The Fisher Man Friend - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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The Fisher Man Friend

Writing is a way for me to relax and release energy. I express my feelings in songs or poetry.

Agrarian Products

the-fisher-man-friend

Introduction

You give a person a fish to eat and still gets hungry. You teach him to fish and they say he feeds himself and others. This can be true figuratively about any job, but not to a fisherman. He or she is at the mercy of the tides, the effects of the moon on the river, rainfall, and other unnatural phenomena. Fishing is a risky job.

The English Connection

Okrika or Wakirike is my home town. It is an Island surround on all sides by water. Okrika, the story goes that in the distant past as the Englishman land on the Island, he had problems learning the Local Wakirike Ijaw dialect. So, Wakirike becomes Okirika, in the Englishman pronunciation, and later corrupted to Okrika. Wakirike, he’ll say Okirika. And so, the word Okrika sucks on maps and documents.

J. R. Wilson-Affenden in his historical essays wrote that he learned the local Hausa language for administrative works. But this is far from being perfect. Nevertheless, he still has problems saying the local words correctly. The reverse is also true of the local peoples pronouncing the English or foreign words correctly. The challenge is widespread in the Niger Delta among missionaries, traders, and explorers.

A Maritime English Vessel of the 16th Century

the-fisher-man-friend

The Fishing Culture

The Wakirikenes’ or Okrikans are fishers by nature. Fishing is the first and foremost occupation, because “wa ozu yanake,”we had no large agrarian farmlands. Salt making and trade in goods and services follows. Any time a complete stranger meets an Okrika man, the stranger usually ask the later for fish to eat anywhere at any time.

But we had big fishing ports and fishing villages. Men and women, boys and girls above 10 years fish in the rivers, creeks, and promontory turn either alone, or with friends, parents, and relations.

My grandfather is foremost a fisher man. When the English Anglican missionaries bring the Bible with their point man the legendary Bishop Samuel Ajai Crowther, he embraced the Anglican Communion and learn woodwork.

At the age of 10, I learned to fish. I catch tilapia, sardines, and mullets. These are my pathways. Three of my boys like to go fishing with me. At odd moments, they are on their own.

Hardship

: Fishing is risky. It depends on favorable, seasons, the influence of the moon on the rising and falling of the tides. In certain odd weeks fishes do not appear in the rivers, seas, and creeks, thought the fishes abound in the waters. So, if one is not well experienced, or ignored advice, he or she will be waiting all the time and efforts for venturing into the river. It also depends on the type of fishing net one uses. Sizes vary, and you will disappoint yourself with the wrong fishing net or gear.

Now, when this happens, the “Inji Kombo” or fisher man friend returned home empty hand.

Making a New Fishing Net

Making a new fishing net

Making a new fishing net

Exchange Economy

Okrika, before the arrival of the missionaries and explorers, seems like Japan where fish is mostly eaten. It is tea in foodstuff for breakfast, launch, and supper. Far products like plantains, yams, leafy vegetables and assorted fruits, legumes, and rice are hard to come by. The exchange economy is bartering as in all subsistent economy. Fresh or dried fish and seafood are exchanged for all these agrarian products with neighboring upland towns, villages, and communities. The Oginigba, the Ogonis, Abua, and Odual supplies the Okrikans with agrarian food items. I was told that my grandfather took his dried mudskippers to the Elelewo markets, and sold to these people who are big-time agrarian farmers.

My uncle J.A. Fiberesima (now late) wrote that without the exchange economy of fish foods with the agrarian foodstuffs, the Okrikan peoples would starve. There is no money to buy goods and service back then.

In a personal interview I had with a Pa Jonah Fiberesima (also late) during my University days for project work, he confirmed the issues. He further told me that the Abuloma peoples of Okrika as farmers only produced for self-subsistence. His words “wa ozu yanake” confirmed the subsistence agrarian economy.

The Poem: Inji Kombo: The Fisher Man Friend

Inji Kombo: The Fisher Man

Britain ruled the waves, for slaves and spices: Wakirikenes brave the sea for fishes and food.

Okolo konbo: you the stubborn fisherman friend

Fishing in the rivers, creek, and the promontory turns.

Okolo konbo Tubo Lake: ever fishing in the creeks but never reaching the end

Like intercourse between a man and a woman!

The snake could not further the end of the cave!

How deep it is!

Without limitation.

Okolo Konbo: Stubborn fisherman

Ever fishing for seafood,

we will not eat if we had no fish.

And we starve.

Wa ozu yanake: we had no big agrarian farmlands.

We fish to barter fish for yams and plantains.

We fish to barter crabs for cassava with the Ogonis.

We fish to eat.

We fish exchanging fish for all agrarian fruits and veggies more matter.

Okolo Konbo: stubborn fisherman

Ever fishing in the rivers, creeks, and the promontories,

like the mermaids that invade the waterfronts.

And you build a shanty to stay the day and night,

and its vast expanse,

that becomes a major fishing village.

Okrika fishing villages,

Fisherman Island.

The Obumoto country.

Okolo Konbo: stubborn fisher man

Iyo Kuro me: my friend it is hard

Have you brought a handful?

To drink garri? Or

Few sardines to garnish freshly roast corns in red palm oil?

Okolon iya inji idani: stubborn fisher man where are the fishes?

Raiding the rivers, creeks, and far away seas.

Like the mermaids,

for three days and night

There is no bowl of fish!

Conclusion

The fishing culture is still the predominant traditional subsistent economy of the Wakirikes (the Okrika peoples).

References

  1. The Cultural Heritage of the Wakirikes (the Okrika) peoples, by E.D W. Opuogulaya, CSS Press, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
  2. Okrika in Search of an Ancestry, by J.A. Fiberesima, Evans Bros. Nigeria Ltd.
  3. Secret Intelligence in the 20th Century, by C. Fitzgibbon, Har-Davis and MacGibbon, London.
  4. The Red Men of Nigeria, by J. R. Wilson-Haffenden, Frank CASS & CO LTD, London.
  5. The significance of The War Canoe House in Wakirike (Okrika) Society 1700 - 1900 A.D., by MiebakaGH Fiberesima, a project work, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 07, 2020:

MoonDot, thanks. And the comment you drop is lovely. In the picture. I am weaving a sardine net and my beautiful and cute daughter playing around. Thanks for visiting again.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on July 06, 2020:

After reading your article, I really want to visit your home town. After seeing this fishing net, I remembered that my uncle also used to make such nets.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 06, 2020:

Jusmi, thanks again for another visit. I'm glad you enjoy the read. Thanks likewise for commenting.

Jusmi Saikia from Bangalore, India on July 06, 2020:

Loved reading it.. every bit is informative!!

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 22, 2020:

Linda, you're welcomed. You liked it? Thanks.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 17, 2020:

This is a very interesting look at your culture. The description, the photos, and the poem match perfectly. Thanks for creating such an informative article, Miebakagh.

Miebakagh Fiberesima on March 27, 2020:

Rajah, you hit the nail right on the head. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 27, 2020:

The fisherman's life is surely tough, the Okirika's still more. Thanks for letting us share glimpse into their lives.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 20, 2019:

Hi, Roberts, thanks for visiting and commenting. I have finished writing another story related to the fisherman. It will be published this week after the final edit. Thanks again.

Robert Sacchi on March 20, 2019:

I like the poem and the background you gave. Great job.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 20, 2019:

Hello, Laura, you are welcomed; and thanks for weighing in. Culture, every where in the world is interesting. I amvery keen in studying other peoples culture too. More is coming on my people. You willenjoy them likewise. Thanks again.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 20, 2019:

Hello, Laura, you are welcomed; and thanks for weighing in. Culture, every where in the world is interesting. I amvery keen in studying other peoples culture too. More is coming on my people. You willenjoy them likewise. Thanks again.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 19, 2019:

Hey, Bill, I have finished writing a related story to the fisherman friend. It is also a poem depicting my culture, the Ijaw Wakirike (Okrikan) culture. It is in the process of editing, and review. I will publish it by tomorrow.

And, since you enjoy the "The Fisherman Friend," I have no doubt that you will likewise enjoy my new story when the fisherman got a long face! Thank you for visiting and commenting. Have a wonderful time.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2019:

It was very interesting learning about your culture. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.

Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on March 19, 2019:

Really informative. Nice overview of the region's fishing culture.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 17, 2019:

Hi, Dora, many thanks for visiting and weighing in. I am again writing another story still on the fisherman with a different theme. It will be expressed in poetic form. I hope to publish it before the week runs out. You are welcomed always. Thank you again.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 17, 2019:

Thanks for sharing from your fishing experience and insights. The fishermen on my island also fish to eat, but since tourism became our number one industry they sell the best catch to the hotels and restaurants. What grief!

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 16, 2019:

Hello, Sean, you are welcomed. Thanks for commenting and weighing in. At the moment, I am writing another hub on the fisherman. The first story is like an iceberg or ice-breaker. I will publish it next week. Thanks again.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on March 16, 2019:

Thank you, my dear brother, Miebakagh, for this lovely Hub! I enjoyed it! I always love to learn new things about Mama Africa, and I adored the Heart into your poem!

God bless you and your lovely family!

Sean

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 15, 2019:

Hello, Pamela, thanks for reading and weighing in. Naturally, the rains seem to be a good friend of the agrarian farmer. He needs rain for the crops to grow. He prays for rainfall.

A slight downpour gives the fisherman a sort of headache. Where the next meal will come from. At good seasons, when the rains start to fall all the fish will bury themselves under the bed of the sea. Why? The sea becomes hot. And a fisherman will be returned empty-handed.

I am about to write another verse on this fisherman friend hardship specific. I have written the poem this morning. It needs review and will be published next week. Have a great weekend, and that you for visiting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 15, 2019:

I liked eveything in your aricle about fishing and the way you described fishing with eating touched my heart. Life can surely be hard sometimes and you told us that in poetry. Thanks for telling us of thhese difficulties.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 15, 2019:

Hello, Ann, thanks for visiting, reading, and commenting. This is just the beginning. I will launch a full force story articles on certain aspects of my culture, and others. I realized that people like you are interested in. Many thanks indeed. Have a great weekend.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 15, 2019:

Some interesting and colourful scenes here. It's a refreshing insight into fishing in your region and culture. Thanks for sharing.

Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 15, 2019:

I remember as I retired from the civil service, I made a new fishing net and went fishing before my pension benefits come into fruition.