The Engenni people (Egeni) are considered by themselves and some to be an Ijaw clan and by others (mainly academics) to be a branch of the Edo (Bini) ethnic group. They primarily live in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. Although they consider themselves to be Ijaw, the Engenni speak an Edoid language. The Engenni have close relations with neighboring Ijaw tribes such as the Zarama and Epie-Atissa.
Historically, it is claimed that Engenni migrated from the old Benin Empire about 1000 years ago. In the cause of migration they first settled in an isoko community and later founded a settlement called Ewurebe. Though no longer in existence, history has it that the settlement was situated near the border between the present-day Biseni in Bayelsa State and Engenni. They later migrated and founded other settlements which include Okilogua, Okpankio, Nyenegile and Eliabi (Akinima) and later founded the present day Engennni communities and other outside Engenni kingdom. Some communities founded from Engenni migration include, Degema, Usokun, Obonoma and Zarama. Engenni historical presence is also felt at Kula, Bile and some communities in Abua, Ogbia, as well as some other communities in Bayelsa State.
The Engenni clan is believed to have first settled in and around their present habitations over nine hundred years ago, as depicted by historical artifacts collected at Okilogua, Enusha, and the Ede-emu lakes at Ewurebe, Okilouga, Enusha, and Ikodi communities. Engenni kingdom is grouped among the Niger-Congo, Edoid people of Nigeria, belonging to the kwa group of the Delta sub-saharan Africa. They belong to the Guinean clusger and speak a primary language known originally as Ejiro. The Engenni people are among the very first settlers in the Niger Delta region and this is corroborated by some aspects of the early history, culture and environmental characteristics of the kingdom as documented in the works of historians and early Christian visitors to the early 1800s.
Engenni Kingdom lies on the banks of the Engenni River (now known as part of the Orashi river). The Engenni River has significant tributaries like the Taylor creek and Kolo creek which are major gateways to other Niger Delta habitations like the Ijo clans, the Nembe, as well as the Ogbia and Kalabari kingdoms.The Engenni (Egene) language has metamorphosed into three major dialects namely Enuedua, Ogua, and Ejiro dialects.
Geo-Politically, Engenni forms part of the present-day Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, and host the local Government Headquarters at Akinima. The kingdom is ruled by one Government recognized traditional ruler, the Okilom-Ibe of Engenni kingdom, Who is the paramount ruler of the Kingdom. All five federating clans of the kingdom have a Group-head known as the Okilom-Opiri, while communities within the clans that make up the Engenni kingdom have traditional heads known as the Okilom-Akie.
The earliest known documentation of Engenni language, culture, and phonetic sounds are those of American Baptist missionaries in the area, as well as occasional mention in the works of some missionaries on the Niger Delta region, as well as those generated by early European traders like the Lander Brothers, and the United African Company – UAC.
Engenni Kingdom is rich in crude oil and natural gas, and exploration and exploitation of these minerals began since 1956. The Shell Petroleum Development Company (formerly Royal Dutch Shell) found petroleum in commercial quantities at the Adebawa wells of Joinkrama, and have since then been engaged in commercial oil and gas activities in the area. The Adebawa oil wells of Joinkrama ranks only second to Oloibiri, where oil was first found in commercial quantities in Nigerie. This huge contribution to the Nigerian economy not withstanding Engenni has very little to show as the kingdom has no government presence except for local primary and secondary schools. The only road linking the Ogua and Enuedua (Joinkrama) clans of Engenni is a Shell access road, and no other part of the kingdom is motorable up till date, in spite of the fact that here are several oil wells scattered along the community. The major prospecting oil companies in the area are Shell and Agip.
Engenni is made up of 5 Major clans known as Enuedua (Joinkrama), Ogua, Ejiro—Ede, Ejiro-Ekunu, and Ogbogolo Clans. The Engenni clans are made up of about 31 towns and villages which include Betterland, Edagberi, Odawu, Isua, Ususu, Ogu, Adele, Clinton town and other towns of the Enuedua (Joinkrama) clan, Akinima, Okilogua, Oshie, Akioniso, One-Man-Country, Enueda (Mbiama),Ishayi and Agbo which make up the Ogua Clan, the Ejiro-Ede clan made up of Akiogbologbo, Enusha, Okarki, Ipilopanyi, Okparaki, and other towns in the Ejiro-Ede clan, the Ejiro-Ekunu clan made up of Ikodi, Kunusha, Igovia, Udoda, and other towns and villages, while the last Egnenni clan of Ogbogolo is made up of Egbama, Opu-Ogbogolo, and Kala-Ogbogolo.
The inclusion of Ogbogolo may not altogether be historically and linguistically correct as the Ogbogolo people speak what is purely regarded as “Ogbia”. Ogbogolo is a distinct language in the Niger-Congo family as a Central Delta language of Nigeria. According to PeopleGroups.org, 2000-2014, the Ogbogolo – (ogg) are a sub-Saharan African People of the Benue cluster only found in Nigeria and speaking the primary language known as “Ogbogolo”. Oral tradition has it that the Ogbogolo people migrated from Kaskrama (present day Otuegwe) in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State under their leader Egbo after whom their chief town Egboama is named.
Engenni people are very friendly and hospitable, a fact that is evidenced in their whole-hearted acceptance of the early Christians and European traders who established churches, schools and hospitals in the area as early as the late 1800s. The people of Engenni kingdom are traditional farmers and fishermen, and crafts making skills like canoe and paddle making, black smithing, basket and trap making are also known vocations and occupations of the people of Engenni kingdom. Although the people were deeply engaged in traditional heathenism before the advent of Christianity in the mid 1800s, Engenni communities and people today are largely Christians and the towns and villages of Engenni are filled with churches of every denomination. Engenni people are very proud but respectful people, very much inclined to western education, and known to have the highest percentage educated population in Rivers State. The first primary school in Engenni was built in Okarki in the year 1903.