Tracing my Benin/Togo ancestry





Benin (US: /bɪˈnn, –ˈnɪn/ bǝ-NEEN or –NINUK: /bɛˈnn/ beh-NEENFrenchBéninpronounced [benɛ̃]), officially the Republic of Benin (FrenchRépublique du Bénin) and formerly Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean.[7] The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest city and economic capital. 


The official language of Benin is French. However, indigenous languages such as Fonand Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by IslamVodun andProtestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation ZoneLa Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.[9]






The Oldest Surviving Kingdom in the World is Great Benin Kingdom and is 2054 years Old. The Ogiso dynasty lasted for about 854 years plus an interregnum of 285 years between the reign of Ogiso Orire and Ogiso Odia, there was an interregnum of 70 years between Ogiso Owodo and Oba Oranmiyan plus 845 years of Oba ruler-ship till date.
1. The First Storey Building in Nigeria was built at Ughoton by the Dutch in the year 1718, and it was called “The Factory”. The said building was destroyed by the British during the war against the Benins in 1897. The site of the building is still intact.
2. The Oldest Church in West-Africa was established in Great Benin Empire by the Earliest Portuguese missionaries in the 16th Century which is today known as the Holy Aruosa (Benin National Church). Pope Pius XII visited Benin and handed the church to the Oba of Benin, Oba Oreoghene in 1692AD.
3. The first Known Embassy Established in Nigeria was in Benin during the reign of Oba Esigie in the 16th century.
4. Elaba is the only Chieftaincy title in Benin Kingdom in whose presence the Oba’s Sword bearer (Omada) would ceremonially hold the Oba’s symbol of Authority(Ada) upside down
5. Oba Orhogbua is the first literate king ever recorded in the present day West-Africa.
6. Chief Ogiamien is one of the Uzama N’Ibie (Uzama Minor), the council was created by Oba Esigie.
7. The Oldest known letter written in Nigeria was by Duarte Pires instructed by Oba Esigie which was addressed to King John II, on the 20th October, 1516AD. The second oldest letter was written by Anthonio Domingo (Great-grand Son of Oba Olua) to the Pope to seek for missionary assistance in other to spread Christianity in Benin Empire in 1652AD.
8. Oba Orhogbua founded Lagos and planted a dukedom, the Obaship of Lagos (Eko).
9. Oba Orhogbua introduced the common salt from his numerous voyage to Benin Cuisine in replacement of our traditional organic salt (Obu).
10. The word Okoro means prince in Benin and Uvbi as princess.
11. Oba Orhogbua is the first Sailor king in the present day West-Africa.
12. They are five fighting Empire building Obas of Benin, Oba Ewuare I, Oba Ozolua, Oba Esigie, Oba Orhogbua and Oba Ehengbuda N’Obo.
13. Oba Ehengbuda was the last Oba of Benin to lead the Benin armies physically in battle.
14. Ogiso Odoligie and Oba Esigie were regarded as the redeemer kings because of their pre-ordination by God.
15. Ogiso Orriagba created the college (council) of the hereditary Uzama Chiefs.
16. The last Ogiso palace was located in the present day Ring-Road where the National museum is sited and it was called “Ogbe Ogiso”
17. Oldest ever recorded market in Africa is Ogiso (Agbado) Market dated 60BCE.
18. Ekpeye, Ogba and Iwurhuohna people of River State are children of Akalaka a Benin warrior that migrated from Benin to found their present location during Oba Ewuare I reign.
19. Onitcha town was founded by Benin royal house who migrated during Oba Esigie reign.
20. The shortest Oba that reigned in Great Benin kingdom was Oba Ezoti (14 days) 1473-1473AD.
For facts 21-80 click below link

List of Obas of the Benin Empire (1180-present)

Pre-Imperial Obas of Benin (1180-1440)

Obas of the Benin Empire (1440-1897)

–  Ewuare the Great (1440–1473)
 Ezoti (1473–1475)
 Olua (1475–1480)
 Ozolua (1480–1504)
 Esigie (1504–1547)
 Orhogbua (1547–1580)
 Ehengbuda (1580–1602)
 Ohuan (1602–1656)
 Ohenzae (1656–1661)
 Akenzae (1661–1669)
 Akengboi (1669–1675)
 Akenkpaye (1675–1684)
 Akengbedo (1684–1689)
 Ore-Oghene (1689–1701)
 Ewuakpe (1701–1712)
 Ozuere (1712–1713)
 Akenzua I (1713–1740)
 Eresoyen (1740–1750)
 Akengbuda (1750–1804)
 Obanosa (1804–1816)
 Ogbebo (1816)
 Osemwende (1816–1848)
 Adolo (1848–1888)
 Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888–1914) (exiled to Calabar by the British in 1897)

Post-Imperial Obas of Benin (1914-Present)

 Eweka II (1914–1933)
 Akenzua II (1933–1978)
 Erediauwa I (1979–present)

Erediauwa I (1979–present)

Some of the families of the Royal Benin Empire live elsewhere in the world through Europe, The United States, and Africa.



By Uwagboe Ogieva
“The Ancient Benin(Edo)s were one in origin, yet they are one in diversity”
Base on current trend of some Esan politician, scholars and Nigerian pseudo writers with the motive to separate and disorganise the Edo people of Nigeria with the continuation of weakening the ever respected Kingdom of Benin (Edo) (Nation), Southern Nigeria, it becomes imperative to educate the gullible and less informed researchers of the truth fact of history. Again, proper education of true facts of Edos common history, ancestry, language, culture and tradition will not only unite them but help build the mental preparedness for their future national growth and development. Reading through the author on Esan people of Nigeria on WIKIPEDIA, few points were highlighted, (1) that Esan is one of the major ethnic groups in Edo State, South-south geopolitical zone of Nigeria. (2) that they existed on there present location pre-Benin influence. (3) that Oba Ozolua was kill and buried in Esanland (4) that Esan people are the ancestral parents of the benins. While the author have some eloquent facts made of lazy research and incomplete oral history, it is good to note that all of above claims are false and should be written off or ameliorated, or be deleted from one of the most respect and acceptable internet dictionary:WIKIPEDIA. This paper have attempted to answer most pressing question on how the Esan people are not other ethnic group but Edo. What makes up a nation is a shared common values, culture, language, tradtion, religion and teritorial boundaries.
According to James B. Webster and Onaiwu.W.Ogbomo in Chronological Problem in C.G. Okojies Esan Narrative Traditions, Esan traditions, all the ancestors of the people, royal commoner alike came from Benin(Edo) and are basically Benin(Edo) people. Itua Egbor, S.J on African Proverb of the Month, stated that the Esan originated from the Benins (the Edo-speaking people of the ancient Benin Kingdom) and a schism in the distant past resulted in the migration and resettlement of the Esan people in their present geographical location. Dr.Jim Akhere on a keynote address at the ENA convention, head in Hilton Seatle Airport and Conference Center, Seatle. Washington. 2007, said, Esan people exodus was mainly jumping into forest and finding their way throuh the bush to where they are today. While some writers are relating to Egharevba and Okojies books, that Esan has always been where they are presently, or that Benin in fact migrated from Esan to their present abode is not only a distorted history but a deliberate attempt to create a separate kingdom and Nation out of the already shrink and encroached Edoland. Jethro Ibileke on his recent article raise a clarion also calling to the Benin(Edo)s who would want to usurp Esan position as the speaker of the Edo state house of Assembly, to remember that the history of Esan traditional relationship and the linage are deep rooted in Benin. He went further to explain that suppressing Esan people would be like a father fighting his son.
The Agbazilo group account of Esan ancestry, says the Esan came into being when one of the children of Benin’s Queen Oakha and Ojiso Owodo, Prince Uzia Asokpodudu (Ojiso Owodo’s crown prince and heir apparent) founded Uzea in about 1188 AD after they fled their father’s (the Ojiso’s) palace following the death sentence passed on their mother, Queen Oakha, who was alleged to have committed adultery with a Benin chief, Ovior. The duo of Ozogbo and Oigi, Asokpodudu’s younger brothers, escaped along with him and the mother. It is believed that not only did Prince Asokpodudu (the founder of Uzea clan) escape with the mother, Oakha, relations and some palace servants, he also left with his father’s (the king’s) royal trident, ‘Uziziẹnghain’, the Ojiso’s heir loom. Here, the Agbazilo group still comfirming that the Esan mother of creation is and was a Benin mother.
Oba Akenzuwa Nironorho 11 once said that Emotan is the mother of Esan people. In other words without Emotan who helped Prince Ogun to regain the Edo throne and was crowned Oba Ewuare N’Ogidigan there wouldn’t have been no Esan today. Notably, Oba Ewuare the great, during his time, enacted laws that was unbearable to some Edos which led to emigration in the core of the Empire. Most settlers, know as Esan today migrated to their present location during the time. The greetings of the Esan ancestors who left the benin couldn’t have been lagiesan-La Ogiesan before Oba Ewuare because there was no Esan before Ewuare as presented by Nosakhare Idubor. According to Ademola Iyi Eweka, the Ishans/Esans were the most avid defender of the Edo(Benin) monarchy and their women have produced most of Obas of Benin. Eheniuan, the first Ezomo of Benin, who later became the commander of the Benin/Edo Royal army is of Ishan descent.
Esan history is a branch or part of Benin(Edo) history, an integral fellowship of the Benin monarch. Her tale is like the story of an extended son from a very large family, who have travelled far from home married and had own family with a different name. This also brings to mind how it relate with the African Americans history and Africa. Though some dispute they are not Africans inspite of the obvious history of trans-atlantic slave trade, many still trace their ancestral lineage to West Africa including the Great Benin Empire. Larry Uklai Johnson-Redd in his book: Journey to Motherland, From Sant fransisco to Benin City, explained the experience of enslaved Africans to the America and how his ancestral parents hail from Benin.
Rulership, Tradition and Culture:
What is represented as the Esan monarch are not monarch or separate kingdom per ser, as the Benin(Edo) monarch but dukedoms. This also extends among many villages and towns across territories of the Great Benin(Edo) Empire, Geographically touching South-South, South-East, South – West and South – East. To this day the Esan chiefs and traditional rulers, the Enogies(Enogie is the Esan title for a king), sometimes called kings of the Esan people are crowned by the Oba, the supreme head or king of the Benin Empire. The Onojie of Uromi and the Onojie of Irrua are direct sons of the Oba of Benin.
Prof. Iyi Ademola Eweka on his Irrua and Evbohinmwin Relations to Benin-Edoland of Nigeria, explained that the people of Irrua are not only from benin but Benins. Irrua (Iruwa), he said, was named after the Benin princess who married the first Enogie of Irrua, with the people of Evbohimwin belonging to the Ishan/Esan clan, of the (Benin)Edo-speaking group. In the last hundred years, the Enogie of Irrua suddenly became the leader of Enigies in Ishan/Esan land. Whenever the Ishan/Esans are gathered, the Irrua man would normally demand the right to break the almighty kola nuts, but not without a fight from other Ishans/Esans and the reason for this phenomenon can be broken into these parts: a) Although the dukedom of Evbohimwin is probably the oldest, it has always been a haven for Edo princes fleeing from the oba of Benin after a protracted succession struggle. It was also a sort of military out post.
Everybody wanted the control of military outposts of Orhodua and Evbohimwin to be in their hands. Obanosa was the Oba of Benin, 1804-1816. When he died, his two eldest sons, Princes Ogbebor and Erediauwa slugged it out for the throne. Prince Ogbebor won and Prince Erediauwa ran to Evbohimwin for safety. His mother was an Ishan/Esan woman from Evbohimwin. Prince Ogbebor, now the Oba of Benin, tried desperately to dislodge Erediauwa from Evbohimwin. He sent messegers to Ishan/Esan, loaded with coral beads and money, to encourage the Enigies in Ishan/Esan to turn over Prince Erediuwa to him or have his head brought to him in a box. Unfortunately, the supporters of Prince Erediauwa waylaid the messegers to Ishan/Esan, killed many of them and carted way the loot to Prince Erediauwa. Prince Erediauwa now distributed the loot to the Enigies in Ishan/Esan begging for their support and protection. In the ensuing civil war, the army of Oba Ogbebor was defeated. He killed himself, after blowing the palace to pieces with gun powder. He reigned for only eight months. Prince Erediauwa marched into Benin City, ahead of an Ishan/Esan dominated military. He was crowned Oba Osemwende of Benin in 1816. It was Oba Osewende who granted to the Enogie of Uromi, the right to inherit the estate of any person who died childless within Uromi district.This was his reward for supplying men and material in the war to reconquer Akure in 1818-20 rebellion and the battle in defence of the Ekitis against the Ibadans. b) During his reign, he noticed there was an intrigue, to prevent his senior son nicknamed ” Ogbewekon,” from ascending the throne when he passes on. Prince Ogbewekon and Odin-ovba who later became known as Oba Adolor were born on the same day.
Prince Ogbewekon was born first but reported last to the palace. Oba Osemwende found out that Prince Ogbewekon´s mother had been misled by the Edo chiefs at Ogbe quarter in Benin City, tired of Ishan/Esan (Queens) mothers of Obas. Added to that, was the intrigue of Princess AGHAYUBINI, the most senior daughter of Oba Osemwende., the mother of the Osulas and Aiwerioghenes of Benin. She had become very wealthy by trading with the Itsekhiris. This is the popular Itsekhiri factor in the Benin Royal family. When Oba Osemwende passed on, Ogbewekon bypassed and Odin-ovba installed as Oba Adolor, there was another civil disturbance. Prince Ogbewekon ran first to Evbohimwin and finally settled at Igueben were he raised an army with which he wanted to invade Benin City. From his hide out at Igueben, he made life uncomfortable for Oba Adolor in Ishan/Esan land. The Enogie of Evbohimwin was also involved. The Amaho uprising of 1853/54 in Ishan/Esan land, had Prince Ogbewekon signature all over it. It was General Ebohon of Ova, the same general who stopped Ogedengbe of Ilesha at Irhuekpen, who put down the uprising with alot of bloodshed. c) When Oba Adolor passed on, Oba Ovonramwen was installed as the Oba of Benin in 1888, but not without a fight from his brother, Prince Orokhoro. Prince Orokhoro lost and ran first to Evbohimwin and then to Orhodua in Ishan/Esan land. His mother was also an Ishan/Esan. He was busy raising an army in Ishan/Esan when the British army struck in 1897. These were some of the factors responsible for the defeat of the Benin army by the British army in 1897 .
To punish Evbohimwin and the Enogie for supporting rebellious Edo Princes, Erhumwunse (Eromosele), the Enogie of Irrua, the son of Enogie Isidahome 1, the son of Enogie Ogbeide, who commited suicide for ordering the death of a pregnant woman between 1830 and 1847, was made Okaegiesan by Oba Ovonramwen in 1895.

History of The Royal palace of the Oba of Benin

This was built in 1255AD – 1280AD. It is notable as the home of the Oba of Benin and other royal leaders.

  • it was destroyed in 1897 during the British expedition

  • It was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1999



The Oba Royal Palace with its unique traditional architecture and works of the arts was first built about 1255 AD by Oba Ewedo. This ancient royal palace is centrally located near the king’s square in Benin City. It was rebuilt By Oba Eweka II {1914AD-1932AD} after the 1897 infamous British punitive expedition destroyed the former palace.It attracts a lot of visitors from far and near all year round.

Emotan Status

The statue of the stately woman, clad in the traditional wrapper and a headgear associated with the Benin royalty, stands opposite the Oba market in Benin City. The statue was erected in honor of Emotan, a patriotic woman who traded in foodstuff at the very spot where the statue stands, in the 15th century.

Benin Moat

The Benin moat, also known traditionally as Iya, is the largest man-made earthworks in the world. It is one of the wonders of the world. It predates the use of modern earth-moving equipment or technology in these parts. The moat encircles the old perimeter precincts of the City and was constructed as a defensive barrier in times of war.











 Below Holy Aruosa Cathedral in Benin

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

This is the oldest church in Nigeria .It was built in the 15th century. It was situated in Akpakpava Street in the ancient city of Benin. Aruosa {Church of Benin} is the Benin’s version of Church of England or the Dutch reformed church. The Portuguese brought Christianity to the imperial Benin kingdom in the 15th century during the reign of Oba Esigie {about 1504-1550} and during this period, missionaries were sent from Portugal to establish churches in the kingdom.

The Royal Palaces of Abomey are 12 palaces spread over an area of 40 hectares (100 acres) at the heart of the Abomey town in Benin, formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey.[1][2][3] The Kingdom was founded in 1625 by the Fon people who developed it into a powerful military and commercial empire, which dominated trade with European slave traders on the Slave Coast until the late 19th century, to whom they sold their prisoners of war.[4] At its peak the palaces could accommodate for up to 8000 people.[5] The King’s palace included a two-story building known as the “cowrie house” or akuehue.[6] Under the twelve kings who succeeded from 1625 to 1900, the kingdom established itself as one of the most powerful of the western coast of Africa.

UNESCO had inscribed the palaces on the List of World Heritage Sites in Africa. Following this, the site had to be included under the List of World Heritage in Danger since Abomey was hit by a tornado on 15 March 1984, when the royal enclosure and museums, particularly the King Guezo Portico, the Assins Room, King’s tomband Jewel Room were damaged. However, with assistance from several international agencies the restoration and renovation work was completed. Based on the corrective works carried out and reports received on these renovations at Abomey, UNESCO decided to remove the Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin from the List of World Heritage in Danger, in July 2007.[7]

Today, the palaces are no longer inhabited, but those of King Ghézo and King Glélé house the Historical Museum of Abomey, which illustrates the history of the kingdom and its symbolism through a desire for independence, resistance and fight against colonial occupation.


church oba


Holy Arousa is a unique church in Benin city, Edo state where Christians, Muslims and traditionalists worship together under the spiritual leadership of the Oba of Benin

Along the ever busy Akpakpava Street,in the ancient city of Benin, the Edo State capital, stands a concrete building housing the Holy Aruosa Church where Omo N’ Oba Ne Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin, worships. The Holy Aruosa is a combination of English and Bini word. Holy as it implies means to be pure while Aruosa is a place or site of worshipping God. According to sources close to the church, the Holy Aruosa was founded in 1506 during the reign of Oba Esigie.

The Church, said to be the oldest church in Africa, was established by the Portuguese before they started the Roman Catholic and other churches. Today, it is common to see tourists from America and Europe visiting the church. The purpose of their visit is to come and see the first church in Nigeria because according to them, they have seen that the establishment of churches in Nigeria have been expanding.

According to Harrison Okao, the Ohen- Osa, or Chief Priest of the Church, it was founded as a place of worshipping God directly without passing through any intermediary. “We don’t pray through Jesus not because we are against Jesus, we don’t pray through Mohammed not because we are against Mohammed, we don’t pray through the deities like Olokun, Ogun, Sango and all others, not because we are against them but because we believe that God existed before their existence. Therefore, if you want anything from your father, you ask him directly rather than going through an intermediary.”
He explained that Holy Aruosa is a place where anybody can come to worship irrespective of tribe or religion. If you are a Christian, you can come here and worship, if you are a Muslim, you can come here to worship, if you are an idol worshipper, you can also worship at the church.

The only difference is that most of the religions pray through an intermediary but in Holy Aruosa they pray directly to God.”
The priest went further, “we start the day’s service with an opening song otherwise known as “Ohenosa muegbugie. After that, we say the opening prayers before we pray for the Oba of Benin, we pray for the heir apparent to the throne, which is the Omo N’ Oba’s first son, we pray for the other Oba’s children both at home and abroad, we pray for the palace, the chiefs, the government of the day, starting from the president, the governors, local government chairmen, councillors and others in the position of authority.”
Okao added that they also pray for good things to happen in the Benin Kingdom and the state while concentrating on members present while we individually ask God for whatever we want from him.

Another wonderful feature about the Holy Aruosa is the choir which is made of elderly people otherwise known as the Edion Ni kao nomadode meaning the elders that will never go astray.
There is also the Chiefs Group, the Wardens’ Group, Youth and Children’s group. And Aruosa N okao, Osagbemwenorue, Ikiede and Ohen Nogu Osawe group as members of the church. These groups are for effective coordination of the church’s activities.
The difference between Holy Aruosa and the orthodox church is the mode of worship and belief. Okao explained that: “If you are talking about the fear of God, the Holy Aruosa members have the fear of God and we have it in our creed that if you sin against mankind, you must go and beg that man and if you don’t go and beg that person, you will receive punishment on earth and after death, you will receive the punishment. That is why we don’t commit sin.
“For instance, if you leave anything here and you come back in three days, nobody will take it because we believe that if you take what does not belong to you, it means you have sin already and you will not enter the kingdom of God. Sinners will not enter the kingdom of God, whoever fornicates will not enter the kingdom of God, whoever covets another person’s wife or property will not enter the kingdom of God and whoever kills cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

He disclosed that the church doctrine is against adultery because it is wrong for a man to sleep with another person’s wife and it is equally wrong for a woman to leave her husband’s house to go and sleep with another woman’s husband. It is wrong and so anybody that does this will not see the kingdom of God. But as a member of the Holy Aruosa church, if you want to marry more than 20 wives, the church cannot say no but would advise that you give them equal love but if you cannot share equal love with all of them, you have to hands off. So the idea of having a wife at home and maybe two or three concubines outside is a sin.”

Another feature is that the church has its own book of worship like the Bible. The difference is that it is known as the Book of Holy Aruosa and was written by the “wise men with the dictate, teachings and sayings of the ancient Benin kingdom.” It is made up of the dos and don’ts that fore fathers bequeathed to the present generation. Okao explained further that the book is just like “the Old Testament in the Bible and if we have anything or any area that we want to refer to in the Bible, we do so, we also refer to the Koran for things to move on properly”.
The mode of worship in Aruosa follows the pattern of the Catholic.

Though in those days, there was no drumming in any church but drumming started in Holy Aruosa and a white Bishop in Lagos then, criticized Aruosa saying that is not the way to serve God. The case even went to court but today, every church drums and sings

The Oba of Benin is the spiritual head of the Church, while the heir apparent to the throne, that is the Omo N’Oba’s first son is number two and the Chief Priest of the Holy Aruosa is number three. All others work with the priest.
The ordination of the Chief Priest is done in the church after the confirmation from the Omo N’ Oba being the head and the selection. It mostly a spiritual exercise.

History of Christianity In Nigeria 

By Samuel U. Erivwo, Ph.D.

It is proper that a history of Christianity in Nigeria should begin with the Itsekiri and their  neighbours. Because of their geographical location the Itsekiri came into contact with Portuguese priest who accompanied Portuguese explorers in their bid to find a sea route to India in the fifteenth century. By about 1477 the first European contacts were made with Benin, and by 1555 Augustinian monks visited Warri. They were sent by Gasper, who was the bishop of the diocese of Sao Tome. One of the monks, Father Franscisco a Mater Dei, baptized the son of the Olu  of  Warri  under the name of Sebastian.[1]

When Sebastian later succeeded his father he encouraged the work of the Portuguese missionaries, and indeed allowed his son, Domingos, to be sent to Portugal and trained for the priesthood.It was hoped that if this happened the spread of Christianity to the hinterland would be expedited since indigenous priests would not suffer from the ill effect of the equatorial climate which imposed a serious limitation on the work of the European missionaries. However, Domingos  was not able to qualify for the priesthood since he ended his ten years stay in Portugal by marrying, contrary to the stipulation of the Roman Catholic Church in respect of those who wish to enter the priesthood. (His wife was a Portuguese woman.) Some other attempts made later to train indigenous priest also failed, with the result that the  Itsekiri  came to the conclusion that the Almighty did not intend Africans to become  celebate  priests![2]

 The difficulty of providing trained indigenous priests constituted a set back to the propagation of Christianity among the  Itsekiri . As already indicated, the climate of the area was  unfavourable  to European missionaries; the place was not only too humid, it was also infested by mosquitoes, the carriers of malaria which was to be a formidable menace to missionary work in this area until after 1854.  Furthermore, the Portuguese kingdom, experiencing a period of decline as a result, among other things, of her loss of naval power, was incapable of supporting Portuguese priests who worked among the  Itsekiri  for a long time.

All this apart, had the  Itsekiri  themselves responded  favourably  to the appeal of the Portuguese missionaries, Christianity might have taken deep root, and possibly spread to the hinterland. But they did not. So superstitious were they of the implication of baptism that they were most reluctant to release their children for baptism, fearing, as they did, that the children would die shortly after baptism.  Thus, the adverse climate, the decline of Portuguese empire consequent upon the poverty of that kingdom and her loss of naval power, the unsuccessful attempts to train indigenous priests, and the superstition of the  Itsekiri , all militated against the work of the Portuguese missionaries in Ode  Itsekiri, the capital of the  Itsekiri  kingdom.

But these were not the only adverse factors.  Perhaps even more important was the slave trade.  The Portuguese priests who came to the area from the sixteenth century onwards did so in the gunboats of slave traders.  It is even reported that some of them, in a desperate effort to maintain themselves in the area, participated in the inhuman trade.  Even if it be admitted that on the whole the Roman Catholic Church at the time did not approve of the slave trade, yet she took no positive steps to discourage the inhuman traffic in living tools.  Instead, there was an attempt to see the good side of the inhuman trade: the possibility of converting the negro slaves once they were transported from the darkness of  Africa to the marvelous light of Christianity which the Church in Europe believed to be in her possession to radiate. As a matter of fact, most of the slaves carried from the West Coast did not land in Europe; they were carried to sugar plantations in Americ where they were treated as beasts of burden.

No matter in what bright  colours  the slave trade may be painted, viewed in retrospect and from the West African stand point, on no ground can it be justified.  Any Christianity, therefore, which allied itself to such a diabolic force s the Portuguese slave trade was doomed to fail.  Thus the failure of the first attempt to plant Christianity among the  Itsekiri , and in part of what was later to be known as Nigeria, was, more than any other factor, due to the slave trade.  Before the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, Roman Catholicism had practically disappeared from Ode  Isekiri.

 However, as stated elsewhere[3], in spite of the difficulties which rendered missionary work in the area of little consequence some impression was made as is evidenced from the court of the Olu of Warri  even today.Even among the Urhobo in the hinterland some impression was made, especially by Father Monteleone, a prefect from Sao Tome, who, according to Professor Ryder[4], came in contact with the Urhobo in 1689 in his unsuccessful attempt to visit Benin from  Warri.

Some Pagan Egyptian Babylonian connections below. I will cover more on this subject in a different post later.







From the 17th to the 19th century, the main political entities in the area were the Kingdom of Dahomey along with the city-state of Porto-Novo and a large area with many different tribes to the north. This region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of slaves shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After slavery was abolished, France took over the country and renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France, and had a tumultuous period with many different democratic governments, military coups and military governments.

Precolonial historyEdit

The current country of Benin combines three areas which had different political and ethnic systems prior to French colonial control. Before 1700, there were a few important city states along the coast (primarily of the Aja ethnic group, but also including Yoruba and Gbe peoples) and a mass of tribal regions inland (composed of Bariba, Mahi, Gedevi, and Kabye peoples). The Oyo Empire, located primarily to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region and it would regularly conduct raids and exact tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions.[13] The situation changed in the 1600s and early 1700s as the Kingdom of Dahomey, which was of Fon ethnicity, was founded on the Abomey plateau and began taking over areas along the coast.[14] By 1727, king Agaja of the Kingdom of Dahomey had conquered the coastal cities of Allada and Whydah, but it had become a tributary of the Oyo empire and did not directly attack the Oyo allied city-state of Porto-Novo.[15] The rise of the kingdom of Dahomey, the rivalry between the kingdom and the city of Porto-Novo, and the continued tribal politics of the northern region, persisted into the colonial and post-colonial periods.[16]

The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were often apprenticed to older soldiers, and taught the kingdom’s military customs until they were old enough to join the army.[17] Dahomey was also famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi, i.e. the king’s wives, or Mino, “our mothers” in the Fon language Fongbe, and known by many Europeans as the Dahomean Amazons. This emphasis on military preparation and achievement earned Dahomey the nickname of “black Sparta” from European observers and 19th century explorers like Sir Richard Burton.[18]

Portuguese EmpireEdit

Map of the Kingdom of Dahomey, 1793

The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery;[19] otherwise the captives would have been killed in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs. By about 1750, the King of Dahomey was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling Africans to the European slave-traders.[20] Though the leaders of Dahomey appeared initially to resist the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for almost three hundred years, beginning in 1472 with a trade agreement with Portuguese merchants, leading to the area’s being named “the Slave Coast”. Court protocols, which demanded that a portion of war captives from the kingdom’s many battles be decapitated, decreased the number of enslaved people exported from the area. The number went from 102,000 people per decade in the 1780s to 24,000 per decade by the 1860s.[21]

Dahomey Amazons with the King at their head, going to war, 1793

The decline was partly due to the banning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade by Britain and other countries.[20] This decline continued until 1885, when the last slave ship departed from the coast of the present-day Benin Republic bound for Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, that had yet to abolish slavery.

The capital’s name Porto-Novo is of Portuguese origin, meaning “New Port”. It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.


The Kingdom of Dahomey was established around 1600 by the Fon people who had recently settled in the area (or were possibly a result of intermarriage between the Aja people and the local Gedevi). The foundational king for Dahomey is often considered to be Houegbadja (c. 1645–1685), who built the Royal Palaces of Abomey and began raiding and taking over towns outside of the Abomey plateau.[2]

Victims for sacrifice – from The history of Dahomy, an inland Kingdom of Africa, 1793.

Rule of Agaja (1708–1740)Edit

King Agaja, Houegbadja’s grandson, came to the throne in 1708 and began significant expansion of the Kingdom of Dahomey. This expansion was made possible by the superior military force of King Agaja’s Dahomey. In contrast to surrounding regions, Dahomey employed a professional standing army numbering around ten thousand.[4] What the Dahomey lacked in numbers, they made up for in discipline and superior arms. In 1724, Agaja conquered Allada, the origin for the royal family according to oral tradition, and in 1727 he conquered Whydah. This increased size of the kingdom, particularly along the Atlantic coast, and increased power made Dahomey into a regional power. The result was near constant warfare with the main regional state, the Oyo Empire, from 1728 until 1740.[5]The warfare with the Oyo empire resulted in Dahomey assuming a tributary status to the Oyo empire.[6]

End of the kingdomEdit

The kingdom fought the First Franco-Dahomean War and Second Franco-Dahomean War with France. The kingdom was reduced and made a French protectorate in 1894.[7]

In 1904 the area became part of a French colony, French Dahomey.

In 1958 French Dahomey became the self-governing colony called the Republic of Dahomey and gained full independence in 1960. It was renamed in 1975 the People’s Republic of Benin, and in 1991 the Republic of Benin. The Dahomey kingship exists as a ceremonial role to this day.


Early writings, predominantly written by European slave traders, often presented the kingdom as an absolute monarchy led by a despotic king. However, these depictions were often deployed as arguments by different sides in the slave trade debates, mainly in the United Kingdom, and as such were probably exaggerations.[2][6] Recent historical work has emphasized the limits of monarchical power in the Kingdom of Dahomey.[3] Historian John Yoder, with attention to the Great Council in the kingdom, argued that its activities do not “imply that Dahomey’s government was democratic or even that her politics approximated those of nineteenth-century European monarchies. However, such evidence does support the thesis that governmental decisions were molded by conscious responses to internal political pressures as well as by executive fiat.”[8] The primary political divisions revolved around villages with chiefs and administrative posts appointed by the king and acting as his representatives to adjudicate disputes in the village.[9]

The kingEdit

King Ghezo displayed with a royal umbrella

The King of Dahomey (Ahosu in the Fon language) was the sovereign power of the kingdom. All of the kings were claimed to be part of the Alladaxonou dynasty, claiming descent from the royal family in Allada. Much of the succession rules and administrative structures were created early by HouegbadjaAkaba, andAgaja. Succession through the male members of the line was the norm typically going to the oldest son, but not always.[10] The king was selected largely through discussion and decision in the meetings of the Great Council, although how this operated was not always clear.[2][8] The Great Council brought together a host of different dignitaries from throughout the kingdom yearly to meet at the Annual Customs of Dahomey. Discussions would be lengthy and included members, both men and women, from throughout the kingdom. At the end of the discussions, the king would declare the consensus for the group.[8]

The royal courtEdit

Key positions in the King’s court included the migan, the mehu, the yovogan, the kpojito (or queen-mother), and later the chacha (or viceroy) of Whydah. The migan (combination of mi-our and gan-chief) was a primary consul for the king, a key judicial figure, and served as the head executioner. The mehu was similarly a key administrative officer who managed the palaces and the affairs of the royal family, economic matters, and the areas to the south of Allada (making the position key to contact with Europeans).

Relations with other statesEdit

The relations between Dahomey and other countries were complex and heavily impacted by the Gold trade. The Oyo empire engaged in regular warfare with the kingdom of Dahomey and Dahomey was a tributary to Oyo from 1732 until 1823. The city-state of Porto-Novo, under the protection of Oyo, and Dahomey had a long-standing rivalry largely over control of the Gold trade along the coast. The rise of Abeokuta in the 1840s created another power rivaling Dahomey, largely by creating a safe haven for people from the slave trade.


The military of the Kingdom of Dahomey was divided into two units: the right and the left. The right was controlled by the migan and the left was controlled by the mehu. At least by the time ofAgaja, the kingdom had developed a standing army that remained encamped wherever the king was. Soldiers in the army were recruited as young as seven or eight years old, initially serving as shield carriers for regular soldiers. After years of apprenticeship and military experience, they were allowed to join the army as regular soldiers. To further incentivize the soldiers, each soldier received bonuses paid in cowry shells for each enemy they killed or captured in battle. This combination of lifelong military experience and monetary incentives resulted in a cohesive, well-disciplined military.[11] One European said Agaja’s standing army consisted of, “elite troops, brave and well-disciplined, led by a prince full of valor and prudence, supported by a staff of experienced officers.”[12]

In addition to being well-trained, the Dahomey army under Agaja was also very well armed. The Dahomey army favored imported European weapons as opposed to traditional weapons. For example, they used European flintlock muskets in long range combat and imported steel swords and cutlasses in close combat. The Dahomey army also possessed twenty-five cannons.

When going into battle, the king would take a secondary position to the field commander with the reason given that if any spirit were to punish the commander for decisions it should not be the king.[9] Unlike other regional powers, the military of Dahomey did not have a significant cavalry (like the Oyo empire) or naval power (which prevented expansion along the coast). The Dahomey Amazons, a unit of all-female soldiers, is one of the most unusual aspects of the military of the kingdom.

Dahomey AmazonsEdit

Dahomey female soldiers

The Dahomean state became widely known for its corps of female soldiers. Their origins are debated; they may have formed from a palace guard or from gbetos (female hunting teams).[13]

They were organized around the year 1729 to fill out the army and make it look larger in battle, armed only with banners. The women reportedly behaved so courageously they became a permanent corps. In the beginning the soldiers were criminals pressed into service rather than being executed. Eventually, however, the corps became respected enough that King Ghezoordered every family to send him their daughters, with the most fit being chosen as soldiers.[dubious ]


The economic structure of the kingdom was highly intertwined with the political and religious systems and these developed together significantly.[9] The main currency was Cowry shells.

Domestic economyEdit

The domestic economy largely focused on agriculture and crafts for local consumption. Until the development of palm oil, very little agricultural or craft goods were traded outside of the kingdom. Markets served a key role in the kingdom and were organized around a rotating cycle of four days with a different market each day (the market type for the day was religiously sanctioned).[9]Agriculture work was largely decentralized and done by most families. However, with the expansion of the kingdom agricultural plantations began to be a common agricultural method in the kingdom. Craft work was largely dominated by a formal guild system.[14]

Herskovits recounts a complex tax system in the kingdom, in which officials who represented the king, the tokpe, gathered data from each village regarding their harvest. Then the king set a tax based upon the level of production and village population. In addition, the king’s own land and production were taxed.[9] After significant road construction undertaken by the kingdom, toll booths were also established that collected yearly taxes based on the goods people carried and their occupation. Officials also sometimes imposed fines for public nuisance before allowing people to pass.[9]


Left: Dance of the Fon chiefs during celebrations. Right: The celebration at Abomey (1908). Veteran warriors of the Fon king Béhanzin, son of king Glele.

The Kingdom of Dahomey shared many religious rituals with surrounding populations; however, it also developed unique ceremonies, beliefs, and religious stories for the kingdom. These included royal ancestor worship and the specific vodunpractices of the kingdom.

Royal ancestor worshipEdit

Early kings established clear worship of royal ancestors and centralized their ceremonies in theAnnual Customs of Dahomey. The spirits of the kings had an exalted position in the land of the dead and it was necessary to get their permission for many activities on earth.[9] Ancestor worship pre-existed the kingdom of Dahomey; however, under King Agaja, a cycle of ritual was created centered on first celebrating the ancestors of the king and then celebrating a family lineage.[3]

The Annual Customs of Dahomey (xwetanu or huetanu in Fon) involved multiple elaborate components and some aspects may have been added in the 19th century. In general, the celebration involved distribution of gifts, human sacrifice, military parades, and political councils. Its main religious aspect was to offer thanks and gain the approval for ancestors of the royal lineage.[3] However, the custom also included military parades, public discussions, gift giving (the distribution of money to and from the king), and human sacrifice and the spilling of blood.[3]

Dahomey cosmologyEdit

Dahomey had a unique form of West African Vodun that linked together preexisting animist traditions with vodun practices. Oral history recounted that Hwanjile, a wife of Agaja and mother of Tegbessou brought Vodun to the kingdom and ensured its spread. The primary deity is the combined Mawu-Lisa (Mawu having female characteristics and Lisa having male characteristics) and it is claimed that this god took over the world that was created by their mother Nana-Buluku.[9] Mawu-Lisa governs the sky and is the highest pantheon of gods, but other gods exist in the earth and in thunder. Religious practice organized different priesthoods and shrines for each different god and each different pantheon (sky, earth or thunder). Women made up a significant amount of the priest class and the chief priest was always a descendent of Dakodonou.[2]


The Fon people, also called Fon nuAgadja or Dahomey, are a major African ethnic and linguistic group.[1][2] They are the largest ethnic group in Benin found particularly in its south region; they are also found in southwest Nigeria and Togo. Their total population is estimated to be about 3,500,000 people, and they speak the Fon language, a member of the Niger-Congo languagegroup.[1]

Fon people
D263- amazone dahoméenne. - L1-Ch5.png

A female warrior of the Fon people
Total population
4.1 Million
Regions with significant populations
Benin (39% of its population) and Nigeria (less than 1% of its population)
Related ethnic groups

The history of the Fon people is linked to theDahomey kingdom, a well organized kingdom by the 17th-century but one that shared more ancient roots with the Aja people.[2]The Fon people traditionally were a culture of an oral tradition and had a well developed polytheistic religious system.[3]They were noted by early 19th-century European traders for their N’Nonmitonvpractice or Dahomey Amazons– which empowered their women to serve in the military, who decades later fought the French colonial forces in 1890.[4][5]

Most Fon today live in villages and small towns in mud houses with corrugated iron gable roofs. Cities built by the Fon includeAbomey, the historical capital city of Dahomey, and Ouidah on what was historically referred to by Europeans as theSlave Coast. These cities became major commercial centres for theslave trade. A significant portion of the sugar plantations in the French West Indies, particularlyHaitiandTrinidad, were populated with slaves that came from the Slave Coast, through the lands of Ewe and Fon people.[6]



The Gbe language area. Map of the Fon (purple) and other ethnic groups, according to Capo (1988). Since the seventeenth century, the Fon have been concentrated in the Benin region and the southwestern part of Nigeria.

The Fon people, like other neighboring ethnic groups in West Africa, remained an oral traditionsociety through late medieval era, without ancient historical records. According to these oral histories and legends, the Fon people originated in present day Tado, a small Aja town now situated near the Togo-Benin border. Their earliest rulers were originally a part of the ruling class in the Aja kingdom of Allada (also called Ardra kingdom).[2][6]

The Aja people had a major dispute, one group broke up and these people came to be the Fon people who migrated to Allada with king Agasu. The sons of king Agasu disputed who should succeed him after his death, and the group split again, this time the Fon people migrated with Agasu’s son Dogbari northwards to Abomey where they founded the kingdom of Dahomey sometime about 1620 CE. The Fon people have been settled there since, while the kingdom of Dahomey expanded in southeast Benin by conquering neighboring kingdoms.[2]

The Oral history of the Fon further attributes the origins of the Fon people to the intermarrying between this migrating Allada-nu Aja group from the south with the Oyo-nu inhabitants in the (Yoruba) Kingdoms of the plateau. These Yorubas were known as the Igede, which the Ajas called the Gedevi.[7][8] The fusion of the immigrant Aja conquerors and the original Indigenous Yorubas of the Abomey plateau thus created a new culture, that of the Fon.

…..  also

Slavery, Bight of BeninEdit

The Fon people did not invent slavery in Africa, nor did they have a monopoly on slavery nor exclusive slave trading activity. The institution of slavery long pre-dates the origins of the Fon people in Aja kingdom and the formation of kingdom of Dahomey. The sub-Saharan and the Red Sea region, states Herbert Klein – a professor of History, was already trading between 5,000 to 10,000 African slaves per year between 800 and 1600 CE, with a majority of these slaves being women and children.[15] According to John Donnelly Fage – a professor of History specializing in Africa, a “slave economy was generally established in the Western and Central Sudan by about the fourteenth century at least, and had certainly spread to the coasts around the Senegal and in Lower Guinea by the fifteenth century”.[16]

Slave shipment between 1501-1867, by region[17][note 1]
Region Total embarked Total disembarked
Kongo people region 5.69 million
Bight of Benin 2.00 million
Bight of Biafra 1.6 million
Gold Coast 1.21 million
Windward Coast 0.34 million
Sierra Leone 0.39 million
Senegambia 0.76 million
Mozambique 0.54 million
Brazil (South America) 4.7 million
Rest of South America 0.9 million
Caribbean 4.1 million
North America 0.4 million
Europe 0.01 million

By the 15th-century, Songhay Empire rulers to the immediate north of Fon people, in the Niger River valley, were already using thousands of captured slaves for agriculture.[15] The demand for slave labor to produce sugarcane, cotton, palm oil, tobacco and other goods in the plantations of European colonies around the globe had sharply grown between 1650 to 1850. The Bight of Benin was already shipping slaves in late 17th-century, before the Fon people expanded their kingdom to gain control of the coast line.[18] The Fon rulers and merchants whose powers were established on the Atlantic coast between 1700 to 1740, entered this market.[16] The Fon people were divided on how to respond to the slave demand. Some scholars suggest that Fon people and Dahomey rulers expressed intentions to curtail or end slave trading, states Elizabeth Heath, but historical evidence affirms that the Benin coastline including the ports of the Dahomey rulers and the Fon people became one of the largest exporter of slaves.[2]

The kingdom of Dahomey, along with its neighbors kingdom of Benin and Oyo Empire, raided for slaves and sold their captives into transatlantic slavery. The competition for captives, slaves and government revenues, amongst the African kingdoms, escalated the mutual justification and pressure. The captives were sold as slaves to the Europeans from the Bight of Benin (also called the Slave Coast), from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century.[19] The Fon people were both victims and also ones who victimized other ethnic groups. Some captives came from wars, but others came from systematic kidnapping within the kingdom or at the frontiers as well as the caravans of slaves brought in by merchants from the West African interior. The kingdom of Dahomey of Fon people controlled the Ouidah port, from where numerous European slave ships disembarked. However, this was not the only port of the region, and it competed with the ports controlled by other nearby kingdoms on the Bight of Benin and the Bight of Biafra.[19]

The Fon people, along with the neighboring ethnic groups such as the Ewe people, disembarked in French colonies to work as slaves in the plantations of the Caribbean and coasts of South America. They were initially called Whydah, which probably meant “people sold by Alladah”. The word Whydah phonetically evolved into Rada, the name of West African community that embarked in slave ships from the Bight of Benin, and is now found in HaitiTrinidadFrench Antilles and other nearby islands with French influence.[6] In some Caribbean colonial documents, alternate spellings such as Rara are also found.[20]

The slave traders and ship owners of European colonial system encouraged competition, equipped the various kingdoms with weapons which they paid for with slaves, as well as built infrastructure such as ports and forts to strengthen the small kingdoms.[21] In 1804, slave trading from the Bight of Benin was banned by the Great Britain, in 1826 France ban on slave purchase or trading came into effect, while Brazil banned slave imports and trading in 1851.[2][22] When slave exports ceased, the king of Fon people shifted to agricultural exports to France, particularly palm oil, but used slaves to operate the plantations. The agricultural exports were not as lucrative as slave exports had been in past. To recover the state revenues, he leased the ports in his kingdom to the French through a signed agreement in late 19th century. The French interpreted the agreement as ceding the land and ports, while the Dahomey kingdom disagreed.[2] The dispute led to a French attack in 1890, and annexation of the kingdom as a French colony in 1892.[23] This started the colonial rule experience of the Fon people.[2]


The Fon culture has a mixture of Ewe and Yoruba presence in it. In the city of Abomey, as a result of Yoruba presence, the Fon people there have their original culture, mixed with Yoruba whom defeated their Oyo kingdom whiles in the city of Ouidah, its more like that of their Ewe brothers and sisters with whom they all migrated from Tado.
Whether by part of empire of Dahomey by itself or their enemy states, many Fon slaves were sold to European traders, who exported to Americas. So, many descendants of the Fon now live in the Americas as a result of the Atlantic slave trade. In United States they were mostly in Louisiana,New Orleans. Together with other cultural groups from the Fon homeland region such as the Yoruba and Bantu, Fon culture merged with French, Portuguese or Spanish to produce distinct religions (Voodoo, Mami Wata, CandomblÉ and SanterÍa), dance and musical styles (ArarÁ, Yan Valu). As a result of what the Fons did to their fellow brethrens through their slave trading activities,the Fons and other voodoo practicing tribes in Benin has instituted annual Voodoo festival for to invite all Africans in diaspora to visit their homeland. The festival falls on the second week of January every year at the Benin city of Ouidah.



The Aja are a group of people native to south-western Benin and south-eastern Togo.[1] According to oral tradition, the Aja migrated to southern Benin in the 12th or 13th centuries from Tado on theMono River, and c. 1600, three brothers, Kokpon, Do-Aklin, and Te-Agdanlin, split the ruling of the region then occupied by the Aja amongst themselves: Kokpon took the capital city of Great Ardra, reigning over the Allada kingdom; Do-Aklin founded Abomey, which would become capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey; and Te-Agdanlin founded Little Ardra, also known as Ajatche, later called Porto Novo (literally, “New Port”) by Portuguese traders and the current capital city of Benin.

Aja are an ethnic group also found in the South Sudan state of Western Bahr el Ghazal. They mostly live along the upper reaches of the Sopo River.[1]

Ewe People of Ghana, Togo, Nigeria , Benin and Ivory Coast.
Ewe People also known as Evê can be found in Ghana, Togo, Benin, some parts of Nigeria and Ivory Coast, they are part of the Gbe Speaking People and related to the Fon, Mina and Aja people. According to Professor Amenumey he claimed they originally came from Ketu in Dahomey Present day Benin which is considered as a Yoruba area, they were eventually forced which led to migration from eastward as a result of the expansions others claimed the Eweland extended from the mono river on the western border of Dahomey Present day Benin across Present day Togo and into the present day southeastern Ghana which is believed to be formely British Togoland as far as the volta river, from the south to the north and extend from the coast into the heavily forest hills.


When the great Benin empire reached the zeniths of its power, it extended its boundaries and exercised power over all the west African lands bordering the entire stretch of the bight of Benin, from the mouth of the river Volta in the west and eastward to the present day Congo and to the delta of river Niger in the east e.g. Ghana, Republic of Benin, both across the borders of modern Nigeria. Onitsha on the Niger and many other cities such as Asaba, Agbor, Isele-Uku, Warri, Idah e.t.c. Many of these states and other cities owe their corporate existence to the ancient Benin Empire. The influence of the great Benin Empire was said to have even extended to the present day Sierra Leone in the west.

The legendary fame of the Great Benin empire was such that the name Benin had many meanings, e.g. there was Benin-city and Benin empire, Benin river close to the new Benin (Warri) and there is the bight of Benin and the Benin district comprising of Sapele and Warri. Beyond the Gulf of Benin, the great Benin Empire’s legendary fame was indeed wide spread. Several European states heard about the empires might and civilized attitudes, many sought for it.

That a vast stretch of the West African coastline bears the name ” BIGHT OF BENIN” is no accident of history. Even until these day, it quite evident and amazing how the cultural influence of the ancient Benin empire remains strong till today. An independent republic of former Dahomey in 1975 decided to change its name to the republic of Benin as a way of reconnecting its roots to Africa’s once glorious kingdom.

The republic of Togo on the other hand named some of her prestigious institutions after the great Benin empire e.g. Universite du Benin, Togo hotel du Benin e.t.c. President Gnassingbe Eyadema during his 1974 visit to Benin City openly stated that the Togolese people originated from the ancient Benin Empire. His open declaration was cardinal in the sense that it ended the historical dilemma that clouded the ancient Benin and present day Benin speaking Yoruba influence on many West African nations. The Political & Spiritual Purpose of the Holy Land nations.

Today, the people of Onitsha across the Niger, the Isekiris, Urobos, Isian and Ijaws just to mention but a few all proudly trace their venerated royal lineages to the ancient Benin empire.


My highest ancestry regions are Benin Togo 40% Cameroon Congo 22% Ivory Coast Ghana 12%

I also have 2% Iberian Peninsula Portuguese/Spanish which correlates with Benin history and the Portuguese slave history.

We were sold for guns and material things but I’m genetically more African than some Africans especially in the north and east.  We are called white or Europeans by some but the truth is in our DNA. If I’m claiming anything I’m claiming a legacy that was stolen and destroyed. I want it back and if you check out this blog I dig into everything. This is dear to my heart for my ancestors. The truth will set you free as they say. Africans and the Africans that went into captivity we hold a missing link we each have half of the history. We are one.

Benin’s largest ethnic group is the Fon (39%), followed by the Adja (15%), Yoruba (12%) and Bariba (9%). Togo’s largest ethnic groups are the Ewe (21%), Kabye (12%), Mina (3.2%) and Kotokoli (3.2%). Benin has more ethnic ties to its neighbor Nigeria; Togo has more links to Ghana. These ethnic ties are the result of long-standing kingdoms that flourished before European colonists created new borders.

Ewe people show high Togo and Ghana

Ga Dangme show high Togo and Ghana

Yoruba show high Benin and Togo and Ghana and Nigeria

Below results are similar to mine above and are African American


GHANA (Ewe from Peki/Volta region) 




They are particularly found in southern Togo (formerly French Togoland), Volta Region in southeastern Ghana (formerly British Togoland), and in southwestern parts of Benin. The Ewe region is sometimes referred to as the Ewe nation or Eʋedukɔ́ region (Togoland in colonial literature). Wikipedia

This is a very insightful even if perhaps counterintuitive breakdown for a Ghanaian person. The predominant score is afterall “Benin/Togo” combined with a smaller but still considerable proportion of “Ivory Coast/Ghana”. The socalled “Benin/Togo” region has been reported very frequently and also with high scores among African Americans and also West Indians. Often surprisingly so. I have no complete certainty about the ethnic background of the person whose DNA results are being shown above. However judging from his name and his family’s location in theVolta regionof Ghana, nearby the Togolese border. And more specifically their hometown being Peki, a traditional Ewe state, this person could very well be anEwe, an ethnic group living in eastern Ghana as well as southern Togo (see alsothis map).

 Ewe People of Ghana, Togo, Nigeria , Benin and Ivory Coast.

Ewe People also known as Evê can be found in Ghana, Togo, Benin, some parts of Nigeria and Ivory Coast, they are part of the Gbe Speaking People and related to the Fon, Mina and Aja people. According to Professor Amenumey he claimed they originally came from Ketu in Dahomey Present day Benin which is considered as a Yoruba area, they were eventually forced which led to migration from eastward as a result of the expansions others claimed the Eweland extended from the mono river on the western border of Dahomey Present day Benin across Present day Togo and into the present day southeastern Ghana which is believed to be formely British Togoland as far as the volta river, from the south to the north and extend from the coast into the heavily forest hills.

The DNA of my Ghanian cousin on Ancestry DNA below


Regions: Ivory Coast/Ghana, Benin/Togo

Trace Regions: Cameroon/Congo, Nigeria






Ga Dangme

The Ga-AdangmeGã-AdaŋbɛGa-Dangme, or GaDangme are an ethnic group in Ghana andTogo. The Ga and Adangbe people are grouped respectively as part of the Ga–Dangmeethnolinguistic group.[2][3]



MarcelDesailly.JPG George Ayittey detail.jpg Obo Addy.jpg
Marcel Desailly George Ayittey Obo Addy
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey Kaunas 2009.jpg JAnkrahhead.jpg Eric Adjetey Anang.jpg
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey Joseph Ankrah Eric Anang
Paul Sackey Stade francais 2012-03-03.jpg Nii amugi.png Rear Admiral David Animle Hansen.jpg
Paul Sackey Nii Amugi II David Hansen


Total population
(Approximately 2.0 million[1])
Regions with significant populations
Ghana – Greater Accra Region & Eastern Region-, Togo, as well as the United KingdomGermany,Brazil the United States of America, and Canada
Ga and Adangme
Christianity • Traditional • Islam • Hinduism

The Ga-Adangmes are one ethnic group that lives primarily in the Greater AccraEastern Region and the Volta Region of Ghana. Others areas are Aného in Togo and Benin.

The Ga peoples were organized into six independent towns (Accra (Ga Mashie), Osu,LaTeshieNungua, and Tema). Each town had a stool, which served as the central object of Ga ritual and war magic. Accra became the most prominent Ga-Dangme towns and is now the heartbeat and capital of Ghana.[4] The Ga people were originally farmers, but today fishing and trading in imported goods are the principal occupations. Trading is generally in the hands of women, and a husband has no control over his wife’s money. Succession to most offices held by women and inheritance of women’s property are by matrilineal descent. Inheritance of other property and succession to male-held public offices are by patrilineal descent. Men of the lineage live together in a men’s compound, while women, even after marriage, live with their mothers and children in a women’s compound. Each Ga town has a number of different cults and many gods, and there are a number of annual town festivals.[4]

The Adangme people occupy the coastal area of Ghana from Kpone to Ada, on the Volta River and South Atlantic Ocean along the Gulf of Guinea and inland along the Volta River. The Adangme People include the Ada, Kpong,Krobo, Ningo, Osuduku, Prampram, and Shai, all speaking Adangbe of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. [5] The Adangme People have the largest Population among the two related Ga-Adangme People. About 70% of the Greater Accra Regional Land is owned by the Adangmes located in Dangme East and Dangme West Districts of Ghana. Also, in the Eastern Region and Volta Region of Ghana, about 15% of lands belong to the Adangme People. These are mainly in the Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo Districts of the Eastern Region. In the Agotime Area of Volta Region and the Adangbe Area in the Southern part of Togo.

3 thoughts on “Tracing my Benin/Togo ancestry”

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