1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brass (river)

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BRASS, a river, town and district of southern Nigeria, British West Africa. The Brass river is one of the deltaic branches of the Niger, lying east of the Rio Nun or main channel of the river. From the point of divergence from the main stream to the sea the Brass has a course of about 100 m., its mouth being in 6° 20′ E., 4° 35′ N. Brass town is a flourishing trading settlement at the mouth of the river. It is the headquarters of a district commissioner and the seat of a native court. Its most conspicuous building is a fine church, the gift of a native chief. The capital of the Brass tribes is Nimbé, 30 m. up river.

The Brass river, called by its Portuguese discoverers the Rio Bento, is said to have received its English name from the brass rods and other brass utensils imported by the early traders in exchange for palm-oil and slaves. The Brass natives, of the pure negro type, were noted for their savage character. In 1856 their chiefs concluded a treaty with Great Britain agreeing to give up the slave-trade in exchange for a duty on the palm-oil exported. Finding their profitable business as middlemen between the up-river producer and the exporter threatened by the appearance of European traders, they made ineffective complaints to the British authorities. The establishment of the Royal Niger Company led to further loss of trade, and on the 29th of January 1895 the natives attacked and sacked the company’s station at Akassa on the Rio Nun, over forty prisoners being killed and eaten as a sacrifice to the fetish gods. In the following month a punitive expedition partially destroyed Nimbé, and a heavy fine was paid by the Brass chiefs. Since then the country has settled down under British administration. The trade regulations of which complaint had been made were removed in 1900 on the establishment of the protectorate of Southern Nigeria (see Nigeria).

Valuable information concerning the country and people will be found in the Report by Sir John Kirk on the Disturbances at Brass (Africa, No. 3, 1896).