Steve Ibuomo Larry PhD,

Department of History and Diplomacy,

Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State.


This study is an examination of the history of the Epie-Atissa people. The Epie-Atissa people are two sister kingdoms who inhabits twenty-nine villages and towns in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Epie Kingdom have seventeen of these villages and towns while Atissa kingdom have twelve. They are a homogenous people and occupy a contagious territory with abundant natural resources. It is the history of these two sister kingdoms that this work set out to examine. To place the work in its proper perspective, the study takes a cursory look at the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial history of the people. This is done with the intention of revealing the changes evident in the land via their contact with the Europeans. While it is an established fact that the people evolved sophisticated social, economic, and political institutions before their contact with the Europeans, the study reveals that they have undergone several changes. These changes according to findings are evident in every facet of their lives, such as their social, economic, and political lives. These aspects of the peoples live have continued to change forms from the past while new ones have replaced old discarded institutions. A clear evidence that the Epie-Atissa society is not static but dynamic. Historical methods have been utilized to get the needed information for this study and it is descriptive and analytical.


Situated on the banks of the Ekole and Epie creeks, which are distributaries of the Rivers Nun and Orashi respectively, the Epie-Atissa people occupies the neighbourhood of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital and speak a Delta Ediod Language.[1] The Epie-Atissa are sister kingdoms who live in twenty-nine villages/towns. These villages/towns have been joined together due to the rapid growth of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. Epie kingdom have seventeen of these villages/towns while Atissa have twelve. They are bounded to the north and west by the Ekpetiama and Gbarain clans, on the south by the Ogbia people and east by the Engenni and other Ijo speaking people. As a homogenous people who occupy a contagious territory with abundant natural resources, they have one of the largest concentration of population in the Niger Delta. The population of the Epie-Atissa according to the 2006 census of Yenagoa Local Government Area is 352, 285. [2]

Geographically, the Epie – Atissa people live in the tropical zone, therefore, they enjoy the tropical climate. The River Ekole and Epie creek which are distributaries of the River Nun and Orashi respectively outline the major topography of the area which lies in the fresh water zone. There are two marked seasons in the area, namely dry and raining seasons. The dry season begins in November and ends in March while the rainy season begins in April and ends in October every year but the August break punctuates the heavy rainfall in mid-July to part of August yearly. The land is well watered and is, therefore, very fertile. This has enhanced the fertility of the soil in the area. [3]

The origin of the Epie – Atissa people is not definite. It is believed that the Epie-Atissa people belong to a different ethnic nationality. They are also identified as being different from the Ijo people. The Epie-Atissa people as well as the Engenni people, migrated from Isoko/Urhobo clans, some of which traced their origin to Benin. They moved into Isoko land and crossed the River Niger and drifted to the banks of the Orashi River. The man that led the Epie group of migrant brothers was called Epie. They anchored at a placed between Joinkrama and Mbiama called Oguan and continued their movement on foot to a place called Akenfinafina. While all the men left their women and children in the forest between Igbogene-Epie and Engenni in search of another suitable settlement, it was the first son of Epie named Zue that founded the first settlement which was named after him as the leader of the team, Yenizue- meaning Zue’s home. The Epie-Atissa people speak the Epie language which is not all that understood by the Ijo, Nembe and Ogbia people but it is similar to the Engenni and Degenma language. [4]

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