Asaba (Igbo: Àhàbà), is a city, strategically located on a hill at the western edge of the Niger River, overlooking its sister city, Onitsha, across the Niger Bridge. It is the capital of Nigeria’s Delta State. A fast developing urban area, Asaba had a population of 149,603 as at the 2006 census, and an metropolitan population of over half a million people.
The City of Asaba, the capital of oil rich Delta State of Nigeria is strategically located on a hill at the western edge of the majestic River Niger. The historic River Niger is a trans-African link beginning from East Africa and down into the Atlantic Ocean. Asaba forms a connector between western, eastern and northern Nigeria through the River Niger from the north and via the Asaba Niger Bridge, an east west link and a Nigeria landmark. Asaba lies approximately 6 degrees north of the equator and about the same distance east of the meridian; about 100 miles north of where the River Niger flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The greater Asaba occupies an area of about 300 square kilometers. It maintains an average tropical temperature of 90 degrees during the dry season and an average fertile rainfall of 6 inches during the rainy season. Ibo is the native language in Asaba and neighboring towns.
Since becoming the Delta State capital, Asaba has grown in population to over half a million very hospitable people and now maintains a cosmopolitan population of predominantly non-indigenous People.
Asaba is believed to have derived its origin from a conglomeration of mostly three different ancestral lineages:
Ugboma is considered to be the first settler in what later became Ahaba and subsequently Asaba.
Ezeanyanwu, another settler was said to have hailed from the royal line Of Ezechima, the legendary ancestor of numerous settlements east of the Niger and environ.
However, the history of modern Asaba is always traced back to its most famous citizen, Nnebisi. Nnebisi, the son of Diaba, an early settler. Nnebisi in Ibo language means: mother is supreme.Nnebisi’s mother was from the village of Agbakuba in Nteje in the broad Anambra Region, east of the River Niger and beyond.
Shortly after his birth, Nnebisi’s mother took him back to Nteje. As young Nnebisi was growing up among his mother’s family he started noticing that he was being treated differently from everybody else around him. He also noticed that there were certain things he was not allowed to do. When he inquired why; he was told that it was because Nteje was not his true home town. So he immediately decided to embark on a journey to find out his true home. Nnebisi embarked on this legendary search for the lost ‘Father Land’ on a narrow long boat and an herbal medicine pot – a charm given to him by a village medicine man in Nteje. This medicine was supposed to guard him and guarantee his safe arrival to his purported homeland. Nnebisi was supposed to carry this pot on his head and this magical pot was supposed to fall off Nnebisi’s Head at the site of his ancestral homeland.
The pot fell and crashed at the present day Cable point off the shores of the River Niger by the great Onishe rocks – a shrine of the mythical goddess – the Onishe of Ahaba. Ahaba was an exclamation and an Ibo phrase ‘Ahabam!’In Igbo language, it means ‘ I have appropriately chosen’. This is where Ahaba got its name. The name Was later changed to Asaba during the British colonial occupation of Nigeria. Nnebisi Married two wives and his household flourished to absorb the household of the other earlier settlers. He had three
Children with his first wife, Ujom: Onne (male) Ezeumune (male) and Ojife (female). His second wife also had a son called Iyagba. Iyagba’s offspring’s were part of the lost seed.
Eze anyanwu, Ugboma, Odikpe and Obodo Achala were all part of the original settlers In Ahaba. The others are the 5 grandsons Of Nnebisi – Ezenei, Ugbomanta, Agu, Ajaji and Onaje in that order.
All created the Original 9 quarters in Ahaba – “Ahaba ebo ite’nani “The Five grandsons of Nnebisi will later grow to absorb most of the earlier settlers and therefore make up the present Five quarters In Asaba.
Ahaba in Igbo language is from Ahabagom, meaning “I have chosen well”, a quote from the founding father (Nnebisi) of Asaba.
The city of Asaba was once the colonial capital of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate. It was founded in 1884. Between 1886 and 1900, it hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England. That company has grown today into the UAC Nigeria PLC. Scottish explorer William B. Balkie, when signing a trade treaty with Igbo chief Ezebogo in Asaba on August 30, 1885, remarked “After our salutations, I spoke of friendship, of trade, and of education, and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war, and the benefits of peace, all of which was well received”.:318
Owing to Asaba’s influential history and geography, and current strategic political and economic influence in Nigeria, Asaba is generally known as the regional capital of the Anioma area, the western section of Igboland. The clamour for creation of Anioma state has been going on for decades.
Asaba is situated on a terrace of the lower Niger River, overlooking the point where the Anambra River flows into it. Beyond the river banks, on the high plains which are far more extensive than the river basins, secondary forest vegetation flourishes. The historic Niger River is a trans-African link beginning from West Africa and down into the Atlantic Ocean. Asaba forms a connector between western, eastern and northern Nigeria through the Niger River from the north and via the Asaba Niger Bridge, an east-west link and a Nigerian landmark.
Asaba lies approximately 60 degrees north of the equator and about the same distance east of the meridian; about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of where the River Niger flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The greater Asaba occupies an area of about 300 square kilometers. It maintains an average tropical temperature of 32 °C during the dry season and an average fertile rainfall of 2,700 millimetres (106 in) during the rainy season.
Asaba is traditionally led by the highly revered Asagba of Asaba, to whom the head (“Diokpa”) of each of the five Ebos reports directly into on matters affecting Asaba.Greater Asaba includes some of the other neighbouring indigenous Igbo communities—Ogwashi Ukwu, Igbuzo, Okpanam and Oko —on the western section of the Niger River. Culturally and linguistically, the lower Niger River, which divides Igboland into two unequal parts, has from ancient times continued to provide easy means of communication and unity amongst the indigenous Igbo people on both sides of the river, as well as promoted trade and movement of people between Igboland and rest of the world.
Since becoming the administrative capital of Delta State, Asaba has grown in population to over half a million very hospitable people. Today, it maintains a cosmopolitan population of predominantly non-indigenous people. Some of the other groups in the city include Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Ukwuani, Hausa, Itsekiri and Yoruba people.