The Eshira migrated into the area sometime in the 18th century, after wars with the Kele and other groups. During the 19th century they traded slaves with the Nkomi, and were highly regarded for their tobacco and raphia cloth. Their numbers were greatly reduced by smallpox epidemics in 1865 and 1898.
Paul du Chaillu travelled through Eshira areas in 1858 and 1864, and recorded that each clan controlled its own affairs. Mulenda of the Kamba clan was the most important of the chiefs; he owned 300–400 slaves, and died of smallpox in 1885. The Holy Ghost Fathers established a mission in 1895.
Subgroups of the Eshira include the Punu.
- David E. Gardinier, Historical Dictionary of Gabon, 2nd ed. (The Scarecrow Press, 1994) p. 132