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Friday, February 19, 2016

Blasts from the past

Culled from The Nigeria Nostalgia Project
By Kehinde H. Thompson

Bedingfeld's Narrative of a Journey from Lagos to Odé
My object in visiting Odé was to ascertain the feelings of the King with regard to the war waging between the Egbas and Thaddans, and also to induce him to keep the roads open through his country in the event of our sending messengers to Dr. Baikie, on the Niger.
I had a special invitation to go and visit him, and as, with the exception of the Rev. Mr. Champneys (a Wesleyan minister), he had never seen a white man, the present was considered a good opportunity for accepting it. I took with me Lieut Dolbin, of H.M.S. Prometheus, and my interpreter.
We hired a canoe at Lagos, and started at 10 p.m. on the 12th January, hoping to reach Egine Market (a distance of about 35 miles) by noon the next day. I had arranged to meet Tappa and some other chiefs of Kosoko's, and hold a palaver with reference to the affairs of the market.
We experienced a strong head-wind, however, and did not arrive at our destination until 4 p.m., when the chiefs had given us up, and left for an extensive farm of Tappa' s, on the opposite side of the lagoon.
A messenger was at once sent over, and we soon saw the large war canoe of my old friend dashing across for the landing.
We started at 8 a.m. the following morning, notwithstanding a serious engagement had taken place a day or two before with an adjoining hostile tribe, which had plunged the whole community into mourning.
Our party consisted of Lieut. Dolbin and myself on horses, and Mr. Turner in a hammock, the interpreter, William Jones, and six carriers with the luggage. Our course was at first about north-east, and lay though forest-land extensively cleared, and dotted with villages.
About, noon we came to the large village of " Omu," where an unfortunate affair happened that will be perhaps worth relating, as it might have put an end to our journey, and probably our lives.
We halted here under the " Bay tree " (to be found in the centre of most African villages), when some men passed, having on their heads pots of palm wine. My thirsty carriers requested me to purchase some for them, which I consented to do, and they hailed the men to stop.
This, however, they did not seem inclined to do, and the King's messenger, who was with us, possibly wishing to show his importance, ran after them, and caught hold of one of the pots. The owner immediately drew a sort of short sword, and made a cut at him.
The blow was evaded, and nothing more would have occurred, had not one of our carriers, in an excess of zeal for the dignity of a royal messenger, cut the man down.
* photo from In Africa's forest and jungle; or, Six years among the Yorubans by Stone, Richard Henry (1899)
Narrative of a Journey from Lagos to Odé, the Capital of the Íjebu Country, in the month of January, 1862
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 33
Read, April 27, 1863

Igbo: stacks of yam in a barn. Date 1939
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Kanembu fur coat
Full length flared coat of animal skin with short sleeves.
14 pieces of animal skin hand sewn together.
Date 1925
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The Last of Katunga - Final Efforts to Throw off the Fulani Yoke
The Metropolis had long been left to herself whilst great and stirring events had been taking place all over the country.
The outcome of the rebellion of the chiefs and the revolution was the foundation of modern Ibadan, Abeokuta, Modakeke, the occupation of Ijaye, Abem0, the destruction of the city of Owu, and the fall of many ancient towns in the plain, and above all the ascendancy of Ilorin under the ravaging foreigners.
That such important events as these should take place, one after another, altering the face of the country, and the King not be able to promote or retard the accomplishment of any —
a King only in name, the direct descendant of absolute monarchs and deified heroes — could not but be a matter of pain and grief to the sovereign.
Added to all this was a great calamity which befel him at home, one that distressed him sore and accelerated his death. A fire broke out in the palace and all efforts to arrest its ravages failed, and most of the accumulated treasures of his ancestors were consumed in the conflagration !
Great efforts were made to remove some to out-houses away from the direction of the flames, but unfortunately by a turn of the wind, those out-houses also caught fire and everything was lost ! Between the distress caused by the Ilorins now masters of the country, and the destructive fires the King died of a broken heart.
Prince Oluewu was elected his successor with the general consent of the nobles and the King-makers. Oluewu was said to be a prince comely in person, but all too conscious of his own dignity and importance ; haughty and irritable in temperament. His one aim and determination was to recover his dominions from the Fulanis first, and then subdue all his refractory chiefs.
Soon after Oluewu 's accession, Shitta the King of Ilorin, required him to come to Ilorin in person to pay homage to him as his vassal.
But Oluewu was unwilling to go ; however, his great chiefs, and especially Prince Atiba of Ago Oja brought pressure and entreaties to bear upon him, and he was prevailed upon to accede to the wishes of the conqueror in order to save the capital and the remnant of the towns that still paid their allegiance to Oyo.
* photo of Afin (Oyo) © The Trustees of the British Museum
The history of the Yorubas : from the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate
by Johnson, Samuel ; Johnson Obadiah
Published 1921

The Yoruba country lies to the immediate West of the River Niger (below the confluence) and South of the Quorra {i.e., the Western branch of the same River above the confluence), having Dahomey on the West, and the Bight of Benin to the South. It is roughly speaking between latitude 6° and 9° North, and longitude 2° 30' and 6° 30' East.
The country was probably first known to Europe from the North, through the explorers of Northern and Central Africa, for in old records the Hausa and Fulani names are used for the country and its capital ; thus we see in Webster's Gazetteer " Yarriba," West Africa, East of Dahomey, area 70,000 sq. miles, population two millions, capital Katunga.
These are the Hausa terms for Yoruba and for Oyo.
The entire south of the country is a network of lagoons connecting the deltas of the great River Niger with that of the Volta, and into this lagoon which is belted with a more or less dense mangrove swamp, most of the rivers which flow through the country North to South pour their waters.
It will thus be seen that the country is for the most part a tableland : it has been compared to half of a pie dish turned upside down.
Rising from the coast in the South gradually to a height of some 5-600 ft. in more or less dense forest, into a plain diversified by a few mountain ranges, continuing its gentle rise in some parts to about 1,000 ft. above sea level, it then slopes down again to the banks of the Niger, which encloses it in the North and East.
In a valuable letter by the Rev. S. A. Crowther (afterwards Bishop) to Thomas J. Hutchinson, Esq., Her Britannic Majesty's consul for the Bight of Biafra and the Island of Fernando Po, published as Appendix A to the book entitled " Impressions of Western Africa," we find the following graphic description of the country : —
. . . " This part of the country of which Lagos in the Bight of Benin is the seaport, is generally known as the Yoruba country, extending from the Bight to within two or three days' journey to the banks of the Niger.
This country comprises many tribes governed by their own chiefs and having their own laws. At one time they were all tributaries to one Sovereign, the King of Yoruba, including Benin on the East, and Dahomey on the West, but are now independent.
The principal tribes into which this kingdom is divided are as follows : —
The Egbados : This division includes Otta and Lagos near the sea coast, forming a belt of country on the banks of the lagoon in the forest, to Ketu on the border of Dahomey on the West ; then the Jebu on the East on the border of Benin ; then the Egbas of the forest now known as the Egbas of Abeokuta.
Then comes Yoruba proper northwards in the plain ; Ife, Ijesha, Ijamo, Efon, Ondo, Idoko, Igbomina, and Ado near the banks of the Niger, from which a creek or stream a little below Iddah is called Do or Iddo River."
. . . " The chief produce of this country is the red palm oil,oil made from the kernel, shea butter from nuts of the shea trees, ground nuts, beniseed, and cotton in abundance, and ivory—all these are readily procured for European markets.
. . . The present seat of the King of Yoruba is Ago otherwise called Oyo after the name of the old capital visited by Clapperton and Lander...."
* sacred stone from Nigeria, its peoples and its problems by Morel, Edmund Dene - 1911
The history of the Yorubas : from the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate by Johnson, Samuel; Johnson, Obadiah
Published 1921

Mr. [J.O.] George in Historical Notes on the Yoruba Country (1895) gives us another variant of the historical traditions of the Yoruba.
Mr. George says : — " .... The Yoruba Kingdom was once a great Power in West Africa. It had Dahomey, Hausa, Tapa, and many other important tribes and countries under its control.
"It lost its power through internecine wars, which, together with foreign invasions, brought about an entire disruption of the Yoruba Kingdom. The remains formed themselves into small towns, their once tributary towns, and these countries of course became independent.
"In these small towns the remnant of the Yoruba nation remained in peace for about two hundred and fifty years.
After this another war broke out, which we are told began at Apomu, a market in the Ijebu Country. In this war the whole Yorubaland was laid waste, and from this the exportation of slaves from the Yoruba Countries commenced."
Mr. George describes how a General called Maye, the Balogun (or war Chief) of Ife, with his Captains, Abe and Laboside, overran the whole of the Yoruba Country. He appears to have become a great slave raider. At his death the whole nation was again scattered.
He continues : " These wars which have laid our country waste one hundred years ago, still continue from that time to this" (somewhere in the nineties of the last century). "
The whole country has not had ten years' rest.
The Ijaiye War of 1860 which extended to Iperu, Makun and Ikorodu and the Eketiparapo and the Ibadan-Ilorin war are the offspring of this Opomu War. We are inclined to believe that the different tribes themselves cannot yet settle these differences, seeing that each tribe* has a hand in the causes which led to them."
Anyone wishing to know how this peace was accomplished by the British should read " Papers relative to the Reduction of Lagos," 1852, and " Correspondence respecting the War between native tribes in the Interior," 1887 — two very interesting papers presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her late Majesty.
* This is interesting as at the present day many half-educated natives are apt to put down the ruin of their country to its occupation by British Government.
Map of the Yoruba country from History of the Yorubas
Nigerian studies; or, The religious and political system of the Yoruba
by Dennett, Richard Edward
Published 1910

The Bonny people claim an I'gbo descent.
Their territory, which is not very extensive, is by them named Ebane, whence Bonny.
By the I'gbos, it is pronounced Obane, and by New Kalabar Ibane.
The Bonny-town or Grand Bonny-town of the English is correctly Okuloma, by Brass called Okuloba, for which I heard at Bonny the following derivation.
When people first came to this place to build a town, they found it a vast swamp, where bred numbers of a bird resembling a curlew, which they called Okulo. After settlers became numerous these birds deserted the spot, whence they said Okuloma, i.e., the curlews fly away.
Peppel said that Abo men often called Bonny Osimini-ku, but I have myself at Abo heard of Okuloma. New Kalabar is in Bonny named Karabari, but is also known as Bom ; the language differs somewhat from the Ebane, but not so much as to prevent people of the one tribe from understanding those of the other.
Oru is known at Bonny as Ejo or Eso.
Bonny men talk of Abo as E'be and A'be, but sometimes distinguish between Abo and Okurotumbi in Oru, styling the one Abo'ba or Great Abo, and the other Abo'nta or Little Abo, so that Lander was not so far wrong about " Little Eboe " after all.
Bonny people do not make their own canoes, but purchase them from the Bassa people in Oru. Much palm-oil is bought by Bonny traders in Ndoki, which place is known to them as Mina. Among places mentioned to me by Peppel as known to himself were Ndeli, U'zuzu, Ikpofia, Egane, and A'bua, these being written according to his pronunciation.
Ndoki, Ngswa, and parts of Isuama and E'lugu, can, he stated, be reached by canoe.
He also said that A'ro, to which his people make pilgrimages as well as the Igbos, is from four to five days' journey from Bonny-town. In Bonny no national mark is employed, but in New Kalabar some mark along the forehead over the eyes and shave parts of the head.
Between Bonny and New Kalabar is a small territory named Okrika, in-habited by a separate tribe, but tributary to Bonny. The people from this place never trade directly with white men, but are obliged to sell their articles either to New Kalabar or Bonny traders ; they spend much of their time in canoes, and are great fishermen.
Beyond New Kalabar are people living on the river Sombreiro, who speak a dialect nearly approaching to that of New Kalabar, to which place they bring palm-oil.
To the eastward of Bonny are the Adoni or Andoni people living on the river Andoni or St. Domingo. About 1848 or 1849, there was a war between Bonny and Adoni, which ended in the subjugation of the latter.
The religion of all these places is fetish paganism, the dju-dju or sacred object of Bonny being the Iguana, of Okrika the pigeon, and of New Kalabar the shark. Further along, at Brass or Nimbe the snake is the dju-dju.
At Bonny the week of seven days has for some time been adopted, but formerly, king Peppel informed me, the week was one of eight days, of which he gave me the names of five, but he had forgotten the others.
At Bonny and in that neighbourhood blue baff or calico is used as mourning, at the Benin river and in that direction white baff is similarly employed, while at Brass both are worn.
Old Kalabar is known at Bonny as well as in I'gbo as Efiki, and at A'ro they talk of a people living near or among the E'fik, whom they call Monor Mong. Old Kalabar is not known at all at Abo.
At Bonny yams are not cultivated, for home use a few are got from Okrika, but the greatest supply is from the market at Ogobendo ; the ships again have to send for this valuable tuber to Fernando Po.
Narrative of an exploring voyage up the rivers Kwóra and Bínue (commonly known as the Niger and Tsádda) in 1854.
With a map and appendices. Pub. with the sanction of Her Majesty's government.
By William Balfour Baikie
Published 1856

Calabar - temporary prison
Prisoners in white uniform at center with local troops at end of the line.
Gate in fence at rear has notice saying "SILENCE".
Date 1880-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Landing stage at the river bank at Calabar.
Date 1880-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Igara and Okpoto
The Apa, or Ife, tribe are said to have lived at Apa near Ibi and to have fled from the Jukons in canoes down the Benue about 1490 A.D., under their Chief Idoko, accompanied by many Haussa.
They landed in the district now called Agatu, and were defeated and scattered there by the Jukons, who, not content with their victory, took to their canoes again and fought refugee Apas along the banks of the Benue, killing the Chief of the Apas at the little village of Amagedi, east of Bagana. One of the chief 's sons, Aiyagba Doko, fled to Auwru market, and camped there.
Omeppa, the head of all Okpotos who then occupied the whole of what is now Bassa Province and possessed great influence in the country of the Igbo, went with his people to meet the strangers. He did not fight with them, but escorted them to his headquarters at Olaji.
The Jukons had continued their journey down the river and landed near the present town of Ida, whence they called upon Omeppa to deliver the Apa people to them. Omeppa called his people together, and, accompanied by the Apa Chief, attacked the Jukons and drove them out of Bassa.
The battle was fought on the banks of the river Onashallu, and the story runs that Aiyagba Doko proceeded up-stream at night and poisoned the water of the river, so that the Jukon who drank thereof the next morning were stupefied, and fell an easy prey to their opponents, he himself killing a large number with a stick.
He was then installed, at his request, at Ida as head-man.
Omeppa calling him Ata (or Father).
* photo of The Ata, the Ashadu and some followers at Idah, 27 Oct. 1913 © The Trustees of the British Museum
Notes on the tribes, provinces, emirates and states of the northern provinces of Nigeria;
by Temple, O.; Temple, Charles Lindsay
Published 1919

Head from Wunmonije Compound
In 1938-9 five cast copper and twelve cast brass human heads and one part figure were discovered during building works in Wunmonije Compound close to the Ooni's palace at Ife, Nigeria.
Three of the heads are less than life size and are portrayed with crowns; the other fourteen heads are life size and are pierced with holes around the neck.
In 1946 the Keeper of Ethnography, Mr H J Braunholtz, visited Ife, Nigeria, while conducting a survey of museum needs in West Africa for the Colonial Office.
Braunholtz suggested to the [then] Ooni of Ife, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, that finds discovered at Wunmonije Compound, Ife, in 1938-9 should be sent to the BM for conservation treatment (cleaning) and exhibition.
In 1947 14 heads and one half figure arrived at the British Museum. Plaster casts were made of 11 of the heads (including this one) as well as the half figure. However, due to time constraints it proved impossible to complete the colouring of 4 of the heads.
This cast was taken in 1947-8 from the original head ( which is made of heavily leaded zinc-brass. It is in the collections of the National Museum Lagos numbered Ife 11.
The original of this cast was displayed at the British Museum in a casen with 11 other Ife heads, a mask (probably from July onwards) and a half figure from 24 June - September 1948.
Date 14thC-15thC(early) (original)
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Embassy to Benin
Before following them, however, into the interior of Congo, it may be proper to notice some information which they collected on the coast of Benin.
The sovereign of that country, we are assured, on learning the first voyage of Diego Cam along his coast, was inflamed with such pious zeal, that he sent an embassy to Mina, requesting missionaries to instruct him and his court in the Christian religion.
This request, if it really was made, did not appear one to be slighted. The king [of Portugal] sent an expedition under Fernando del Po, who explored the coast of Benin, and gave his name to the large island at the mouth of the Rio Formosa.
He was well received by the King [of Benin], established a factory at Gatton, and built a church, which was attended by more than a thousand of the natives. Here the following intelligence was obtained : Twenty moons, which, according to their rate of travelling, might be two hundred and fifty leagues to the east of the kingdom, there was a powerful king called Ogane, who was held, by the Pagan chiefs around Benin, in the same veneration that the sovereign Pontiff was held in Europe.
According to a long established custom, at the death of any king of Benin, the successor sent ambassadors to him with a large present, entreating to be confirmed in the territory of which he was now the rightful heir.
The Prince Ogane then gave them a staff, and a covering for the head, similar to a Spanish helmet, all of glittering brass, to represent a sceptre and a crown. He sent also a cross of the same brass to be worn on the neck, similar to those used by the commanders of the order of St John.
Without these ensigns, the people did not conceive they had a rightful king, or one that was properly a king at all.
During the whole stay of the ambassador, the Ogane himself was kept up as a holy thing, and was never seen by any one, having constantly a silk curtain drawn before him ; — only, at the time the ambassador took leave, a foot appeared from behind the curtain, " to which foot they did homage as to a holy thing." The ambassador was then presented with a small cross, similar to that which was sent for the use of the king.
On receiving these details, the Portuguese monarch sent for all his cosmographers, who having spread out before them the map of Ptolemy, calculated that the reported distance ought to reach across the continent to the dominions of Prester John, and that this Ogane must consequently be Prester John.*
* Major Rennell conceives the Ogane to be the sovereign of Gana, at one time the chief Mahometan state on the Niger. A late learned writer rather supposes him to be the Emperor of Abyssinia ; an opinion supported by pretty strong probabilities ; though the distance seems rather too great.
Historical account of discoveries and travels in Africa, from the earliest ages to the present time
by Leyden, John; Murray, Hugh
Published 1818

S.S.Florin moored at Ebute Metta jetty
Date 1880-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Jubilee celebrations, Lagos
Date 22nd June, 1897
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Railway scene, Date 1880-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Railway Engine, Iddo, Nigeria and its Tin Fields by Calvert, Albert Frederick
Published 1910

First Engine in Nigeria
West Africa : A handbook of practical information for the official, planter, miner, financier & trader
by Newland, H. Osman
Published 1922
" Bloodhound " off Lagos November 26, 1851
I HAVE the honour to communicate for your information, that I embarked on board Her Majesty's steamer " Bloodhound," on the 10th instant, accompanied by King Akitoye and his suite, and arrived off Lagos on the 13th.
Communicated with Commander Wilmot of Her Majesty's steamer " Harlequin," who informed me that he had discovered a safe boat-channel into the River Ogu; and he had visited Kosoko, the present Chief of Lagos and was kindly received.
That it was his impression that he would accede to my terms if proposed. It appeared to me a favourable opportunity to enter inta a negotiation with the said Chief at once.
19th. Daylight, strange symptoms of a tornado showed themselves. 9:30, it came down in torrents of rain, and continued so long, that our visit to Kosoko was deferred until next day,
20th. Daylight, fine day; we left Her Majesty's sloop "Harlequin" at 6:30, with ten boats under a flag of truce. Landed at a sandy point at the eastern entrance of the river, to wait for the water rising, to enable the heavy boats to enter.
There are on this point a group of small huts, and two stores belonging to Senhores Marcos and Nobre, Brazilians.
A messenger arrived from Kosoko and stated that if we proceeded to the town with so many boats, we would be fired upon ; it was his wish that one boat only should go.
I remonstrated with Senhor Marcos, on the entire absurdity of Kosoko preventing a proper escort to accompany Her Majesty's Representatives on a mission of peace and amity; that it was a national form of all the nations in the world.
Senhor Marcos said that he had remonstrated with Kosoko to no avail, he would not listen to any other sentiment but what he first stated.
I was on the point of returning, but after mature deliberation, I told the messenger, through my interpreter, that one boat was not sufficient to take the officers intended for the conference ; I would come with two boats, well knowing at the same time that we should be placed in imminent danger in the hands of such a blood-thirsty chief as Kosoko.
We had to wait an hour; the messenger returned with his permission. There were on this point of sand 100 armed men, sent no doubt to watch our movements. Senhores Marcos and Nobre, I must state, were very attentive. 10 o'clock, we started in the " Harlequin" and "Waterwitch's" gigs.
Senhor Marcos accompanied me, and Commander Wilmot, Commander Gardner, and Lieutenant Patey, and my interpreter, in the second gig. We arrived at the town in onehour and twenty minutes.
We were ushered into Senhor Marcos' house; there kept in suspense for two hours before we were ushered into the presence of the Chief, Kosoko. He was surrounded with armed men, with a host of retainers on each side of the court-yard.
I opened the conference by saluting him, stating that I was much pleased having an opportunity given me, as the Queen of England's Representative, of communicating to him the purport of my mission.
Firstly. — Was the Chief desirous to become the friend and ally of England by signing a treaty for the suppression of foreign Slave Trade within the limits of his territories.
He said he was not his own master, but under the King of Benin. His Prime Minister, Tappa, spoke and said that he would not sign any paper with England, he, Kosoko, was not desirous to have her friendship.
I again asked the Chief, supposing his master, the King of Benin, signed the Treaty, if he was not prepared to do the same; he distinctly stated that he would not enter into any treaty with the English, and did not desire their friendship. I said, " you have acknowledged the King of Benin to be your chief."
He said, he had not to the present date received any power or authority from him to rule as King of Lagos ; he repeated it, the King might sign a treaty, but he, Kosoko, would not, nor had he any desire to do so.
It is quite certain that the King of Benin will not give him that power so long as be knows Akitoye is alive, for he holds the emblems of power sent him by the late and present King of Benin, who was crowned at that city when I was in that river last March.
Of the further details of this conference, I send herewith a copy.
* photo of Broad Street Gaol, Lagos from National Archives UK
Consul Beecroft to Viscount Palmerston - ( received January 7, 1852)
Parliamentary papers, Volume 54
House of Commons
Great Britain Parliament

The month of February is very important to the Edos, remembrance of the British Invasion of Benin empire. February 18th is a key date.

Copied from an original lent to us [from] West Africa.
Date 1950 (?)
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Date 1946
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Sarkin Zawan - Birom
Date 1946
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The Ditch — Its excavation ascribed to Oguola
The big ditch mentioned by D.R. is thus spoken of by Roupell officials : " The big ditch was dug by Oguola. He and his people came from God. When God had born them, Oguola called his boys and saw they were very plenty, and he had no work for them to do. Then he told them to dig the ditch round the town.
He did not dig it for war, but so that men might see it when he was dead, and say : see the ditch Oguola dug — we do not know why it is stronger and deeper on the northern side of the town, so he dug it and so it is."
The wall and ditch are not mentioned in the Portuguese chronicles in so far as I can ascertain, but of Gwato Pereira (Esmiraldo, p. 72) says it has " no walls but a deep fosse all round" ; as Gwato, the trading port of Benin, was entrenched, it is not likely that the larger city would be in an undefended state and hence the officials implied statement, that the walls and ditch were built before the advent of Europeans, is no doubt correct.
Landolphe, as we have seen, says it was 20 feet deep.
Great Benin; its customs, art and horrors
by Roth, Henry Ling - 1903
After the downfall of the Ogiso kings, the dynasty engendered by the Yoruba prince Oranmiyan began with the accession of Eweka I to the Benin throne.
While various dates have been proposed for the founding of the dynasty, based on oral traditions and the lengths of the kings' reigns, it is most likely to have occurred around 1300 (Bradbury 1973:17-43).
With the enthronement of Eweka I, the Edo were ruled by a king of foreign ancestry, a fact that has both enhanced the mystique of subsequent Obas and brought them into conflict with the autochthonous chiefs.
The first few Obas were apparently constrained by these forces until, in the middle to late fourteenth century, the fourth Oba, Ewedo, asserted his pre-eminence over the Uzam'a and reorganized the administration of the kingdom so as to maximize the power of the king. Ewedo constructed a new palace and organized the Palace Chiefs to serve him.
He decreed that certain insignia of power, such as the ada ceremonial sword, should be limited to the Oba - that all chiefs, including the powerful Uzama, be obligated to stand in the presence of the Oba; and that only the Oba has the right to confer titles, thus reserving for himself the most powerful tool for manipulating the political system of the kingdom.
The administrative and symbolic features introduced by Ewedo laid the groundwork for the subsequent centralization of power and expansion of the kingdom.
It was during the reign of Ewedo's successor, Oguola (r. late fourteenth century), that brasscasting is said to have been introduced into Benin.
According to an often-cited oral tradition, "Oba Oguola wished to introduce brass casting into Benin so as to produce works of art similar to those sent him from Ife. He therefore sent to the Oni of Ife for a brass-smith and Iguegha[e] was sent to him. . . . The practice of making brass-castings for the preservation of the records of events was originated during the reign of Oguola" (Egharevba 1960:12).
Thus, like the ruling dynasty itself, some believe brasscasting came to Benin from Ife, the Yoruba city where naturalistic brass heads were made at least as early as the fourteenth century (Willett and Fleming 1976:142—43).
This tradition has been used as the basis for the most widely accepted chronology of Benin art (see cat. nos. 1—6). However, it has been pointed out that other oral traditions indicate that casting may have been practiced earlier in Benin, and that the Oguola/Igueghae tradition may only refer to the casting of certain types of objects or to the origin of a particular lineage of brasscasters (Ben-Amos 1980:17-18).
Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection
by Ezra, Kate
Published 1992

Date 1950
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Ibibio shrine
Date 1939 (?)
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Tiv (?)
Date 1880-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Journeys in the Benin Country, West Africa
The part of the world that I am going to speak about is the Benin country, West Africa. Owing to the want of proper surveying instruments I was very much hampered in my mapping work.
On my return to Africa, early next year (1893), I hope to be able to furnish the Society with more reliable maps of this particular region. It is extraordinary how little appears to be known about the Benin country.
Dapper and Barbot, geographical writers of the 17th and 18th centuries, give a certain amount of information on the subject; but their works were for the most part compiled from the observations of others, and not from personal experience, and consequently their statements can only be accepted with a certain amount of caution.
The Jakris have hitherto acted as middlemen between the white traders and the oil producers ; they naturally resent any white trader establishing a factory up-country, and thereby dealing direct with the oil producers ; consequently they do their best to obstruct any move in this direction.
Taking these facts into consideration, it will probably be some time before the Sapele factories do very much trade.
On the other hand, the oil producers are very anxious to trade direct with the white man ; but they are afraid of the Jakris, and will continue to be so until a military post is established at Sapele. The Vice-Consulate has been, and is at present, established near the mouth of the river; but in a very short time it will be moved up to Sapele.
This will have the effect of giving confidence to the Sobos, and at the same time an eye can be more easily kept on the Jakris.
After ascending the river about 6 miles we come to the Deli Creek. This waterway leads into the Escardos river and is navigable for launches, but is too narrow and tortuous for even small steamers.
In about a couple of miles we reach the Lagos Creek, the entrance to the inland waters connecting the Benin River with Lagos.
Last year (1891) Mr. Haly Hutton and I managed to navigate this channel, thereby having the small satisfaction of being the first Europeans to get through by this route. It appears that several attempts bad previously been made to reach the Benin River from Lagos, but Arogbo was the furthest point touched.
This place is about 50 miles from the Benin River.
On the occasion I mention our craft was a large gig-canoe, lent to me by Nanna, the leading Jakri chief, manned by thirty men. Nanna objected to supply me with a crew, as he said that if once his slaves know the way to Lagos tbey would all eventually run away, Lagos being a free country. However, a chief named Dore not having the same scruples, gave me all the men I required.
Leaving the river on a Tuesday (Dec. 7th, 1891) we reached Lagos the following Sunday, thus taking five days to do the 170 miles.
We paddled only during the day, i.e., from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
* Benin Old Moat from Culture areas of Nigeria by Hambly, Wilfrid Dyson - 1935
Journeys in the Benin Country, West Africa
by Captain H. L. Gallwey (H.M. Vice-Consul to the Oil Rivers Protectorate)
A paper read at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society,
December 5th, 1892

The coming of the white man
In 1911 the Nigeria railway was laid down to Kano.
In 1914 — about six years ago — there was less than a score of Europeans within the British segregation about a mile east of the Hausa City, and at the time of my journey, early in 1920, somewhere about six score ; the former a barely perceptible number amongst the vast native population ; the latter just enough to have started the swing of the pendulum of commerce and speculation which already promises to change a fine old world that is rare to a new world that will grow commonplace.
I treasure old things, as I fancy we all do, and therefore cannot refrain from regret when I see something that is dear totter on the brink of destruction — so often it cannot be saved by reason of circumstances or environment, and it goes out for ever, for the passing of the Old is just as inevitable as the coming of the New beneath the propelling will of Destiny.
Exploration of Aïr: Out of the World North of Nigeria
by Angus Buchanan
Published 1922

The people of Borgu - Bariba
The Borgus are decidedly the most interesting people of the Middle Niger, being the sole [pagan] tribe which has successfully resisted Mahommedan invasion.
For years did the Fulas of Sokotu and Gandu attempt to conquer the country, desisting, however, in the end in the firm belief that the blessing of their prophet was not with them in fighting against this strange people.
They themselves ascribe their invincibility not so much to their fighting powers as to their religion, which they affirm is that of "Kisra, a Jew, who gave his life for the sins of mankind."
They are most indignant, and perhaps justly so, at being called pagans, considering themselves in every way far superior to the Mahommedans. They say that their forefathers were originally settled in the north of Africa, and were driven thence about the 8th or 9th century by the Mahommedan conquerors.
They claim connection with Bornu, and it is to be remarked that, as Bariba is the native name for Borgu, so also the native name for Bornu is Berebere or Baribari. The two tribes, therefore, before they were driven south, possibly formed part of the Barbary States.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Borgu and Bornu established order and a regular form of government in their present provinces ages before any other tribe of these parts dreamt of such things, and to this day both have remained unfettered by the Fula yoke.
The Borgu people are much feared by their neighbours since they have frequently proved their bravery in the field. Their arms consist of spears and arrows, the poison on the latter being very deadly, and they have been able to hold their own with these weapons even against the forces of the King of Dahomey, armed with muskets.
Notwithstanding their warlike qualities, they devote their time almost entirely to agriculture and trade, and their knowledge of medicines is proverbial : " whatever disease cannot be cured in Bariba land can be cured nowhere else " is a common saying amongst the other tribes of the Western Sudan.
- Their country is known as Bariba, Barba, Burgu, or Borgu. Its boundaries are — on the north, Gurma ; on the east, the Kworra and Yauri ; on the south, Yoruba, Nupe, and Shabe ; on the west, Sugu.
" The Hausa call the Bornu people Berbere. Barbu is the ancient name of Borgu." — Barth. Barth has a lot to say about this interesting subject. The capital of Borgu is Bussa, where Mungo Park lost his life. It is situated on the right bank of the Kworra, some 650 miles from the sea.
" Masudawdki goma na Burguwa tun issa kore masudawaki dari na Filani, ten Burgu horsemen are enough to defeat one hundred Filani horsemen," is a Hausa proverb.
" Ekpa Burgu de noshe gaya, the Burgu arrow is very poisonous," expresses the Nupe's views of their neighbours, while in Yorubaland old women say "Oluru gbani lowo ogu Bariba " God deliver one from a Bariba war."
* photo from Sporting trips of a subaltern by Glossop, Bertram Robert Mitford (1906 )
Up the Niger
by Mockler-Ferryman, Augustus Ferryman
Published 1892

By Ekpenede Idu
The renowned Environment consultant of New Scientist magazine Fred Pearce wrote:
"They extend for some 16,000 kilometres in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They cover 6,500 square kilometres and were all dug by the Edo people. In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.''

The Country and its people
The Cross river, to use the name it bears on the map, enters the Gulf of Guinea by a single outlet, twelve miles broad, so that ships of a large burden find an easier entrance into it than into the Niger, which divides its waters into many streams.
For a considerable distance the banks are low, covered with a mangrove forest, but even at the entrance inhabited on Efiat (Louis Shott's point) by a tribe of fishermen located on the swampy soil.
Proceeding up the turbid stream, the estuary begins to be divided by numerous islets ; and at a distance from the mouth of between fifty or sixty miles, high land appears on both sides, and the river divides into two main branches ; that on the right hand, still carrying the name of the Cross river, is the main stream.
It has been so named from the opinion entertained so late as 1840, when M'Queen published his Geographical Survey of Africa, that it is an outlet of the Niger. A Mr. Colthurst, in the decade of 1830, attempted to penetrate the continent from Calabar, but reached no farther than Ikorofiong (Ekrikok), where, taking sick, he returned and died at Duke Town.
Calabar and its mission
by Goldie, Hugh; Dean, John Taylor
Published 1901

the Ogane
In the seventeenth century, when the Dutch replaced the Portuguese as the most important Europeans trading in Benin, a much wider range of European goods reached Benin.
The trade took place at Ughoton (Gwato), Benin's port on the Ovia River. As much as possible, the Oba required that European trade be handled only through his own representatives, led by the Unwague, the head of the Palace Chiefs, and assisted by other members of the various palace associations.
The Portuguese also sought to convert the Edo to Christianity. They were convinced that Benin lay close to the realm of Prester John, the mythical Christian ruler of the East who was popularized in medieval legends as an ally of the Crusaders against the Muslims.
Their belief was strengthened by the account of Joao Afonso d'Aveiro, published in the sixteenth century by Joao de Barros, that each new king of Benin had to be confirmed in his office by a powerful ruler to the east, known as the Ogane, who provided the king and his messenger with brass crosses as tokens of his approval (quoted in Hodgkin 1975:124-25).
The Portuguese thought the Ogane must be the elusive Prester John. This account has been used as evidence for the Ife origin of the Benin dynasty, since the Oni of Ife is known as the Oghenne in Benin, and as the basis for one of the interpretations of cross-wearing figures in Benin art (see cat. nos. 15, 16).
The Portuguese believed that they could successfully convert the Edo to Christianity once they had converted the Oba, and they sent missionaries to Benin to educate the Oba's son. According to tradition, this prince was crowned as Oba Esigie in the early sixteenth century.
Although he is often associated in Benin legends and art with the Portuguese (Blackmun 1990:67—68), there is no evidence that he or many of his subjects were strongly influenced by Christian beliefs.
In addition to their work as traders and missionaries, the Portuguese also served as mercenaries in the Benin army and are frequently depicted in Benin art with the firearms that they introduced to Benin (fig. 7).
Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection
by Ezra, Kate
Published 1992

Obia (misspelt Obeah) seems to be a variant or a corruption of an Efik or Ibo word from the north-east or east of the Niger delta, which simply means “ Doctor.'’ The system embodied in that word (say also “medicine”) is, like all European medical practice before the eighteenth century and many of the rites of Christianity in its healing formulae, largely empirical.
It is at once fetishism and magic, sorcery, hypnotism, faith-healing, thought-transference : in short, that royal road to results in a command over natural forces that humanity constantly hopes to achieve : not by patient study of cause and effect, and the employment of the proper physical agencies, but by blind guesswork, by wild supposition ; hoping through some hundredth chance to stumble, without many years of preparatory study, on some wonderful new law which like the X-rays may make light of matter.
Obia is like Hudu or 'Vudu" a part of the fetishistic belief which prevails over nearly all Africa, much of Asia, and a good deal of America.
It would have been quite at home in the England of Elizabeth. In its “well-meaning” forms, it is medical treatment by drugs or suggestion, combined with a worship of the powers of Nature and a propitiation of evil spirits ; in its bad types it is an attempt to frighten, obsess, and hypnotise, and failing the production of results by this hocus-pocus, to poison.
From the fiss-fass-fuss which is made by writers on American subjects relative to Obia and Vudu, one would think that this mixture of nonsense, of empiricism, of nauseous superstition, malignity, kindly sympathy, pathetic “feeling after God,” positive knowledge of genuine therapeutics, glimmering of the possibilities latent in the human brain was peculiar to the mental composition of the Negro.
Whereas it is (or was yesterday) just as evident in the white man’s religion, freemasonry, medicine, quacks and quackery, Mrs. Eddys, Cagliostros, peasant witchcraft, and ex-voto offerings : it is equally sublime and not much more ridiculous.
The Negro in the New world
by Johnston, Harry Hamilton
Published 1910

Court Official - Edo
Date: 16th–17th century
The Punitive Expedition of 1897 led to the loss of contextual information about Benin works of art. Therefore, scholars attempt to reconstruct Benin art-historical chronologies and lineages utilizing a combination of written documents, oral histories, and analysis of physical attributes in the sculptures themselves.
Scholars have suggested that this figure was placed upon a commemorative altar dedicated to a king of Benin. The figure is depicted wearing a distinctive cross pendant. His wrap skirt is adorned with profile heads of Portuguese traders, a frontal African head, and other common Benin motifs such as river leaves, mudfish, and interlace patterns.
Three different identities have been suggested for this figure.
1. The official may be a messenger from a ruler referred to as the Ogane, who today is identified as the leader, or Oni, of Ife. The present Benin dynasty claims descent from the Yoruba kingdom of Ife. According to a sixteenth-century Portuguese text, each new oba, or king, of Benin had to be confirmed by the Ogane, whose messenger presented the oba with a brass hat, staff, and cross necklace.
2. Another interpretation suggests that he may represent a priest of Osanobua, the Benin creator god, who also wears a cross.
3. Finally, the figure may depict a member of Ewua, a group of palace officials who wake the oba each morning and perform a ceremony recalling the origin of the Benin dynasty.
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 1991
Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art

Vom Mission Hospital
Date 1947
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Nri or N'shi — evidently the same place, but a different pronunciation of it — is a town which is situated about forty to fifty miles to the east, i.e. behind Onitsha, on the east bank of the Niger, just below its confluence with the Anambara, in the district of Isu or Isuama, or the country of Isu.
The inhabitants of this particular town are known as " king-makers " — in other words, they possess the sole prerogative of conferring the title of royalty in all the Ibo country lying on the right bank of the river, the distinguishing insignia being an anklet made out of pineapple fibre.
They also, it appears, enjoy the privilege of walking untouched or unharmed through any portion of the same — a privilege which lower down to the south is extended to the Ama-Ofo, or people known as Aro or Inokun, just as among the Ibibio all members of the Idion fraternity are entitled to a similar privilege within the borders of their own territory.
It is in a certain measure evident that somewhere in this locality of Isuama, in which the purest Ibo is said to be spoken, is to be found the heart of the Ibo nationality ; consequently it is quite reasonable to look among its people for the original fountain-head from which all the other clans have sprung.
This inference too is supported not only by the purity of the language, but by this right of dispensing or rather of conferring royalty which is undoubtedly the prerogative of the Nri or N'shi people.
The Lower Niger and its tribes
by Leonard, Arthur Glyn
Published 1906

The Aros are often called Inokuns.
Authorities disagree as to the difference between these names.It is stated that the Aros are the aristocratic or free-born caste of the Inokun tribe, that there are sixteen Aro towns, each presided over by a chief of its own, and that these chiefs in united council used to govern the whole Inokun tribe.
Of these sixteen towns, all in the near neighbourhood of the "Long Juju," the principal is Ibum. The Assistant District Commissioner used to live down in the town itself, but it was found to be damp and unhealthy, so the station was moved to the top of a hill about one and a half miles outside, previously occupied as an outlying farm of the township.
Ibum is marked " Aro Chuku" on the map, and the Government residence stands about midway between Aro Chuku and Obagu.
From this hill one looks down upon the Aro towns, indicated in the densely wooded valley by the columns of blue smoke overhanging them. Proceeding downhill from the Commissioner's house to Ibum, a large yam-farm is passed on the left, and then, following a rocky path, one skirts the dark grove of the Long Juju, which spot is called Ebritum by the natives.
The temple where the rites and sacrifices were celebrated was blown up by our troops on the last day of 1901.
Cross River natives by Charles Partridge.
Published 1905

“Aug. 11 [1857] —
At Igbegbe, as at other places we go to, the liberated Africans from Sierra Leone are sure to find some of their scattered relatives.
W. Reader, of the Owe tribe of Kakanda, who was brought by Dr. Baikie to see the state of the country, and report to his countrymen at his return, found his elder sister here, with three children ; Mr. Crook, an old disbanded soldier of the Nupe nation, who was liberated at Sierra Leone in 1813, found an aged woman here who formerly was his father’s wife ; W. Parker, a Bassa man, also found his sister ; and Mr. Turner, a Yoruba man, fell in with some persons belonging to the same town with him.
There was a great stir among the people, who came together to witness these unexpected meetings. With this impression on the minds of the inhabitants, we left the parties on shore, and returned to the ship.”
Aspect of things at Igbegbe, at the confluence of the Kworra and Tshadda
Letter of the Rev. S. Crowther, August 26, 1857
to The Church Missionary Society
Published 1858

But in Ife all sorts of people and things are turned to stone ; the Oni has the figure in stone of a man caught in the act of having connection with his sister.
Just outside the town is the " stick " of Oranyan, " a rounded pillar eleven feet in height and three feet six inches in girth, with the remains of a second in two pieces by its side, also what may be the remains of a third.
I asked the Oni if there had not been three pillars at one time and he gave me to understand that there had been, but that during the wars his enemies had taken one. About a foot from the top of this pillar the present Alafin of Oyo on his visit to Ife had tied a piece of white cloth as a kind of act of submission, thereby putting on one side his religion as a Mohammedan.
Near the centre of the pillar a horn and an axe are carved.
Above these figures forty-five copper headed nails in three rows had been driven into the stone, on one side of it ten, and on the other eight, while below twenty of these curious nails still remain. I measured this stone with a tape and made it eleven feet in height. Captain Elgee makes it twelve, so that I can only conclude that we measured different sides of it.
A hunter, said to be a priest of Ifa, was introduced to me by Mr. J. T. Palmer, a native trader residing at Sapele, and the number and names of the offspring of the first Oni, Oranyan, given by him were confirmed by my friend Oliyitan, another priest of Ifa, three years afterwards, at Olokemeji.
The hunter said that the Oni was suffering from some eye complaint, and thought he was going to die, so he divided all his goods amongst his children and ordered them to go to certain villages and live. Alafin was forgotten, so he was given all the land owned by the Oni.
The present Oni of Ife showed me the door through which on another occasion the future King of Benin City passed when he was sent away to occupy the land of the Efa. And he stated that Ilesha was not sent out for a long time after his brothers, because the Oni of that time loved him, and wished him to be near to him.
In all matters referring to land, the Alafin takes the place of his progenitor the Oni, and the present positions of the two great Yoruba chiefs, Alafin and Oni, are equivalent to those of our King and of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Nigerian studies; or, The religious and political system of the Yoruba
by Dennett, Richard Edward
Published 1910

Ife, the Cradle of the Yoruba People
The Alafins of Oyo acknowledge that from the Oni of Ife they receive their right of accession to the throne.
Before the division of the Yoruba family into independent tribes, Ife was the royal city, and the Alafin the real head of the race. Even today he is recognized as their nominal head. It is claimed that the carving on the Ife marble stones, resembles Egyptian carvings, and a great deal has been written about these national emblems, which to a casual observer seem to be very ordinary stones.
A species of bluestone used to be quarried in the neighborhood of Ife and ground into beads of about two inches in length, and which owing to certain sacred rites of the Yorubas, is considered very valuable, being used as fetish wristlets.
It was from Ife that the king Oranyan went forth and who according to tradition followed the trail of boaconstrictor on whose body a charm had been fastened, to the site of the old Oyo — the Katunga of Clapperton's day — which he founded.
The king sent often to Ife for money with which to build the new capital; the national sacrifices were offered there, and the bodies of deceased kings were embalmed and taken there for burial.
The center of activity was transferred from Ife to Oyo, and succeeding kings reigned at the new city; but Ife became to the Yorubas what Moscow is to the Russians— their ancient capital and sacred city.
Oyo became a city of crude magnificence, and the palace verandah was believed to be supported by one hundred brass pillars.
For many years it was a most prosperous city, but eventually it was destroyed by the Fulanis.
The romance of missions in Nigeria
by Pinnock, Samuel George
Published 1917

The future Bombay of West Africa
Early in the seventies, a decade after the British occupation, Lagos, for more years than one cares to remember an important export centre of the slave trade, was a small settlement inhabited by Yoruba and Bini agriculturists and traders.
The Hinterland, threatened by Dahomeyan invasions from the west and Fulani inroads from the north, distressed by internal struggles between various sections of the Yoruba people rebelling against the central authority, was in a state of perpetual ferment.
Severed from, the mainland, maintaining themselves from hand to mouth, and swept by disease, the few British officials led an unenviable existence.
A small three-roomed house protected from the rains by an iron roof harboured the Governor, and the members of his staff were glad to accept the hospitality of European merchants earning a precarious if lucrative livelihood by trading with the natives in palm oil, kernels, ivory, and cotton.
Today Lagos is a picturesque, congested town of some 80,000 inhabitants, boasting many fine public buildings and official and European and native merchants' residences, churches, wharves, a hospital, a tramway, a bacteriological institute, a marine engineering establishment, to say nothing of cold storage and electric light plant, hotels, a racecourse, and other appurtenances of advanced civilization.
Like every other part of West Africa that I have seen, Lagos is full of violent contrasts.
Every variety of craft — the tonnage of the place is something like 250,000 tons per annum — is to be observed in the water and every variety of dress in the busy streets, from the voluminous robes of the turbaned Mohammedan to the latest tailoring monstrosities of Western Europe.
The Yoruba lady with a Bond Street hat and hobble skirt ; her sister in the infinitely more graceful enfolding cloths of blue or terra-cotta, with the bandanna kerchief for head-gear ; opulent resident native merchants or Government clerks in ordinary English costume ; keen-featured "uneducated" traders from whose shoulders hang the African riga — a cosmopolitan crowd which includes Sierra Leonean, Cape Coast, and Accra men, attracted by the many prospects of labour an ever-increasing commercial and industrial activity offers to carpenters, mechanics, traders' assistants, and the like.
Here a church thronged on Sundays with African ladies and gentlemen in their finest array ; here a mosque built by the local and rapidly increasing Yoruba Muslims at a cost of £5,000.
Nigeria, its peoples and its problems
by Morel, E. D. (Edmund Dene)
Published 1911

Treaty between Adeyemi, Alafin of Oyo and Head of Yorubaland and Britain
In Yoruba proper the king is styled the Alafin, and his eldest son, called the Aremo (Are-ommo, eldest child), governs conjointly with him.
Under an old custom, the Aremo was obliged to commit suicide when the Alafin died ; and the new king, who must be the descendant of one who had worn the crown, was chosen from another branch of the royal family. This custom was set at defiance by Adelu, who was the Aremo when his father died in 1860, and it was in consequence of this that the people of Ijaye rebelled.
The custom has not since been observed.
The tail of a white-bellied rat, called Afe-imojo (Rat of Knowledge), is used by the Alafiin as the symbol of royalty, and when he walks abroad he holds it to his lips. In Yoruba the office of Bashorun is hereditary in one family, but the Alafin, in council, selects the member to fill it. He is obliged by law to reside in Oyo, the capital.
Next in rank to the Bashorun is the Are-Onakakanfo, " First of the War-Captains" who can be selected from any family and live where he pleases.
The council consists of twenty-two members, and is called Isokan (agreement, concord, or unanimity); the leader of the council is styled the Onasokan, " Channel to the Concord."
* Treaty between Adeyemi, Alafin of Oyo and Head of Yorubaland and Britain and Ireland from The Map of Africa by Treaty published 1894
Published 1911
The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa
by Alfred Burdon Ellis
Published 1894

A day at Lagos
At Lagos, too, we parted with another queer lot our slavers.
They are dark, but European or Brazilian ; they speak Portuguese, travel under aliases to-day Soarez, to-morrow Pieri and they herd together. One claims to have been a lieutenant in some royal navy. They have visited England to lay in a further stock of money for the next cargo of casimir noir, and with a view to medical assistance.
They are worn out by excessive devotions at the shrine of Venus, and they seem to live chiefly on tobacco smoke. Part of their game is to supply naval officers with champagne and excellent cigars; to ask them to dinner, and to affect equality with them, as if both were of the same trade.
The new comer on the coast sometimes associates with them, thinking he will discern their secret, whilst they are reading his, and are persuading the natives that he is in league with them.
I should strongly exhort officers to be very wary of such society, and certainly not to trust themselves to a dinner on shore, where a cup of coffee would materially assist the departure of a cargo. As for the fiction that they are to be treated like gentlemen, whilst plying a trade which our law makes felony, it is easily disposed of.
The pickpocket or the burglar might, with equal reason, claim equal respect for his "profession."
About midday we found ourselves on board the "Blackland," and we entered slowly upon the short stage of about 100 miles which separated us from our next station, the Benin river. Lagos, according to native tradition, was founded by a body of Beninese warriors, sent by their king, who claimed suzerainty over these parts, to reduce the rebels of Ogulata, or Abulata, a place on the mainland north of the islet.
Their leader whose name is not quoted having failed in his enterprise, and fearing to return, settled upon the then desert bit of sand, made friends with European travellers, and rejected all promises of pardon.
Islands in Western, as in Eastern Africa are ever the favourite places of settlements; they are defended by the sea, and the habit of fishing raises a generation pf canoe-men who have many advantages over the inland peoples.
Presently the Ogulata people recognised the chief, and the King of Benin made Lagos a dependency, with annual tribute, which ceased when the slave dealers had strengthened it to resist the mother city. Hence the island's native name, Aonin, or Awani, corrupted to Oni by Europeans, alluding to its connection with Ini, Bini, Ibini, or Benin.
There is another name, Daghoh, mentioned by the slave Abubeko ; but is probably a native corruption of " Lagos " the Lakes a name given by the Portuguese, probably in memoriam of their Lusitanian home.
The old chart-names for the islands Curamo and Ikbekou are not to be met with here.
The town is known to its population and throughout Yoruba as Eko, of which some make Ichoo.
The settlement must be modern : it is not mentioned by Bosman in 1700.
* photo of Badagry from the National Archives UK
Wanderings in West Africa from Liverpool to Fernando Po - Vol II
by Burton, Richard Francis
Published 1863

Bauchi gate
Date 1950 (?)
© The Trustees of the British Museum

In Nigeria there is a section of natives known as the " Cattle-Filane".
They are nomad herdsmen and have little in common with the other natives, except in so far as they strongly object to paying the 1s. 6d. per head, which is the tax on cattle demanded by Government, known locally as "Jangali."
Living with their herds a great deal in the uninhabited and remote districts they are an extremely picturesque people. Being of Semitic origin, they are quite different to the negro, resembling in their appearance and mode of life pictures and descriptions relating to Biblical times.
Of them David might well have said in his haste " All men are liars."
Members of this tribe do not practise the art of lying, they refrain from speaking the truth, simply.
It is as though some aged Nestor had laid down for the future guidance of his people that they should speak as little as possible, and when they did speak they should never in any circumstances whatsoever allow the truth to pass their lips.
I have known the possessor of hundreds and even thousands of head of cattle not only to deny such possession but also the very existence of such an animal on the face of the earth.
When pressed, to admit that he had heard of such animals running wild, when further pressed, to admit that he had seen such animals, when further pressed, to admit that he had friends who owned cattle, when further pressed again, to admit that he had one cow in his possession, bought from a friend (but not yet paid for) for the sake of its milk which was given to one of his children, who lay at the point of death.
So, through the whole of a long interview, a Cattle- Filane will lie. I confess his manner is often pleasant and plausible, and he makes his lying statements with emphasis and decision, but he gives no key to the political officer as to his character, because he habitually lies without motive.
Of course a man who never tells the truth has an undue advantage in the presentation of a lie viva voce over a man who is accustomed to interlard his lies with true statements, as he is always in practice, with his eye well in as it were.
But so crude and palpable are the Cattle-Filane's lies that they deceive nobody. What is worse, the political officer feels all the time that the Filane realises that nobody is going to believe anything he says.
Thus a passage of lies, so valuable as an index of character in the case of other natives, has no value whatsoever in the case of Cattle-Filane, or " Borroroje," as they are termed in Haussa. As a result, this tribe remains to this day a sealed book to us.
We know only one thing certain about them, that is that the returns in our records as to the numbers of their cattle are all wrong.
Native races and their rulers; sketches and studies of official life and administrative problems in Nigeria
by Charles Lindsay. Temple, C.M.G., F.R.G.S., F.SA., F.G.S.
Late Lieutenant-Governor, Northern Provinces Nigeria

It is a far cry from Jamaica to Calabar, but a link of communication was provided in a remarkable way.
Many years previously a slaver had been wrecked in the neighbourhood of Calabar. The surgeon on board was a young medical man named Ferguson, and he and the crew were treated with kindness by the natives.
After a time they were able by another slaver to sail for the West Indies, whence Dr. Ferguson returned home. He became surgeon on a trader between Liverpool and Jamaica, making several voyages, and becoming well known in the colony.
Settling down in Liverpool he experienced a spiritual change and became a Christian. He was interested to hear of the movement in Jamaica, and remembering with gratitude the friendliness shown him by the Calabar natives he undertook to find out whether they would accept a mission.
This he did through captains of the trading vessels to whom he was hospitable.
In 1848 a memorial from the local king and seven chiefs was sent to him, offering ground and a welcome to any missionaries who might care to come.
This settled the matter.
Mr. [Hope] Waddell sailed from Jamaica for Scotland to promote and organise the undertaking.
Mary Slessor of Calabar
by W.P. Livingstone
Published 1910

Bench & Bar - Lagos
seven lawyers
Date 1900-1915
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Oba Erediauwa II, the Oba of Benin, at Igue Ceremonies in the Royal Palace, Benin City, Nigeria, December 1981. Legend claims that the fifteenth century Oba Ewuare the Great won this coral beaded regalia from Olokun, god of the rivers and the sea. Oba Ewuare also contacted Portuguese mariners on the African coast, who brought Benin new luxuries from trade with Europe. It seemed to the Edo that their seaborne allies traveled through Olokun’s realm and traversed the spirit world, bringing divinely sanctioned wealth to the Benin kingdom. Images of these foreign traders are on the Oba’s wrapper. Photo by Barbara W. Blackmun

Bust of Lord Lugard at Lokoja

At a lecture given by the explorer, Herr Leo Frobenius, at the Berlin Colonial Office, on his discoveries of traces of ancient civilisation in British "West Africa,'
The Emperor examined with the utmost interest some terra cotta heads which Herr Frobenius regards as evidence that the site of the ancient Atlantis was in Nigeria, declaring them obviously portraits and not the work of negroes.
Herr Frobenius also entertained the Emperor with an account of some old Byzantine remains found in the midst of Africa in the form of magnificent garments showing influences of Persian culture on a Byzantine foundation.
A negro dressed in these garments paraded before his Majesty.
The lecturer mentioned that though most of his finds came from British territory, he knew of the ruins of a Persian city in a German African colony, to which the Emperor replied: "No efforts must be spared to bring these to light."
Star , Issue 10688, 7 February 1913,

Recent rumors that the German explorer, Dr. Leo. Frobenius, had found traces of the mythical Atlantis of the ancients in Southern Nigeria are explained by the publication of letters from the explorer to friends in Germany, in which he claims to have discovered remains of an ancient civilisation in the Behin district.
He makes a vicious attack upon the British officials of the colony for depriving him of the fruits of his labors.
Writing from Illai, Dr. Frobenius says : "I have made an incredible discovery, for in West Africa I have found traces of a high and extremely ancient urban civilisation. I am having excavations made and am searching the whole neighborhood. I have unearthed wonderfully worked quartz pillars, remains of granite figures 39 in high, burned clap portraits of classic beauty, and vessels and fragments of pottery splendidly overlaid with glass of various colors.
The main thing is that I have found the place where all the treasures are buried, about 3ft 9in below the surface. Most of the things are in pieces, but so beautiful that they can properly be compared with relics of classical antiquity."
In another letter the explorer mentions that his chief discovery is a hollow brown cast of a head so beautiful that anyone would set it down as classical work, but for the fine tatooing with which it is covered.
Dr. Frobenius says of his discoveries: "I have thus proved in the broadest sense that my Atlantis theory is correct."
In a third letter, dated Ibadan, January 2nd, Dr. Frobenius writes: "The news of my discovery of a city of ancient Atlantis reached the English. My letter of December 11th was seized and sent back to me. On December 16th a high official suddenly appeared. They tried to take all my finds from me on the pretext that the natives had stolen them from each other and sold them illegally to me..
Excavations were forbidden and everything ancient must remain in the country, and more to the same effect. The same brutal barbarism with which Sven Hedin, Carl Peters, and the Gedman steamer Bunderat were treated! Most of what I had won they took, including the bronze head, fragments and postherds. However, thank the Lord, I am smarter than a good many people, and promptly buried the good clay heads. They are saved. "
The German learned world reserves judgment as to the value of Dr. Frobe] nius's discoveries, especially his claim to have found the lost Atlantis.
The Northern Advocate
20 July 1911

War and Weapons
The chief disturbers of the peace were certain bands of raiders who either acted on their own account or, more frequently, were hired by the men of one town to help them fight against another.
Such were the dreaded Abams on the eastern side of the river, and the Ndi-Ekumeku on the western.
Both these societies had a large membership and were responsible for a vast amount of havoc in the districts where they operated.
The Ekumeku was, and is still, the most formidable confederation in the country lying between Asaba and Benin. Some account of the society may be given here, inasmuch as war was one of its principal functions, otherwise it would be more rightly described as a secret society.
It is rather difficult to decide what the precise meaning of the word Ekumeku is. During the last rising (1904) the members of the confederacy were named the Silent Ones"; but that rendering assumed that the word was a corruption of Ekwumekwu, i.e. " Don't speak."
It has also been interpreted as meaning a " breathing " or " blowing." Probably the idea is based upon that of the wind which "bloweth where it listeth; thou canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth."
So it is with the Ekumeku ; they went here, there and everywhere, swiftly and silently. Their gatherings took place, and their exploits were always carried out on dark nights. No country could be better adapted for their operations than the forest districts of the Asaba hinterland.
The wives of the members of the Ekumeku society enjoyed certain privileges ; they came under the protection of the society and were free from molestation when passing to and from market.
Among the Ibos of Nigeria, an account of the curious & interesting habits, customs, & beliefs of a little known African people by one who has for many years lived amongst them on close & intimate terms
by Basden, George Thomas
Published 1921

Chief Nana Olomu of Itshekiri (seated left) going into exile.
Date - 1894.
Source - 
"Curse of the black gold: 50 years of Oil in the Niger Delta".

His Majesty, Mazi Kanu Oji. CFR, CON, OBE., ascended the throne of Eze Aro in 1914 and joined the Aro ancestors in 1987, thus ruling for 73 unbroken years. The world monarchy history has it that the late Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji, holds the world record of the longest monarch to ever reign, followed by Emperor Hiro Hito of Japan.
Credit: Boldwin Anugwara., (2014)

Jarawa (or Afizere) men tattooing a Jarawa woman of north Nigeria (1930). Source: Period Paper
An Igbo woman wearing ankle plates, Nigeria, West Africa, (1922). Source: Heritage-Images
According to G T Basden's book, in Nleggi village, no woman is happy except she's a proud owner of the "Awbwa" anklet, which ranges from 9 to 15 inches. They women walk with their legs wide apart so that one leg does not hit and cut the other. This walking make the legs like semi circle, the closest that came to my mind was like rickets or bow legged walking. Its also permanent ornament so bandages are worn at the ankles to prevents sores and once worn, they don't walk, lie and sit normally and are only removed at the blacksmiths...

A Nigerian witch doctor's charm. 
Materials: shell, twine, fabric
Dimensions: Overall 180 (Length) mm
Source: Museum of New Zealand.

A Yorubaland Doctor's vest

The Legend of Moremi and her Son
Moremi was the wife of one of the ancient heroes of Ile Ife, probably Oranmiyan.
She was a woman of great beauty and virtue, and had an only son named Ela or Olurogbo.
It happened that the city of Ife was at one time in a state of frequent commotion and unrest, owing to the repeated raids of a tribe of people called the Igbos.
This continued for a series of years.
The Ifes attributed this affliction and distress to the displeasure of their gods, because those that attacked them from the Igbo territory appeared not to be human beings, but gods or demi gods, and consequently the Ifes felt they could not withstand them, and so these raiders used to make away with easy plunder, including their valuables, with their women and children.
For this they propitiated and called upon their gods for help, but received no response.
Now, this Moremi, fired with zeal and patriotism was determined to do what she could to free her country from this calamity.
She was resolved to find out what these Igbos really were, and how to fight them. To this end she repaired to a stream called Esinmirin, and there made a vow to the deity thereof, that if she was enabled to carry out her plans, and they proved successful, she would offer to the god the most costly sacrifice she could afford.
Her plan was to expose herself to the raiders, and get caught, and be taken to their country where she could best learn their secrets: 'But,' she said, ' if I perish, I perish.'
At the time of the next raid she undertook to carry out her plans, she was caught by the Igbos and taken to their country ; and being a woman of great beauty, she was given up amongst others, and sundry booty to their king.
Her beauty and virtue soon won her a place in the country and the confidence of the people ; she became familiar with all their customs, and learnt all their secrets : then she also learnt that those who were such objects of terror to her people were mere men, who covered themselves from head to foot with Ekan grass and bamboo fibres, making them appear extra human, and are nicknamed Eluyare.
She extracted from her husband also the secret of attacking them successfully. ' If your people know how to make a torch, and have the courage to rush amongst them with lighted torches, they cannot stand that.'
Moremi feeling she was now conversant with everything amongst the Igbos, having disarmed any suspicion they may have entertained of her as a captive, suddenly escaped one day to her nativeland, and by making use of the secrets she had learnt, freed her country for ever from the raids of the men once their terror.
It remained now for her to fulfil her vows.
She repaired to the stream with her offerings of lambs, rams, and goats for sacrifice, but the god would not accept any of these. She then offered a bullock, which the god also refused to accept, then she prayed the priests to divine for her what would be accept-able ; this was done, and the god demanded of her, her only son !
She then gave up her only son in sacrifice to the gods in the fulfilment of her vows.
The Ife nation bewailed her loss and promised to be to her sons ind daughters, for the loss she had sustained for the salvation of her country.
Olurogbo however, when supposed to be killed, was but half dead ; he afterwards revived and rose again, and made a rope with which he climbed up into heaven ; and all Ifes to this day have a full hope that he will come again to this world, and reap the full reward of his good deeds.
* illustration from The Voice of Africa - Vol I by Frobenius, Leo (1913)
The history of the Yorubas : from the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate
by Johnson, Samuel1901; Johnson, Obadiah
Published 1921

"The reason for the existence of this " Long Juju " was this : that if any local jujuman did not feel competent to deal with a case before him, he would refer the man to the Long Juju. He was then sent on his journey accompanied by a jujuman, who took him to this fatal spot blindfolded.
What actually took place when the man arrived at Long Juju is unknown, and I doubt if it ever will be divulged. Two accounts which were supposed to be the facts were spread about, more to frighten the natives that anything else.
The first was that the Supreme Judge was a priestess who possessed the power of knowing all things, and if the offender was guilty of his supposed offence when brought before her, he was supposed to become transfixed to the spot, then water was supposed to slowly rise around him until he was drowned.
The other account was that the place was on an island, and when the victim arrived he had a sort of mock trial which always convicted him, and he was then immediately cast into an open tank of boiling human blood. Jujumen stood round this tank, armed with two-edged swords, with which they hacked his body to pieces and stirred up the contents of the tank.
Can you imagine how these two accounts must have overawed the superstitious native, and how great must have been the terror of being sent to Long Juju. No one was ever supposed to return alive after being to Long Juju, and even if a man did return he would never confess it, which would be of little use if he did, because his friends would never believe him, as anyone who went there was supposed to cease to live on entering this mysterious place, and that if he returned he came as either a spirit or some entirely different person.
How it resulted in an expedition being sent against the Aros was this : — In 1899 a party of about 140 natives came in one day to the British official at Eket and asked for protection. They told him the extraordinary tale that they were the remnants of a party of about 800 natives who came about five years previously from the country round Aro, and had been sent from there to consult " Long Juju." They had been accused of witchcraft and various crimes, and had been promised absolution on the payment of heavy fines.
When they had been taken near the place, they had been conducted for three months along winding paths in the bush, and finally accommodated in a village. Each day ten or a dozen of them had been taken to consult " Long Juju '* — never to return to the village. Finally the others became suspicious and made a bolt for it, with the result that they were sent back to their own country under escort, and then was organised the Aro expedition for the purpose of locating and destroying this den of iniquity"
With the West African Frontier Force, in Southern Nigeria
by Esmé Gordon Lennox
Published 1905

Date 1894-1908
© The Trustees of the British Museum

fourteen men
all are from different tribes? and each wears traditional attire
Date 1890-1905
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Making road
Aro natives making road for [us by order] outside Bendi ["Bende"?]
Cutting bush with matchets [sic]"
Snapshots taken in Southern Nigeria during The Aro Punitive Expedition 1901.
Date 1901
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Tea time at Itu
group of European men and women sitting around table having tea.
Snapshots taken in Southern Nigeria during The Aro Punitive Expedition 1901.
Date 1901
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Base hospital at Itu
Snapshots taken in Southern Nigeria during The Aro Punitive Expedition 1901
Date 1901
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Ibinu Ukpabi Shrine- Arochukwu. 
Ibinu Ukpabi or Long Juju Oracle was the all-powerful Aro deity, that reigned supreme, ostensibly as a supernatural, regulatory and spiritual entity. Ibinu Ukpabi was originally operated by the indigenous Losi people- of the Arochukwu area- with its greatest utility being in the detection of crimes and indeed enforcement of sanctions against offenders. Ibinu Ukpabi however acquired notoriety subsequently, with subsequent operators of the Oracle utilising it to further the trade in Slaves. The power of the Oracle was finally dismantled by the British Aro expedition of 1903. Image Western Kentucky University: Freedom to Freedom Trail Project.

The market-price of camels in 1920 at Kano and Agades was about £8 for a young beast 4 years old, and about £15 for a full-grown animal 9 to 15 years old.
Those prices, even though they have risen considerably since the war, like everything else even in such remote parts, must appear small if it is taken into consideration that camels require to be nourished and reared for 8 to 10 years before they have reached maturity and are really fit to join the caravans and bring recompense to the owner.
Exploration of Aïr: Out of the World North of Nigeria
by Angus Buchanan
Published 1922

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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