This is in Memory of eight out of ten British Soldiers and civilians, few Ghanaians, most of the sixty Kroo boys from Liberia and Sierra-leone and almost the one hundred and forty Tsekiris who were brutally murdered by the Benin while on a peaceful expedition to Benin Kingdom on the 4th of January 1897.
A letter of the comrade of the late Mr. Philips: the Acting Consul-General who led the peaceful and ill-fated pacific (sic, to pacify) expedition to open up trade whilst a treaty had already been duly signed by both Benin and Great Britain before the the peaceful expedition reads:
The loss which the British nation sustained during the last 60 years, through the deaths of so many brave soldiers, blue-jackets and civilians in the glorious work of rescuing the native races of west Africa of human sacrifice, cannibalism, and tortures of fetish worship must ever be a matter of deep regret and sadness to all, but it cannot fail to make us proud of our country men who nobly and courageously done their duty with the greatest enthusiasm, undergoing hardship and privation inseparably from the trying climate of west african coast and exhibiting in the conduct an entire disregard of personal danger (The Benin Massacre, pgs 189-190).
The rescue so mentioned above is mainly about Urhobo people. The rest includes others who shares boundaries with us. The Author specifically mentioned Urhobo people as the main source of humans taken for slavery and sacrifice. No wonder that when i naively defend Urhobo race as a people who were not involved in slavery, no one corrects my ignorance and perhaps, amongst those who keep mum are themselves ignorant of this fact.
So therefore; let us pay tribute to the fallen British and Africans who suffered death on their way to Benin in trying to rescue Urhobos from the hands of murderous Benin in 1897.
And from the foregoing; let's also hear from the Author, Alan Boisragon, of the volume, The Benin Massacre, in his own words but remember, it was a peaceful expedition of which, a gift had already been sent to the Oba. Quote: In the corners of these compunds, huge pits, 40 to 50 feet deep were found filled with human bodies, dead and dying and a few wretched captives were rescued alive (ibid, page 197).
Again, the Author narrates what he knew from experience that, river Ethiope, comes into Sapele from the East and was the South East boundary of the Benin Kingdom which on the left bank, are another tribe called Sobos who are the great Oil producers of this part of the world and who are also used to produce the majority of slaves for the Benin city people (ibid, page 45). This is from a person who was there and direct.
I have remained quiet until now when i have been challenged to provide some proof of oppressions and murders in the Niger Delta by the Benin Kingdom in the past. Same past in the age of human kidnapping, seizures and outright merchandise of humans. A practice indulged by every nations of the world but in swift actions; Urhobo people deposed such kings who indulged in slavery as the latter were assissinated by the Urhobos but nevertheless, individuals must have beat the political system to sell their own but that is my individual conjecture. The challenge which comes from Urhobo, Tsekiri and Benin of Iduland to provide proof actually led to this revelation of what really happened on the 4th of January 1897.
However; the four ethnic groups of Urhobo, Tsekiri, Ijaw and Benin are culturally related but by accident of history, the Benins wrestled leadership from Urhobo in the main and other ethnic groups as Benin being supported and assisted by Yoruba, the Paternal Ancestor of Benin, used their cruelty and fetish worship as a sacred authority to remove other ethnics from their land which they initially and originally settled. The Urhobo group, being the head of the groups who founded Iduland in 599 A.D, was chased out by the killings in a farce oracle divination which says that the owners of the land must be sacrificed to appease the gods. This was after the collective decision had been taken to give the Priesthood of Oghene to Azama which is Benin group. The Priesthood was therefore exploited fully to disenfranchise other groups as their economic capital depends on it.
Urhobos of Akka (original name of Benin), now look back in nolstalgia and perhaps regret not keeping their Oghene Priesthood to themselves, the Priesthood brought with them from the Niger-Benue Confluence also known as Ukhe where they have Nok (Kon, Anhk, Khan, plant seed) culture. Evidence of the Kon (Nok) culture may have been lost. But what they have not lost are the Royal Staff of Office which still survives today as time, wear and tear is evident in their heights of perhaps 5 feet, the oldest amongst the many, now reduces to one foot.