Ovonramwen Nogbaisi is one of the most popular Oba in the history of the Benin Kingdom.
Ovonramwen means “the rising sun.”
As a daughter of the Benin Kingdom, this story is personal to me. My mother, grandmother and great grandmother have their lineage connected to the chiefs and the Oba of Benin kingdom so the story is personal.
I can remember how my grandmother’s eyes light up as she talks about Ovonramwen Nogbaisi and other stories of the Benin Kingdom. History books record that he ruled during 1888-1897. They were the resistance against the British forces.
Ovonramwen Nogbaisi – The history
He was the king until the British expedition of 1897.
He was born in circa 1857 and was the son of Oba Adolo. When he was enthroned, he was called Ovonramwen Nogbaisi. The name Ovonramwen means ‘The Rising Sun’ while Nogbaisi means ‘which spreads over all’
At the end of the 19th century, the Kingdom of Benin fought to retain its independence and the Oba exercised a monopoly over trade.
The British found this annoying.
The territory occupied by the Benin Kingdom was sought-after by a powerful group of investors. They wanted its rich natural resources such as palm oil, rubber and ivory.
They were independent of the control of the British forces. Although Vice Consul James Roberts Phillips and Captain Gallwey who was the vice-Consul of the Oil Rivers Protectorate were still mounting heavy pressure on them. They desired to remove the Oba and take over the territory occupied by the Benin Empire.
A British invasion force spearheaded by Phillips undertook a mission to overthrow Ovonramwen Nogbaisi in 1896. They hid their weapons in their baggage and disguised their troops as bearers.