The Benin Kingdom is a very famous one in the history of Nigeria. Nobody reads Nigerian history without being told of the great and almighty Benin kingdom. Nobody can doubt the fact that the Benin kingdom is a great kingdom indeed in the past of Nigeria.
Judging from the colonial historians’ excessive documentation of the greatness of the Benin kingdom one may easily conclude that the Benin kingdom might have as well been the greatest kingdom or empire ever witnessed by ancient Nigeria. And, as a matter of fact, the greatness of the Benin kingdom was practically unraveled in the whole of Southern Nigeria just on the eve of the arrival of the White man.
But, there is a little problem here, the ancient people of Benin kingdom kept on telling every one who cared to listen that they are a Nupe people through and though. Yes, and as we shall document in a following paragraph, the people of Benin were still telling the world that they are a Nupe people as recent as the 1830s!
The Benin kingdom was a Nupe kingdom through and through. The Nupe people were known as the Bini people as recent as the time of the Lander brothers in the 1830s and it is this Bini, the ancient national name of the Nupe Nation, that the White people came and transcribed as ‘Benin’.
As a matter of fact the Benin kingdom was a Bini Nupe kingdom right unto the second half of the nineteenth century and it was the Fulani Jihadists’ despoiling of the true history of the Bini Nupe people that led to the effacing of the actual relationship between the Bini Nupe people and the people of the Benin kingdom. Because the Fulani Jihadists couldn’t Islamize the Benin kingdom which was located far to the South inside the tse-tse fly zone, the Fulani Jihadists’ historians simply cut off the Benin kingdom from its motherland Central KinNupe.
But people like Professor Alan Ryder have worked on and reconstructed that former relationship between the ancient Bini Nupe people and the Bini people of the Benin kingdom.
What Professor Ryder, and others, discovered is that the Benin kingdom was merely a ‘fugitive’ Bini Nupe kingdom which was originally located in Central KinNupe but which ‘migrated’ out of KinNupe over the time due to various historical factors the least of which was not the rise of the Nupeko or Kororofa Nupe empire of Tsudi (Tsoede) in earlier times.
Tsudi was born around the year 1230 and upon his death around the year 1310 he had founded and established Nupeko, otherwise known as Kororofa, into the greatest empire ever seen in West Africa. Professor S.F. Nadel maintained that Tsudi actually took over from the Bini Confederacy, that is, Tsudi dismantled the Bini Confederacy and its stead he established Nupeko or Kororofa. It was this Nupeko, Kororofa, that eventually chased the Bini Nupe people and their Bini kingdom out of Central KinNupe.
When the Kororofa or Nupeko empire of Tsudi became the singular superpower in Central KinNupe it simply pushed and chased out all other ancient empires that predated it in exercising absolute sovereignty over ancient KinNupe – and this, of course, included the predecessing Bini empire.
As we have said before Professor S.F. Nadel actually talked of a Bini empire, he called it ‘The Bini Confederacy’ (Professor Akinjogbin’s ‘Ebi Confederacy’), which reigned supreme before the time of Tsudi. In fact Professor Nadel said that it was this Bini empire or the Bini Confederacy that Tsudi came to oust from power by establishing his own Nupeko or Kororofa super empire.
In any case Tsudi came about with his Kororofa or Nupeko empire which replaced the erstwhile Bini empire as the ultimate power in Central KinNupe. Kororofa or Nupeko also gradually pushed the Bini empire, then reduced to a kingdom, out of Central KinNupe.
The oust from power and the gradual migration of the Bini empire or Bini Confederacy out of Central KinNupe by the Kororofa or Nupeko empire of Tsudi wasn’t a simple or straightforward affair however. What actually happened was that the erstwhile Bini empire or Bini Confederacy was decapitated by the new and emergent Kororofa Nupeko empire of Tsudi.
The decapitated Bini Confederacy then shattered into its colonial and vassal kingdoms and states some of which simply went extinct while many others were simply conquered and assimilated into the new and fast expanding Kororofa Nupeko empire of Tsudi.
While the smaller smithereens went into extinction or were absorbed into the new Kororofa Nupeko empire, the larger and major remnants of the decapitated Bini empire became daughter Bini kingdoms which remained intact but smaller and were gradually pushed out of Central KinNupe. That was how we came about daughter Bini Nupe kingdoms including the ones that are known to us today as the Benin kingdm, Oyo kingdom, Kebbi kingdom, etc, etc. All these were originally remnants of the almighty Bini Nupe empire of old.
The Benin kingdom that we see in Southeastern Nigeria today was originally located right here on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe. Its very name Benin, a colonial transcription of Bini, bespeaks the fact that it was formerly a Nupe kingdom through and through, that is, considering the fact that Bini is a national name of the Nupe people to this very day.
As a matter of fact the very language we refer to as Nupe today was initially known and referred to as Bini. Yes, the form of Nupe language we speak in the Bida, Agaie, Lapai, Mokwa, Kataeregi, Patigi, Lafiagi, Tsaragi, Tsonga, Eggan, etc, etc, today was originally and initially known as ‘Bini’ and this Bini was just a subtribe of the overall Nupe Nation just as are Kakanda, Dibo, Kupa, Gupa and others. And it is this Bini, the national name of the Nupe Nation in former times, that is still the name of the Benin to this very day.
In fact, and as late as the end of the first half of the 19th century the people of the Benin kingdom and the people of Central KinNupe speak the same language, that is the Bini language. If anything at all the Bini language of the Edo people in today’s Benin kingdom or Edo State may be the largest repository of remnants of the pristine and purest form of the Bini, wrongly called ‘Nupe’, language that we speak as Nupe in Central KinNupe today.
In any case, when the Kororofa Nupeko empire of Tsudi came and decapitated the former Bini empire or Bini Confederacy into daughter kingdoms one of the major sections of that old Bini empire that survived intact was the one we see today as the Benin kingdom. It simply migrated out of Central KinNupe and gradually moved southwards until t eventually settled down were we see it to this vey day as the Benin city in Edo State, on the tip of Southeastern Nigeria.
But even then, and long after even the Kororofa Nupeko empire of Tsudi was gone, the Bini or Benin kingdom remained in touch and was merely an extension of the Bini Nupe overlords back here in Central KinNupe. European documentaries, among which we shall dwell on those of the Portuguese sailor Jao Afonso d’Aviero and the British explorer Captain Hugh Clapperton, here, abound in substantiation of the fact that the Benin kingdom, of today’s Edo State, was, until the advent of the Colonial Government, a Nupe kingdom through and through.
In 1486 a Portuguese sailor and slave trader by the name Joao Afonso de Aveiro arrive the Benin Kingdom. He came as a direct ambassador of the King of Portugal and he was under instructions to look for the famous kingdom of Prester John, the legendary White Man who was said to have established a superpower Christian kingdom on the banks of the River in Central KinNupe.
First, d’Aveiro was shocked and flabbergasted by the level of civilisation and sophistication of the Benin people. Benin city was, for instance more clean and better planned as a town than both Lisbon and London in those days. Then, more shocking, was the fact that the architectural layout and design of Benin city was comparably superior to that of most European towns and cities in those days.
D’Aveirro discovered that the people of West Africa were as civilised and cultured as the people of Europe. In fact the people of Benin city might be said to be more civilised and cultured than the people of Europe in those days. As a matter of fact, and but for their invention of the firearms by the Europeans, the Europeans couldn’t have been able to conquer Benin kingdom or any other ancient Nigerian kingdom.
That, however, is a discussion for another day.
D’Aviero, in keeping with his orders, asked the king of Benin about any almighty emperor with a superpower kingdom to the interior of ancient Nigeria in those days. The king of Benin replied that the Benin Kingdom is indeed vassal and subject to an almighty emperor called the Ogane whose kingdom is located to the north of Benin somewhere around the general area we call KinNupe today.
The Ogane was a Nupe man and his superpower kingdom was located on the banks of the River Niger right here in Central KinNupe.
The name ‘Ogane’ is the same that the Nupe people pronounce as ‘Gani’ or ‘Eginu’ or ‘Gunnu’ and it is the name of the Almighty God among a Nupe people in ancient times. To this very day the God Almighty is still referred to as ‘Eginu’ by some Nupe people. This Eginu is the same that is pronounced as Oghinu or Oghene among some other Nigerian people. He was known as Gion among the Jukun.
But according to the ancient Trinity cult of the Nupe people of former times, the God, the Sun and the King are all assumed to be one and the same in essence and are therefore identified with the same name. so, in those ancient days, the Nupe people referred to God, the Sun and the King all with the same name, namely, Gani, Eginu, Gunnu or, as the Portuguese transcribed it, Ogane.
And the Cult of Gani is still celebrated as a festival in the Nupe town of Kutigi to this very day. The Kuti and Ndakogboya masquerades make their merry-displays during the Gani festivals. Gani, a variant of Eginu or Ogane, is the name of God Almighty. And the Gani was actually practised in several parts of KinNupe – and even among the Gbagyi, Kammuku, Kambari, Baushi and others – in former times before the advent of Islam in KinNupe.
Gunnu, also a variant of Eginu or Ogane, was also the name of God Almighty among the Nupe people in ancient times. Today it is mostly associated with Gunnuba and Igunnuko. Gunnuba is the Nupe word for shrine. And Igunnuko is the name of a masquerade secret cult lodge that is still widely practised here in KinNupe.
The Ogane, Eginu or Gani had his headquarters in a part of Central KinNupe known in those days as Agarani, Agani, Aganye, or, as we call it today, Agaie….
….Now, back to our main discussions.
The king of Benin told Joao Afonso de Aveiro that Benin is completely under the sovereignty of this Ogane or Gani Nupe emperor and that the people of Benin will not recognise their new king until the new king is able to obtain the regalia of kingship from the Ogane in far away Central KinNupe. These kingship regalia famously include the Maltese Cross.
Interestingly enough bronze figurines from both KinNupe and Benin have been discovered that depict the Ogane messengers wearing the Maltese Cross and bearing the Nupe scarification marks on their faces. Professor Alan Ryder discussed this in some details.
The main point here is that the king of Benin did not tell d’Aveirro that Benin is subjected to Ile Ife or that the Ogane was a Yoruba man.
But Yoruba propagandists are wont to spread the lie today that Benin originated from Yoruba – that Benin kingdom was founded by Oranyan who was one of the children of Oduduwa.
Professor Alan Ryder and others pointed out the fact that there was never any association of the Benin people with the Yoruba people in the form of the former being founded by the latter and that there is no any documentary evidence of a relationship between Ile Ife and Benin city in earlier times prior to the conquest of the Benin kingdom by the British in 1897.
Professor Alan Ryder made it clear that the claim today that Benin was founded by a prince from Ile Ife is simply a pure lie propagated by the British colonialists in order to facilitate their colonial machinations in southern Nigeria!
Archaeological and scientific investigations have conclusively proven that while Benin city was already a flourishing city and kingdom before the fifteenth century, the foundations of the modern city of Ile Ife were not laid until well after the sixteenth century. This fact, in itself, is enough to utterly refute every illiterate claim that Benin was founded or established by people from the modern city of Ile Ife.
Yet the Yoruba noise-makers want us today to believe in the lies they invented to the effect that the Benin kingdom was founded by a Yoruba prince from Ile Ife. If the Benin Kingdom was founded by a prince from Ile Ife then that must have happened with Original Ile Ife which was located on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe and not by the modern city of Ile Ife which is the sixteenth Ile Ife from the Original Ile Ife of KinNupe.
But that is another discussion for another day.
If anything at all it was the modern city of Ile Ife that was founded by the people of Benin kingdom and not the other way round. In fact Professor Alan Ryder poined out that there is accumulating documentary evidence to the effect that the Benin kingdom, which was a Nupe kingdom until recent times, played a major role in the establishment of some of the Yoruba settlements.
Benin kingdom was a Nupe kingdom until very recent times. As late as the 1820s the people of Benin and the Nupe people were still one and the same people. In other words the people of Benin city were still a Nupe people speaking a Nupe language as recent as the first half of the nineteenth century. That was what Captain Hugh Clapperton discovered in the 1820s.
Captain Hugh Clapperton wrote that as he travelled from the south to the north of ancient Nigeria in the 1820s he was continuously confused by the term ‘Bini’ which was synonymously used to refer to the Nupe people in KinNupe and the Edo-Benin people in Benin kingdom. This problem was only resolved when Captain Clapperton was told by the Benin people themselves that the people of Benin and Nupe are one and the same people and that the kings of Benin pay tribute to the Nupe emperors because the Benin-Edo people originated from Nupe.
In his ‘Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the Years 1822–1823, and 1824’ journals Captain Hugh Clapperton categorically wrote, and I quote him verbatim, that, the was told by the people of Benin kingdom that the people of “[Kin]Nupe and those of Benin were the same people; that Benin paid tribute to Nupe.”
Note the fact that in 1486 d’Aveiro was told by the king of Benin that the people of Benin and Nupe are one and the same and that Benin paid tribute to the Nupe emperors. And then, over three hundred years later in the 1820s, another European, in the person of Captain Hugh Clapperton, was told the same thing by the same people of Benin themselves, that the Nupe and the Benin people are one and the same and that the kings of Benin pay tribute to the Nupe emperors.
Over three hundred years apart and the people of Benin city were themselves telling anybody who cares to listen, including European explorers, that, “Nupe and those of Benin were the same people; that Benin paid tribute to Nupe.”!