Urhobo Historical Society

THE BRITISH CAPTURE OF THE OBA OF BENIN
(1897)


In the nineteenth century, Benin held important sway in the Western Niger Delta. By mid-1890s, British agents had undermined much of Benin's influence in the region. Benin's most important connection in the Western Niger Delta was in Urhobo country, in large part because Urhobo and Benin had abiding cultural ties, which helped to maintain the influence of the King of Benin in Urhoboland. By 1896 all of southern Nigeria, including Urhobo country, had fallen into British colonizing hands, with the single exception of Benin. In February 1897, the British attacked Benin, capturing its mighty King, who was revered in Urhoboland. Chief Daniel Obiomah who supplied the English lyrics of the following version of a folk song (originally rendered in Urhobo) said of the King of Benin's capture: "So shocking was the capture of the Oba that the Urhobos sang:"
 
 
Shall I run, Shall I walk,
Will I yet catch up with the Oba?
Shall I run, or shall I walk?
The tale is all abroad that the
Whiteman's taken captive
Even the Oba of Benin;
And they are deporting him.
Shall I run, shall I walk?
Can I catch a glimpse, O! What a tale!

Peter P. Ekeh
Editor@waado.org
31 December, 2001



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