Discover Itsekiri

Itsekiri is a Yoruboid language and a member of the Volta-Niger sub family of languages. It is spoken by roughly 1 million people in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta region.

Main Communities


Common names and their meanings

  • Alero -  Female firstborn / The land has been made soft
  • Eyitemi - This is mine
  • Toritseju - God’s will is supreme
  • Oritsefemi - God loves me
  • Temisan - Mine has become good

Staple Food

Obe-Eyen - also known as Banga Soup, this Itsekiri dish made from palm nut extract, locally sourced sea food, and traditional spices. It is rich in healthy fats and vitamins A and E, promoting skin health and immune function.

Culture and Traditions

The Olu of Warri - The Olu is of Warri is the traditional ruler of the Itsekiri kingdom. The first Olu of Warri was prince Ginuwa who founded the Itsekiri kingdom in the 15th century. The son of the reigning Olu of Warri inherits the throne. Each Olu appoints a cabinet of chiefs called Ojoyes to help him achieve his goals during his reign.

Ebura-tsitse -The traditional Itsekiri religion, Ebura-tsitse, was one of ancestral worship. The Itsekiri people revered their ancestors as intermediaries between the living and the spiritual realm as well as protectors and providers for the family and community. Ancestral shrines were often located within the family compound and prayers and offers were made to honor the ancestors. Offerings typically include food, drinks, and sometimes symbolic items representing the desires or needs of the worshipers.

Notable figures:

Chief Nana Olomu - merchant. He was a key figure in the 19th-century Niger Delta. Chief Olomu amassed significant wealth and power through his involvement in the palm oil trade and established himself as a prominent leader among the Itsekiri people. Olomu's resistance against British colonial expansion in the region, known as the "Nana War," made him a legendary figure in Itsekiri history.

Misan Sagay - screenwriter. She has made significant contributions to the international film industry. Sagay’s work in the 2013 British film "Belle" led to several award nominations and wins, including the NAACP Image Award and the Humanitas Prize.

Omawumi - singer. Her rise to fame began with the reality TV show "Idols West Africa." Omawumi released her debut album in 2009 to critical acclaim and solidified her position as a leading lady in the Nigerian music industry. She has received numerous awards and nominations, including the Headies Awards, Nigeria Entertainment Awards, and African Muzik Magazine Awards.