The Abiriba people stand tall for their extraordinary ingenuity and enterprising spirit. Historically the Abiriba people established a reputation as itinerant blacksmiths dealing in farming implements, fishing and hunting material such as traps for wild animals, leather pouches and locks and keys.
In the nineteenth century and early colonial period the Abiriba people diversified into the trade of palm produce using Itu, Calabar Bonny and Opobo as bases. They also developed a strong trade in smuggled gin from Fernando Po. The Abiriba merchants later became major dealers in stockfish trading with the United African Company and G.B Ollivant, both companies having been established by the colonialists and virtually holding a monopoly in the produce trade in Eastern parts of Nigeria.
The Abiriba merchants broke this monopoly by incorporating the Abiriba Merchant Company which became a leading firm of produce agents which had the Licensed Buying Agent status (LBA). Nde Abriba subsequently established trading outposts in the West Coast of Africa in countries such as Cameroon, Togo and Benin which they used to play an important part in reviving the economic fortunes of Aba, Onitsha and other commercial centers in the then East Central State after the war when the Igbo’s were impoverished by the economic policy of the government, as they brought in much needed capital from the aforementioned outposts.
In Abiriba there is a competition between successful Abiriba entrepreneurs to bring back elements of foreign culture and fashion to the community.
A rare photo taken about 1952 exhibits the satorial splendor of Abiriba entrepreneurs of a generation.
It is pertinent to note that some of these entrepreneurs were the moving spirits behind the incorporation of the Abiriba Merchant Company and who are up to this day remembered by the Abiriba People as “Nde Uke Company” for their great entrepreneurial exploits and contribution to community development.
Left to Right standing Otisi DD, Nwokeocha Chekwas, Ogbonnaya Okoji,Nkungwu Dike Ukuku and sitting left to right are Anyanso aka Ette Zaa, Okoro Ijeagha, Jombo Nwogburu, Oji Boko (First President of the Abiriba Community Improvement Union), Ikwan Onwuka aka Ikwan Okpogho Okpogho, Ndukwe Kalu aka Ndukwo Nta ( Whose country home in Abiriba made Nigeria’s first President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to exclaim “This is small London”).
Lolo Ijeoma Njoku Obinwannem News Writer / Nov 22, 2021