Eleme Society

Despite the influx of multinational chemical industries and their workforce into Eleme, a strong sense of society is retained by the Eleme people. This section details the socio-political system and the importance of religion and education in Eleme life.

> Eleme people

> Eleme culture

> The economic situation in Eleme

> Where is Eleme?

> Notes on the Ogoni people

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Socio-political System

Eleme is not a Kingdom, but rather a territory occupied by related clans in a cofederal relationship. The head of the tribe is known as Oneh Eh Eleme (Chief of Eleme). Beneath him are the paramount rulers of each of the two major clans Oneh Eh Nchia (Chief of Nchia) and Oneh Eh Odido (Chief of Odido). Each clan is further divided into small communties (and then further into areas of the community). The traditional ruler of each community is known as Oneh Eh Eta (Town Chief).


Eleme has two clans, Odido and Nchia, each with their own dialect. Odido and Nchia can be easily understood by speakers of the opposing dialect. The Nchia dialect is spoken in the Western areas of the Eleme territory and the Odido dialect is spoken in the East and Southeast regions.

Village Clan
Agbonchia Nchia
Akpajo Nchia
Alesa Nchia
Aleto Nchia
Alode Nchia
Ogale Nchia
Ebubu Odido
Ekporo Odido
Eteo Odido
Onne Odido


Education in Eleme is carried out in English and very limited opportunities are given to incorporate the Eleme language into the studies of school children. While literacy in English is afforded to those who stay in education long enough, very few people can read and write in Eleme adequately. Even those who are highly literate in English may express difficulties in reading and writing Eleme. One of the main reasons literacy levels are so low is that teachers and would-be teachers have been given no formal literacy training in Eleme (Obele 1998: 1-2). Therefore, despite the standardization of the Eleme orthography and the introduction of literacy materials under the auspices of the River Readers Project (a government funded literacy programme instantiated in the early 1970s), literacy levels remain low.


The vast majority of Eleme people are Christians, usually belonging to a church related in some way to the Church of Nigeria. New churches are constantly being built, representing the ever growing presence of Christianity in Nigeria. The Church in Eleme forms the backbone of moral education outside the family. It also represents the centre of social networks within the community.

Young Eleme Christians typically belong to the Eleme division of the Anglican Youth Fellowship, an organisation with centres in participating communities across the Niger Delta and beyond. The AFY regularly holds training days and organises events to encourage understanding and knowledge of the Christian faith in the next generation of Nigerian Christians.

In addition to Christianity, reflecting the diversity of Nigeria, other religions are also practised in Eleme. Most notably these are Islam and traditional (animist) beliefs.