Here are two points for the record:
1) The Kingdom of Benin started to decline after contact with the European traders who brought ‘wonders’ with them. These wonders which came hand in hand with Christianity and the bible portrayed their cultural and religious belief as unacceptable before God. With the sweeteners coming hand in hand with the ‘wonders from across the seas’; many Africans were turned on their beliefs and way of life in order to fully to embrace the new God (16th century).
2) European traders deliberately saturated the local economy with cowries shells which was the monetary unit of purchase in place at the time; this led to high inflation and collapse in the market economy bankrupting governments and individuals.
In spite of these setbacks, the great kings of Benin refused to turn to the alternative on offer by the Europeans, which was to engage in the Transatlantic Slave Trade or face collapse and obliteration.
What was so remarkable about the kings of that great kingdom was accepting this fate whilst everyone else around them engaged profitably in this. We have their bronze plaques to prove that this must have been a most painful decision and position to take experience for them.
What is also intriguing about the Benin kings’ position above is the strong moral compass they used to guide their actions when they were the main power in the West African coast:
Ø When they captured places, they left the citizens with their dignity and culture intact; all they ever asked for were the annual tributes to the king which were mainly agricultural products, they never colonized other people’s territory.
Ø They did not believe in maltreating other human beings; this is evident in their treatment of slaves. Slaves were in households for solvency purposes and had rights as any other member of the household. http://slaverystory.blogspot.co.uk/p/edo-on-slavery.html
I now assert that The Great Kingdom of Benin should be recognized and celebrated as a great one that respected human rights to dignity, achievement and choice.
The great Kingdom of Benin is one we should all be proud to be descendants of; and we should be shouting this from all rooftops .
Oba Ghato, Okpere!
Long Live the King!
Long live Kingdom of Benin!