Correspondent Maudlyn Eduke shines the spotlight on Brass Island, a place with huge tourism potentials.
Bayelsa State is blessed with some of the most exciting tourism sites in Sub-Saharan Africa. One of which is located in Brass Island. Aside its amazing scenery the place is rich in culture and history.
The name Brass, was also used as the first two alphabets to christen the state, BAYELSA, when it was created in 1996 by the Late General Sani Abacha. The other two local governments are Yenagoa and Sagbama.
The place initially started as a fishing village and later became an important location for both slave and palm oil trade in the 18th century. However, it was the Akassa Raid of 1895 which led to massive deaths on both the Nembe and the British that became one of the most historic event of the people.
What triggered the dispute between the two cultures was the trade monopoly given to the Royal Niger Company by the British Government under a Royal Charter in 1886.
According to research, the Royal Niger Company molested, maimed, killed and seized all Nembe trading canoes at the Niger Delta Coast along the Brass (Nembe) Nation then referred to as ‘Brave City States’ and also the creeks thereby cutting off the Brass (Nembe) middlemen of their legitimate trade into the hinterland.
Late King Frederick William Koko, Mingi VIII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, who was referred to as the King of the Brass People could not withstand the injustice and oppression metered out to his people, so he mobilized all the Kings and Chiefs of Nembe Kingdom to take action against the Royal Niger Company.
The history books said that they collectively decided that it was better to die by the gun than to die by eating mud or hunger and so they raided the Headquarters of the Royal Niger Company at AKASSA on the morning of 29th January 1895. This led to a reprisal attack by the British on the 22nd February 1895 on present Nembe City. The place that the white men were buried is referred to as the ‘White Man’s Graveyard’ and is a popular tourist attraction.
The Nembe people, as a mark of respect and for historical purposes, set aside 29th January of every year to Celebrate in remembrance of that courage and statesmanship exhibited by Late King Koko and other Kings and Chiefs who planned and prosecuted that historic war of liberating the Brass People from foreign economic and political victimization.
Other places worthy of note in Brass are the Akassa Lighthouse and the Slave Transit Camp and Tunnel. The lighthouse was built in 1910. However, it was relocated to its present location in 1912. It was built to serve as a guide to distant ships, to help them dock at the inland port. It helped navigators as they approached shallow waters at the town.
The lighthouse is located close to the seaside in Akassa, and is about 60 meters tall. This makes it one of the tallest lighthouses in West Africa. The Slave camp and tunnel however, was where the slave traders camped their slaves before they were shipped off to America and the Caribbean during the slave trade. The houses were made of irons and solid bricks and had restraining chains that were used to hold slaves as they waited shipment.
Another popular tourist attraction is the beautiful ocean beaches. It is a social tradition every festive season like Christmas and New Year for parties to be staged there. Some privileged indigenes of the Island often invite “A list” musicians and comedians to thrill the people. The beauty of the beach, especially the white sand, its serenity and the exposure to nature could create a wall of peace around any troubled mind.
There has been several whale siting along the shore on the Island. In 2019, a whale was washed off the shore which caused uproar among the people. Against the advice of experts, the whale was decimated by the people, and used for various meals.
The people of Brass have fishing as their predominant occupation. It takes one hour by boat from the state capital Yenagoa to the Island. Some communities there include; Beletiama, Egweama, Liama, Ada-Ama, Shidi-Ama, Sambo-Ama, Gbobo-Ama, Imbikiri, etc.
In other parts of the local government area are Okpoama, Odioama, Akassa, among others.
One key fact to state is that the women of Brass are among the most beautiful women in Bayelsa and Nigeria. They are blessed with robust backsides and enchanting cleavages that easily arouses any man. The women also have good culinary skills. “Yellow soup” and porridge cocoa yam with fresh fish pepersoup are some of the outstanding delicases they have.
With a place so historically significant, it is no wonder it has produced prominent figures of our today society like the current Minister of Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, Former Governor of old Rivers state and chairman of the Bayelsa State council of Traditional Rulers, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, amongst others.
With plans to set up the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Company at an advanced stage, and also plans to connect road to the area, there is great prospects that soon, it will be a destination for business, leisure and pleasure.