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History: Why the Benin kingdom fell in 1897.

In the pre colonial period, the Benin empire is undoubtedly one of the most powerful empires that flourished in Africa, it flourished from the 13th century and ended in the 19th century after meeting a devastating end in what was known as the sack of the Benin empire by the British empire. The Benin empire had for years resisted British domination. As the economy of Benin continued to deteriorate at the end of the 19th century, the Benin empire was not willing to fall into the hands of the British government.


They knew that the goal of the British government was to conquer and dominate their empire but they weren't willing to risk it, although they had already developed a cordial relationship with the British empire. The British colonial masters had for years used many approaches to make the Benin empire to surrender to them but every approach failed. The King of Benin empire at that time whose name was Oba Ovonramwen had earlier been warned by many powerful chiefs that the British government was planning an attack which would bring the fall of the empire. The Oba wasn't willing to take any chances so he he made a declaration, he banned British men from stepping foot into the lands of Benin and that if any white man steps his leg into Benin, that white man shall be killed without hesitation. 


As a result of the declaration, the British government found it hard to come into the Benin empire. A British consul whose name was James Philips was willing to go against the Benin empire so he asked for permission from the British government to attack the Benin empire and subdue them but his request was denied. He was so determined that he had to launch an attack without the notice of the British government. When he landed in Benin, Oba Ovonramwen was already warned that James Philips had plans of conquering the empire so he was prepared. James Philips upon his arrival to Benin empire told the Oba that he came to pay a visit to establish a much more stronger economic relationship with him and also look for ways in which they would develop a cordial relationship, the Oba knew he was lying so he ordered his men to kill James Philips and his Soldiers so a war broke out but the Oba won the war against James Philips, Consul James Philips was later killed. 


Sir Harry Rawson who was also a British consul heard of the death of his fellow consul and this made him angry that his friend was killed by the Benin empire, in an attempt to avenge the death of Consul James Philips, Harry Rawson launched an expedition of the Benin empire, he brought over 1,200 soldiers with him. The war between Benin empire and British empire took place in the year 1897, this war led to the fall of Benin empire, after the empire was sacked, the British soldiers began to loot all the artifacts which they found in the kingdom and they exported it to their country. 


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