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False History Of Benin Ancestry Of Anioma, Ikwere, Onicha – Historical Facts

Obi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and Oba of Benin Ewuare II

Historically, it is uncalled for a Bini Chief or custodian of any sort to have a male child and give a non-Bini name to such child. So, it is unplausible to a Bini Chief to give his own male child an Igbo name. It was very clear from the onset of history that there is no way Eze Chima would be of Bini ancestry but pure blooded Igbo Chief with a Bini migration history behind him.

Eze Chima was a powerful native doctor and spiritual Igbo man, who left Benin Kingdom to return to Igbo land where he came from after a bitter fight between him and Oba of Benin and Oba’s brother Gbunwala and the rest was history as he was forced to leave Benin Kingdom and return to where he came from, Igboland.

“Chima: The Aro Native Doctor


Eze Chima was an Aro native doctor. In pursuance of the role of the Aros in the Atlantic Slave Trade quoted…from Michael Crowder’s story of Nigeria, Chima left Arochukwu to Benin to set up as an agent of the Aro Long Juju, for the usual purpose of collecting slaves from Benin.

Whenever, in the olden days, a native doctor travelled to a place, he by custom would, on arrival, report himself to the local chief or to the head of the society of native doctors of the land. He is either the guest of the head chief of the clan or puts up with head of the local society of native doctors. Accordingly, when Chima arrived Benin he reported himself to the Oba of Benin who accepted him as his guest. In time Chima settled down and set up practice as a native doctor and agent of Aro Oracle. He impressed the Oba of Benin so much with his magical art that he became very influential over the Oba. In consequence, the Oba installed Chima a chief in the palace of Benin. Thus the plain blunt and ordinary native doctor who left Arochukwu to establish an agency of the Long Juju, earned a chieftaincy title and became Chief Chima or Eze Chima.

Having found his feet firm in Benin, Eze Chima sent for his brother Ekensu and other relatives from Arochukwu, and also set up an Aro settlement in Benin similar to those Aros folks had set up within the description of Michael Crowder, in other areas throughout former Eastern Nigeria.
With the march of time, Chima’s practice in Benin expanded down to Niger Delta. Among the Urhobos and Itshekiris also the fame of the Aro Oracle spread and clients from those areas trooped to him to consult the Oracle. The greatest index of Chima’s influence on culture in Benin Kingdom is found in the fact that Benin people adopted the Igbo days of the week – Eke, Orie, Afo and Nkwo – on which Chima made one sacrifice or the other or observed his abstinences and spiritual disciplines, as names also of Benin week days. And till today the Binis have, as the Igbo, Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo – as names of their week days.

According to Mr Wellington Igunbor a Benin historian, who on the mother side, belongs to one of Benin’s traditional Chieftaincy families (Chief Gaius Obaseki’s family – Gaius Obaseki who was the Iyase or Prime Minister of Benin in 1947) – the settlement of Eze Chima in Old Benin was established in the area through which Siliku Street runs in the present-day Benin city. As Eze Chima’s influence increased so did population of his settlement expand. So influential was Eze Chima and so completely absorbed in the society was he and his clan that there was hardly a thing he and his people could not do on the basis of equality with Benin indigenes.

How And Why Eze Chima Left Benin:

At the time Eze Chima lived in Benin, the mother of Oba of Benin was Asije. The Oba’s brother who also was the Oba’s War Lord was called Gbunwala. One day, Asije the mother of both the Oba and Gbunwala, the Benin War Lord went into a farm belonging to Eze Chima’s people and collected firewood. Eze Chima’s people then caught Asije the Oba’s mother, and beat her thoroughly for taking wood from their farm without permission. Back home, Asije reported to her children – the Oba of Benin and Gbunwala, the Benin War Lord, her bitter experience with Eze Chima’s people. Red with anger, Gbunwala, the Oba’s brother and War Lord, took some of his soldiers, went to Chima’s settlement, set upon Chima’s people – beat them thoroughly and killed some of them.

From that day, Gbunwala began to harass Eze Chima and his people. In the circumstance, Eze Chima decided to quit Benin with his people and return to the East where he came to rejoin his Igbo kith and kin – or, in the alternative to find new settlements for himself and his people in places far and safe beyond the reach of Oba of Benin.

This history was told in Igbo Primer popularly known as “Azu Ndu”, approved by Government Education Department for infant classes of primary schools in the Igbo Provinces of then Eastern Nigeria, now Biafra, since the beginning of the 20th century.

On their way out of Benin, some of the Eze Chima’s people settled at Agbo (Agbor), 44 miles away from Benin City which they considered far, and out of reach, molestations and influence of the Oba of Benin and his brother, Gbunwala. Others went beyond this distance and settled at Isele-Uku, Onicha-Olona, Onicha-Ugbo and Obio. When they reached the West bank of the Niger, some took a canoe and paddled down the River to Abo and settled. Led by Oreze, the eldest son of Eze Chima, the rest of Eze Chima clan crossed the River Niger to the eastern bank and settled among Oze people – the original inhabitants of what is today the big and prosperous commercial and education centre in Biafra – Onicha (Onitsha). On page 73 of his story of Nigeria, Mr Michael Crowder believed that the return migration of Onicha (Onitsha) people – this is of Umu Eze Chima clans – from Benin took place in the 17th century.

Benin-Igbo Exchange of Culture:

Having lived for some years in Benin as one of the Chiefs of the palace of the Oba of Benin, Eze Chima, the Aro agent of the Aro Oracle in Benin and his people had learnt Benin Chieftaincy institutions and titles and so adapted the Benin system to the administrative structures and customs of the place where they settled among other West Niger Igbo and in Onicha (Onitsha) on the east bank. But as Eze Chima took away from Benin a copy of their chieftaincy institutions, so did he deposit in Benin, and the Binis adopted it, Igbo weekdays – Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo – which are vital in the determination of appropriate days for abstinences, spiritual religious cultures of the Igbo and Bini too. In other words, the West Niger Igbo borrowed from Benin in chieftaincy, certian aspect of some traditions, just as the Binis borrowed from the Igbo in some religious traditions—through the agency of Eze Chima.”
End of quote!

(Reference is: Pgs 171-174 of THE IGBO AND THEIR NEIGHBOURS by Professor Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo. Published in 1987).

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Gowon Gave Original 1600-yrs-old Oba Of Benin Bronze Head To Queen Elizabeth II In 1973 |RN

From left to right: Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Mrs Yakubu Gowon,HRM Queen Elizabeth II, Former military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon


By Nigel Reynolds

Buckingham Palace has been forced to concede that what it believed was a replica of a rare Benin bronze head, given to the Queen 30 years ago as a diplomatic gift, is, in fact, the genuine article “liberated” from Nigeria’s main museum in strange circumstances.
When General Yakubu Gowon, President of Nigeria, made a state visit to Britain in 1973 his officials told the Palace that he intended to present the Queen with a modern copy of one of the country’s famous Benin antiquities.
But, according to an investigation by the Art Newspaper, a specialist British publication, Gen Gowon, in fact, removed a genuine bronze head, about 12in high and dated around 1600, from the National Museum in Lagos as his gift.

Anxious to thank Britain for its support during the Biafran war, Gen Gowon initially asked one of his regional military governors to commission a replica bronze.

But he was disappointed with the result.

Professor John Picton, a British expert who was deputy director of the antiquities department at Lagos museum in the 1970s, said that Gen Gowon telephoned Ekpo Eyo, head of the department, on a Saturday to say that he was coming round that morning to choose a gift for the Queen.
“Dr Eyo hurried to the museum and managed to remove a few of the finest and unique items and put them in the store,” Prof Picton, who now works at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, says in this month’s edition of the Art Newspaper.

“General Gowon soon arrived. He looked around and took one of the bronzes from the display.

“Dr Eyo was horrified because it was quite improper for the state to be raiding the museum. Dr Eyo also realised that it would weaken Nigeria’s position in the debate over the repatriation of the Benin bronzes.”
Prof Picton also said that the gift made a mockery of Nigeria’s export regulations since a licence would never have been granted by the antiquities department for such an important item.

The provenance of the Queen’s gift came to light when an expert from the Art Newspaper recently saw the head displayed in a new exhibition at Buckingham Palace of state gifts given to the Queen during her reign.
Believing that the head was not a copy he called in Prof Picton and Dr Nigel Barley, another expert from the British Museum, with Buckingham Palace’s approval.

Both confirmed it as authentic, dating it to around 1600 and identifying it as a piece that would have stood on an altar in the palace of the Oba (king) of Benin for about 300 years.

By a strange twist, the head was probably in this country before. In 1897, a British Punitive Expedition looted the Oba’s palace and many bronzes found their way back to this country.

In the 1950s, some of the bronzes were returned to help set up the National Museum in Lagos. Nigeria was still a colony and it was the Colonial Office in London that bought bronzes on the open market in this country.
Nigeria is pressing for further bronzes, including some in the British Museum, to be returned. The Art Newspaper says that the case for restitution will be weakened by the discovery of the true nature of the former president’s gift.

Frances Dunkels of the Royal Collection described the head yesterday as “very beautiful” and said that she accepted the experts’ finding.
She said that there were no plans to return it to Lagos and that there had been no overtures from the Nigerian authorities.

She said: “At the time it was presented to us as a modern copy and there was no reason to doubt that. It was a state gift.”

Pressed on whether there was a moral obligation to hand it back, she said: “I don’t think that one can form an opinion.” (The Guardian)

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Ooni Of Ife, Oba Of Benin Crowned By The Igbo – Prof. Osuagwu |The Republican News

 

 

By Prof. Osuagwu

 

There is a more poignant point people can make about Igbo linkage to the autochthonous peoples of what we now call Western Nigeria.

Ironically, it is the Ooni of Ife that is making that point, but people lack the background knowledge to understand.

If Eastern Igbo understand that it is the autochthonous Igbo at Igbomokun, aka Ile-Ife, that must crown Ooni of Ife; as they must crown Oba of Benin and the Ezenri, all this ethnic arguments will take a less hostile and quarrelsome form.

The honest and wise current Ooni has, since he was coronated, been trying to draw attention to this historical and anthropological fact.

The press just report him and it ends there. Just two weeks ago; during the Aje Festival, the Ooni had been quoted as pointing out:

  1. Jews came from Igboland and not the reverse and
  2. There are autochthonous Igbo at Ile-Ife, who are related to the Igbo in Eastern Nigeria.

This Igbo he refers to are in fact those that welcomed Oduduwa when he came from the Benin Kingdom, and who still have to crown the Ooni.

Those Igbo who rejected the cultural and the political ideas of Oduduwa people, from whom Moremi saved them, are still there ruled by Olugbo of Ugbo.

Till today, the Oba of Benin pays rent to the autochthonous people he reigns.

We should get to know who these people are.

We should find out why Ezes from Ikwerre, Ohaoda, etc published advertorials congratulating the ruler of these people to whom Oba Bini had stopped paying rent, but was compelled, by the courts, to resume making payments in a landmark ruling in 2017.

Can a prince of Benin; which the Oba of Lagos is, justifiably talk to Igbo about territorial issues anyhow he likes?

Many of the Yoruba picking quarrel will know that the Igbo are their true cousins.

But ignorance on both sides is a disease.

People should listen to Ooni.

God has endowed the Igbo with almost magical attributes, but only the knowledgeable thrives.

 

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