By Emem Idio
It is prohibited at Ossiama, Egbopuloama, Aweama and Ogbunuana and Koluama riverine communities in Sagbama and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas, Bayelsa State, for any person to slaughter and cause injury to crocodiles.
We see crocodiles as deities – HRH Edike
Amananaowei (monarch) of Ossiamaowei Kingdom comprising the first four communities, HRH (Chief) Bethany Amos Edike, who spoke to NDV, traced the age-long custom of not killing crocodiles to mysterious Lake Adigbe, commonly owned by the four communities.
“It is said that Lake Adigbe is named after the priesthood of the lake, this awe-inspiring lake was discovered by a woman named Summu, who was fishing around the bush centuries ago before the earth lost her innocence.
How it all started
“Towards evening that fateful day, Summu came across a very small fish hole with many fishes. The following morning, she and her seven daughters, for she had no son, went to the small fish hole to dig it. Suddenly!… the earth quaked, a gust of wind uprooted several ancient trees in the thick forest, thunder and lightning clashed in the red sky, as the seemingly small fish hole erupted like a volcano.
“Summu and her seven daughters were petrified that they ran in different directions. As they ran, with the soles of their feet touching the back of their heads, the small fish hole erupted in seven different directions taken by the seven daughters. The seven daughters were never again to be seen by mortal eyes.
“The mother, Summu escaped from the lake to the present Apoi Creek which happens to be the only channel linking the lake to the river named after her,” he disclosed.
HRH Edike revealed that crocodiles (believed to be deities) guard the lake which vehemently prevented humans from fishing therein in time past.
Appeasing the gods
His words: “The deities were eventually appeased by the priest of the lake using a juju called Okoroso. Now, humans are free to fish in the lake and put their hands in the lake without being harmed by the crocodiles.
“The friendly crocodiles, though seldom seen, warmly welcome indigenes and visitors alike to the serene, tropical ambiance of the lake.
“The crocodiles do not feed on the fish in the lake – another wonderful mystery of the enchanting Adigbe Lake, which portrays a harmonious relationship between man and nature.
“It is the custom of the Ijaw people around the lake to prevent anyone from harming or killing the crocodiles,” the ruler emphasized.
Celebrated Adigbe Lake fishing festival
Nowadays, the communities hold Adigbe Lake Fishing and Feasting festival annually and it avails fishermen and tourists the chance to fish exclusively with hooks and fishing nets as well as behold the wonders of Mother Nature. This year’s festival was held last week.
Vast species of fish, including long fish (aba), cat fish, apedu, silver, gold fish, tilapia, jellyfish and mud fish are found in the lake. Fascinatingly, the fishes when roasted and dried, have a salty taste.
The surrounding forest is a natural habitat for leopards, bats, porcupines, monkeys, tigers, parrots, rabbits, tortoises, ducks, swans, pigeons, sparrows, to mention a few.
Economic trees such as mahogany, black afera, owoso, iroko, walnut and palm trees abound. The soil is so fertile, it is suitable for planting a wide variety of crops.
Sadly though, there is no accessible road to Ossiama community even though it is on the same mainland with Toruebeni which already has a road (under construction). For now, Ossiama community is only accessible by river.
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