Notes on the Jekris, Sobos and Ijos of the Warri District of the Niger Coast Protectorate

Reginald K. Granville, Felix N. Roth
1899 The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland  
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. [WITH PLATES VI TO X.] q?trodglctionI. TT will probably be a commoni experience of anthropologists to find that foreigyn residents are little able to give good
more » ... ccounts of the lnatives -amongst whlom thley have beeln throwln. The causes of this inability are manifold. Many such residents are not interested in the lnatives, and hence do not trouble to use their eves alnd ears; others really do not see alnd lhear; while others again-and they form the more nuimerous class-iinagine that what they have seen and heard is too trivial to be put oln record, having no notion of the importance of anly correct scrap of anthropological news, however .small. On more thani one occasion, when after a colnsiderable amounlt of " pumping" I have expressed my satisfaction at having, elicited a specially ilnteresting, note, my ilnforlniant has been astoniished into saying, "Oh! I did not think you would care to know about such little everyday tbings." The folloWing niotes have mostly been obtainied by the process of "pumping." Both Mr. Granville and my brother had, at iny suggestioni, collmmelnced taking anthropological notes before their last return to England, and when they visited me, I wrote down the replies they gave to my inquiries, they revising the rnotes afterwards. While both supplied me with information, more or less equal in quality and qualntity, I mnay mention that the medical and sanitary informiation is lnaturally derived from my brother, while the small linguistic portion is solely from Mr. Granville. As the latter is still engaged on the preparation of a Jekri grammar, only a few salielnt points in the language are produced here. The lnotes are to a certain extent meagre and fragmentary, but there was lno time to do the work more systematically; lnevertheless, the little that has been recorded will be found initerestilng and reliable. History. The Jekris have very fragmentary notionis as to their origini, but all the notionis poinit to a westward or Yoruiba origini. Some say they are descended from the l)o)st easterly of tlhe, Yoruba kings' subjects, nmade uip of runaway slaves, This content downloaded from 195.78.109.79 on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:39:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions N oteo I/h' Jrl',T,is, Sohaws ai1nd ]j/,. 105 law-breaxkers, etc., inter-mnarried witlh adjoininig tribes; they sometimes say jekri means a coward, a man who would nlot figlht, and who was therefore expelled fromn the tribe. The Yortuba people are, however, mostly horsemileni, wlhile the .Tekris are a water people wvho prefer to pa(ldle imany miiiles to walking a few yards. Another statemenit is that wlheni the Portuguese came to Benin city, onie of the leader's sonis, a half-caste, was senit down to Warri, or, as the people tlhemiiselves lnamiie the town, Jekni, and there a lhouse was built for hiim. r,y means of the juju of the king of Beniin (whichl appears to have always overshadowed Warri), he was declared lking of that part of the delta; lhe brought Yortiba wives with him and was the founder of the Jekri niationi. A third statemenit would seem to be a mixture of the two first, for it says the half-caste found at the delta the Yoruba runiaways of wlhom he constituted himself the chief, and from these Yoruibas the Jekris are descenlded. As, however, Warri was apparently xwell established wlhen the Portuguese first visited the country, the story of the half-caste caninot hold good. At Big Warni, a Jekri will take a stranger "to see what the molnks did." There is nothino to be seen except a large open common covered witlh English (?) grass. Phwysiqmw.. The Jekris miiay average about 5 feet 7 inches in height; some of them halve tliiinish lips; they are not well developed about the legs. The hands of the Jekri women are finely formed alnd taper, alnd but for the lhabit of biting the nails their fingers would look well; as they eat with their filngers, dipping theem into the palm oil, etc., for the first inch or two, the fingers g,et a sort of parchmenty look. The women on Benin river, who have no loads to carry, have well-formned feet with goo(d instep; the feet of the Warri women are nearly as good. The meln alsp have good feet. The Sobos and Ijos have flatter feet than the Jekris and better calves, the Sobos havilng the best calves of the three tribes. The Ijos, while about the same height as the Jekris, are big men physically, with well developed biceps and bull necks; they are better made men than the Jekris, what may be called a good athletic people, and the best watermen of the delta. The women have beautiful figures and very delicately formed feet. Spurheeledness is not marked, the feet of the natives in that respect resemblilng those of Europeans very much. All people prefer to paddle a couple of houirs to walking a quarter of an hour. There appear to be no big powerful men, such as are met with elsewhere on the coast. They can see better in the dark than Europeans are able to do. Contaclt with Ciivilisation.
doi:10.2307/2842936 fatcat:pbiyowtnmvayzjf6qregt6augu