In Benin City, the Edo State capital in Nigeria, you would notice a particular statue of a man standing tall round the city centre with a bow and arrow and dead soldiers beneath him. Many have wondered who is the man and why that statue was erected in his honor. The purpose of this article is to bring to light who this brave man is.
He is no other than General Asoro of Benin Kingdom. He is one of the most historical figures in Benin history. He was a Benin warlord, who lead other members of the Benin royal army in resisting the British invaders from entering Benin city during what is new termed "invasion 1897".
Bronze sculpture of General Asoro
According to Benin Legend, Asoro held his ground on Ring Road, where he was reported to have said the now famous statement "So Kpon Oba" which translates to mean "no other person dare pass this road except the Oba", a word which was later corrupted to "SAKPONBA", the name of a well-known road in Benin. During the Benin Invasion of 1897 which lasted for many days, it reported that General Asoro ably defended the spot almost singlehandedly where his statue now stands. He fought with poisoned arrows and bows and was fortified by magic which made him not to fall to the guns of the British army but instead and dealt fatal shots to the British army with his poisoned arrows.
On how he died, legend has it that the only condition he had to obey to in order to stay alive, was that he should never look back over his shoulder. After fighting for several days, his quiver of arrows that hung from his shoulder was mysteriously snatched away. He looked right and left but could not find it. With pressure mounting on him to locate his arrows. he then looked back on his shoulder and saw "Ofoe" which in Benin means, "the messenger of death" and died at the spot where his statue now stands in Benin.
To celebrate his bravery and ultimate sacrifice in preserving the Benin empire, a statue of him now stands at what is now known Oba Ovonramwen Square, at the beginning of Sakponba Road, Benin City.
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