Ways of the Rivers

Ways of the Rivers

Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta

Edited by Martha G. Anderson and Philip M. Peek


An intricate maze of rivers and islands cuts across southern Nigeria's Niger Delta, a region subject to floods, tides, and tropical downpours that continually alter its geography. While these waterways serve to separate the many ethnic groups dwelling in this aqueous environment—each with its own unique cultural traditions and often its language—they have also long been employed as routes of transmission and trade. Delta men and women traversed the region in canoes long before the Portuguese arrived at its shores in the fifteenth century. Their ideas and art forms—including some of the largest wood sculptures and most vibrant masquerades in all of Africa—traveled with them, being adopted, adapted, and sometimes appropriated in the process. European influence has also been keenly felt, and Western artifacts and articles of dress appear in shrines, regalia, and masquerades.

The essays assembled in this lavishly illustrated volume are unique in considering issues of cultural convergence and divergence within a single region in Africa. They examine and celebrate the "water-related" ethos and the "warrior" ethos that are present throughout the Delta and explore the influence of its unique environment on beliefs and material culture.



9 x 12 inches, 376 pages
430 color and 50 b/w illustrations