A Nigerian filmmaker, Charles Okpaleke, and veteran actor and film producer, Ramsey Nouah, have acquired the rights to produce a biopic based on the life and times of king Jaja of Opobo.
The filmmaker, who made this known on his Instagram page, announced that the new biopic will take on an authentic perspective of the famed king who founded the Opobo kingdom.
“I and Ramsey Nouah are proud to announce that we have been given the rights to tell the story of King Jaja of Opobo, from an authentic perspective.
“We had the privilege of sitting with King Dandeson Douglas, Jeki V- 5th on the throne, during the sesquicentennial celebration of Opobo Kingdom.
“We can say we have the authentic account of the eventful life of King Jaja and we are set to tell it in a griping way as you all will expect from us,” he said.
Mr Okpaleke’s latest announcement comes months after confirming the having the right to produce an epic movie of infamous robbery kingpin Shina Rambo.
He said he met with Rambo, who is currently an evangelist, before securing the rights.
There were several accounts of the 19th century of king Opobo’s life and death but one thing all the accounts agree is that he was among the first monarchs to resist British colonialism and died trying.
King Jaja of Opobo, whose name was Jubo Jubogha, was a merchant prince between 1821–1891. He was the founder of the Opobo area that is the present-day Rivers state in Nigeria.
He was born in Umuduruoha Amaigbo in present-day Imo State and was taken at about the age of twelve into slavery in Bonny by Obua Ajukwu of Oguta.
He later took the name “Jaja”, which earned his way out of slavery, and Opobo came to dominate the region’s palm oil trade, and controlled fourteen of what were formerly Bonny’s eighteen trade houses.
Jaja blocked the access of British merchants to effectively monopolise the trade in Opobo.
At the 1884 Berlin Conference, the European designated Opobo as British territory.
When Jaja refused to cease taxing the British traders, Henry Hamilton Johnston, a British vice-consul, invited him for negotiations and he was arrested on arrival, aboard a British vessel he was tried in Accra in the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Jaja was exiled to London and then Saint Vincent in the West Indies and Barbados.
In 1891, Jaja was granted permission to return to Opobo, but died en route.