Bini (Benin): A distressed living museum

The Bini moat built to protect the kingdom around 1280 AD, again speaks volume as the face of the most distressed heritage in the world.

Frank Meke

What you are about to read here is an appreciation of a people, a nation state to the evolution of Nigeria arts, history, culture and military might. It is not a testament of any professional study but an awesome respect to a history forgotten, a people whose leaders and followers are at cross road on how to push for an authoritative position on whom they are and their contribution to national and global history. However, I stand to be corrected that Bini history, particularly it intellectual and artistic contribution remains far more enduring than its famed contemporaries such as the Chinese and the famous Roman Empire.

READ ALSO: Edo to reintroduce Bini history in schools

Perhaps, yes, perhaps if the Binis had truly appreciated the leadership and political might of their Obas; and held on to the famed authority to which they wielded in the annals of world history, and had taken to the battle of knowledge, the superiority of their chronicled military might, discoveries in herbal medicine, rich cuisines, and a ‘telling culture with multi influence across board, the distress witnessed on this heritage will never happen.

How much do I know about the ruling houses of the Bini, each with its palace, how much can anyone know about a heritage ravaged by scavenging and marauding European colonial army, how much can even the average Bini person know about the history, the very proud and powerful founding Obas and their warriors?

Do you know that what is known as Central Bank has existed and was in use by the Bini Obas as early as 1898, that the Bini native church known as Holy Auroso was built in 15th century and still standing?, what of the true story of Sokpomba, a road which no one passes except the Oba?

Have the Binis truly recapped and told the story of General Asoro (1877), a Bini warlord who made a mess of the British army and prevented their infiltration into the palace ground? How much do we all know and could learn from the location and architectural masterpiece evident at the king square, passed off often as simplistic and pedestrian ring road, however the heart and bowel of Bini power and might in democratic governance, a history never truly told? Maybe, just maybe the URHOPOTA – the melting pot for democratic expression and freedom ‘square’ for the Bini individual to express undiluted vent on how he is ruled and governed could help us make sense of out of this distressed bowel of Bini heritage.

READ ALSO: Respect Bini tradition, Omo-Ojo urges Oshiomhole

Built around 1906, the ravaging European expedition force met the Bini sitting in public place (URHOPOTA) to discuss their culture and openly coronate their Obas. Don’t ask me of the very touching contributions of the Bini women, their queens to survival of the kingdom.

Every king or Oba of Bini at their time and reign had a story to tell about their wives and queen, mothers inclusive some who laid down their lives not just for their Obas’ to reign in peace but also keep Bini kingdom together. From Oba Ewuare, Ewakpe, Akenzua and many others, many interesting stories abound beyond movie or cinematic expression and its attendant entertainment content – yet a platform for recreating the proud Bini history for generation yet unborn.

The Bini moat, a yet to be fully explained and positioned military architectural wonder, built to protect the kingdom around 1280 AD, again speaks volume as the face of the most distressed heritage in the world. It is now a storyline buried under drainage and storm water holes.

To wait on UNESCO and the Europeans to once again keep the rich Bini history in view beats the imagination. The Chinese and their walls, their history did not wait for foreign help to tell their story and to which we all scramble and sweat to visit. A day is not enough to tell the true story of the Bini kingdom, not even a week visit but what must we do now that we have rediscovered Bini; is to join hands together to put back the rich Bini culture into the hearts of mankind.

That Bini heritage is distressed is the fault of all, therefore we must not again allow Europeans to invade and plunder the richest kingdom on the face of the earth for a second time, not in our time even though the Bini wealth is still held captive in foreign lands. Bini history and culture is no fable and must not brook controversy. It is however your right not to agree with me.

READ ALSO: Edo Govt. plans tourism master plan on cultural heritage — Commissioner

The post Bini (Benin): A distressed living museum appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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