Prior to the institution of British colonial administration among the Isoko, Urhobo populace of the Western Delta region of Nigeria, the people had established an financial system which not only made fairly satisfactory provisions for their needs, but also for those of their immediate neighbours such as the Itsekiri, Ijo and Kwale. The most essential moneymaking activity of the people was collecting palm nut from which oil and kernel were extracted. Palm-nut gathering was a seasonal act. The periods of collecting extend from January to June and it was guarded by a council of elders in each village community, whose duty was to officially declare the palm bush open or closed for collection. Oil extraction from the palm-nut was a process that lasts for approximately 21 days, and it involves the cooperation of the man, his wife and children, and in some cases, members of the extended family.
The reason for individual involvement in the processing of palm oil in the pre-colonial period stemmed from the person, whether man or woman, who stood to gain from the exercise.
Because of its economic value, the oil palm is a traditional source of revenue for the people. For most men, palm oil was processed partly to meet domestic consumption needs and partly for satisfying social obligations such as payment of dowries, purchasing essential articles item such as salt or luxury items like gin and gunpowder. It is important to add that the entire processing of palm oil and kernel was carried out using locally manufactured goods. In addition to the climbing ropes, locally made cutlasses bought from itinerant Awka smiths were used in the harvesting of fruits. The earthen pot was used for boiling palm fruits especially during the production of soft oil. Other items used were the calabash spoon locally...