You may wish to read this early European characterization of the people of Benin City. The Dutch geographer Dapper wrote of the people of Benin as follows:
“The king every year ‘goes twice out of his court and visits the town, at which times he shows all his power and magnificence and all the bravery he can, and then is conveyed and accompanied by all his wives which are about 600 in number, but they are not all his wedded wives.”
“These negroes are much more civilized than others on this coast. They are people who have good laws and a well-organized police; who live on good terms with the Dutch and other foreigners who come to trade among them, and showed them a thousand marks of friendship.Deceiving and drunkenness are not their principal faults but rather lechery.”
Dapper, Description of Africa, Amsterdam 1686 quoted in Schwartz (1968) Nigeria. London: Praeger Publishers page 67.
Prince Eweka, There is a problem. The problem is prostitution. Not just prostitution but the selling of our young girls into international prostitution by people who should be protecting them. Ascribing the origins of the prostitution in Edoland to another ethnic group is a cop out. Most societies in Nigeria were not monetized and could therefore not have a word describing “sex-for-money”. But they had words for promiscuity, for women who slept around.
It is possible that there were prostitutes from Nsukka. I am sure that coal mining activities must be one of the explanations for the emergence of sex-for-money in that part of the world.
There is no profit in relapsing into a defensive crouch. Rather, what we should do is to call attention to this scourge and campaign for policies to stem the trade in flesh.
You know very well that I seldom respond to mails which misses the essential point in my original postings. You missed the point and I thought over it before attempting to respond to you. I never said that women or men do not sleep around. I gave a name. I called them FLIRTS. Did you really read my posting thoroughly or you are just pulling my legs again as I tried to run back to my shelf?
Thanks for the quote from the Dutch geographer Dapper. But I hope you are not alluding to the last line of the quote:- ” but they are not all his wedded wives? ” If that is what you are alluding to, well, I have this to say: ” Ehen OKN, you have a problem. You need to study a little bit of Edo culture with specific reference to how the Obas of Benin get married to so many women.” No free 100 course on Edo culture this time Okn.
Besides I can still remember that you were bestowed Edo citizenship a long time ago by me. You were close to being made achief . Do you want me to cross out your name? Do not forget that you can become the Iyase of Benin someday if you behave well. Bolaji Aluko is still in the running INSPITE OF IT ALL. He is an Edo man no matter how hard he runs away from it.. There is no way that I too can also deny my own YORUBA HERITAGE. Even a rat has two families-the father and the mother.
Here is the point I tried to make. The Dutch thought Bini people were lecherous. I reproduce the quote:
“These negroes are much more civilized than others on this coast. They are people who have good laws and a well-organized police; wholive on good terms with the Dutch and other foreigners who come to trade among them, and showed them a thousand marks of friendship.Deceiving and drunkenness are not their principal faults but rather lechery.”
The dictionary explains lechery as “unrestrained and promiscuous sexuality.” The Dutch described the Edo as lecherous.
I do not believe that you are not uncomfortable with such a characterization of the Edo. If that is so, you should not make the assertion that the presence of women alledgedly from Nsukka explains the monetization of sexual intercourse in Edo land. By the way, whatis the Edo attitude towards sex? A recreational activity? A sacred activity? A solely procreative activity? What is the Edo attitude towards a woman’s body? As a temple? An object of play and fun and enjoyment? It is by asking and answering some of these uncomfortable questions that we can begin to seriously tackle the social problem of prostitution.
From me to you,
What the whiteman described as lechery was nothing but POLIGAMY. OKN, you are smart enough to have known that the Edos are a polyginous ( poligamous) society. The Oba had over 600 wives and some were not his ” wedded wives.” Your friend saw a train of women and he was told they were the Oba’s wives. But he did not tell you, how the Oba came to be marrying about 600 wives or why those who were not his ” wedded wives” got there . When you know how the Obas of Benin got wives then and now, then you would have discovered that your friend used a wrong term to describe what he saw in Benin hundreds of years ago.. It seems you need some clarification or lessons about Edos way of life. Dapper’s 600 wives/poligamy and lechery are joined at the hip. Dapper was using his Judeo/christian values of Europe of his day, to describe what he saw in Benin-POLIGAMY. I will oblige you this time only.
When an Oba of Benin is on the move, the royal court is on the move. As he moves from one community to another, gifts of various kinds including human beings are given to him as pages or slaves ( when slavery was practiced ) These of course included women. Parents give out their daughters as a would-be wife to the king. These women are handed over to the chiefs who are incharge of the Oba’ s harem. The train of human beings grows larger and larger as the Oba moves around. These chiefs actually go out on a recruiting drive to procure wives for the Obas of Benin since the Obas do not leave the palace grounds.
Many of these women never go to bed with the King or even see his bed chamber until he passes to great beyond. Many of these women, the Obas may never see face to face are put in POOL, to be given out as wives to loyal chiefs, loyal palace servants, military generals, princes and newly installed ENIGIES/OBIS/OVIES. To make sure that these women were not defiled, EUNUCHS were placed in charge of this pool of women. How on earth could the Oba so described have had sexual relationship with all these ” 600 wives “? According to the British, Oba Ovonramwen had about 80 wives when Benin City fell in 1897. Tell the whiteman to keep counting.
OKN, you owe me a lot of money for this course 101 on Edo culture and Tradtition. I can understand your problem about Dapper’s quote, since you grew up in the Eastern part of Nigeria, which had no tradition of kingship. That is why I want you back to Benin City as a chief. That is the only way you will understand why the Edos do things the way they do it.
Ademola Iyi Eweka.