By Hon. Leo Toby
International scholarship welcomed a new addition to its annals by way of an 800-page volume authored by Dr. Silva Opusunju, titled Sons of Perekule: A Political History of Bonny, Opobo and Prince Dapu Section in Eastern Niger Delta of Nigeria.
At the book’s presentation which was held at Royal Garden Hotel, Port Harcourt; His Royal Highness, Alabo Princewill Dappa, (Chairman of the event) decried African attitude towards history and record-keeping – exemplified by the gross relegation of the discipline in most pre-tertiary curriculum.
In his review of the book, Prof. Zeb-Obipi, a dean at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, extolled the methodology adopted insisting that it was evidence-based, analytical, chronological – with a retention of civility which overall yielded a very comprehensive composition for the reading public.
The content trains the history of Bonny and Opobo sequentially from antiquity to present through the lens of the Prince Dapu Section, explaining their institutional structures, booms, challenges and irregularities; and the culpability of foreign consular authorities in the crises that rocked pre-colonial city-states of Eastern Delta of Nigeria.
The new Ibani literature is radical in many respects; one of which being its interrogation of the passability and acceptability of the documentation of early slave-trading visitors to Africa like Pereira, the Barbot brothers, and the infamous Hugh Crow.
The author argues strongly that the works of these inhuman merchant traffickers which are often copiously quoted, may not have as much probative value as often ascribed.
Sons of Perekule is a well researched rational interpretation of historical events and evidence which fundamentally quizzed deep-seated patterns of local presuppositions about chronological data regarding the Ibani of Ijaw.
In this respect, the book is a departure from mainstream literature in that it is a real propagator and champion of rationality and objectivity, no matter the stature of the character in question.
It is noteworthy that the work has been conceived as a series with future volumes; and that at the launch, key commentators such as Alabo S. D. Stewart, Bernard Miko, Prof. Sika Orupabo, M. A. Pepple, Jude Diri-Tolofari, Tati T. O. Dappa, S. K. Jaja, Paul Ben-Cookey commended the author for the depth of study, contribution to knowledge and enrichment of the political history of indigenous pre-colonial systems.