Foreword

Earlier historical narratives have played their part in celebrating the proud history of the Benin Kingdom.

The Benin Monarchy: An Anthology of Benin History, while building on those narratives, brings together the manifold intersecting worlds of our finest traditions, history and modernity to create for the reader a chronicle that illustrates all the features, personalities and dynamics that have framed our monarchy—and a kingdom as fascinating and intriguing as ours among the whole community of humanity.

With the authority vested in me by Almighty God and our ancestors, I granted approval to the publishers to convene historians, anthropologists and essayists to put the history of our kingdom in perspective as we, the most intimately concerned participants in this epic, can tell it, in its truest details.

Considering this perspective and the scale of the treasure that the reader will find here, it is with assured pride that we can say that this book is unique among all current publications on the Benin kingdom.

As we present this anthology to the world, we are persuaded that the contribution of our people and recognition for our noble civilisation will go far beyond mere reminiscences of the many distinctions which we have become famous for. It is our hope that this book, as it reveals a veritable trove of images, documents and artworks, many of which are dispersed in collections around the globe, will contribute to our initiative in encouraging the world to see these iconic artworks restored to their original contexts.

The reader will find in this narrative an authoritative guide to the provenance and workings of our iconic and renowned guilds, who have set artistic standards for modern organisational models and best practices that the creative industries of today still emulate as benchmarks for craftsmanship in bronze work, jewellery and other objets d’art sought after all over the world. These feats of creativity have endured to present great touristic value for

Benin as the bronze casting districts of our kingdom and the Benin moats still arouse wonder for their artistic and engineering dexterity, respectively.

The Benin heritage is here to stay; for if history is a collection of daily experiences, the predestined mainstay that powers our monarchy against the vicissitudes so copiously documented in this anthology bears testament that the sun will never set on a civilisation characterised by the determination of its people to affirm their heritage and demonstrate their unique endowments to human civilisation as it inexorably moves onwards.

The chapters in this anthology will reveal how our kingdom has lived this story of leadership and, despite all odds, flourished—thanks to the culture, structures and way of life that have seen our monarchy and people take the pride of place that the world has come to acknowledge.

This book is a contribution to this ongoing historical narrative. As such, if any gaps or errors are noted, we urge that such observations be brought to the attention of the publishers to enable further research and possible corrections which will perhaps form the basis for the second edition of this wonderful work on Benin history.

We commend the vision of the Executive Producer, Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo, and the expert skill of the Red Book Reloaded project management team in delivering this masterpiece.

We are proud to continue to uphold our heritage. A journey through the pages before you will reveal why.

Té ùwà ghá mié àfíangbè Óghósànóghòdùà kèvbè èníkàrò. Isẹẹ.

His Royal Majesty,
Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akoplokpolo, Ewuare II,
Oba of Benin