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JOAO ALFONSO D’ALVEIRO VISITS TO BENIN KINGDOM

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Among the early set of Europeans to visit Nigeria even before the advent of slave trade were the Portuguese on the basis of exploring what Africa looks like. Thus it is upon this many contact of the Portuguese, that this study tends to reveal one amidst their activities notably with Alfonso D’Alveiro to Benin.

What the rest of the world looks like was a push in the heart of the Europeans and a thus they decided to explore through water routes, so many Europeans sponsored voyage (SEE MUNGO PARK EXPLORATION TO NIGER HERE).

Joao Aveiro on one of the navigation sponsored by Prince Henry of Portugal in the 15th century came with Diogo Cao to the coast of Africa discovering Congo and Zaira. The merit of this exploration made on the following year that Alveiro take charge of exploring the Formoso River, resulting in the discovery of the kingdom of Benin by 1486 and Guinea, but our concentration for this study lies on Benin Kingdom. Joao Afronso Alveiro established companies in Benin.

However, Joao Afronso Alveiro tried as much as he could not just to discover Benin but also established diplomatic relation with  OZOLUA who was the paramount ruler of the then Benin Kingdom, was the third son of Ewuare. He ascended to the throne in 1480, it was five years later that Joao Alfonso d’Aveiro, visited Benin. Ozolua agreed to open diplomatic relations with d’Aveiro and the Portuguese by allowing Christian missionaries to set up a station and educate his people.

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More so it is important to note that the early dominance of Portuguese influence in the West African trade and commerce was due to the Papal Bull of 1493. This Bull divided the underdeveloped parts of the world between Spain and Portugal. Through this division Africa fell within the Portuguese sphere of influence. By 1485 John Alfonso d’Alveiro, being a Portuguese after exploration combined trading with the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria among his aims. He reported that the citizens of Benin were skilled in artistic iron and wood carving. These Portuguese traders were credited with having introduced from India and South America the pineapple, groundnut, sweet potato, maize, oranges, limes, sugar cane, tomatoes, onions, guavas, and papaya; they also brought the pigs, ducks, and turkeys.

Oba Ozolua of Benin, traveled with Joao Alfonso d’Aveiro to Portugal and returned to Benin with luxury items from the Portuguese king. Alveiro wanted to establish the Roman Catholic religion in the Kingdom of Benin. His request was granted by the king of Benin on the condition that d’Alveiro would provide a Portuguese maid for him as his bride. Alveiro met the demand of the king of Benin. He was then able to establish a nucleus of a Catholic church in the kingdom of Benin. Some of Benin’s people converted to Christianity and established a few churches, such as Holy Cross Cathedra, this Union between Ozolua and the Portuguese maid had made Some of the later southern chiefs in Benin and Yoruba kingdoms claimed descent from the early African-Portuguese marriage; but the early Portuguese church in Benin ended in a failure after a short while because of lack of spiritual leadership.

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The reason for this was not far-fetched, these Portuguese were dying daily of malaria due to mosquitoes bite in Nigeria. After a while getting tired of falling prey to malaria, This Portuguese tried to train Benin citizens  as priests but this was also not successful as they rejected celibacy, this was too far for a people who had been practicing polygamy for generations . The contact and diplomatic relations was soon lost when Portugal ceased to be a major European power on the Coast after the scramble and partitioning of Africa at Berlin Germany.

References

  1. Toyin Falola et tal (2009), HISTORICAL DICTIONARIES OF AFRICA, The Scarecrow Press. UK.
  2. ZACCHAEUS O.N (1955), EUROPEAN INFLUENCE ON NIGERIAN CULTURE,(unpublished Thesis)

Contributed By:- AKINOLA SEGUN AUGUSTINE (B.A.Ed. HISTORY, ACICRM, HRP)

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Events

The Celebration Story of FESTAC ’77

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The Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, popularly known as FESTAC ’77, was a boisterous cultural celebration which took place in Lagos, Nigeria, from January 15 1977 to February 12 1977.

FESTAC ’77 celebrated the cultures and traditions of Africa and as well presented African artworks, literature, religion and music to the world. The history of FESTAC is traced back to the 1940s when certain ideas were developed on Pan-Africanism and Negritude by Senegalese president Leopold Sedar Senghor, Aime Cesaire and others.

FESTAC ’77 was the largest pan-African gathering as at the period it was held. Nigeria was called upon to host the second Festac festival after the end of the first one which was held in Dakar, Senegal from 1st to 24th of April, 1966. The festival was to take place in 1970, but due to the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970), it was postponed to 1977.

FESTAC ’77 was attended by about 17,000 people from 56 nations. The festival paved way for the construction of Festac Town and the National Theatre in Lagos. The Nigerian government built Festac Town to accommodate the 17,000 and above participants. The main reason Festac Town was built was to cut the accommodation problem and pressure Lagos was likely to face during the festival.

The festival commenced at 9 a.m on the 15th of January, 1977. The opening ceremony took place inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, where many participants held a parade to welcome visiting dignitaries and the Nigerian Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo.

FESTAC ’77 has the royal Benin ivory mask of Queen Idia as its emblem. A Sango priest entertained the crowd by setting the festival bowl aflame and a thousand Pigeons were released to signify the liberation and oneness of the Black nations.

Several dramas and musical shows were staged at the Tafawa Balewa Square in the afternoons and evenings. Musicians like South African Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Louis Moholo, Sun Ra Arkestra and many more rocked musical concerts and sent their fans dancing wild.

Attending countries exhibited their artworks at the National Theatre, at the Nigerian National Museum and some other places around the Tafawa Balewa Square.

“At the Square, each country represented at the festival was given a booth to exhibit their paintings, musical instruments, woven cloths, books and art objects. Some other notable exhibitions that took place were Africa and the Origin of Man, which was held at the National Theatre, and Ekpo Eyo’s 2000 Years of Nigerian Art, which included Nok terracottas, Benin court art, Igbo Ukwu, Ife and Tsoede bronzes and art objects“.

Another exhilarating event at the festival was the boat regatta held at the Queen’s Drive Foreshore in Ikoyi, Lagos, which lasted for three days. The participants of the boat regatta were mainly from Nigeria. More than 250 boats carrying acrobats, masquerades and singers displayed at the occasion.

FESTAC ’77 participants also attended the Dubar festival in Kaduna which lasted for three days. There was a gallant display of horse riding, masquerading, Kakaki trumpeting and many more.

List of countries that attended FESTAC ’77

Kenya, Zaire, Congo, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Mauritius, Niger, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Malagasy, Mauritania, Botswana, Lesotho, Chad, Central Africa, Upper Volta, Morocco, Angola, Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Ghana, Libya, Zambia, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Uganda and Gambia. Some South American countries were also present at the festival, e.g Guyana, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil. Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and so on represented the Caribbean. The United States of America also sent their representatives from different countries.

An anthem was written for FESTAC ’77 by Margaret Walker from Alabama, USA, while the music was produced by Akin Euba from Nigeria. Below is the lyrics of the anthem titled, For My People.

FESTAC ’77 Anthem

  1. Let a new earth arise
    Let another world be born
    Let a bloody peace
    Be written in the sky.
    Refrain: Festac 77 is here
  2. Let a second generation
    Full of courage issue forth
    Let a people loving freedom
    Come to growth
    Refrain: Festac 77 is here
  3. Let a beauty full of healing
    And strength of final clenching
    be the pulsing in our spirits
    And our blood
    Refrain: Festac 77 is here
  4. Let the martial songs be written
    Let the dirges disappear
    Let the race of men now rise
    And take control
    Refrain: Festac 77 is here

FESTAC ’77 will forever remain a remarkable celebration in the history of Nigeria.

Source :- Oldnaija

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The Untold Story of 1953 MAY KANO RIOTS

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The Kano riot of 1953 was a more of a relative ethnic conflict among the members House of Representatives in Lagos, it broke out in the antiquated city of Kano, situated in present day Northern Nigeria, in May 1953. The idea or genesis behind this riot was a conflicting philosophy between Northerners who were against Nigeria’s Independence and Southerners comprised of principally the Yorubas and the Igbos who upheld quick freedom for Nigeria to her journey to self-rule. The riot that went on for four days asserted numerous lives of the Southerners and Northerners and left some with injuries. The uproars went on for four days

In the pre-independence debate at the house between the legislatives, Southern political pioneers attempted to press ahead with the independence drive, while their partners from the North dreading “domination by the southerners” attempted to slow the procedure and looked to the colonial regime to protect them.

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On March 31, 1953, a key individual from the Action Group by name Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved the movement that Nigeria should get her independence from the British government by 1956 at the government parliament in Lagos. The movement was backed up by Action Group individuals and dominant part of the individuals from the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. However, the Northern People’s Congress didn’t acknowledge the movement for self-administration as Northern lawmakers felt that their district was not yet prepared for self-government, and basically obliterated Enahoro’s proposal that freedom ought to occur in 1956.

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Around 46 Nigerians generally Northerners and Igbos passed on during the conflict and in excess of 200 individuals were treated for wounds. Despite the fact that it was promptly called a riot between ethnic uproar by the provincial government in Nigeria, the political pioneers named it a political mob between individuals who need self-government in 1956 and the individuals who need colonialism to proceed.

Ahmadu Bello, who was the NPC’s (Northern People’s Congress) head, proposed an alteration saying self-administration ought to be conceded “when practicable” which was against the tag “in the year 1956” in Enahoro’s bill. This prompted contradictions and brought about a strain in the connection among Northern and Southern pioneers. A Northern individual from the House moved a movement for dismissal, a movement which both the AG and the NCNC saw as postpone strategies to delay Nigeria move for independence, leading all members of both parties to walk out of the House, When the Northern delegates went out, they were gone up against by unfriendly Lagos crowds who jeered and insulted them. Members of the Northern delegation were embittered and in an “Eight Point Programme” drafted in Lugard Hall, Kaduna, the Northerners sought for secession from the agitated call for independence, if it would be granted to AG and NCNC.

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Resolute and declining to tune in to the worries of their Northern partners, an assignment of the AG and NCNC led by Samuel Akintola, went on visit through to the North to publicise for self-government. The visit was the prompt reason for the Kano riots. There was at that point pressure in the North as a result of the aggression faced by the Northern legislative delegates in Lagos who protested self-administration when Akintola’s visit showed up Kano on Friday, May 15, 1953, it was therefore seen as a payback time by the Northern citizens.

May 16 1953, the disturbances that led to the riot started out at the Colonial Hotel that Saturday. The hotel was the venue of a meeting by the AG. On the morning of the meeting, the Kano Native Authority withdrew permission for the meeting, and a mob gathered outside the hotel and started stoning people. During the fracas, two people believed to be Southerners died. Thus, in no little time the situation became a more serious inter-ethnic crisis on Sunday, May 17, when mobs from Fagge, an area dominated by Northerners, attempted to break into Sabon Gari an area where southern and eastern Nigeria were more with some success. It is important to note that though the mobs’ original chants were against the Yoruba, the casualties in the Sabon Gari area were mostly Igbo, because the rioting soon deteriorated into looting.

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To conclude it took the intervention of the colonial government declaring a state of emergency and deploying native police force and army on Monday May 18 1953. The constitution was thereafter amended by the colonial government to see when Nigeria would indeed be ripe for an independence. It took years after by Oct 1st 1960 for Nigeria to achieve the fought for independent clamoured by AG and NCNC by 1953 that led to the riot.

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Biography

Biography of Crispin Adeniyi-Jones

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Adeniyi-Jones Curtis Crispin was a colonial era parliamentarian, nationalist and medical doctor who was an outspoken critic of the colonial government. Curtis Crispin Adeniyi-Jones was born at Waterloo in Freetown, Sierra Leone, of Yoruba parents of the Creole community in 1876. After a secondary education at Sierra Leone Grammar School, he went to the United Kingdom where he qualified as a physician and to the University of Dublin, Ireland where in 1901 he obtained the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree. After acquiring prestigious working experiences in Dublin he resumed work in 1904 in his native country as a government medical officer. With the newly launched Lunatic asylum policy of the Southern Provinces of Nigeria, Adeniyi-Jones became the first director of the Yaba Asylum in 1906.

Adeniyi-Jones was an honorary patron of the Nigerian Progressive Union formed in 1924 with an early objective to develop educational facilities in Nigeria in co-operation with the government and missionary bodies. This organization marked a transition between joint African unionism and the more focused West African Students’ Union which was formed a year after its own foundation. Earlier in 1923, he had joined Herbert Macaulay and Eric Moore in forming the Nigeria National Democratic Party, the platform with which he won one of the three Lagos seats in the Legislative Council. Adeniyi-Jones replaced Joseph Egerton Shyngle as chairman of the party in 1926 when the lawyer died. As simultaneous chairman of Nigerian Mercantile Bank and the Nigerian National Democratic Party, he had been in the forefront in demanding changes in the functioning of the colonial economic system by expanding economic opportunities for Africans, including the establishment of indigenous banks.

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From 1926, Adeniyi-Jones was elected as one of the three elected members of the Lagos Legislative Council and continuously won election on the platform of the NNDP. During his 15-year membership of the Legislative Council he was the most militantly critical member; and his tornado of questions covered a wide range of topics such as a request for the names, designation, and departments of Africans who had been appointed or promoted to the European posts. He had himself suffered in the past with a British policy adopted which relegated many Nigerian doctors including him to junior ranks in the colonial medical service.

Experiments in economic development

Adeniyi-Jones played an important role as a financier and president of a few companies formed in the late 1920s and 1930s. He was president of the Nigeria Mercantile Bank and was a major financier of the West African Co-operative Producers Limited. Both companies were part of an ambitious economic program, to create an elevated standing for indigenous Africans within the British Empire. Prior to the twentieth century, the major economic activity of indigenous Nigerian groups where largely sheltered from the global economy. But with emergence of a colonial economic system in West Africa, problems affecting African producers began to emerge. A major plan of action to contain and eliminate the problems was made by Winifried Tete-Ansa, a Krobo man from the National Congress of British West Africa, a major political party in Ghana. He was a man well versed in the rudiments of the global economic institutions. The plan of action was to create African co-operatives to become commanding business institutions in colonial Africa. Some of the companies founded were the West African Co-operative Producers, partly financed by Adeniyi-Jones and the Nigeria Mercantile bank chaired by Adeniyi-Jones. Both ventures failed to reach the founders dream but laid a strong foundation for other ventures. Akinola Maja, T.A. Doherty and H.A. Subair, all directors of the bank later left to form the National bank of Nigeria, the first successful indigenous bank in British West Africa.

Adeniyi-Jones, the gifted speaker, died in 1957. A Street in Ikeja, Lagos is named after him.

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