It was once said that the Ijaw people practised idolatry, with the Crocodile being one of the deities worshipped. The crocodile is a deity worshipped by the people in certain towns in Bayelsa, leading to a taboo against killing crocodiles.
It also represents the Ijaw people’s rugged and amphibious nature, as seen in the Bayelsa Coat of Arms.
It is illegal for anyone to slaughter or injure crocodiles in the riverine communities of Ossiama, Egbopuloama, Aweama, Ogbunuana, and Koluama in the Sagbama and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
According to a statement by the Amananaowei (monarch) of the Ossiamaowei Kingdom, which includes the first four communities, HRH (Chief) Bethany Amos Edike traced the age-old custom of not killing crocodiles to the mysterious Lake Adigbe, which the four communities share. We see crocodiles as deities – HRH Edike.
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How It Started
“It is said that Lake Adigbe is named after the priesthood of the lake, this awe-inspiring lake was discovered by a woman named Summu, who was fishing around the bush centuries ago before the earth lost her innocence.
Towards evening that fateful day, Summu came across a very small fish hole with many fishes. The next morning, she and her seven daughters (she didn’t have a son) went to dig the small fish hole. Suddenly! …the earth trembled, a gust of wind uprooted several ancient trees in the dense forest, and thunder and lightning clashed in the red sky as the seemingly small fish hole erupted like a volcano.
“Summu and her seven daughters were petrified that they ran in different directions. As they ran, with the soles of their feet touching the back of their heads, the small fish hole erupted in seven different directions taken by the seven daughters. The seven daughters were never again to be seen by mortal eyes.
“The mother, Summu escaped from the lake to the present Apoi Creek which happens to be the only channel linking the lake to the river named after her,” he disclosed.
HRH Edike revealed that crocodiles (believed to be deities) guard the lake which vehemently prevented humans from fishing therein in time past.
Appeasing the gods
He also mentioned that: “The deities were eventually appeased by the priest of the lake using a juju called Okoroso. Now, humans are free to fish in the lake and put their hands in the lake without being harmed by the crocodiles.
“The friendly crocodiles, though seldom seen, warmly welcome indigenes and visitors alike to the serene, tropical ambience of the lake.
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“The crocodiles do not feed on the fish in the lake – another wonderful mystery of the enchanting Adigbe Lake, which portrays a harmonious relationship between man and nature.