled, “My position on the Amanyanabo stool and Tonye Princewill’s 40th birthday” by Dr Tamunoemi David West, published in The Sun, Monday, February 02, 2009, in which the author discussed even if tangentially Kalabari history, traditions and culture as practised in the past 300 years. The focus of the Part I was on a less precise assertion that is more sharpened in the following assertion of the same article:

QUOTE: A number of leading Kalabari communities have issued statements in the newspaper that they don’t recognize as their King or Amanyanabo. This has never happened in our history as proud Kalabari people throughout the 300 years of the King Amachree Dynasty. UNQUOTE – Dr Tamuno-emi David West.

The reference to a “dynasty of King Amachree” dating back to 300 years is the “sharpening point” of interest in this segment of the planned series of critical reviews. Indeed, in view of the commonly presumed scholar-qualifications of Dr Tamunoemi David West, this assertion would lead the uninformed of Kalabari history, to actually believe this statement as true: That is that in fact an Amakiri [alias Amachree as per anglicized] Dynasty has actually existed for 300 years and that such a dynasty even existed as a matter of fact: Indeed a 300 year dynasty will have started in 1708, in the very least.

In Part I of this series of critical reviews, the last one hundred (100) years was examined and found to be without any valid and enduring dynasty of Amachree. In this segment of the series, the first one hundred (100) years is being critically reviewed to the end of discerning any start of a monarchy of Amakiri. This segment of the critical evaluation of the merit or demerit of the state of fallacy of the assertion regarding the “a 300 years old Amachree dynasty” will be provided along three thrusts of analyses: The first will be based on documented history already in the public domain; The second will be by analysis of a marker based on an event that occurred within the Kalabari Union as of the “Coming out of Amakiri”. Clearly the first of these should have been read by any well-intentioned researcher, given that the records are in the public domain. The second one, well, may not be so obvious but any conscientious researcher from Buguma should have noted the discrepancy and investigated. The third one is base on public admission by Amakiri himself as his self-styling within the Ekine-apu Ogbo.

First, the documented historical evidences: It is well-documented (circa Simon Owonaro, “The Ijaws and their neighboring Tribes”) that King Igonibo was ruling the Kalabaris in 1720; but King Igonibo was the first son of King Akeamaoloye, popularly known as King Keamaolo and often mispelled as Kamalo, and known to the Europeans as King Roberts, and even the one time host of John Barbot in 1699. Quite obviously then, the assertion by Dr Tamunoemi David-West of an “Amachree Dynasty” that started at about 1708 is in error. Clearly this fallacy of the assertion would still prevail indisputably even if one were to allow that there was a “King Amakiri” who ruled between the reigns of King Keamaolo and King Igonibo, given that King Igonibo was the son of King Keamaolo.

However, it is particularly instructive to note that King Mangi-Suku had ruled before King Igonibo (circa: GI Jones, ‘Trade Secrets”), and that King Keamaolo ruled directly before King Mangi-Suku. Further King Keamaolo ruled from about 1665 through 1700, therefore there is well-known based on documents in the public domain that from 1665 through 1720 there was no monarchy of any Amakiri; and clearly a simple arithmetic would have shown Dr Tamunoemi David-West that his assertion was in error. Obviously the assertion of Dr Tamuno-emi David West of an “Amachree Dynasty” having started in 1708 is a pure promotion of falsehood.

Then, of course, there is also the documentation of the Ke peoples in their history regarding Amakiri [alias Amachree as per anglicized] an orphan being consigned by their King to King Daba, the last son of King Keamaolo and the father of King Kalagbaa, who was the ruler of the Kalabaris as of the time of consignment of Amakiri. So clearly, Amakiri did not even arrive within the Kalabari Clan until during the rule of King Daba, who, of course, died sometime in 1750, after which King Kalagbaa would naturally come to the throne of Kalabari. Obviously then, the monarchy of Amakiri, if at all any ever came to be started, did not start before 1750 but only after 1750. So, again, the assertion by Dr Tamunoemi David-West of an “Amachree Dynasty” that got started at about 1708 is yet again in error and had not even started as of 1750 as per the records of the Ke peoples.

Then, of course, in the same book (circa Simon Owonaro) it is also noted that as of 1760, King Kalagbaa was ruling the Kalabaris; now King Kalagbaa was the grandson of King Keamaolo, and the son of King Daba – the last son of King Keamaolo. Further there is documentation (circa P Amaury Talbot ) – based on the records of Captain Hugh Crow who was trading in the Niger Delta during the reign of King Kalagbaa – that asserts that King Kalagbaa died in 1770 and Amakiri his slave and “adopted son” then came to be the leader of the Kalabaris in 1771. So, quite obviously then, the assertion by Dr Tamunoemi David-West of an “Amachree Dynasty” that got started at about 1708 is yet again in error and had not even started as of 1760 and certainly not before 1770.

Changing gears and turning to the native historical analysis of the time of the “Coming out of Amakiri” is the marker often never well-understood by many people from Buguma. In Buguma it is generally said that Chief Dokubo Horsfall, alias Chief Omekwe, is the “elder brother” of Chief Benebo Wokoma. In fact Chief Benebo Wokoma for a while answered to Chief Benebo Horsfall. There is therefore the often mistaken view that Chief Dokubo Horsfall and Chief Benebo Wokoma are brothers by the same parents. This confusion is the result of the marker of the coming out of Amakiri. The truth is that Chief Dokubo Horsfall is the younger brother of So-Alabo Akoko by the same mother but different fathers; and of note is that So-Alabo Akoko was the father of Chief Benebo Wokoma. In effect, Chief Dokubo Horsfall was the uncle of Chief Benebo Wokoma.

Now the construction of the time-line: Akoko was the son of Ngo, who was a great grandson of King Owerre-Daba. After the death of King Kalagbaa, leaving his young son, Prince Awo, as the heir apparent, Seleye Fubara, a cousin of Ngo, placed a challenged for the next Kingship, as was the tradition. Chief Iju, a descendant of a brother of Perebokalakeibari and hence a cousin of Prince Awo, then suggested that Amakiri now the inherited-slave of Prince Awo be allowed to represent his Master, young Prince Awo, in the contest. Due to circumstances of event, the Prince Awo as represented by Amakiri, was declared the winner by forfeit of penalty on Seleye Fubara; and Amakiri then became the Proxy ruler for Prince Awo who was then a boy by Kalabari standards.

At sometime after the conferment of Proxy on Amakiri, the Kuro-ame of the Kalabari Union objected vehemently as a result of which some were even killed, while oth

ers moved off to Okoloma – which was founded by descendants of Okoloba, the youngest brother of Perebokalakeibari. One of the results of this vehement objection of the Kuro-ame was the recall of the mother of Akoko from her husband Ngo who also partook of the objection. The underlying driving force for this recall of the mother of Akoko, was that the community of Tema was in an alliance with the Ende-ame and therefore the objection to Amakiri who was a proxy for Prince Awo was considered an objection to the Ende-ame to whom Tema had its allegiance. So, Akoko’s grandmother had forced the divorce of his parents when he was about ten (10). At some later date the mother of Akoko remarried and gave birth to another son who later became Chief Dokubo Horsfall. Now then here is the marker: The recall of Akoko’s mother within the period of conferment of the Proxy rulership on Amakiri.

Now on to the chronological analysis of the arrival of Amakiri based on the marker: First when Karibo Amakiri became the leader of the Amakiris in about 1826/1830, Akoko was the So-Alabo of Kalabari, being of the family that had the goddess Akasso (truncated from Awome Kasso). Further, there is documentation that at about 1835 Akoko managed the first trade agreement between the English and the Kalabaris, ordering Karibo Amakiri not to sign the agreement unless he (Akoko) allowed it. In any event, if one were to allow that Akoko died at about age 75 – to be conservative (some family history – my family that is – are left out here) and that he died at about 1840, then he would have been born at about 1765 and his mother was recalled at about 1775, which agrees with the general estimation of 1773, when the Benebos and Fubaras of the Kuro-ame generally left Kalabari to join with the Okolomas.

Finally the self-styling description of the arrival of Amakiri by Amakiri himself: Ordinarily when a Kalabari or anybody is admitted into the Ekine-seki-apu Ogbo of Kalabari, the person would opt for a name by drum-beats (drum-name) by which the person will be acknowledged whenever the person comes onto the scene of the Ogbo ceremony. Instructively, the drum-name has a well-defined structure: First the drum-name of the person’s family of origin or house-hold of abode within Kalabari is called in sequence starting as far back as possible, and then the person’s name is called last. In this sense King Kalagbaa was known by the drum-name, Ogborigbo, which was also his younger brother’s real name. So King Kalagbaa’s name would follow the sequence of the form:

Kali kulu kulu Kali Ka
Kali kulu kulu Kali Ka
Ogboribo Ogborigbo
Ogborigbo Ogborigbo

For the uninformed the first line above is the original identification of the Kalabari Family that after the formalism of the Kalabari Union also became the name of the Union and as such could optionally be used by all citizens of the Union. Any way, Amakiris drum-name was of the sequence:

Kali kulu kulu Kali Ka
Kali kulu kulu Kali Ka
Ogborigbo Ogborigbo
Ogborigbo Ogborigbo

Gborogborobo Gborogborobo
Gborogborobo Gborogborobo

Obviously, anyone who is informed of the kalabari cultures and traditions, would have recognized that Amakiri himself admits that he was from the household of King Kalagbaa, by starting off his drum-name with the drum-name identification of King Kalagbaa. The drum-name of Amakiri was simply “Gborogborobo”. This information, also in the public domain, clearly attests that Amakiri directly and personally admitted by the self-styling to have come after King Kalagbaa had ruled, and thereby placing his (Amakiri’s) coming onto the Kalabari scene somewhere later than 1770. Yet Dr Tamunoemi David-West chose to ignore all these in favor of promoting pure falsehood.

The seeming proximate results of both thrusts of critical review of informational data in the public domain again enables the assertion that there was no start of an “Amachree dynasty” in and about 1708 and until 1771 when Amakiri appeared on the scene, and even then only as a Proxy for Prince Awo; and such can be inferred definitively. There is without any doubt, a difference of 63 years from the purported start of an “Amachree Dynasty” as asserted by Dr Tamunoemi David-West and when Amakiri came to become the leader of the Kalabaris – besides the fact that Amakiri was never even enthroned as a King of the Kalabaris, but that is not pertinent at the moment. Unequivocally though, the magnitude of error in simple arithmetic by a noted virology scholar, as Dr Tamunoemi David-West enables the inference that he (Dr Tamunoemi David-West) was being utterly disingenuous regarding his assertion of the “300 years of an Amakiri dynasty”, and the making of such assertion is in itself also very unscholarly of Dr Tamunoemi David-West. Besides, there are even issues with any suggestion that an “Amakiri monarchy” even started from 1771 through 1800. Quite unfortunately therefore, that offered history of an “Amachree Dynasty” is fallacious.

Opubo G Benebo
A Descendant of Kalabari

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Eniye M. Braide November 19, 2016 - 1:20 am

While thanking all who explicitely shed factual (& chronologically accurate) light on Kalabari history, it is time that a “Consolidated Kalabari History” is pieced together. It’s time bitter truths be swallowed when plain anthropological & historic facts are made bear. There’re too many educated, enlightened, bold, lawfully non – intimidated & equally militant, politically powerful & rich defenders of all communities in d Kalabari landscape, who only need now to present chronologically accurate, historical facts without fear or favour – for the Consolidation of our history. Hon (Arc.) Eniye M. Braide.

Evans July 16, 2010 - 9:59 am

Exhaustive response drawn from impeccable research findings. I hope this article puts a final stop to the now nauseating and irritating Amachree-founder-of Kalabari claims by misguided and overzealous members of the present day Amachree house of buguma. Kalabaris and indeed kingship in kalabari existed long before Amakiri came. And of course as of today the socalled amachree dynasty or whatever remains of it, only rules over buguma, and has no POWER OR INFLUENCE WHATSOEVER IN ABONNEMA NOR IN BAKANA.

osima May 30, 2009 - 1:17 pm

Excellent, deep and thoughtful.


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