Bonny Island is situated at the southern edge of Rivers State in the Niger Delta of Nigeria near Port Harcourt. Ferries are the main form of transport to and from the Island. The local language spoken in Bonny Island and Bonny Town is Ibani, though most natives also speak the Igbo language.
Located at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean facing the Bight of Bonny sits the island of Bonny. This serene community has several historical and economic symbolism for the Nigerian federation. It was the melting point of economic activities right from the 16th century. It served as Christianity’s first port of call in West Africa. It was also home to many illustrious sons and daughters of Nigeria. With a thriving traditional system and robust cultural heritage it stands out as one of the foremost local communities in Nigeria. Her traditional institution is headed by Edward William-Dappa Pepple who serves as natural ruler and Amanyanabo-in-Council and ably assisted by a Council of Chiefs headed by Reginald Abbey-Hart who is also chief and head of Captain Hart major house. Her political leadership currently rests on the shoulders of Nelson Ben Irimagha who bears the traditional title of Amasenibo.
The community is subdivided into two main segments – the mainland and the hinterland. The mainland comprises the Township, Sandfield, Iwoama, Orosikiri, Aganya, Ayambo, Akiama, Workers Camp, Finima and some outlying fishing settlements lying along the Bonny River’s coastline. The hinterland includes the villages that serve as home to natives of Bonny kingdom.
In the early 1990s the Federal Government of Nigeria, in collaboration with 3 international partners, Shell Gas BV., CLEAG Limited [ELF] and AGIP International BV. started the multibillion-dollar project Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (Nigeria LNG). Due to its strategic position, the island hosts various oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Agip, and Elf.
Public and private secondary schools on the island includes:
Bonny Island-Finima is surrounded on the west and south by long stretches of beaches. The beautiful beaches attract tourists and fun seeking inhabitants alike on sunny days and festive periods like Christmas and Easter. On 26 and 31 December of every year, thousands of people visit the Finima beaches for beach carnivals.
The Ibani people are Christians. Majority of the inhabitants of the area converted to Christianity in the early 1800’s. The Christian faith in Bonny was introduced by King William Dappa Pepple, who while in England elected to become a Christian King so that God will grant him power and wisdom to rule his people. King William Dappa Pepple was Baptised by Reverend G. H. McGill and later confirmed by Dr. Tait, the Bishop of London. At the behest of king William Dappa Pepple the Church Missionary Society in London sent Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first Black African Bishop, to Bonny in 1864 to establish the Gospel of our lord Jesus Christ in Bonny.
From Bonny Christianity spread to the neighboring communities of Tuwon and Nembe in 1868, Kalabari in 1878, Okrika in 1878, Andoni ,Ogoni, Ikwerre and the hinterlands of Eastern Nigeria. On January 24, 1889, Bonny Christians presented their beautiful church to Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther as his Cathedral. This he accepted and St. Stephen’s church in Bonny became the first Cathedral in Nigeria and the second Cathedral in West Africa. The Church was eventually dedicated by the Bishop on 27th February , 1889. Bishop Crowther’s throne which he hallowed on February 27, 1889, remains till this day at the Lady chapel in Stephen’s Cathedral Bonny.
On April 27, 1952 Bishop Dimieari from Bonny was enthroned as the inaugural Diocesan Bishop of the Niger Delta Diocese at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Bonny. Bonny continued to blaze the trail with Rev. Cannon T. T. Green who was ordained a Deacon on December 20th 1953 at the St. Stephen’s cathedral Bonny. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in 1958 from St. John’s College, Dunelm, England , to become the first graduate pastor in the Niger Delta Diocese and in fact east of the River Niger in Nigeria.
Before the advent of Christianity the early settlers in Bonny were worshipers of indigenous religions, very little of that remains today as majority of the natives have converted to Christianity.
Today, there are several cultural groups in Bonny, for instance the “Nwaotam” carnival display which is a renowned and colourful display among men and women, young and old of the bonny community. Other cultural groups are also known in the communities which perform at various times in the year usually during the Christmas period.
BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN BONNY
Bonny Nature Park
Bonny Nature Park, being developed by Nigeria LNG is becoming popular for eco-tourism. The park covers the rain forest, mangrove swamps and area of sandy soil with fresh water ponds and tall timbers between the swamp and beach. It harbours some creatures like the pygmy hippo and reptiles including crocodiles, monkeys and some different bird species.
Finima Nature Park is a remarkable achievement on Bonny Island. -. It is also a lovely place to go and visit and get a sense of what the Niger Delta was like before, everything. If you’d like to visit. –