History and Story of the Oba of Benin, OvonramwenNogbaisi Who Was Exiled to Calabar by the British

Below in this page, Blackhistory.com.ng will explore on another African great king known to have given the British forces a tough time just like the famous Indian ruler and worrier, Tipu Sultan.

In a previous post, we wrote on the Attah of Igala Attah Umeh Oboni and in this page, we will be exploring on yet another Benin king, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi who portrayed bravery and was the last independent ruler in the history of Nigeria, west Africa.

Thus story is a very tough and interesting one, showing and telling the story Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi who ruled the Benin empire and afterwards was dominated by the British forces and later exiled.

For those that don’t know Benin is now the modern day, Edo state, Benin city Nigeria and long before our colonial by the British government, we were ruler by king’s and Oba Ovonramwen was the ruler on Benin in the 1850s and 60s.

Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was born in 1857 to his father, Oba Adolo who was the King of Benin, the oba took the name Ovonramwen meaning The Rising sun at his coronation and he is known as a great king who gave the British problem, not allowing them to control him or his trade.

Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was the cause of Benin retaining it’s Independence until the end of the 19th century and the British doesn’t like the fact that he still exercised a monopoly over trade and maybe was the only king to do that that the time.

Being where he ruled was coveted by an influential group of investors for its rich natural resources such as palm-oil, rubber and ivory and this influential group leads to the invading of British in his territory and was largely independent of British control.

The likes of Vice-Consul James Robert Phillips and Captain Gallwey put pressure and we’re pushing for British annexation of the Benin Empire and the removal of the Oba as the ruler who was at the time hesitant to allow them cooperate heeding that if he and the British were to do business or trade, they will do it as equals.

It is known that Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi never gives up but was later in overthrew by the British invasion force that was headed by Phillips in 1896 or 1897 and as per history, the Benin Expedition was headed with about 1,200 men by Sir Harry Rawson.

The expedition on 1897 dated to be on 9–18 February in Benin City, Benin Empire British was in response to the ambush of a previous British party under Acting Consul General James Phillips, of the Niger Coast Protectorate.

The expedition started and the British troops were said to have been hidden in baggage with the soldiers disguised as bearers and due to ceremonial duties the guards and Messengers of Oba Ovonramwen were unable to see Philips who plan to gain access to the oba’s palace by announcing that he intended to negotiate.

History says that Philips and the British was warned not to violate Benin territorial sovereignty but Philip decided to provide an excuse for British Annexation by sending his stick to oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi.

So that year, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was overthrown and the British won with two people killed for the British but for Benin, many inhabitants of Benin was killed and Harry Rawson burned Benin City and the destruction and looting of the royal palaces.

After the expedition, orders were to kill Ovonramwen Nogbaisi but he escaped the arrest to formally surrender on 5 August 1897 after he returned six months evading capture in the forest.

At the end after he surrendered, he tried to escape exile by offering Consul General Ralph Moor 200 puncheons (barrels) of oil worth £1500 [£183000.00 today].

He also offered to disclose where his 500 ivory tusks were buried however all his offer was dismissed as Consul Mr. Moor who had already discovered them and so Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was exiled to Calabar with his two of his wives, Queen Egbe and Queen Aighobahi.

Later one history says that at around new year in 1914 he died in Calabar and his body was later buried in the grounds of the royal palace in Benin City.

The kingdom of Benin was then ruled by Oba Ovonramwen first son and legitimate heir, Prince Aguobasimwin, who ruled as Eweka II.



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