Comprehension of NANA of Itsekiri

Nana was not content to leave his commercial affairs entirely in the hands of his senior slaves, but toured the more important markets from time to time in order, personally, to strengthen his connections with the Urhobo traders. If Nana was thus eager to maintain friendly relations with the Urhobo with whom he traded, he did not, it would appear, allow such relations to derogate from a proper appreciation of his own importance. He seemed to have been conscious of his wealth and power, and to have wished others to see and recognize these, and treat him with due deference.

Comprehension of NANA of Itsekiri

The story is told of a visit which Nana paid to Okpara. One of his closest friends in that town, by name Ukavwe, went out to meet him. Nana insisted that this man, who was much older than he, should knee down publicly before him as a token of respect. When Ukavwe refused to do this, Nana ordered his ‘boys’ to seize him as a slave, the close friendship notwithstanding. Ukavwe’s son had to redeem him with nine slaves. This awareness of his power and of his position was one of the traits which were to annoy British Administrative officers like Gallwey and Moor.

The reaction of Urhobo man in this episode is interesting. Ukavwe as a friend of Nana was fully aware of the power of his friend, yet he refused to kneel down before him, no doubt because he felt that this was against his own custom. He preferred to stand on his rights and face the seizure rather than suffer humiliation. While the knowledge of Nana’s power must have affected the Urhobo in their dealing with him, incidents such as this show that the Urhobo were not always overwhelmed by fear of such power being used against them. Other episodes already described confirmed this.

If Nana himself was guilty of such excesses and show of power, his head slaves were even more so. Everywhere in the Urhobo Country where Nana’s ‘boys’ traded, one hears of their exploits. It is said that it was their Practice, sometimes to invite children and women to their canoes to ‘buy’ fish and other local and imported goods. These women and children would carry their own wares into the canoes, and when the bargaining had started, the head slaves would give order to ‘shove off’ and all these people would be carried as slaves; some of the women would be married to other slaves and their issue helped to swell the number of Nana’s slaves. These exploits are said to have been more frequent when trade was bad, as the head slaves sought to have something to show for their ventures, rather than merely report that trade was bad. (From: ‘Niger Delta Rivalry’ By Professor Obaro Ikime.)


1. According to the passage Nana’s senior slaves:

A. had nothing to do with his commercial affairs.

B. handled all his commercial affairs.

C. captured other slaves for Nana to sell.

D. handled some of Nana’s commercial affairs.

E. were always at war with Urhobo traders.


2. Which of the following statements is true according to the passage?

A. Nana was powerful but not rich.

B. Nana was powerful and wealthy though humble.

C. Nana was wealthy, powerful and proud.

D. Nana was not a lover of peace.


3. Ukavwe refused to kneel down before Nana because

A. Nana was not an Urhobo man.

B. he knew Nana would not do him anything since he was his close friend.

C. he was not Nana’s subject or slave.

D. Nana was an Itsekiri Chief and not an Urhobo Chief.

E. Nana was younger than himself.


4. It is logical to conclude that Ukavwe was

A. not hospitable.

B. very brave and self respect.

C. very cowardly.

D. an ingrate.

E. a fool.


5. The expression: ‘treat him with due deference’ means

A. treat him with difference.

B. treat him differently.

C. treat him like a king.

D. treat him with much respect.

E. worship him as a god.


6. Which of the following statements is false according to the passage?

A. Nana was interested in maintaining friendly relations with others.

B. Gallwey and Moor did not like Nana.

C. It is against Urhobo custom for a man to kneel down before his junior.

D. Nana’s ‘boys’ sometimes captured women and children as slaves by tricking them.

E. Sometimes Nana’s ‘boys’ bought women and children in order to increase Nana’s slaves.

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