A brief walk into the lives of one of Nigeria's finest people

And due to the fact that they are ever surrounded by water, the Degemas are reputed to practice fishing on a major scale, alongside palm oil.

Occupying an area of swamps, mangroves, and tropical rainforests, an Island in Degema local government area, Rivers state, Nigeria to be specific, the Degema people are estimated to be over  10,00 in population.

However, according to oral tradition, the Degema people, believed to be originally part of the Engenni people, migrated from the ancient Benin kingdom to Ewu in present-day Engenni, in the Ahoada Local Government Area of Rivers State.

And in accordance with the account of Mark Roman (a native of Engenni and a staff member at the University of Port Harcourt), the people of present-day Degema settled at Ewu (near Akinima) when they left Benin with other groups who settled at Okilogua in Engenni (not in Akinima, as claimed).

Roman asserts that Ewu is also in Okilogua. At Ewu, there was a split which took some of the inhabitants to Enuedua (Joinkrama) (forming the Enuedua group), some to Ediro (forming the Ediro group) and some to Ogua, forming the Ogua group.

These groups make up the Engenni community.

It is also the assertion of Roman that the Degema people belonged to the Ogua group.The Udekaama group went to the uninhabited Degema Island around the 15th century CE and settled at Ipokuma ("headland" or "cape" in Dẹgẹma), now known as Doctor’s Farm.

The headland is the part of Degema Island adjacent to an uninhabited island on which Abonnema (a Kalabari-speaking community in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State is situated.

Udekaama is an umbrella term for two groups: Usokun-Degema and Degema Town (Atala) (headed by Ugu and Ekeze, respectively, who led the two groups from Ewu to Ipokuma. Ekomburu (Obonoma) is one of the groups comprising the Udekaama clan.

Although there is almost no proof to ascertain the truthfulness of this account, still we are compelled to take side with the claim of historians, which says that the name Degema is a bastardized form of Udekaama (the name by which colonists referred to the Udekaama people).

And it is believed that this bastardization may have resulted from the Kalabari mispronunciation of Udekaama as Dekema (which, in turn, became Degema on contemporary documents).

However, unlike most tribes with names differing from that of their language, Degema refers not only to the language spoken by the inhabitants of lovely people of Degema, it also refers to the people themselves, including the land on which they live.

As a matter of fact, even the name of their government (the administrative headquarters of the Degema Local Government Area), is named after Degema.

It is also important to note that men and women from Degema are known to tie wrappers. But while the men are easily identified with singlets, the women put on a blouse.

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