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Edo & Benin: Letter to Google, Yahoo, World Factbook & Wikipedia
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
2006

 

 

I write with great displeasure about the continuous disregard and inaccuracies about the documentations and references of African cultural accomplishments and history.  I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well.  Unfortunately, this is not the case in many academic institutions, search engines, dictionaries, and even encyclopedias, which should be an accurate place where people come to get most of their information on a daily basis.

When you search for the word “Edo” it is unanimously given to the country of Japan as the former name of Tokyo, which actually was once spelled as Yedo or Yeddo.  Yedo did not enter world history as a name of a place in Japan and did not become the seat of government until 1603.

The original and the oldest “Edo” is the name of an African people from Western African, who created the Great Benin Empire or Kingdom, which went as far as from some parts of eastern Nigeria to areas past Ghana along the coast of West Africa.  The Edo/Benin history dates back to around 1000 AD, which includes our first dynasty - the Ogiso dynasty (there were 35 Ogisos).  A lot of traditional rulers in Eastern Nigeria, Western Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana owe their cultural and social existence to the Edo people of Benin (Benin City, Nigeria).  Today, the original Edo people reside in Edo State of Nigeria and their capital is Benin (Benin City).  Edo is the name of the people while Benin was the name of the land (Empire/Kingdom).  The Edo people or Benin Kingdom has had three dynasties.  Popular academia for some reason choose to recognize and perpetuate our second dynasty as our beginning when our banished prince (Ekaladerhan, who disguised his name as Izoduwa but was later corrupted to Oduduwa), who was supposed to be executed by his father sent his son from Ile-Ife to continue the linage of Kingship he left behind because he was too old to travel back and his father left no other heir to the throne.  This event took place about 1200 AD.  If this is the historical fact, why should Yedo (Edo) of Japan be given more preference in academic and reference archives?  I hope race or economic influence has no place in the proper documentation of historical facts or reference?  I ask because I see no reason why “Yedo”, Japan of 1603 should come before “Edo”, Nigeria of 1000 AD in terms of historical priority and fact when searching for the word “Edo” (http://www.edofolks.com/html/hist.htm ).

 

In fact, European explorers, missionaries, traders, and historians have been documenting the Edo people of Benin City, Nigeria since 1486 (http://www.edofolks.com/html/pub107.htm ), so I do not know where this bias or negligence came from.  Could it be because a people that once ruled an empire that include more than four African countries have now being reduced to a state in Nigeria?  Or is preference given to countries or capital of countries over states?  I want you to know that unlike many European empires like Rome, the Edo of Benin (Nigeria) forbade their subjects to speak their language, which they considered the language of the King.  Instead, each chief in every district of the empire was a relative of the King and was encouraged to marry and learn the language of the conquered peoples.  The job of the Chief was to organize and control the people to pay tax and bring resources to Benin, the capital of the Benin Empire or Kingdom in Nigeria.  So when the capital of the empire finally fell in 1897 to the British, their influence quickly disappeared (http://www.edofolks.com/html/pub65.htm ).

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Another issue that needs to be addressed is the word “Benin”.  When you search for the word “Benin”, it gives all the credit of the ancient Benin Empire or Kingdom to the nation of Benin formerly known as Dahomey.  The country of Benin, which was a former French colony, is very different from Benin of the Edo people, whose capital is still Benin (Benin City, Nigeria).  The country of Benin was a fragment of the Great Benin Empire whose capital and throne was and still is in Benin City, Nigeria.  The country of Benin whose former name was Dahomey until 1975 was conquered by an Edo general called Isidahomen.  This is where the name Dahomey originated from and the name is still bore by people of northern Edo State of Nigeria to this day.  In fact, the government of the country of Benin in the 1970s wanted Nigeria, Togo and Dahomey to come together as one nation to be known as Benin under the banner of African unity and uniting the old empire.  This was the first time in world history that nations attempted to come together without conquest while others where dividing, but Nigeria due to tribal politics refused to accept being called Benin, which was now considered a minor group after Nigerian Independence.  So in 1975, Dahomey went ahead and called itself Benin.

In fact, when the dignitaries of England came to commemorate the 100 years anniversary of the Benin invasion in 1997, they came to Benin City, Nigeria to meet with the current King of Benin and not the Republic of Benin, the Country.  So, the world should know what the authentic Edo and Benin is.  We appreciate the fact that Dahomey has every right to celebrate and call itself Benin because it was genuinely a small part of the Benin Empire or kingdom, but that does not mean it should get the credit of the Edo people who ruled the Benin Empire from Benin City, Nigeria.  The country of Benin’s history began 1872 during the French occupation.  Everything Benin before then should be re-reference, re-written, and re-complied to the credit of Benin City, capital of the Edo people of Nigeria and Benin Empire or kingdom.  Just because England was a former colony of the Roman Empire does not mean that England should get all the credit of the Roman Empire just because it changes its name to Rome, while Rome in Italy still exist till this day.  How do you think the people of Rome will feel if this was the case?  Will you do this to a European nation or their history?  Human history is human history regardless of race, origin, or creed and must be documented with care, respect, and diligence.