Benin: Africa Riches

Benin: Africa Riches

Latten, Thomas
Cultural Anthropology


Benin is a country in West Africa which, from the 14th century until 1897, was ruled totally by the Oba. The Oba was as a divine ruler, as seen by the people of the polity, who’s power was appointed by God. This man (shows it’s definitely a patriarchal society) was the head of his country’s political system and ruled over all of the local chiefs. Culturally the people of Benin and mainly the Oba had one of the most rich over-all places in all of Africa. Collectively the Obas commissioned hundreds of works of art to be created while in power, and because of this, Benin has produced some of the most highly valued African art. Art was seen as one of the most important parts of life and livelihood for many citizens of Benin. Although art was huge for the people of Benin, they also strongly believed in the importance of warfare and glory on the battlefield. One example is the Eben, or a ceremonial sword, which was widely used as a symbol of chiefly rank or importance and was carried by a special attendant in ceremonies. Benin is an African country that had a government led by the Oba, which was based on inspirational arts and cut-throat warfare.

The government of Benin was centered around the Oba. Each Oba was a direct descendant of the previous Oba which means that’s the Oba’s bloodline was considered sacred and above all other bloodlines. The “Royal Ancestral Alters of Benin” were filled with brass commemorative heads which refer to the historic line of Obas, from whom the current Oba at the time draws his divine and political power or insight. The Oba had complete control over the entire country of Benin, and his power affected everyone and everything. The Oba’s power was so overwhelmingly great that human sacrifices were made to him and his ancestors. These sacrifices were very important to the culture of the Benin people because it was the way each polity was able to give thanks to the lineage of...

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