This vivid account of the rise of the remarkable slave and palm oil trading states in the Niger delta in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also analyses the relation of political development to economic change. The author's field studies among the Ijo, Ibibio, and Ibo peoples have made possible an analysis of the essential processes of economic and political transformation which lay behind the oral traditions. There are also detailed and often lively accounts of the European traders.
The study concentrates on the two principal Oil Rivers states which nineteenth century writers called New Calabar and Grand Bonny. For purposes of comparison the adjacent states of Brass (Nem?) and Okrika, the Andoni peoples and the Efik state known to Europeans as Old Calabar are also examined. The study ends in 1884, the year that marks the beginning of the Brithsh Protectorate government and with it the end of indigenous systems of government which characterised these Oil River States during the nineteenth century. The monarchies established in the eighteenth century by King Pepple of Bonny and King Armakiri of Kalabari and the political and economic organisations developed under their rule were coming to, or had already come to, an end, with new oligarchies developing in their place.
G. I. Jones first went as a colonial officer to eastern Nigeria in 1926, before becoming a university lecturer in social anthropology at Cambridge after the second World War. He continued writing on the History and culture of the peoples of eastern Nigeria until his death in 1995.