Friday, 17 February 2012

A British view of His Majesty

Obokhian (Welcome)

From all accounts, it seems that His Majesty Omon’Oba n’Edo Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, was held in very high esteem by various British, Africans, Europeans and others, particularly those who knew him sufficiently well.

An unnamed gentleman who for many years was engaged in trading on the Niger and West Coast of Africa and who had lived for six years at the kingdom's headquarters Ubini, gave these views of the king to a representative of the Central News in 1897 (Guardian publications Jan 13 1897 - The Benin Massacre):

·         Described him as potentate. This means that he possessed great powers as a monarch.
·         All classes in West Africa are terrified of His Majesty i.e. the Africans revered him.
·         His Majesty is a very able man in many respects.
·         His Majesty has succeeded in training a large body of soldiers.
·         His Majesty has shown no small military capacity in conducting the numerous wars with all the neighbouring people. The Kingdom was the super power around.
·         His Majesty has always been a great enemy of Europeans, which means he has defended the Africans’ rights to exist within their own cultures.
·         His Majesty had even done his best to obstruct all traders and explorers; he wanted favourable trading terms for his people.
·         His Majesty had kept caravans from passing through the country. These could bring new diseases into the kingdom.
·         His Majesty had monopolised nearly all outside trade for himself. There tribute arrangements in place and there has been for centuries.
·         The few English traders who ventured up as far as Ubini, the headquarters, often had to wait days and days until word was brought that the king would see them. The king is a very busy man.
·         White traders were nervous in his presence. And rightly so, his subjects were!
·         White traders had to take him lots of presents before he gave them anything in return; by all accounts he was a very shrewd negotiator. The Edos are known for this.
·         Traders had to go unarmed into the kingdom for fear of reprisal. Everyone should come in friendship, the Edos worked hard and played hard; they preferred to deal with friends not foes in their kingdom.
·         His Majesty did not receive foreign visitor without a preliminary arrangement. No other monarch does across the world.
·         All Africans feared the king. They revered him was more likely.
·         The British believed him to be militarily strong. This was with good reasons too.

What a formidable king! Well done to His Majesty for upholding African people’s rights and values particularly his own people.  
Oba ghato, Okpere!
Long live the King!

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