Eleme, Rivers

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StateRivers State
Date created1996
 • TypeLocal Government
 • Local Government chairmanHon Barr Philip Okparaji
 • Total53 sq mi (138 km2)
 • Total190,884
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)

Eleme is a local government area in Rivers State, Nigeria,it is part of the Port Harcourt metropolitan city. It covers an area of 138 km2 and at the 2006 Census had a population of 190,884, its headquarters was changed from Nchia to Ogale by the legislative council during the Chairmanship of Senator Olaka Nwogu.[citation needed] The administrative offices have always being located in Ogale, believed to be the first town of Eleme.[citation needed]

The Eleme people are Eleme's main indigenous ethnic group, with ten main towns ruled by a king as His Majesty 'The Oneh Eh Eleme (King of Eleme)'.

The Eleme language, of the Ogonoid group of the Cross-River branch of the large Niger-Congo language family,[1] is the main spoken language.[2]

Eleme has two of Nigeria's four, as of 2005, petroleum refineries and one of Nigeria's busiest sea ports and the largest sea port in West Africa located at Onne, a famous town with numerous industries.[3]

Christianity is the widely practiced religion in the area; the first church 'St Stephens Anglican Church' was established in the historic town of Alode in 1910. Though, a few of the people still hold on to the ancestral belief system in their deities; the Eleme people are talented people with diversity of cultural practices and festivals that are enriched with colorful masquerade displays and dance.

Eleme society[edit]

The Eleme are an enthusiastic God fearing and aspiring group of people. Despite the influx of multinational chemical industries and their workforce into Eleme, a strong sense of society is retained by the Eleme people.

Socio-political system[edit]

Eleme is a kingdom and the head of the kingdom is known as the Oneh-Eh-Eleme (The Majesty of Eleme). Beneath him are the paramount rulers of each of the two major groups of towns Oneh Eh Nchia (Chief of Nchia) and Oneh Eh Odido (Chief of Odido); each Nchia and Odido consist of towns which are further divided into small communities (and then further into areas of the community). The traditional ruler of each town is known as Oneh Eh Eta (Town Chief).

Eleme has two groups of towns, Odido and Nchia, each with their own dialect; the Odido and Nchia languages are mutually intelligible. The Nchia dialect is spoken in the Western areas of the Eleme territory and the Odido dialect is spoken in the east and southeast regions.


  • Nchia
    • Agbonchia
    • Akpajo
    • Alesa
    • Aleto
    • Alode
    • Ogale
  • Odido
    • Ebubu
    • Ekporo
    • Eteo
    • Onne.


Eleme society is rich with its own culture and traditions, from superstitions and traditional religion to the frenzied spectacular that celebrates an Eleme wedding.

Traditional marriage practices[edit]

Traditionally, marriage ceremonies in Eleme could only occur in June, but with the introduction and proliferation of Christianity, this practice was first extended to the Christmas period and then beyond. Now weddings occur at any time of year, although more conservative families may still favour the traditional period for wedlock.

Several stages are involved in the marriage proposal process; the first stage, involves the initial inquiry made by the groom to the father of the bride. Drinks, typically palmwine, are given to the father at this point; the process of drink-giving may occur several times before moving on to the next stage. Drinks are usually accompanied by money.

The most serious negotiation involved in the marriage process is that of the bride-price; the bride-price is a large sum of money paid to the family of the bride, accompanied by yams, rice, palmwine, a large goat and other gifts. The negotiation may involve a number of important figures from the community; the negotiated amount is highly variable and generally reflects the estimated wealth of the proposed inlaws.

The wedding ceremony itself a procession from the house of the bride to the town square, accompanied by the sound of drummers and singing; the bride is dressed in ceremonial beads and traditional headgear. Heavy metal bracelets spiral from her ankles to her knees. Around her waist, wrappers are tightly tied in concentric circles by her female relatives; the brides body may be extensively decorated in elaborate designs with natural dyes. Important guests are thanked and presented with drinks; the ceremony concludes with various dances and gifts are given to the new couple, including money and clothes.


With the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta in the 1958, the Eleme territory has become home to both Oil Refineries and Fertilizer industries, increasing the role of a more industrial economy. About 100 wells are thought to be in use throughout the Eleme territory; the mining of oil has had notable political and environmental effects on the status of the Niger Delta, with pollution from national industries based on Eleme-land increasing acid rain and reducing soil, water and air qualities. Unsurprisingly, Eleme-land has become an area of much political interest over the last 40 years since oil exploration is estimated to account for around 65% of Nigerian Government budgetary revenue and 95% of all foreign exchange earnings (www.odci.gov). Consequent high levels of migration into Eleme territory by other ethnic groups in Nigeria have made a sizable impact on Eleme society; the presence of non-Elemes hoping to find work within the chemical industries has affected the social importance of Eleme cultural identity, raising concerns over the retention of Eleme cultural practices and language use.


  1. ^ Anderson, Gregory D. S. (2006) "Appendix: Classification of Languages Used in Database for Study" Auxiliary verb constructions Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, page 400, ISBN 0-19-928031-2
  2. ^ Udoh, Imelda Icheji Lawrence (editor) (2003) The languages of the South-South zone of Nigeria: a geo-political profile Concept Publications, Lagos, Nigeria, pages 85, 87, ISBN 978-8065-27-9
  3. ^ Udogu, Emmanuel Ike (2005) Nigeria in the twenty-first century: strategies for political stability and peaceful coexistence Africa World Press, Trenton, New Jersey, page 72, ISBN 1-59221-319-7

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 4°47′31″N 7°07′12″E / 4.792°N 7.12°E / 4.792; 7.12