Friday, June 1, 2007

Blair's African visit and the issues surrounding those Initiatives

It is very trite the way that the outgoing British Prime Minister is calling for the fullfillment of aid pledges to African nations. Much as it is in line with his initiative proposed at the G8 summit in 2005, it is somewhat contradictory reality that we experience.

The Edo nation and other such peoples of Africa over the centuries were strangers to poverty and want. Somehow, in a bid to civilise Africa according to her whim, Britain and the rest of Europe has foisted on Africa the upheavels, humanitys suffering and anguish and dissatisfaction and violence and thus more poverty arising from misrule (which method infact has been borrowed from the west).

Tony Blair should begin to champion the cause for a righting of the wrongs done and an all encompassing, just and thorough treatment of the issue be undertaken. One of the first among a list of sincere actions by any initiative should be to seek to adhere sincerely to prior treaties and agreements reached at meetings between these European countries.

The return of artefacts carted away from thriving and living cultures should become a priority as the presence of these artefacts would serve in no small way to improve the wellbeing of the people by employing varied ways of maximising their cultural, academic, spiritual, economic and political value as well as their legacy as a heritage.

No better place to commence this redress than the place which called Benin in Edo State, Nigeria.

This action would in no small way have a resounding impact on the developement of the area of Benin, this would have an effect all over the Niger delta region of Nigeria, creating stability for the superstructure of the country. The tourism and commerce potentials are immensely enormous and her millions of peoples yearn for something to complete them and satisfy them.

It is worthy of note that the Edos are among those regarded as peaceful and non aggressive among the many peoples of Nigeria who is viewed as a stabilising force in all of Africa. They however have the most cause to be a thorn in the flesh of not only the Nigerian psyche like her neighbours in the delta, but also to the entire globe, the risk is tempting, but the people are reasonable enough to be realistic.

Any initiative should consider the possibilities and probabilities and proceed to provide the neccessities, the opportunities would present themselves. Having held the position of the political head of the Britain that took away Benin's artefacts so many years ago, he might just be within the fringes of history's heroes if his Initiative is agreed and acted upon by the participants of G8 Summit in Heiligendamm in a few day's time. Nice to know also that a Germany who would soon be assuming leadership of the body is in support of this initiative.

The Edo nation applauds Angela Merkel, the Chancellor in Germany. It is hoped that these words would not turn out to be rhetorics as most are wont to be. The call for a timetable for the return of these relics would commence and we would see a great wrong by one people on another righted in our lifetime.

Ill intentions

These were the events that transpired prior to the invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897. From the text of the following , it is obvious that there were already ulterior motives governing the minds of the officers involved.

Ralph Moor, the Consul General of the Niger Coast Protectorate, felt hampered by the Foreign Office's reluctance to allow him to mount an armed expedition against the kingdom of Benin. This is the background against which the events of 1987 occurred, when Moor was on leave in England and a newly arrived Acting Consul General, James Phillips took up his post.

Phillips had met Consul General Moor only once, in London, just before his departure. Moor, who had a history of violence against African rulers who did not submit to his authority, had already proposed a military operation against Benin but had been prevented by his more cautious superiors in Whitehall (military expeditions could become very expensive and produce disappointing returns).

Phillips intentions become clear in his despatches to the Foreign Office. Immediately on arrival he called a meeting of traders and officials and wrote a report to Whitehall:

"The whole of the English merchants represented on the river have petitioned the government for aid to enable them to keep their factories (trading posts) open, and last but not least, the revenues of this Protectorate are suffering ... I am certain that there is only one remedy. That is to depose the King of Benin ... I am convinced that pacific measures are now quite useless, and that the time has now come to remove the obstruction ... I do not anticipate any serious resistance from the people of the country, there is every reason to believe that they would be glad to get rid of their King but in order to obviate any danger, I wish to take up sufficient armed force ... I would add that I have reason to hope that sufficient ivory may be found in the King's house to pay the expenses incurred."