Having Questions? Leave a comment and we will attend to it. Share this post to your friends on social media by using the share buttons below.

Embark on a captivating expedition through the rich historical journey of the Benin people. Uncover the tapestry of their past, from ancient origins to modern times, and witness the remarkable chapters that have shaped their cultural heritage.

The history of the Benin people is rich and fascinating. The Benin Kingdom was established in the forested region of West Africa in the 1200s C.E. by the Edo people of southern Nigeria. According to tradition, the Edo people became dissatisfied with the rule of a dynasty of semimythical kings, the ogisos, and in the 13th century they invited Prince Oranmiyan of Ife to rule them.

Early History of Benin People

The first oba or king of Benin is regarded as Eweka, the son of Prince Oranmiyan. However, authority remained for many years with a hereditary order of local chiefs. Late in the 13th century, royal power began to assert itself under the oba Ewedo and was firmly established under the most famous oba, Ewuare the Great (reigned c. 1440–80), who was described as a great warrior and magician.

Ewuare established a hereditary succession to the throne and vastly expanded the territory of the Benin Kingdom. By the mid-16th century, it extended from the Niger River delta in the east to what is now Lagos in the west. He also rebuilt the capital (present-day Benin City), endowing it with great walls and moats.

The Oba’s Role

The oba became the supreme political, judicial, economic, and spiritual leader of the Benin people. He and his ancestors eventually became the object of state cults that utilized human sacrifice in their religious observances.

The Oba of Benin is the traditional ruler and the custodian of the culture of the Edo people and all Edoid people. The Kingdom of Benin, which was mostly populated by the Edo (also known as Benin ethnic group), has a long history of powerful Obas who played a significant role in the governance and development of the kingdom.

READ University of Benin, UNIBEN Hostel Accommodation Guide 2023/2024

The Oba performs several important duties within his kingdom. He is a peacemaker and is responsible for settling disputes within his kingdom. Although he doesn’t have legal authority to punish anyone, he usually interprets customary laws and helps offenders acknowledge and learn from their offenses.

Additionally, the Oba has some authority to handle land matters, especially those that concern land owned by indigenes in the south of Edo. The people of Benin also consult their Oba on family conflicts and community feuds, explaining that they trust the Oba because he belongs to the royal family and is not into politics.


Trade with Europeans

The Kingdom of Benin, located in what is now southwest Nigeria, was a major power in West Africa until the late 19th century. When European merchant ships began to visit West Africa from the 15th century onwards, Benin came to control the trade between the inland peoples and the Europeans on the coast. The kingdom of Benin was well known to European traders and merchants during the 16th and 17th centuries, when it became wealthy partly due to trading in slaves.

When Portuguese traders arrived in Benin in the 1400s, they brought brass bracelets, known as manillas, to exchange for pepper, ivory, and slaves. The expansion of the empire enabled the kingdom to start trading with the Europeans, which made the kingdom extremely prosperous. Benin traded goods, including ivory and palm oil. But the kingdom was also responsible for enslaving people from the region and selling them to the Europeans.

READ 4 Major Private Universities in Edo State

The arrival and reception of Benin’s art caused a sensation in Europe. Scholars struggled to understand how African craftsmen could have made such works of art, putting forward some wild theories to explain them. Quickly, however, research showed that the Benin bronzes were entirely West African creations without European influence, and they transformed European understanding of African history.

British Invasion

The British invasion of the Kingdom of Benin, also known as the Benin Expedition of 1897, was a punitive expedition by a British force of 1,200 men under Sir Harry Rawson. The expedition was in response to the ambush of a previous British embassy under Acting Consul General James Phillips, of the Niger Coast Protectorate. Rawson’s troops captured and sacked Benin City, bringing to an end the Kingdom of Benin, which was eventually absorbed into colonial Nigeria.

At the end of the 19th century, the Kingdom of Benin had managed to retain its independence during the Scramble for Africa. The Oba of Benin exercised a monopoly over trade in Benin’s territories, which the Royal Niger Company considered a threat. In 1892, Deputy Commissioner and Vice-Consul Captain Henry Lionel Galway tried to negotiate a trade agreement with Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi to allow for the free passage of goods through his territory and the development of the palm oil industry.

On February 9th, 1897, the invasion of the Kingdom of Benin began. The British invasion force was organized into three columns: the ‘Sapoba’, ‘Gwato’, and ‘Main’ columns. The operation was named the Benin Punitive Expedition. The British forces captured and sacked Benin City, bringing to an end the Kingdom of Benin.

READ Major Differences Between Doctors and Nurses

The invasion completely devastated the established and thriving civilization of the Benin people. The looted artifacts were shipped off to Europe where they were sold to offset the cost of the invasion while some others were deposited in the British museum in London.

In conclusion, the British invasion of Benin in 1897 marked a significant event in the history of Benin people. It brought an end to their kingdom and led to their incorporation into colonial Nigeria. The invasion also resulted in the loss of many valuable artifacts that were looted by British forces and sold in Europe


The history of Benin people is a fascinating subject that spans centuries and encompasses a rich tapestry of events, people, and culture. From its early beginnings as a small kingdom ruled by local chiefs to its expansion under powerful obas such as Ewuare the Great to its eventual incorporation into Nigeria as an independent country, Benin has played an important role in West African history.


Quickest way to immigrate to Canada as an Accommodation Manager 2023/2024

The 6 Most Important Successful Student Habits


Having Questions? Leave a comment and we will attend to it. Share this post to your friends on social media by using the share buttons below.
Chief Editor

Hello readers, you are welcome to your info connect. My name is Emmanuel, I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer, a blogger, and Digital Marketer. I share educational and career information and content to enable viewers who are aiming for success to attain it in their various fields. I hope you enjoy your tour here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *