Teacher, Attorney, Magistrate, Chief
Born in 1902 within the Twon-brass community, Late Chief Thomas Kieriboyegha came into the world during the Southern Nigeria Protectorate, a time marked by British colonial dominance. He was born to the union of late Mr. John Fynn and Salome Fynn. Their lineage traced back to the esteemed Okolo dynasty of Cameron Ama, located in Twon-brass, which falls within the contemporary Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state. Raised in a family of professed Christian faith, they were devoted members of the Anglican Communion, particularly the (opu church).
Around 1908, approximately, he enrolled in the renowned St. Barnabas Primary School in Twon-Brass. His educational journey there led him to obtain his Standard Six certificate in 1915, with the distinguished late Archdeacon A. D. Spiff serving as his headmaster during that period. Subsequently, he embarked on a path in the teaching profession. By 1916, he secured a position as a pupil tutor, delivering lessons both in the Eniwari community within the present Southern Ijaw Local Government Area under the guidance of the late Rev. J. C Ikalamo, and at the St. Barnabas Primary School in Twon-brass.
A Registered Teachers
Around 1923, he ascended to the role of headmaster at St. Barnabas Primary School following his successful completion of the teacher’s third grade exam. However, in 1926, he departed from St. Barnabas School to join the teaching faculty of the Baptist Academy in Lagos, located in Southern Nigeria. It was during his tenure as a teacher in Lagos that his administrative abilities came to the forefront. Notably, he played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT). Collaborating with other prominent educators, he co-founded the organization, assuming the position of its inaugural Secretary General. This influential trio consisted of himself, the late Rev. Israel Oladotun Ransome-Kuti as National President, and the late Archdeacon J.O. Lucas as National Vice President. Evidently, these three individuals emerged as the foundational figures of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).
As A Lawyer
Later on, he assumed the position of principal at the Agege Teachers Training Center located in Lagos, within Western Nigeria. His career as an educator spanned various regions and states in Nigeria, including Jos, Aba, Azumini, and Eket, where he made a profound impact as a prolific and respected teacher. Following his extensive teaching career, he embarked on a new journey by pursuing further studies abroad, specifically in the United Kingdom. Despite facing challenges due to his age and limited financial resources, he persevered. During this time, his European wife, Mrs. Brenda Cameron, played a significant role in supporting him.
Through unwavering dedication and hard work, he achieved a remarkable milestone by earning an LLB degree around the late 1950s. This accomplishment positioned him as the first attorney hailing from the Nembe Extraction and the broader Bayelsa state. Upon his return to Nigeria in the 1960s, he established a private legal practice in both Jos, situated in Northern Nigeria, and Owerri, located in the Eastern part of the country.
Just before the outbreak of the Nigeria Civil War (1967-1969), he received an appointment from the Eastern Nigerian government to serve as a senior magistrate. In this capacity, he presided over cases in Degema, Brass, and Port Harcourt. Following the conclusion of the civil war, he retired from his role in the judiciary, having served with distinction and excellence.
As A Chief
In 1960, he was elevated to the esteemed position of Chief Cameron by the Cameron (Ama) community of Twon-brass. In that era, holding the title of Chief of any Ama in Twon-brass was tantamount to being addressed as His Royal Highness. He gracefully held this position for a span of more than twenty years, until his passing in 1982. Throughout his tenure as Chief Cameron, he stood as a guiding force for the development of Twon-brass Island.
On the notable date of February 20th, 1971, he, alongside late Chief Nicholas Alexander Spiff, late Chief Benjamin Abali-Shidi, and late Chief Christopher Dick Ngeri-Sambo, affixed their signatures to an agreement on behalf of the Twon community. This agreement was with the Tenecco oil company, securing a lease for nearly one thousand acres of land in Twon for the establishment of an oil terminal. The Brass Oil Terminal, constructed by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company through a sub-lease arrangement with Tenecco, was officially inaugurated on December 21st, 1973. The commissioning ceremony was graced by General Yakubu Gowon, who was then serving as the Head of the Federal Military Government.
Moreover, Chief T. K. Cameron as widely known displayed his commitment to the welfare of his community by generously donating land for the establishment and construction of the Brass General Hospital. His actions mirrored his dedication to the betterment and progress of Twon-brass and its inhabitants.
Chief T K Cameron led a polygamous lifestyle, entering into marriages with three women during his lifetime. His wives hailed from diverse backgrounds, with origins in Calabar, the Yoruba community, and Britain. Notably, his British wife, Mrs. Brenda Cameron, accompanied him to Nigeria and resided there for a period before eventually returning to England. Despite this union, they did not have any children together.
Chief T K Cameron did have offspring, consisting of a son and a daughter. Regrettably, both of his children have since passed away. Throughout his life, he maintained a steadfast commitment to the Anglican faith, remaining a faithful adherent until his passing.
Late Chief T.K. Cameron resided in a significant location in Port Harcourt, specifically on Bank Road, which is now known as Moscow Road. His dwelling was situated within the magistrate quarters, positioned adjacent to the premises of the Port Harcourt City Council. Historical records highlight the fact that he held the distinction of being the initial individual to own a personal car on the Brass Island. His vehicle of choice was a 1960 model Rio Volkswagen car. This stood as a noteworthy achievement during his time, showcasing his forward-thinking and progressive outlook.
Indeed, it’s documented that Chief T.K. Cameron experienced a period of illness before he eventually passed away in 1982. He reached the age of 80 at the time of his passing. His legacy and contributions continue to be remembered and respected by those who were touched by his life and work.