Edo - History and Cultural Relations



The Edo have undoubtedly lived in the same area for many centuries. Connah's archaeological investigation (1975) at a site in what is today Benin City suggests that a large population with a degree of political organization may have existed as early as the end of the late eleventh century but was certainly in place by the end of the fifteenth. (Connah's radiocarbon dates from this site are 1180±100 to 1310±100). Oral traditions include references to an early dynasty of kings called ogiso (a term that can apply to the dynasty as a whole or to individual rulers within that dynasty), which ruled, it is suggested, until the twelfth or thirteenth century, when Oranmiyan dynasty, of Yoruba origin, took over. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were an age of conquest and cultural flowering. Many of the sculptures for which Benin is famous were created for the monarchs Ewuare, Ozolua, Esigie, Orhogbua, and Ehengbuda. Under the rule of these kings, the empire imposed varying degrees of domination over neighboring Yoruba-, Igbo-, and Edo-speaking populations and even extended its influence to Badagry and Ouidah (now in the Republic of Benin, which was called Dahomey until 1976). This expansion was in process when Portuguese explorers arrived in the third quarter of the fifteenth century. They were interested in spreading Christianity and developing commerce. Trade with the Netherlands, France, and England followed. Oral traditions and European records indicate that the power of the kingdom fluctuated over the centuries. A dynastic crisis in the seventeenth century led to a civil war lasting from about 1690 to 1720, which disrupted the political and economic life of the kingdom, but peace was restored by kings Akenzua I and Eresoyen in the mid-eighteenth century. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Benin came into conflict with the British, who viewed the kingdom as an obstacle to their economic and political expansion in the area. In 1897 a British consular official insisted on visiting the city in spite of requests by the king to delay until the completion of important religious ceremonies. The consul and his party were ambushed, and most of them were killed. The British immediately assembled the "Punitive Expedition," a retaliatory force, which attacked and captured Benin City in February of 1897, setting fires throughout the urban area and taking as war booty thousands of brass and ivory sculptures. The reigning king, Ovonramwen, was sent into exile, where he died, and the Benin Kingdom was incorporated into the Southern Province of the Nigerian Protectorate. In 1914 the British amalgamated the Southern and Northern protectorates into the new country of Nigeria. In the same year, they restored the monarchy in Benin, allowing Ovonramwen's son, Eweka II, to assume the throne. They instituted a system of Native Administration (a form of indirect rule), introduced a uniform monetary system and direct taxation, established government schools, and built a communications network of roads and railways. Early in the twentieth century, the Church Missionary Society and the Society of African Missions arrived in Benin, but they had less success there than in other parts of Nigeria. Nigeria gained independence in 1960, and at that time the kingdom became part of the Western Region. Over the years, the modern political boundaries of the territory and its names have changed several times. In 1963 it was separated from the Western Region and called the Midwest Region, and then, in 1976, it was renamed Bendel State. In 1993 Bendel State was split in two, and today the Benin Kingdom is part of Edo State.


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samuel igue
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Apr 28, 2013 @ 10:22 pm
can someone please help me with the hisory of christianity in benin kingdom and what thw condition of women was as at then. very important and urgent please.

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