By Nehi Igbinijesu.
On the 9th of February 1897, the invasion of the Benin Kingdom began. Popularly referred to by historians as “The Benin Massacre”, the British launched an invasion on Benin in retaliation of the annihilation of a Benin –bound British military expedition led by Lieutenant James Robert Phillips (RN) on the 4th of January 1897.
The British sought to sack the Benin Oba so as to gain control of the Benin River for trade purposes. 1200 British marines, navy men and Niger Coast Protectorate Forces commanded by Rear Admiral Harry Rawson marched on Benin. It took several days of bitter fighting but the kingdom eventually fell. Upon this, the invaders proceeded into an orgy of looting and mass destruction. About 2500 religious artifacts, mnemonics, Benin visual history and artworks were carted away to Europe. It was a massive plunder of colonialism. Many of these articles can still be found at the British Museum in London.
The Oba, Ovoramwen N’ Ogbaisi was exiled to Calabar with his two wives never to return to his throne again.