WEST AFRICA—BENIN, ASHANTI, NUPE. THAMES STAR, VOLUME XXIX, ISSUE 8735, 11 AUGUST 1897
Admiral Rawson has today returned to Simons Town (near Cape Town South Africa) from his Benin Expedition which he very ably led.
Benin City having been shamelessly plundered by his British troops, they stripped it of all its treasures. Below are some bronze and ivory artworks they shipped home to England.
1) READ C.H, & DALTON O,M, ANTIQUITIES FROM THE CITY OF BENlN AND FROM OTHER PARTS OF WEST AFRICA IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, 1899, PLATES
2) Ratté, Mary Lou, "Imperial looting and the case of Benin." ().Masters Theses 1911 - February 2014. Paper 1898. Page 63.
£450 in 1928 is worth £19,765.00 in January 2017 (Nearly £20,000.00).
The looters simply enriched themselves from sales of Benin treasures.
It should be noted that Mr. Locke himself did not get to Benin City on either of the expeditions. On the ill-fated expedition of January 1897, he was stopped by the Benin Strike Force and was one of the two survivors. During the expedition of February 1897, he was on leave in England recovering from his ordeal during the last one.
It is therefore false to claim that he collected relics whilst on a mission to the King of Benin. His colleagues had already looted Benin City of all valuable relics and burned the rest in the great fire. Mr. Locke is selling a stolen collection of relics from Benin City.
The statement that Britain invaded Benin to put a stop to human sacrifice is also false. As was accepted by everyone at the time in 1897, this happened because Oba Overami of Benin refusing to sign over his kingdom, was the only obstacle to Britain opening up markets in the hinterland of the Southern Protectorate.
This claim of human sacrifice is simply the victor's ploy to deflect blame for the destruction of Benin City and looting of its treasures from himself.
1) Akenzua E. The Case of Benin, Memorandum submitted by Prince Edun Akenzua, UK Parliamentary Business, Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence, APPENDIX 21, March 2000 Accessed: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmcumeds/371/371ap27.htm
2) Bacon, R. H. Benin City of Blood, 1897, p18
3) Bacon, R. Admiral Sir, Benin Expedition, A Naval Scrap-Book, First Part, 1877 – 1900: 197 – 207
4) Benin City Battle 1897, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2HHWsr3A2M
Accessed: 9 January 2017
5) Boisragon A, The Benin Massacre, 1897, page 180
6) Moore, R. Benin Expedition, 1897 – February 22 1897 – Commons Sitting – HC Deb 22 February 1897 vol 46 c964; The First Lord of Admiralty on the Motion “That this House do now adjourn,”
7) READ C.H, & DALTON O.M. ANTIQUITIES FROM THE CITY OF BENlN AND FROM OTHER PARTS OF WEST AFRICA IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, 1899, PAGE 7
8) Roth, H. L. 1903 appendix 11 cited Roth N. F. A DIARY OF A SURGEON WITH THE BENIN PUNITIVE EXPEDITION'
9) THE BENIN EXPEDITION. ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE ADVANCE. DEFIANT MESSAGE FROM THE KING. (REUTER’S SPECIAL SERVICE) SAPELE, BENIN RIVER, Publication: Guardian 1821 – 2000; Date: Feb 9, 1897; Section: None; Page 8
£21,000 is now worth £350700.00 in 2017
The hospital ship Malacca leaves for Britain today. On board are some looted Benin treasures.
Ratté, Mary Lou, "Imperial looting and the case of Benin." ().Masters Theses 1911 - February 2014. Paper 1898. Accessed: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/theses/1898
Newspapers have not to date reported on the British discovery of thousands of Bronze plaques, ivory artworks, ivory tusks and other treasures in homes across Benin City.
Do they even know about these? Are they being misled with blood, blood everywhere and human sacrifice discovery claims by the only people left in town- the British?
What games are the victors in this war playing? Will the truth ever be told?
Time will tell all, watch this space.
By now all officers, marines and sailors have packed their pickings from the looted Benin treasures ready for transportation to England. The over 5, 000 African troops and carriers have had rich pickings too, the ivory tusks were a particular favourite with them.
As Consul General Moor was helpless to stop the African troops and carriers looting the ivory tusks, these could not be counted and as such there are no figures on their numbers. Thieving by British marines and sailors has also made it impossible to put a number on total items and treasures found. A plausible estimate is over twenty thousand based on the number of houses and alters with Bronzes and ivory across Benin City. High ranking officials, rich others, chiefs' houses and every other house each had an altar (Read & Dalton, 1899, page 8), therefore there was a lot of trophies to be had.
Admiral Rawson and Consul General Moor allowed trophies to all officers involved in the expedition from the collection of bronzes and ivory artworks found on the alters and interiors of houses across Benin City.
According to Ratté:
‘Admiral Rawson picked out what he wanted for himself and chose a large carved tusk for a gift to the Admiralty Office and a suitable trophy was also chosen for the Queen. Moor, and then all the other officers present gathered trophies for themselves. What remained they packed up.
Since only the officers received tangible rewards, many of the smaller bronze pieces may have found their way into the pockets of the first sailors or marines to lay eyes upon them, and then gone to England unobserved in sea chest or duffel bag. Since each house had an altar of some kind, and the compound included not only the King's but the large compounds of the chief and the Queen Mother, the pickings would be easy.’
Additionally, Herbert Walker one of the intelligence officers in the expedition in his dairy, describes how a fellow officer "is now wandering round with chisel & hammer, knocking off brass figures & collecting all sorts of rubbish as loot". He wrote too that, 'Religious buildings and palaces were torched.'
Most telling are Consul General Phillips' own words, 'PS I would add that I have reason to hope that sufficient Ivory may be found in the King’s house to pay the expenses in removing the King from his Stool (FO dispatch, 17 November 1896)."
Mr. Phillips was correct , there was sufficient ivory tusks in the king's palace and in wells across Benin City to offset the cost of the invasions. Read: Oba Ovonramwen
There were rich pickings to be had and substantial money to be made by the invaders.
Furthermore, according to Read & Dalton (1899, page 27) ‘The British Museum possesses some manillas from the Bonny River, and these are said to be of some age, and to have been buried in immense quantities in the graves of chiefs.’
1) J.R. Phillips to Foreign Office. Advising the deposition of the Benin King. 17 Nov 1896. Despatches to Foreign Office from Consul-General, Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of the Niger Coast Protectorate, 268 3/3/3, p. 240. National Archives of Nigeria Enugu.
2) Ovonramwen, accessed- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovonramwen
3) READ C.H, & DALTON O,M, ANTIQUITIES FROM THE CITY OF BENlN AND FROM OTHER PARTS OF WEST AFRICA IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, 1899, PAGE 8
4) Ibid., page 27
5) Ratté, Mary Lou, "Imperial looting and the case of Benin." ().Masters Theses 1911 - February 2014. Paper 1898. Page 74.
6) Roth, H. L, Great Benin, 1903, app 11 page xiv – xv
7) The Witness, BBC World Service, The man who returned his grandfather’s looted art, 26 February 2015. Accessed: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31605284
The district commissioner in Sapele today writes to the Crown Agents in London, to inform them of the sending of two bronze plaques, with a request for them to be valued in England.
Ratté, Mary Lou, "Imperial looting and the case of Benin." ().
Masters Theses 1911 - February 2014. Paper 1898. Page 74.
“Gradually all the stores were reshipped, and the last of the men embarked,” ( Page 127) ); “At the moment of writing everything seems peaceful and going well in the country. The squadron has dispersed to other waters on varied work, and the Protectorate Force is gradually returning to its ordinary duties ( pages 132 -1 33).
“Then, again, the King was supposed to be very rich in ivory, as he received, or was supposed , to receive, one tusk of every elephant shot in his dominions ; but this ivory he seems to have stacked in his houses instead of selling,”
“It is to be hoped when the country has got settled down after the late expedition that the trade will revive again, for the country, as I have said, is rich in all kinds of produce, palm-oil, kernels, rubber, kola nut etc. etc., and I fancy the people will be only too willing to open up trade when they find they can do it for themselves, and without let or hindrance from the King of Benin and his Juju men.” (Boisragon 1897. Pages 13, 14)
It must be noted that no one of them mentions the Benin Massacre of Mr. Phillips and his men as the reason for this 'punitive expedition'; nor do they mention putting a stop to Benin human sacrifice.
Bacon, R. H. Benin City of Blood, 1897
Bacon, R. Admiral Sir, Benin Expedition, A Naval Scrap-Book, First Part, 1877 – 1900: 197 – 207
Boisragon A, The Benin Massacre, 1897
The Gwato force arrive back at Warrigi the base from which the Expedition Force started.
“Good-bye, Benin, your character must indeed be bad if the longing of seven hundred men to see you is in three days changed to a fervent desire never to look upon your red walls again.”
Bacon, R. Benin City of Blood, 1897, page 113