5 Interesting Facts about Kalabari Culture

Africa is blessed with some of the Richest Culture heritage in the world, one of these intriguing culture is that of the Kalabari People, So We’ve decided to examine what is really interesting about the Kalabari Culture.

The reason why Kalabari Culture is awesomely interesting is the fusion of Art, Ambience and Color, Beauty and fashion, and the rhythm of sound and beats.

In this article we are going to explore 5 awesomely interesting facts about the Culture of the Kalabari people.



The Kalabari people are the largest Ijaw speaking settlers in the east of the Niger delta who came from the Bini fringes of Ijaw land from the lineage of a man called Mein Owei.

The people were originally fishermen before the coming of the Portuguese to the West African coastline.

They are in three local government areas which Include;
Asari Toru Local Government, Akuku Toru Local Government Degema Local Government of Rivers State In Nigera.


5 Interesting Facts about Kalabari Culture


1. Kalabari Marriage Culture: Getting married to a Kalabari person, you’re on your way to experiencing one of the most colorful cultures in Nigeria. Apart from the visibly bright colors of fabrics and accessories, there is so much life from the cultural practices and dance at a Kalabari wedding. If the bride is Kalabari, then the wedding is done at her place and according to Kalabari customs.

There are Forms of traditional marriage amongst the Kalabari In The Kalabari Culture That Include;

  • IYA : The IYA is the most expensive and higest form of marriage in Kalabari land. In this marriage, divorce is permitted and the couples’ children belong to the man’s house with full rights. An IYA marriage is not complete until the BIBIFE ceremony (buying the mouth) is undertaken. It is done by an elderly woman who dishes out some food for her, but she cannot eat until her “mouth is bought”. A rite is performed to “buy her mouth” and she now has the right to eat in her husband’s house. It signifies the man’s responsibility towards his wife and his willingness to feed her for the rest of her life. It also signifies and crowns the new communion between the 2 families. Thus, she is dressed richly coral accessories, crown and chunky coral beads, and served numerous courses of food.
Kalabari Culture Bibife marriage
BIBIFE (Rosemary & Rowland Ibama)


Bibife Kalabari Marriage
BIBIFE (Rosemary & Her Family Members)
  • IGWA: Igwa is a much ‘simpler’ form of marriage. By ‘simpler’ we mean that it is almost three times cheaper. But if there is a plus in the price, there must be a minus too. In this case, the minus is that the wife and her children have fewer rights because they all technically belong to her people. If she dies, for example, she should be taken back to her place to be buried.


2. Kalabari Dress Culture: The Kalabari people are elegant and Beautiful especially in their traditional attires which include:

  • ‘njiri’, (georgeth), jewelleries and artifacts. Hats, walking sticks and Corel beads, are the dressing code for the men.
  • The women dress in wrappers, blouses, beads and artifacts. Some female folks have a pointed dot on their forehead just like the Indians which seems to be one of many likenesses with the Indians.


3. Kalabari Foods: The Kalabari people have a rich delicacy. Their closeness to the athletic ocean make seafood (Oysters, Periwinkles, Crayfishes and Fishes) an important ingredient in their menu.

There two major Foods of the Kalabari People. This include;

  • ONUNU is a dish mostly served in Traditional Wedding ceremonies by the Kalabari People. Its Prepared with Yam, Ripe Plantain with palm oil. After preparation its been followed up with light fish stew.
This is how Onunu is Prepared



  • ODO FULO This is Kalabari soup prepared with Just Fresh fish and pepper.
Odo Fulo
Odo fulo (uncooked)


Odo fulo (cooked)
Odo fulo (cooked)

4. FESTIVAL IN KALABARI: There are different kind of Masquerades Festivals in Kalabari Kingdom, Including;

    This is a festival of unity in Buguma and it draws visitors from far and near to the Kalabari kingdom in Rivers State. It is performed by the Ekine Sekiapu society and it’s the famous and most outstanding masquerade in the history of the kingdom. Previous editions were held in 1908, 1927, 1973 and 1991 and 2009. Its done once in 20 years.
This is Gbasa Masquerade Displaying during the Owu aru sun festival (Kalabari Culture)
This is Gbasa Masquerade Displaying during the Owu aru sun festival (Kalabari Culture)


a cross section of the chiefs during the Owu aru sun festival
a cross section of the chiefs during the Owu aru sun festival


The King of Kalarbari Kingdom during the Owu aru sun festival
The King of Kalarbari Kingdom during the Owu aru sun festival


5. THE CANOE REGATTA: This is the display of the Aquatic Culture of the people.

This is a video below showing you the display of the Alali Aru And Omu Aru. Video By: Kalabari Tv


  • Alali – Aru This reflects the affluence of the people it signifies Wealth.
5 Facts about About Kalabari Culture
Festival Boat, Buguma Nigeria, 1984 (Photo by Joanne Eicher)
  • Omu- Aru this is the military might of the Kalabari people in the olden days, Its Owned by The War Lords in which they establish the war Canoe Houses. a Typical Ijaw War-Canoe Could Contain Up To Fifty Soldiers And A Canon (Kurusu).



5 thoughts on “5 Interesting Facts about Kalabari Culture

  1. Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i
    read this piece of writing i thought i could also make comment due to this brilliant paragraph.

  2. Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and say I truly enjoy reading your articles.

  3. The Kalabari People in Rivers State are a people of ambient culture and lifestyle. I love them. They’re loving and Acomodating.

    The Culture is beautiful and currently the Onunu meal is delicious.

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