Benin and the Europeans 1485-1897.

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London: Longman Group, 1977

The Benin Kingdom—an historical perspective , English and Dutch beginnings , The Capuchin missions , The Dutch at Ughoton , The slave-trade era , British encroachment.

The Study of Benin History and Culture. Begun in 1956 under the directorship of Dr. K. O. Dike, the Benin Scheme was one of the earliest interdisciplinary projects devoted to the study of the history of Africa south of the Sahara. By bringing together anthropologists, historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, and concentrating their attention upon an African state renowned for the depth of its historical tradition and the richness of its cultural heritage, the scheme purposed to demonstrate that the past of an African people may be reconstructed in exactly the same manner as that of any other people for which similar evidence is available, and that the lack of certain con ventional materials of historical research did not preclude research that measured up to the standards of modern historiography. The scheme has, I believe, shown the value ofthe interdisciplinary—perhaps the multidisciplinary—approach in African historical studies; it has also highlighted the difficulties encountered when we try to marry the material obtained through research in one discipline with that obtained through another. With Benin, for example, we have four main bodies of evidence at our disposal: documentary material, which is entirely European in origin; oral tradition, or the accounts of the past handed down to the present by word of mouth through successive generations; the society as it is; the material remains of the past, including the thousands of brass and ivory works for which Benin is famous.