Politics And British Invasion Of Benin By Prince Samwonyi Ovonramwen.


My name is Prince Samwonyi Ovonramwen. I am a great, great grandson of Oba Ovonramwen N’ Ogbaisi. My family line is the only one still bearing the name Ovonramwen and this has ensured that his good name has not been erased from the consciousness of the people. That underscores how proud and honoured we are to be associated with our root.

How easy it is to pursue selfish political interest under the pretext of public good! Apart from little known Ovonramwen street, no other monument of importance immortalises Oba Ovonranmwen in Benin City. I wish deserving effort is directed at correcting this wrong.

In 1897, the British invaded Benin Empire, conquered it and carted away her most prized assets. The motive for the invasion was purely economic and political. As earlier correspondences have shown, the invasion and subjugation of the empire were inevitable and only a matter of time. The role of the key actors including nobles, courtiers and ordinary citizens were contingent upon the dynamics and exigencies of the time. It can only be understood and appreciated therefrom. And we know for a fact that the character, mood and temperament of 1897 were not captured by anyone and cannot be resurrected with accuracy more than a century after.

Over the years, there have been speculations and tell-tales with regard to the role played by some key leaders and participants. The British conquerors wrote from their own angle but nobody recorded the views of the Edo participants in the unfortunate episode. However, what can be reconstructed with the tools of research has been accomplished by the most celebrated historian on the subject – Prof. Phillips Igbafe. Let those who seek genuine knowledge submit themselves to the discipline of reading up published works.

It is barbaric, unjustifiable and pointless to hound anyone or scion of any of the families today on account of the purported role played by his great, great grandfather. If all of us were to look back into remote history and the role played by our various great, great grandfathers, Benin City and Edoland will be immersed with vile, hatred, bad blood and vindictiveness. We will hardly find any neighbour to greet or any family from which to marry!

Let us beware of desperate politicians who can hardly define the issues confronting us only to hide behind patronage or mercantilistic politics of the wasted years. They are caught by cold, fear and trepidation at the sight of well-rounded contenders for the same office. For God sake, leave our great, great grandfather out of the murky waters of politics. Let politicians play politics!

Prince Samwonyi Nosuyi Ovoranmwen

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