Historicising Local Gin (Ogogoro) And the Culture of Drinking Among the Arogbo-Ijaw of Ondo State Up To 1970


Albert, A. O., Baitei, F.


Local gin is variously referred to as Káí-káí, Bàbáèrìn, Etonto, Ijaw Tuwo Wuru, KuroWuruPush-me-I-push-you, Sapele-water, Ekpetesi, Ogogoro, and Pàrágàin many places including the coastal and riverine areas of Ondo state. The places where it is produced within the area of study include all the communities in Arogbo kingdom. The inhabitants of Arogbo kingdom are known to be predominantly fishermen by virtue of the territory which is primarily riverine and coastal. Ogogoro production is also central in the socio-economic life of the people. Despite its negative effects on the consumers and several efforts in discouraging the consumption of this Ogogoro, it is still very much popular among the Arogbo-Ijaw as it serves several socio-cultural purposes such as marriage rite, burial rites, festivals, appeasing the ancestors and social gathering. This paper x-rays the production, historical ascendancy, socio-cultural and economic significance of Ogogoro among the Arogbo-Ijaw. Historical methods such as oral interviews and secondary sources were used in the collection, collation and interpretation of data. The findings reveal that, the consumptions of Ogogoro which was a taboo before this period is now part of youth’s way of life and that no marriage is consummated without Ogogoro.


Ogogoro, Palm Wine, Libation, Arogbo-Ijaw, Riverine, Pre-colonial.


In any human community, the geographical terrain has a way of fashioning the socio-economic life of the dwellers. The Arogbo-Ijaw of Ondo state is not an exception. The nature, type and pattern of a people ‘s food consumption and drinking habits are direct reflection of their overall culture and behavioural ethics. Available evidences show that the people of coastal and riverine Nigeria like any other cultural group in different climes of the world, relished in alcohol usage, which in the area of study composed of palm wine from the raffia palm, known respectively among the Arogbo-Ijaw as Ijaw Tuwo Wuru which is generally referred to as Ogogoro by many ethnic groups. The drink serves its peculiar social and economic functions and it proved to be a lucrative business, which provides employment to a large segment of the populace who found ...


The proliferation of local gin production popularly called Ogogoro appears to be a development of the early colonial period. A brief examination of the possible origin of Ogogoro production in Nigeria and consequently in the coastal and riverine regions of Nigeria suffices to point out how it may be linked to the colonial political economy. The prohibition of gin imports in the early period of colonial rule, and the collapse of cash-crop economy in Nigeria during the period of international economic recession of 1929-33 made it difficult for indigenes to be able to patronize imported trade spirit. According to some traditions, a man known as Stocky James Iso, a native of Calabar, was said to have been the first man to distill Ogogoro in Nigeria. He worked with Paterson Zochonis (PZ) and later with G.W Griffiths, another British firm. While he was working with these European firms...


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