On the King’s Festival

Here are a few reflections on the available information we have on the King’s Festival both historical and contemporary:

Benin Bronzes plaques

 The plaques were used to record events of the kingdom, no one of them records human sacrifice as part of the king’s festival or as part of any other aspect of Royal court practice. If indeed the Edos believed in this and it was part of their practice, being a proud race, they would have used the plaques to record this somewhere. Yet there is no such record; however we have plaque images of slaughtering of animals but not humans.

The yardstick of using historical evidence to judge activities of the past should be extended to the Kingdom of Benin as is the practice for other civilisations of the past e.g. Mesopotamia, Mayan,  Inca, Egyptian, Greeks, Chinese, Romans, Persian, Middle ages and modern day.

The misinformation spread about the Kingdom of Benin by the British during their empire seeking mission in the 1890s should now be discounted based on the evaluations of all the available historical evidence. Hearsay should never have counted as a valid historical evidence source. The dead bodies the British claimed they found in Benin were those from their shelling actions; their maxims and seven pounders killed untold numbers of Benin people. Responsibility for the dead bodies lie solely with the British and no one else. Evidence source - main blog entry of Friday 2 March 2012, paragraph 3. Here they admit as much from their own records of events.

It was arrogance, insolence and quest of self  promotion which led Acting Consul General James Philips to attempt invasion of the kingdom during an important ancestral celebration and should be seen as that; he could have waited a couple of days for the Benin people to complete their festival before attempting to discuss business with the king, but he chose not to.

The impudence with which the palace was then looted after the punitive expedition force seized the kingdom is another matter for further discussion.

On a final note, there should be no flexibility on use of hearsay without evidence to back this up as a source of historical evidence. The slanderous claim by Henry Gallwey that the King’s festival meant that the king was slaughtering thousands of people to his ancestors was barbaric and outrageous and should be judged by history as such.

Thank you.
Fidelia Nimmons

Oba Ghato, Okpere!
Long Live the King!

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