Delta State is a Nigerian state, located in the south-south region of the country with 25 local government areas, the state was initially created with 12 local government areas in 1991 which was later extended to 19 and now has 25 local government areas. Delta state was carved out of the former Bendel State in August 27th, 1991. The capital of Delta State is Asaba; while the state’s economic center is Warri. What is now Delta State has been inhabited for years by various ethnic groups, including the Isoko and Eruwa in the centre of the state; Ukwuani in the east; the Ika, Ozanogogo and Olukumi in the northeast; the Anioma in the northwest; and the Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, and Uvwie in the southwest. In the pre-colonial period, now-Delta State was divided into various monarchial states like the Kingdom of Warri and Agbor Kingdom before the area became a part of the British Oil Rivers Protectorate in 1884. In the early 1900s, the British incorporated the protectorate (now renamed the Niger Coast Protectorate) into the Southern Nigeria Protectorate which later amalgamated into British Nigeria. However, colonial forces did not gain permanent control of modern-day Delta State until the 1910s, due to the uprisings of the Ekumeku Movement. Notably, Delta has one of the few parts of now-Nigeria to have been under French control as the UK leased the enclave of Forcados to France from 1903 to 1930. Of the 36 states, Delta is the 23th largest in area and twelfth most populous with an estimated population of over 5.6 million as of 2016. Delta state got its name because the state is where the River Niger forms a delta as it enters the Atlantic Ocean, and nicknamed as “The Big Heart”. The major ethnic groups living in Delta State are the Urhobo-Isoko and Igboid, while other major ethnic communities include Anioma, Eruwa, Ukwuani, Ika, Ozanogogo, Olukumi, Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Uvwie. Delta State is based around the production of crude oil and natural gas as one of the main oil-producing states in the country. Key minor industries involve agriculture as the state has substantial oil palm, yam, and cassava crops along with fishing and heliciculture. In large part due to its vast oil revenues, Delta has the fourth highest Human Development Index in the country.
Festivals and Traditions
Delta State is endowed with a rich cultural heritage culminating in the existence of a variety of traditional festivals which are celebrated as an annual community affair throughout the various local governments. Almost every village celebrates traditional festivals that bring both indigenes and nonindigenes together. Most festivals take place between March and December every year and they offer occasions for re-uniting family, friends and well-wishers from far and near. The important festivals celebrated in the State include the following:
• Awankere Juju Festival: This festival is usually celebrated in July and fast rising to become a national festival of some sorts in the Niger Delta. The essence of the festival is for people of the Niger Delta to give sacrifices and appreciate God for a good harvest, as well as good returns from the Niger River. The first part of the festival involves rituals which are closed to the public, but the second part is a big party with people donning masks.
• Okiroro Festival: The Warri Festival of Funfair. You could feel the atmosphere, colourfully attired young men and women gravitating towards Ode-kporo, the Itsekiri for main square, which is situated on the Okere road axis of Okere round-a-about. There are canopies everywhere, with food and drink vendors having a field day. The festival is structured into five market days calculated on an eight-day basis, determined by the position of the moon. The same structure exists in Effurnu in Uvwie and Iyede in Isoko, both in Delta State of Nigeria. However, it could extend to seven-market days should there be the birth of twins during the period or the spilling of blood.
• Itsekiri Boat Regatta Festival: This is a water festival where sailboats are decorated in top colours to engage in racing and other water activities. Many people operate these ships to the chanting of thousands of onlookers and it is a festival that draws people from all over Nigeria to witness the water events. 36Destinations Boat Regatta Festival During the Coronation of Olu Of Warri Kingdom.
• Adane-Okpe Festival: The Adane-Okpe is an annual cultural event that symbolises a rallying point for all Okpe people. It dates back to the historic meeting of the four Okpe founding brothers; Esezi, Evbreke, Orhoro and Orhue, after the migration of their ancestor from Benin early in the last millennium. The festival is held in Orerokpe, where the meeting point of the brothers is clearly visible.
• Aja Festival: This literally means the “Festival of Sacrifice” and is celebrated annually in August to appease the gods and mark the beginning of harvest period. • Iguaho Festival: This is a festival characterized by traditional dances and general merriment. It takes place in Asaba. It brings all the five quarters of Ebo, led by their heads or Diokpas, together at the Asagba’s (king) palace to pay homage to him. Other inhabitants of the capital city such as the Arewa, Yoruba and Igbo communities are also invited to participate. The Asagba uses the occasion to formally announce the dates of forthcoming annual festivals.
• Iwaji Festival: This festival is celebrated to commemorate the harvest period particularly the abundance and availability of New Yams. The ceremony involves the slaughtering of cocks and the cooking of some tubers of new yams, which are pounded into fufu and eaten with chicken pepper soup. The pounded yams are shared amongst members of the nuclear family and friends and well-wishers who drop in. This takes place annually between July and August.
• Oli Oma Festival: This is a feast day at the end of harvest celebrations during which families give sacrifices to their dead mother. It’s kind of a mother’s day celebration for deceased mothers. It is a day of pride for all Asaba women.
Tourists Attractions and Locations
•Mungo Park: The Mungo Park house was constructed in 1886 by the Royal Niger Company. It was built with wooden palms and was once the southern protectorate’s seat of government.
• Saint Joseph Catholic Church Asaba: The Saint Joseph Catholic Church is over a 100 years old. This church is the oldest church in Delta state as well as one of the oldest public buildings in this state. You do not have to be a Christian faithful to pay this church a visit.
• The Palace of Olu of Warri, Warri: The palace of the Olu of Warri is situated in Ode- Itsekiri. It houses the Olu of Warri and is a place where you can get to know about the history and the way of life of the Warri people. This palace is an architectural masterpiece and is only partly open to the public.
• Warri Kingdom Royal Cemetery, Warri: The Warri royal cemetery is located in Ijala land and is a piece of land where the past paramount rulers of Warri have been buried. So far, the Warri royal cemetery houses 18 past Olu of Warri.
• Expatriate Graveyard, Asaba: This graveyard is perhaps the smallest graveyard in the whole of Nigeria. It contains only 17 graves and houses the remains of British missionaries and some British administrators. These graves contain brief inscriptions on them which include the names and a little summary of the people buried in them.
• Otuogu Beach, Asaba: If going to the beach is something that you love doing, then, Otuogu beach is one place in Delta state that you should visit. This beach is a great place to relax after a long week. You can also decide to go for a swim in the waters of the River Niger.