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Oba Ovonramwen


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#1 Toyin

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 10:47 AM

Oba Ovonramwen
The valiant king whose resistance to British imperialism led to his exile, the looting of his capital and the destruction of the Benin kingdom that had been in existence since the 13th Century



QUOTE
Benin City
Benin City is the centre of the Edo kingdom. The ‘Oba’ of Benin is the political and spiritual head of the kingdom whose dynasty dates back to at least the 14th century.

The Portuguese were the first europeans to encounter the expanding Edo kingdom at the end of the 15th century. They viewed it as a sovereign state comparable to their own. Later, the Dutch, British and French also traded with Benin for pepper, cloth, ivory, gum arabic, palm oil and slaves.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the British saw the Edo kingdom as an obstruction to their colonial expansion and their increased need for palm oil. After British emissaries were killed on their way to Benin City in 1897, Britain sent a ‘punitive expedition’ to take over the Edo kingdom. The reigning Oba, Ovonramwen, was deposed.

Royal arts of Benin in europe
Sculptures taken by the British from Benin palace altars dedicated to royal ancestors in 1897 were bought by european museums. In their realism and skill in casting, they were compared with the art of the european renaissance. But this did not immediately change 19th century ideas about West Africa as ‘primitive’ because most scholars explained these qualities as the result of Portuguese or Egyptian influence. Today, royal Edo arts are recognised as indigenous and regarded as a major world art tradition.

Many different peoples live in the diverse environments of Southeast Nigeria including:

the Ijo and Ogoni in the mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta
the Igbo - the largest group - the Annang and the Ibibio in the palmbelt area north and east of the Delta
the Ejagham in the rain forest bordering the Cross River

Trade Routes
Trade routes have linked these peoples for centuries. During the 18th and 19th centuries the trade with europeans in enslaved Africans and then palm oil is said to be what enabled Ijo and other Delta peoples to found the ‘city states’ of Brass, Nembe, New Calabar and Bonny.

Leadership and secret societies
In pre-colonial times, political power in Southeast Nigeria was exercised in a variety of different ways, often across cultural boundaries. For example:

in the Delta, canoes were not only used for fishing and trade, but also for fighting rival communities, and canoe leaders held the highest authority
in many palmbelt villages a council of elders ran the affairs of the community, often led by an appointed chief, who was also a leading member of the ‘secret societies’
‘Secret societies’ commissioned and maintained wooden sculptures in sacred shrines in honour of the spirits. They also performed periodic masquerades to invoke powerful spirits for the benefit of the community and to maintain law and order

Source: http://www.liverpool...gdom/index.aspx


I do not like nor support 'secret societies' at all but felt not enough is known about this particular Oba.

#2 Toyin

Toyin

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 11:01 AM

More on Oba Ovonramwen

In February 1897, an elite British force of about 1200 men (supported by several hundred African auxiliary troops and thousands of African porters) besieged Benin City, capital of the Edo Kingdom of Benin, whose ruler, the Oba Ovonramwen sat on a throne that was a thousand years old. The British Punitive Expedition used Maxim machine guns to mow down most of the Oba’s 130,000 soldiers and secure control of the capital city. They set fire to the city and looted the palace of 500 years worth of bronze objects that constituted the royal archive of Benin’s history, an irreplaceable national treasure. The king and his principal chiefs fled into the countryside, pursued by British forces who lay waste to the countryside as a strategy to force the people of Benin to give up their fugitive king.

According to Richard Gott, for a further six months, a small British force harried the countryside in search of the Oba and his chiefs who had fled. Cattle was seized and villages destroyed. Not until August was the Oba cornered and brought back to his ruined city. An immense throng was assembled to witness the ritual humiliation that the British imposed on their subject peoples. The Oba was required to kneel down in front of the British military "resident" the town and to literally bite the dust. Supported by two chiefs, the king made obeisance three times, rubbing his forehead on the ground three times. He was told that he had been deposed.

Oba Ovonramwen finally surrendered to stem the slaughter of his people. Many of his soldiers considered his surrender an unbearable catastrophe and committed suicide rather than see the king humiliated. A significant number, led by some chiefs, maintained guerilla warfare against the British for almost two years until their leaders were captured and executed. The remaining arms of the resistance thereafter gave up their arms and merged back into the general population.

Source: http://aachronym.blo...ovonramwen.html




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