Okrika-Kalabari War Fallout: How Tonye Cole’s grandfather rescued Kalabaris

Kelechi Esogwa-Amadi

Decades after the bloody inter-tribal war between the Kalabari and Okrika people, the secret of how the Kalabari people escaped the colonial government’s hammer has been revealed.

It would be recalled that after the war, the Kalabaris, as a penalty, were fined the sum of twenty pounds by the colonial government, which was a lot of money in those days. The Okrikans were also fined.

Having expended a lot of resources during the inter-tribal war, the Kalabaris could not pay the heavy fine. Amidst that helplessness, anxiety and threat of further sanctions by the colonial government should the payment deadline expire, Tonye Cole’s grandfather came to the rescue.

He paid the twenty-pound fine for the Kalabari people with his personal money without demanding for a refund.

This was revealed by the Amanyanabo of Kula Town, HRM Sir Dr Kroma A. Eleki JP, Sara XIV, when the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Arc. Pastor Tonye Dele Cole visited him as part of his ward to ward sensitization tour.

Describing Tonye Cole as a true son of Kalabari Kingdom who also has roots in Kula Town, King Eleki expressed joy at the visit.

“We know your family very well. After the Okrika-Kalabari war, Kalabari was fined twenty pounds. Kalabari could not pay the money. It was your grandfather that paid it,” the Kula monarch told Cole.

King Eleki commended the APC governorship candidate for displaying a high level of responsibility in his ongoing ward to ward sensitization tour.

“I have watched your ward to ward sensitization tour and have seen that you have avoided hate speeches. Please keep it up,” the Amanyanabo told Arc. Tonye Cole.

The Kula monarch decried the continued marginalization of Kula by the federal and state governments, adding that irrespective of their immense contributions to the economy of Nigeria, no Kula son has been appointed a commissioner or special adviser.

He said the neglect was so much that at a stage they started contemplating breaking away from Rivers State and joining Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State.

Kula allegedly shares a boundary with Nembe LGA.

“Unfortunately, by omission or commission, we have been marginalized. At a stage, we wanted to join Nembe. But we thank God for you. We want somebody that will not be parochial,” King Eleki said.

Earlier, the APC governorship flagbearer, Arc. Pastor Tonye Cole, said his mother told him that he has family relations in Kula Town.

He bemoaned the marginalization of Kula and the years of neglect that had resulted in the backwardness of the area and promised to bring development to the place.

The highpoint of the meeting was King Eleki’s presentation of a Dake bible to Tonye Cole as a gift.


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