On the 7th, at 11 a.m., he came down to the ‘Palaver (Court) House’¹ with about 400 of his own "boys" (men), all of whom were stark naked, as was their custom in the presence of the king. He was also accompanied by about twenty chiefs, including Tosheri, the big war chief, besides Eschudi [Ushude] , Aro, and Ojumo [Ojomo] ². The acting Resident (Captain E. P. S. Roupell) was seated at a table at the mouth of a small tent; with him were Captain C. H. P. Carter (Royal Scotch), commanding the troops at Benin city ; Lieut. Gabbett (Royal Welsh Fusiliers), and Dr. Howe. The king, who is a stout but fine man of considerable intelligence, about forty years of age, was in a very nervous state. The escort of the Resident comprised only eight Houssas, as it was considered advisable not to bring more, for fear of frightening the king and his party. The remainder of the Houssa troops were, therefore, kept under arms inside the stockade, ready in case of emergency to turn out at a moment's notice.
The king was simply covered with masses of strings of coral, interspersed with larger pieces, supposed to be worth many pounds. His head dress, which was in the shape of a Leghorn straw hat, was composed wholly of coral of excellent quality, meshed closely together, and must have weighed very heavily on his head, for it was constantly being temporarily removed by an attendant. His wrists up to his elbows were closely covered with coral bangles, so were his ankles. He only wore the usual white cloth of a chief, and underneath, a pair of embroidered and brocaded trousers ; he had nothing in the way of a coat, but his breast was completely hidden from view by the coral beads encircling his neck.
There was a crowd of some 900 to 1000 people standing round when the Resident called upon Overami, the king, to make his submission. The king was visibly agitated, and after much consultation with the chiefs, the chief Aro asked that the king might do so in private, as he did not like to abase himself before such a crowd. This request was naturally refused by the Resident, and then, supported by two chiefs who assisted him, the king made obeisance three times in the usual manner, rubbing his forehead on the ground three times. After this, the other ten chiefs, who had not previously made obeisance, performed the same homage. The Resident then explained to the king the present political position of the Benin country, and informed him that he was deposed. That closed the palaver, the king retiring with his body-guard of 400 stalwart men to Abeseke's [Obaseki] house. Except to get the submission of the king and chiefs, nothing else could be done then, the Resident (Captain E. P. S. Roupell) awaiting the return of the -Consul-General, who was expected to arrive at Benin city in from two to three weeks' time, when the big palaver would take place, and when the king and certain chiefs supposed to be guilty would be put on trial for the massacre of Phillips' party.
¹ The term palaver, derived from the Spanish palabra, talk, has a very extensive meaning. It signifies dispute, controversy, argument, reasonings. War palaver, trade palaver are used in reference to these affairs. God pala\er is applied to the missionary teaching; and sweet mouf [mouth] palaver is analogous in its meaning to the term 'blarney' with us." (Hutchinson: Impressions. Lond., 1858, p. 119).
² " Of the chiefs mentioned in this trial the following were nobles; Ojomo, Yaceri, Ollubusheri, Obaseki, Obadesagbo, Obanyagmo, Obahawaia, Ushudi, Idohun, Obamoi, Obajuhomua, Aro, Aribo, and Ewagwe." C. P.
1) Bacon R. Benin City of Blood, 1897, p. 100 (chopping juju)
2) READ C.H, & DALTON O,M, ANTIQUITIES FROM THE CITY OF BENlN AND FROM OTHER PARTS OF WEST AFRICA IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, 1899
3) Roth, H. L, Great Benin, 1903, app 111, p. xii
4) Ibid p. xiii
5) Ibid p. xiv