Contrary to
what many have come to believe, Bayelsa State is actually a multi-ethnic state.
Yes, the Ijaw ethnic group constitue a hefty percentage of the state’s overall
population, but the Ijaw are a confederation of smaller groups with distinct
languages, history, and ways of life.
Below we
take a look at the different tribes in Bayelsa State, their location, culture, language,
history and estimated population.


Kolokuma are a near-distinct sub-group of the Ijaw. They are  found in the Kolokuma kingdom which is along
the Nun river in Kolokuma-Opokuma local government area of Bayelsa State.
Kolokuma speak the Izon language, which belongs to the eastern family of the
two broad divisions of the Ijaw language. They are predominantly farmers and
Egbesu is
the tribal god of the Kolokuma. According to history, the Kolokuma came under
the central authority of the high priest of Egbesu.


Ekpetiama are a sub-tribe of the Ijaw found by the River Nun in Bayelsa Central
senatorial district. The Ekpetiama were originally known as the Agada, but was
fondly referred to as the Ekpetiama and it subsequently became its official
Ekpetiama is made up of 7 main settlements. 
These settlements include:
Ekpetiama hold an annual New Yam Festival called Okolede.
The deity
of the Ekpetiama people is called Amadosu. The presence of the Amadosu is
symbolized by a dark cloud or a black snake.


The Epie
and Atissa people, now referred to as the Epie-Atissa are found in Yenagoa
local government area of Bayelsa State.
Epie-Atissa area came to be as a result of migration of the Ijaw people from
the south and the Engenni people from the north. As a result, the Epie-Atissa
share cultural traits of both the Ijaw and the Engenni.
Epie-Atissa speak the Epie language.
There are a
little over 35,000 Epie-Atissa, majority of whom are adherents of the Christian


The Biseni,
also knowns as the Buseni are an Ijaw tribe found Yenagoa local government area
of Bayelsa State.
The Biseni
are bordered by the Gbaran tribe to the north, and by the Zarama and Okordia
tribe to the north-east.
The Biseni
speak a distinct dialect of the Ijaw language referred to as the Inland Ijaw.


The Ogbia,
also known as the Ogbinya are found in Ogbia and Brass local government areas
of Bayelsa State, and also in Abua-Odual local government area of Rivers State.
The Ogbia
are considered as a sub-group of the Ijaw, but they have very distinct
linguistic relationship.
There are
over 30,000 Ogbia in Bayelsa State.


The Ogba
are in Igbo sub-group found in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni local government area of
Rivers State, and also in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State.
There are
over 300,000 Ogba in both Rivers and Bayelsa State.


The Ijaw
are found in Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw, Kolokuma-Opokuma, Ekeremor and Sagbama
local government areas of Bayelsa State, and also in Rivers, Delta, Edo and
Ondo State.
the Ijaw speak nine closely-related Niger-Congo languages. The primary division
between the Ijaw languages is that between Eastern Ijaw and Western Ijaw, the
most prominent of the former group of languages being Izon.
 There are two prominent groupings of the Izon
language. The first group is normally termed Western or Central Ijaw and is
spoken by the Ekeremor, Sagbama, Bassan, Apoi, Arogbo, Buwo, Kabuowei, Ogboin,
Tarakiri as well as Kolokuma-Opokuma and Yenagoa and its vicinity.
Nembr-Brass and Akassa dialects are referred to as Ijaw South-East. These
groups, since 1996 constitute Bayelsa State.
The Ijaw
are primarily fishermen, but they also farm rice, yam, banana and vegetables.


The Urhobo
are found in Ofoni, a community in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa
State. Ofoni is about 40 kilometres by water to Sagbama town, the
administrative headquarters of the Sagbama local government area, and about 120
kilometers by road to Yenagoa.
The Urhobo
community which is a peninsula as it is almost surrounded by water is about 6
square kilometres in sizeand is made up of 3 sub communities of Ekrediagbo,
Ekreogbe and Ekreyavwien.
population of Urhobo in Bayela is estimated at around 17,000.


The Anibeze
is an Isoko-speaking community in constituency 111, Sagbama local government
area area of Bayelsa State. Their closest neighbours are Patani in Delta State
and Adagbabiri community of the same Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa
The Anibeze
are primarily farmers and fishermen.

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