A Short History of Benin

A Short History of Benin

A Short History of Benin

A Short History of Benin

Excerpt

Owing to the welcome given to the first edition in the vernacular of the Short History, I have endeavoured in this English version to meet the needs of foreigners who do not understand the Benin language, but are anxious to know its history.

The necessity for the production of this little work may be seen from the fact that though every country has its own history, yet of that of our own native land, Benin, we know but little. In antiquity it was renowned for its greatness and civilization on the banks of the Niger and was once the most powerful race in West Africa, but her power gradually dwindled till her fall in the punitive expedition of 1897, when she lost her importance and nothing but a fragment remains as a witness of her former greatness and splendour.

Very little is known of the first dynasty of ọba Ogisos and that of the Republican Rulers, but of the second we have authentic records. From ọranmiyan, the first ọba of the second dynasty, to ọba Ovọnramwẹ+̣n (Overami), there were thirty-six ọbas of Benin, including the usurpers Ozuẹ+̣re and Ogbẹ+̣bọ. Ẹwẹ+̣ka II began the third period in 1914.

There has been no written history of Benin except the few notes written by adventurous European traders and missionaries who visited Benin City from 1472 to the punitive expedition in 1897. One can imagine how great and tedious the task has been of reducing to comprehensive facts the stories which were told by superstitious native historians in peculiar ways and blended with myths, miracles and fables. I therefore ask my readers to overlook the defects of this book.

The history was collected from the following authorities:- Ihogbe, the worshippers and recorders of the departed ọbas, Ogbelaka, the Royal Bards; Igun-ẹ+̣rọnmwọn, the Royal Brass Smiths; Ohẹ+̣nsa of Akpakpava, one of the descendants of the Benin native fathers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; ọka-ẹ+̣bẹ+̣n, Ogiamwẹ+̣n, Efas, Iyase, Esama, Ẹghọbamiẹ+̣n, etc., to whom I owe unbounded thanks. I offer my cordial thanks to Messrs E. G. Egharevba and Yesufu Otokiti for their kind help. Above all I feel very grateful to His Highness Akẹ+̣nzua II, the ọba of Benin, for his unfailing advice and aid by which I was able to complete this work in spite of its many difficulties, and also to the late ọba Ẹwẹ+̣ka II, who very kindly attended to me for over three hours on March 15, 1930 for the . . .

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