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   History they say can be put into writings or written words. We find them in myths, songs and dances, even in poems. History itself is a whole level. It tells us stories of the past, and also helps us understand events of the past. 

   Here in Africa, we tell our history in the form of music, dance, myths, and even arts. This is the way in the kingdom of Benin. Located in the Sub-Saharan region of West Africa, in the forested region of Edo state, Nigeria. She told her history orally [through songs and myths] , in the form of dancing and also through her infamous sculptures. These stories were told and passed down from generation to generation. 

   Though not many people know this, there are so many histories, or stories rather behind the Benin artifacts. The fact that many don’t know majority of the stories still poses a problem in the history of Benin. Except for a few artifacts whose stories are known, the others which amount to over six thousand are not known. 

   The origin of the Benin kingdom cannot be talked about without mentioning  her ” advanced artistic culture especially in its renowned artifacts of Bronze, Iron and Ivory” (osarumwense, 2013,P2). The Binis are known for their beautiful artifacts around the world as a result of the British expedition of 1897. The guild of Bronze casters was formed by Oba Oguola in the year 1280 AD, and they are still found today at Igun Street, Benin City, Nigeria. 

    One notable artifact with a story behind it, is that of the famed sculpted head of Queen Idia, as you can see below. 

16th century Queen mother mask from Benin kingdom at the Metropolitan museum of art, New York. (source :Google arts and culture)

This beautiful artwork is the  face of Queen Idia, with the two marks on her forehead, known among the Benin people as “Iwu ” [a form of body marking and means of identity of the Benin people during the period of slave trade. It prevented the Binis from been sold to slavery] . Those carvings on top are symbolic. They represent the Portuguese soldiers that fought alongside  her and her son, Oba Esigie ,during the Benin-Idah war that was fought from the year 1515 to 1516. Yes, the Benin people won the war. This was made in reminder of her and the war that changed Benin’s history. There are originally four of these that were stolen during the British expedition of 1897 , and they are found at museums in London, New York, Liverpool and Berlin.

    Most of these sculptures weren’t just made for making sake, they were made to tell our histories. Unfortunately, not many of them are known because many aren’t with us and many aren’t taken care of properly. Sad, but true, this is the case of Benin history. Many stories have not been heard, many are long lost, we need to retell our stories because there’s still hope. 

   There’s still hope to tell those stories behind the artifacts, there’s still hope to spread the stories and pass our history down to generations. Oba gha To’kpere, Ise!.


What do you think when studying History…

What thought comes to your mind when you study history?

I know not many of us have read the book “Homegoing” by Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi. The setting of this book cuts across 300 years from 18th century Ghana and the end of British colonialism there to contemporary America.

While reading through, so many thoughts came to my mind and it is based on the theme of the book, themes such as heritage and identity, racism, slavery, systemic oppression, gender stereotypes, sexism and violence. Now back to the quote, when studying history we must always ask ourselves whose story are we missing (oppression), and whose voice was suppressed(gender stereotypes, violence, slavery, racism, sexism) so that this voice could be heard ( heritage and identify). Once we figure these things out, we must find that story too ( research).

We must find these voices because they’ve been shut down for too long due to systemic oppression, violence, racism, and slavery. They need to be heard, they want to be heard, so we must find that story and tell it, without fear.

Do you know?

The picture above is that of an Igbo woman in the early 20th century wearing ankle plates.

In the early 20th-century ankle plates were a main part of the female costume in the Igbo society. The women were made to wear them as part of their main costume, but the reason for this is going to be in my next post. These ankle plates were made in Birmingham and then transported to the Eastern part of Nigeria. I know you might be wondering how they wear this or the kind of scar they’d have, well before they put on the ankle plate they first wrap their ankles with a cloth before wearing the ankle plates. The main purpose for this? Some might call it slavery, women’s fashion, women’s abuse etc. Do you know what I call it? Keep your notification on for my next post.



Hi, my name is Precious but you can call me Precy. Be alert, because this blog would be on African history, interesting history that would not only entertain you but also make you wonder about some things in history. This post would be ranging from women in African history, cultures, belief systems and traditions to dark histories and by dark, I mean sad stories in African history. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy this ride with me.