Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chief Bennett Osita Umunna

Nigerian business man, politician and father of Chuka Umunna (tipped to be the first black Prime Minister of the UK) he became a director of Crystal Palace in the late eighties after investing £50,000 in the club and then the chairman of Rangers International (Nigeria). 

In the 90s Mr Umunna declared his intentions to run for governor of Anambra state. Sadly he was killed in a car accident soon after declaring his gubernatorial ambitions.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Walter Richard Samuel Miller (1872 to 1952)

Walter Richard Samuel Miller
1872 to 1952
Anglican (C.M.S.) 
England/ Nigeria 

Dr. Walter Miller, a pioneer medical and education missionary.
He worked in Nigeria for over forty eight years and was a close friend of Lord Lugard. At the time this picture was taken, he was living in retirement near Bukuru Nigeria. (Nigeria Magazine 1950)

His obituary in the Times of 1952 describes him as the "the apostle of (sic) the Hausa." Indeed he was. One of the Hausa, apparently a Muslim, in an anonymous biography of Dr. Miller written in Hausa, eulogizes him thus:

Likita Mila yana son Hausawa da Fulani fiye da misali. Idan da za a kirga irin aikin da ya yi na taimako dai dai da dai dai da kowa ya yi mamaki […] Idan akwai Turawan day a kamata a tuna da su saboda aikin cid a da kasan nan tamu gaba, idan akwai wanda ya isa godiya ga dubbai, idan akwai wnada ya kamata a rubuta tarihinsa da rubutun dutse, ko da kumfan zinari, Likita Mila yana daya daga chin wadannan.
Meaning: "Dr. Miller loved the Hausa and the Fulani very much. If his humanitarian services were to be counted one by one, they would all be surprised. If there are Europeans to be remembered for their contributions to the development of our land, if there are any to be thanked and their biographies written in gold, then Dr. Miller must be one of them." 

Walter Richard Samuel Miller was the only son out of the eight children born to his parents. At his birth in 1872, his mother, who had been looking forward to having a son, decided to name him Samuel and dedicated him to the service of the Lord, thus following in the footsteps of Hannah in the Bible. Young Samuel was converted at the age of fourteen at a children's special service mission held at Clifton College. 

As he was growing up, Samuel nurtured the thought of working in the colonial bureaucracy in India although his father wanted him to go into business. He ended up, however, in medical school--St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School being the obvious choice for him. While attending one of the camp meetings at Keswick, Miller considered becoming a missionary doctor after listening to Mrs. Bird Bishop tell stories of the needs she saw during her travels in Tibet. He filled out the declaration form from the Student Volunteer Missionary Union (a part of the Student Christian Movement) to register his intentions of becoming a missionary. He had considered northern Nigeria as a possible option to begin his missionary career and had in fact spent three months in Egypt studying Arabic in preparation for such a venture but Hausa--not Arabic--had captured his attention. Nevertheless, an appeal from Canon--later Bishop--Taylor Smith, a missionary to Sierra Leone, to assist in the growing medical needs in Freetown took him to Sierra Leone instead of northern Nigeria in 1897. However, Miller did not stay long in Freetown as a bout of malaria sent him home not long after his arrival there. 

Nigeria continued to be an attraction for Miller. In England he assembled a team of likeminded people that included Bishop Herbert Tugwell, E. A. Richardson, Claud Dudley Ryder, and Richard Burgin, and they began to make preparations to visit northern Nigeria. But before setting out they were sent to Tripoli, Libya, for further Hausa language training. In Tripoli Miller met Abdul Majid Tafida, a lad from Kastina in northern Nigeria who had accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The lad's father had died in the Sahara desert en route to the Holy Land but the lad, undeterred, had continued on, wanting to complete the religious obligation. Miller helped him reach Mecca and promised he would see him again in Egypt upon his return. But by the time Abdul Majid got back from Mecca, Miller had returned to England on his way to Nigeria. 

The party of five young men left Liverpool in 1899 and arrived in Lagos around Christmas that same year. Their goal was to get to the city of Kano, famous among the Hausa but little known to Europeans. A year earlier Canon Robinson had visited Kano and learned quite a bit of Hausa-enough to write out its grammar--but he had also, as Miller noted, "experienced almost unbelievable difficulties." [1] Apart from doing missionary work Miller was commissioned by the British and Foreign Bible Society to translate the Bible into Hausa. 

In January the party began its journey on horseback and on foot from Lagos to Kano--a distance of about 800 miles. Finally after three months of a long and toiling journey the missionaries got to Kano through Zaria, another Hausa town south of Kano. 

In Kano the party received a cold reception from Emir Aliyu the Great who refused to grant any of their requests. The emir told them, "Start a school? No. We have our own and our children are taught the Holy Kur'an. Medical work? No. Our medicine is in the Holy Kur'an and the name of Allah! We don't want you; you can go. I give you three days to prepare--a hundred donkeys to carry your loads back to Zaria, and we never wish to see here again." Miller and his companions would have been killed but for the intervention of the Waziri (Prime Minister) who refused to allow any harm to be done to them. 

The emir of Zaria was equally reluctant to allow them to settle in his domain. As they wondered where to go, as they did not intend to return to Lagos, they got a letter from Colonel Lowry Cole who was "in charge of a military expedition to take over the Hausa country" [2] asking them to move southward from Zaria to a military camp in Girku where they could be given protection until an agreement could be reached with the emir of Zaria. 

While waiting for further instructions in Girku, Claude Ryder died of dysentery followed by E. A. Richardson three days later. Then came the bad news: all the British soldiers had to go to Ghana to fight in the Ashanti-British war. With the soldiers gone, The missionaries lost their protection. The Emir of Zaria Kwasau ordered some "highwaymen" to destroy the temporary mission station. One early morning as Miller recalled, "All our huts were on fire; our stores, my medical instruments and drugs all burning; our sleeping hut and little grass church alone remaining." [3]Afterward Governor Lord Lugard ordered the missionaries to leave Girku and move southward to Loko, on the Benue River, where two other missionaries recently recruited for the Hausa mission, Rev. G. P. Bargery, and Hans Vischer, met them. 

Meanwhile, Bishop Tugwell had returned to his diocese in Lagos and Miller, sick with malaria, went back to England along with Burgin, the fifth member of the original party. Thus ended the first attempt to begin mission work among the Hausa. Only Bargery and Vischer remained in Loko. 

In England Miller made contact with Abdul Majid, the lad he had met in Tripoli who was staying with some missionaries in Egypt. Arrangements were made for Abdul Majid to meet Miller in England. The two returned to Nigeria in 1901 but when they got to Loko, only Bargery was there; Vischer had left to attend his father's funeral in Switzerland. 

Meanwhile, the situation in Zaria was now favorable to mission work as the colonial soldiers had saved Zaria from attack by a notorious slave trader named Nagwamachi, the emir of Kontagora also known as the "King of the Sudan." [4] This endeared the British to the emir of Zaria and, as an act of gratitude, he invited Miller and his colleagues to Zaria. Miller and Bargery arrived in 1902. 

The emir gave Miller a place to build a mission compound. Having settled down, Miller began translating the Bible and started his medical work. Nevertheless when he realized that the people did not trust his medicine he decided that the better option was to open a school. This initiative did, indeed, prove more successful as the emir and some of his courtiers sent their children to the school. Miller kept a dispensary open, however, as a way of gradually gaining the people's confidence in the white man's medicine. 

The school began as a boys' school but later girls were admitted. To help the girls, missionary ladies were recruited, one of whom was Miller's sister Ethel who would later gain a reputation for unguarded attacks on Islam. News of Miller's school in Zaria spread throughout northern Nigeria and the new students were recruited from beyond Zaria even as far away as the Plateau, Kabba, and Niger provinces. 

The mission compound expanded rapidly but this growth created tension between the mission and its hosts. The situation worsened with the arrival of children of Hausa converts who had already heard about Isa (Jesus) through a fiery Qur'anic teacher, Ibrahim. Ibrahim had taught that Isa was superior to Mohammed and had begun to revere Isa above the Prophet. Before being impaled in the market square in Kano for refusing to recant his teaching, he had asked his followers to flee Kano to neighboring Hausa cities to await preachers from the West who would tell them more about Isa. Some of Ibrahim's disciples (called Isawa or "the followers of Isa") met Miller in Zaria in 1913 and told him their stories.[5] The Isawa children soon formed the majority of the students in Miller's school in the city. The growth of the Christian population in the city required more space but the emir would not allow further expansion except outside the city. 

Miller also became engrossed in the politics of the emirate because he saw that Zaria suffered under the rule of their oppressive emir named Aliyu. This involvement endeared Miller in the hearts of the ordinary Hausa who came to him at night to tell him about atrocities committed by the emir. Miller began to send reports of his abusive regime to the colonial Resident [6] of Zaria Province, Captain Abadie, also known to the Hausa of Zaria as Mai Jimina ("the owner of an ostrich"). As a result, Emir Aliyu was dethroned in 1921 and sent into exile. As the new emir feared Miller and did not want him in the city, in 1929 the mission was moved to a nearby site about two miles outside the city and given the name Wusasa. 

Discouraged at losing his friends in the city, Miller moved to Kano to continue his translation of the Bible into Hausa. He finished it in 1932 and it was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society that same year. Since then, the Miller Hausa Bible has been of immense help in evangelism among the Hausa in northern Nigeria. The first four indigenous missionaries to the Hausa sent by the Sudan Interior Mission--all of them from the Tangale ethnic group--considered the Miller Hausa Bible their most significant tool for evangelism. 

Miller's work in Kano became less exciting at that point. He was much more involved in the local church than in any meaningful evangelistic work among Hausa Muslims. After finishing his Bible translation work, Miller became a bit idle and decided to return to England for good. 

But England had changed and definitely had nothing to offer Miller, now in his sixties. He resigned from the Church Missionary Society in 1935 and returned to Nigeria where he eventually settled in Bukuru, a tin mining city south of Jos in the Plateau Province. There he devoted himself to writing projects--one of which was his own biography--and to teaching Hausa as he was now considered an indisputable authority in the language. 

At that time Miller was, as he put it, the "oldest remaining European resident in Nigeria." He died on August 27, 1952 at the age of 80 and was buried in St. Piran's cemetery in Jos. Certainly E. A. Ayandele is right to have called Miller "the best known white man in Northern Nigeria." Miller devoted the best part of his life to Nigeria where he labored for fifty-five years--perhaps the longest a white missionary has ever served in that country. 

Miller never married due to what he called his puritanical background, but adopted African children. The best known of Miller's adopted children were Abdul Majid Tafida (Miller) whom he had met in Egypt and the Rev. Henry Miller, a redeemed slave from Chad. The Majid Tafida family became the first Christian family in Katina Province. One of Henry's daughters, Mrs. Maude Akanya, was the first woman in northern Nigeria to be appointed a commissioner. Dr. Miller is survived by many grandchildren and great-grand children.

This article was written by Dr. Musa A. B. Gaiya, Senior Lecturer in Church History at the University of Jos Department of Religious Studies, Jos

Picture: My copy Nigeria Magazine 1950


This statue of Emotan is located in Oba Market road, opposite the Oba market, Benin City. Emotan was a market woman who traded in Oba Market during the reign of Oba Uwafiokun in the fifteen century. During Uwafiokun's reign, Prince Ogun (the exiled heir apparent). paid secret visits to Benin and on many of these visits Emotan would warn the Prince to stay away from certain chiefs who were secretly working for his brother and on a few occasions Emotan actually hid Prince Ogun from his adversaries at great risk to herself. 

When Prince Ogun eventually regained the throne as Oba Ewuare, he showed much appreciation to this remarkable woman and when Emotan died,  Ewuare commanded that she should be buried at the spot were she sold her goods at Oba Market . 

A sacred tree "Uruhe" was planted in her honour.

During the reign of  Oba Osemwende {1816AD-1848AD} the commemorative tree fell and another Uruhe tree was replanted on the same spot. That tree fell again in the 1950s. 


A lasting monument, a statue, made by JA Danfordd, the western regional Director of the British Council, was erected on March 11, 1954 by the Benin Divisional council and unveiled by Oba Akenzuwa on March 20, 1954.

Picture taken in the 1960s

A Nigerian Icon: Tai Solarin (20 August 1922 – 27 June 1994)

Augustus Taiwo "Tai" Solarin was a Nigerian educator and author. He established the famous Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State in 1956. In 1952, Solarin became the principal of Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo, a post he held till 1956 when he became the proprietor and principal of Mayflower School.

"...By the time he graduated from Wesley, Ibadan, in 1936 and finished his five year teaching appointment with Rev. Mellaw, he decided to enlist in the Royal Air Force and leave the country in 1942, when the war in Europe was still raging, Solarin trained as a pilot with the RAF in Canada between 1942 and 1944 ( he could take a plane into the air but could not land it and so did not make his commission)" After he was discharged from the RAF he decided to study in Manchester University in 1946 and the University of London in 1949 where he obtained his bachelors and masters degrees respectively. It was in Manchester (1947) he met his future wife Sheila and they married in 1951. - NewsWatch Nov 1985


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji (19 May 1964 – 12 August 1989)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of Nigerian football player Samuel Okwaraji. He died while playing for Nigeria in the 1990 Fifa World Cup qualifying against Angola at the National Stadium in Lagos.

Even though he was also a qualified lawyer with an LLM in international law, his football career was what brought him to great prominence. He had a career in Europe which included playing for NK Dinamo Zagreb, VfB Stuttgart and SSV Ulm 1846. 

He made his debut for Nigeria against Algeria at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu in a Seoul 1988 Olympic qualifier.
He also played a key role at the 1988 African Cup of Nations in Morocco, where he scored the fastest goal of the tournament against Cameroon in the group stages. He represented Nigeria in Seoul in the same year, before his last outing against Angola on August 12, 1989 in Lagos. During which he collapsed ten minutes from the end of the World Cup Qualifier against Angola in Lagos and died from congestive heart failure.

Paul Hamilton, who was then part of the coaching setup, explained how Okwaraji broke into the Nigerian squad as a foreign-based player-cum-student.

"We had gone for a playing tour of Germany and the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) chairman, retired Group Captain John Obakpolor paid us a visit at our training ground. He spoke to (Manfred) Hoener (then Nigeria's head coach) and myself alone. He told us of a young Nigerian student who was schooling and playing football in Germany.

"The student turned out to be Samuel Okwaraji and immediately he was invited to join the camp. Okwaraji impressed me in his first training session and that was how he got invited for the preparation for the Maroc '88 Africa Cup of Nations,".
"He was always among the first to report to camp before our matches. And you cannot miss his hard work and that impressed the coaches and that was how he made the team to Morocco. It was painful that he died just when he started his career. I still remember his goal at Maroc '88 from outside the box against Cameroon. It was a fantastic goal from a fantastic player. That was the kind of memory he left with many of us who knew him".

Monday, 11 August 2014

A Bini's View By Edun Akenzua (Great grand son of Oba Ovonramwen).Nigeria Magazine June 1960

January 4th1897, is a day no Bini  will ever forget. It was the day tragedy struck our country, the day we lost our independence, the day that saw the end of what had once been one of the greatest African Kingdoms. It was the day that James Phillips and six other Englishmen were murdered by Bini warriors.

When it is remembered that for many centuries Benin had maintained good relations with European countries, it may seem strange that these Englishmen were murdered. Too often, this murder is dismissed as " just another" typical act of wickedness by the Bini's, who in the nineteenth century, were gaining a notorious reputation at the hands of the missionaries and representatives of the British Government . But this has not always been so, as anyone who reads the accounts of earlier travellers to our country can see.

Dr Olgert Dapper, whose account of travels along the the West Coast of Africa was published in 1688 said that " the Bini's are all decent people, surpassing all the Negros of the Coast in everything, living peacefully together under good laws and justice , and show great respect to the Dutch and other foreigners visiting the Coast for commerce and also to each other.They are not much given to stealing nor are they drunkards...."

Less than a century later , Jean Barbot wrote, in his description of the Coast of North and South Guinea, published in 1732:" ....Europeans are so much honoured and respected at Benin that the natives gave  them an emphatic name or title of .....children of gods "

At the end of the eighteenth century, Captain Hugh Crow wrote: " .... I was much pleased with the gentle manners of the natives of Benin, who are truly a fine tractable race of people"

Why then did this hostility show it's ugly face in the nineteenth century? Why, too, did such traditionally friendly people murder white men they had once liked? Was it the fault of the Binis, the fault of the Phillips group, or did the Europeans perhaps over tap the friendliness and hospitality of the Binis! 

When my grandfather, King Ovonramwen, succeeded to the throne of Benin, it was apparent that the relationship between the British and Binis was being badly strained. In 1862, Sir Richard Burton,  who was Consul at Fernando Po, a missionary friend, visited Benin. He attempted to dissuade Ovonramwen's father, King Adolo, from making human sacrifices to propitiate his gods. Although the two, in Burton's own words, were " most hospitably " received, it was obvious that Adolo would rather have lost the friendship of the Europeans than incur the wrath of gods on whom the welfare, not only of himself, but also of the whole of his people seemed to depended. Naturally, he found it difficult to regard those men who decried his gods as friends.

The practise of human sacrifice was indeed reprehensible, but because it was so much a part of the religion of old Benin, it could not be so easily dismissed as Burton and his friend would have liked. They attacked too, the practice of slavery . But this also would have been very difficult for Binis to understand . After all, for years had not one of their main points of contact with the Europeans been over traffic in slaves? When suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the Europeans turned around to attack them for a practice which not so long ago, they had encouraged and actually taken part in, the Bini man was naturally bewildered.

To understand the Bini Massacre in 1897, one must appreciate the very great lack if understanding between the British and Binis that existed in those days. On the one hand you had a people, steeped in customs and traditions which were, by English standards, admittedly horrible; on the other, you had the British self righteous and utterly confident that all their values were the right ones, to the point of never seeing that the people they were trying to convert, had reason, however misguided, for their traditions and practices.

Phillips,too, was shocked by the appalling state of affairs in Benin and he did not waste time  in trying to rectify things. Perhaps if he had, he might have lived.

Early in the year 1897, he decided to visit Ovonramwen to try once more to persuade him to stop the terrible customs. At that time in Benin, the Ague Festival was being held. During this festival the King was neither to see nor be seen by non Binis. This was a custom that existed among other African peoples and it was of utmost importance to Benin for it marked the time for rededication of loyalty by the Binis to their King. Unfortunately, Phillips ignorantly chose this, of all times to insist on seeing the King. He may have been ignorant of the customs of the people, but he was altogether tactless.

It must be stressed here that in those days, Binis were, almost to the point of fanaticism, devoted to their gods although those gods were insatiable in their lust for human blood. The Ague Festival itself was a time for extensive human sacrifice. But however wicked this may have seemed to the outside world, it was a great religious festival for Binis of those days. Thus, when Ovonramwen received a message from Phillips to say that he and a party of white men were on their way to see him, he was placed in the most difficult position. He would not violate his deepest religious belief by seeing them , so he sent a message to them to say that they would have to wait a month before he could receive them.

But Phillips did not wait for a reply to the message he had sent from Ughoton ( Gwatto) and he and his party continued to Benin. He was met on the way by Ovonramwen's messengers, headed by Ologbosere.

Phillips and Ologbosere met after the former had covered about twenty four miles on his trek to Benin. Ologbosere, who is believed to have been nursing hatred for all Europeans since they started "intruding" on his peoples tradition, made up his mind that Phillips should not see the King. 
Ologbosere was a brave warrior who loved tradition but he was also rash. He hated to think of a further breach in custom were the King to give audience to Phillips party.

Although Ologbosere definitely ordered Phillips to turn back, it was a sad oversight that he failed to try to explain toPhillips why the King would not see him. It is generally believed , too, that if Phillips had been made to understand our peoples custom, perhaps, he would have respected it and returned. But as things were, he thought it was madness to trek back the twenty four miles, as it seemed ,for no just reason. He refused to retreat.

Thus, we in Benin believe today that our Empire was destroyed through a simple misunderstanding between European and African.

On the other hand Ologbosere, angered by the Englishmans " obstinacy" was bent on upholding tradition at all cost and he ordered his men to attack the Englishmen. Thus , of the nine Englishmen who set off to see the King, only two escaped. Phillips fell with the other six.

When Ovonramwen heard of the massacre, he knew at once that trouble would soon come to Benin. Thus, human sacrifices were intensified in the slender hope that the gods would ward off the danger that seemed imminent. This would help to explain the really lurid accounts of the human sacrifices witnessed  ( and characteristically exaggerated ) by Ling Roth, surgeon to the punitive expedition, in his book Great Benin.

Within six weeks of the massacre, what Ovonramwen feared, happened. A punitive expedition of 1,500 men was sent to Benin. In fact, this was another and greater massacre. An army, armed with rifles, revolvers and cannons was set against warriors , at best , equipped with dane guns and more generally fighting with spears. The Binis were soon conquered.

But this did not satisfy the British . The city was burnt down.
Many people believe today that the British decided to burn down the town as an " appropriate finale" to the punishment for the people who murdered their sons in cold blood. I am sure the British had their reason for this. What ever their reason, that should have been punishment enough. But they carried away all our works of art as well, and today we have to buy them back at extortionate prices from the descendants of those who took them. If the British had been so intent on showing us a better way of life, they could, at least , have given us a better example than to remove our treasures and fire our city. 

With the safty of the nation in view. Ovonramwen was advised to flee. Reluctantly, he agreed and sought asylum in the court of Ezomo, one of his senior chiefs. Ologbosere escaped to the bush. But it was the King the British wanted. After threats by the British, six months later, Ovonramwen was betrayed by some of his chiefs.

His trial on September 1 1897 in the Consular Court House was most pathetic . 
It was a sad demonstration of the ignorance of Ovonramwen and his court. Although he was found not guilty of the murder of Phillips, he was told he could never rule unless he undertook never to deal in slaves and to abolish human sacrifices.  Moreover, he would have to accompany the British on a study tour of Calabar, Yorubaland and Lagos, where good government had been established.

Better they had killed or exiled him than suggest this to a King, whose predecessors never left the Palace, a King, who was deluded into the belief that by Gods own decree he should never leave his own domain. His courtiers told him that it was another device of the British to exile him and that he should go into hiding. They thought the British would grow tired of waiting for him and then would go, after which he could return to the throne unmolested.

Ovonramwen adhered to that advice, childish as it was, and his so that when the British wanted him again, he was nowhere to be found. It did not take a long time for him to be discovered and he was deported at once.
That was a terrible fate for a King who was considered devine, who had been one of the mightiest Kings of Africa. As he left for Calabar, he lamented:

Benin, O Benin. Merciless and wicked.
I go forth on the errand on which thou sent me
The Godsof my fathers will judge thee and me.
In the end it seems that Ovonramwen was more bitter with his own people than with the British. Indeed, it is popularly believed today that Ovonramwen felt that it was some ambitious Bini Chiefs who deliberately betrayed him. 

It should be recalled that shortly before this " palaver" , there was a sharp misunderstanding emanating from political differences in Benin. It seemed that some of the Chiefs were jealous of, disliked and sought to crush the monarchical system, which, traditionally, was hereditary. It is natural that in a land such as Benin where the institution of hereditary monarchy is as old as time. Such open rebellion against the crown had to be quenched with all haste. In a raid that followed, many of the supporters of the Chiefs were executed for treason. Those that escaped were left in silence to plan their next move - sabotage.
It is feasible to conjecture therefore that those trying months during which Ovonramwenwas being tried and finally deported, was most probably the time for which the saboteurs were waiting. In fact, just before the execution of the deportation order, it is recorded in history that one Chief Iyase actually ordered his followers to build a pseudo palace for him in an area lying north west of Benin . He became a "tin god" and sought to seize absolute power. However, the British did not intend that the vaccine created after the deportation of the peoples King should be followed by civil war and bloodshed. After all, enough blood had been shed already in Benin City. They intervened , and , for the meantime, made the power seeking Chief the Regent. After consultations either the people of Benin and on discovering they stuck firmly to their traditional system of monarchy, which was the pride of all Edos and the glory of Benin throughout the ages, as my grandfather, Aiguobasimwin, succeeded his father Ovonramwen and became King as Eweka .

But Binis today tend to attribute the cause of the ruin of thier Empire and it's utter destruction by the British, not only to the rashness and tactless of Ologbosere , who was captured and executed by the British 2 years later, but also to the impetuousness and foolhardiness of the Englishman, James Phillips. Otherwise, Benin might have survived, and probably she might even gave converted from her old ways in peace and understanding like so many other African peoples.

Thus, one can see that there were apparently two sides to that bloody business that robbed Benin of her sovereignty and formed a bitter and remarkable epoch in the Benin History. One was the deportation of a King; the other, the ruin of an Empire. It is not an unpopular belief that Ovonramwen might not have been deported if not for the evil machinations of an ambitious Chief and his radical supporters.


Gloria Okon (1950 -1985)

Gloria Okon was a Lady who was arrested in 1985 by the National Security Organization (NSO) at the Aminu Kano International airport, Nigeria on suspicion of drug smuggling. Soon after, the NSO alleged that she had died in custody, the government subsequently constituted a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter.

Conspiracy theorists allege that Gloria Okon was a drug mule working for the wife of General Ibrahim Babangida .The theory goes on that Babangida spirited Okon out of detention to the United Kingdom and sold the public the ruse of a dead Gloria Okon.

Some have said the late journalist Dele Giwa uncovered this and that is why he was killed.

Nigerian Athletics in the early 20th Century

In the early part of the 20th century, the best athletic performances were to be found at the Nigerian Regiment Sports held annually in Kaduna. The Battalion sports, prior to the Kaduna Meeting, provided an athletic leaven throughout the country at centres such as the ones in Ibadan, Kano and Calabar. These meets produced some exceptionally talented runners like Amadu Panshin of the 4th Battalion (mile and 10 miles cross country) 

But it was in the early 1930s that saw the dawn of athletics in Nigeria, especially school athletics. In 1931, the Aionian group of schools in the Western Provinces started its own competition, followed, in 1933 by the inauguration of the Grier Cup Competition also in the West. The Fisher Shield in the East completed the regional cycle of inter school athletic competitions which was rounded off by the HusseySheild competition between teams representing the schools in the North and South of Nigeria.

The Aionian Shield and Grier Cup Competition went from strength to strength: but the Fisher Shield and Hussey Shield Competitions, after reaching a Zenith in 1939 lapsed during the War. No doubt, this period produced some outstanding athletes such as G. A Garrick who created the Nigerian High Jump record in 1938, H. J Ekperigin whose record in Long jump in 1937 was not eclipsed until 1947, Shehu Kafin Madaki's (Shot) , J.K Oye and S Okoro who both dazzled spectators in the pole vault competitions.

The people behind the scenes who did so much to promote Nigerian athletics must not be forgotten. Some of these names  Hussey, Grier, Urling -Smith and Fischer were perpetuated in the titles of the competitions ; but there were many others, Mr E.J.H. Bowler who made the magnificent laterite track at Kano for the 1934 Hussey Shield and Mr J. B Gott who undertook the task of collecting and training Northern teams. Behind these two hovered the effervescent spirit of the inimitable Jerry Cornes, one of England's greatest runners. Mr C. T Quinn Young toiled almost single handed to bring prominence to the sport in the East and In the West Mr A.H Clift,  Mr A.J Carpenter and Mr Frank Smith work so hard for the sport.

During WW2, The Grier Cup Competition alone managed to keep going. Many of the Army Units held meeting in various parts of the country.