Oba Ovoranmwen died on January 1914 having lived in exile in Calabar for sixteen years. It became necessary for the British to banish this tower of strength of a King when he would not sign over his ancestral kingdom to them at a time when they were expanding their empire at the West Coast of Africa in the late 1800s.
We know from accounts that King Ovoranmwen much regretted not learning the ‘magic ‘which the Whiteman used to defeat him and which they had used to take away the ancient throne and kingdom which his ancestors had assiduously built over thousands of years.
Had His Majesty not died in the January of that year (1914), he would have had news of how the Whiteman used the same magic to cause similar devastation elsewhere around the world and perhaps he would not have judged himself so harshly.
In the middle of the year in which His Majesty died, the world super powers embarked on the great global war that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. During this time, over nine million people lost their lives with four imperial powers losing their empires: Germany and Russia lost vast amounts of territory and Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman empires were dismantled completely resulting in the map of Central Europe redrawn into smaller states. As if this was not bad enough, 21 years later, they were at it again, this time resulting in the deadliest conflict in human history.
The Second World War started on 1st September 1939 ending on 15th August 1945. The war began as a result of Germany invading Poland with Britain and France declaring war on her two days later. Devoting their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities to the service of the war effort, the world super powers brought about the deaths of up to 70 million people through use of new weapons and technology including U boats which used new tactics to sink ships. In the Battle of the Atlantic alone, over 140 British naval ships were torpedoed by the Germans with over a hundred people dying on each ship. German U boats also attacked merchant ships (source BBC histories). Nuclear weapons and holocausts were also used to bring the opponent to submission. Countless civilians died from resultant starvation, malnutrition, disease, massacres, bombing and genocide. The United Kingdom was bankrupted as a result of this war leading to the eventual collapse of its empire which spanned over a quarter of the world’s population.
Returning to the question again of whether His Majesty Omo’N’Oba N’Edo King Ovoranmwen should have been so hard on himself about not doing enough to hold on to his ancestral Kingdom. It could be argued that Great empires come and go just as the British did after WW2 and like others before it. The empire building and the World Wars one can argue led to the making of the modern world.
1. There was a great advancement in technology e.g. in the air and on the sea.
2. The United Nations was established 24 October 1945 to avoid such future world conflicts. Its peace keeping does a lot to avoid full scale wars these days.
3. Lessons learned from both experiences resulted in the creation of universal human rights in 1948.
4. Trying to spy on the USSR led to the development of the internet by the US army.
5. The internet is advancing all the time to embrace all peoples in a global collaboration for world advancement e.g. in communications and education.
This goes to show that from something strong comes something sweet; a mother does not remember the pains of labor during child birth. However, this may not be enough consolation for all the peoples worldwide who suffered loss of territory, dignity , family and friends and in some cases deliberate twisting of facts to suit the victor’s purpose .e.g. those who suffered the holocausts, the Blackman who was reclassified in genealogy and in particular His Majesty and his people losing their ancestral kingdom.
Perhaps we should not speak further on this.
Oba Ghato, Okpere!
Long Live the King!