Indigenous Iron Works In The 19th Century In The Benin City

Project and Seminar Material for History

Indigenous Iron Works In The 19th Century In The Benin City

Table Of Contents

  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract.
  • List of tables
  • Table of content

Chapter One

  • 1.1 Objectives of Study
  • 1.2 Scope of Study
  • 1.3 Significance of Study
  • 1.4 Methodology and problems of Research
  • 1.5 Literature review
  • 1.6 Historical perspective of Benin

Chapter Two

  • Indigenous Technology In Nigeria In 1900
  • 2.1 Indigenous technology in Nigeria
  • 2.2 Development of Indigenous Technology in Nigeria
  • 2.3 Trade and market for existing Technology in Nigeria
  • 2.4 Impact of Traditional skill in Nigeria.

Chapter Three

  • Iron Technology In Benin In The 19Th Century
  • 3.1 Iron works in Benin
  • 3.2 Mode of production
  • 3.3 Product and values of the Industry
  • 3.4 Impact of Iron work in Benin
  • 3.5 Economic survey of Benin

Chapter Four

  • The Guilds And Apprenticeship In Iron Industry
  • 4.1 The feature of guilds
  • 4.2 Duration Apprenticeship
  • 4.3 Nature and categories of Apprenticeship
  • 4.4 Ritual Aspect of Iron works

Chapter Five

  • Influence Of Colonialism An Iron Industry.
  • 5.1 Advent of colonial Rule
  • 5.2 Colonial influence on the indecline of Iron technology
  • 5.3 Introduction of European goods and the incidence on from
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Chapter One


1.1 Objectives Of Study

Technology as defined by Berry, Is “any Application of discoveries of the scientific methods to the problems of man and environment in peace and war” Adeniyi refers to it as ‘a process whereby an individual or a group of people acquire a skill necessary to operate a hand ware either from another persons or through development.

To this end, series of meetings, conferences, seminars, tayslops and workshops have been organized and held on the indigenous production and the advancement of iron tools in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Thus, the objective of this work is to debunk the Eurocentric belief that Africa has no technology worthy of studying before the arrival of European. Also, that Africa are not intelligent enough to process from technology. And also, to locate technology in the realm of the study, Iron industry \ works in Benin.

To this end, the research work is to study the general trend since inception of Iron technology in Benin down to it decline. As a result of competition pose by importation of purier and cheaper Iron bans from European in the 19th century.

1.2 Scope Of Study

West Africa people early learned to mine and utilize their supplies of three important metals-gold, Iron and copper. The production of gold at an unidentified place on the West Africa coast long before the birth of Christ. When Iron was first worked, and also it was first used at a large scale, is not really known. Yet it is certain that knowledge of Iron smiting was gained before the beginning of Christian era. Some historians believe of the knowledge was transmitted from Libya in about 500Bc others believed that it came from upper mile around 300Bc; we know that the rise of empire partially due to their possession of abundant Iron weapons and tools.

Thus, this essay deals mainly with indigenous technology, a case study of Benin Iron works in the 19th century. The period covered the pre-colonial period, the incursion of Europeans and lastly, the period covered the impact of Iron works on the political and socio-economic character of the people, also the decline of Iron technology and technology as a whole in Nigeria at large.

1.3 Significance Of Study

The existence of indigenous industries over the centuries in Nigeria is quite significant for study and history of Nigeria.

The significance of this study is to illustrates, the interdependence that existed between the Sudan forest zones which in turn encouraged the movement of people, goods and ideas from North to south, east to west and vice versa. The study also give an insight into the nature and degree of interaction that Obtained among Nigerian peoples and this also support the argument for a pre-existing unity among people in the Nigeria area before the coming of Europeans.

The significance of the study is to also analyze what obtain in Nigeria before the incursion of the colonial Rule, i.e. Nigeria communities engaged in trade which arose from the fact that different village specialized in different crafts depending on the available raw material.

This however is an evidence used by Africa writers to debunk the Euro-centric on the fact that they developed Nigeria and Africa as A whole in term of technological advancement.

Importantly, the study seeks to examine how objects were manufactured from Iron-ore with a case study of Iron industry in Benin. This effort is undertaken because, the indigenous techniques of production of Iron smithing in traditional societies have virtually atrophied due to neglect and disdain. The situation is born out of the fact that their position has been overshadowed by the importation of foreign goods and Equipment.

Furthermore, the significance of the study is to show or draw attention to a hitherto neglected aspect of Nigeria history. Political history had been overemphasized in the past leading to a study of the spectaculation such as war and lives and activities of great men and rulers. By studying indigenous industries, we can now appreciate the place and importance of the masses who helped to bring great men into lime light and who helped to provide strong economic bases (sometimes through their crafts) that support the various governments.

Thus, individuals, bodies and groups are to recognized indigenous traditional values and harness them into a sound base for technological take off and for Nation building.

1.4 Methodology And Problems Of Research

Methodology is the set of methods and principles that are used when studying a particular subject or doing a particular kind of work (Longman dictionary 4th Edition).

Primary and secondary source were basically used for this project works. The following methods used in obtaining the date for this research work. Content analysis of published and unpublished material, electronic device (internet Browsing). Oral interview and participant observation, like visitation to Archives.

First place visited for content analysis of published material was the library; University of Ilorin library, Harri library. University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, also state libraries was visited.

In the area of primary source, oral interview was conducted on the families who practice Iron works popularly called Igun (Ogun) in Benin City.

Observation which is the process of watching something for a period of time. Thus, the researcher participated by seeing and feeling during the research works.

It should be noted that problems is that situation that causes difficulties. Problem encountered by the researcher was to get and gathered material because little was discussed on the research topic. At the archives, there are no files that contain direct information on Iron works in Benin and collections information were often scanty and rough because of the old nature and poor Handle i.e. they are not visible. And also, some files have been withdrawn from use because they are really damage.

Another problems encountered is the area if finance. Before any interview could be made certain amount of money need to be paid to the interviewer. Another major problem was the mobility. The researcher did not have adequate knowledge of the environment.

1.5 Literature Review

Benin been the home of Art work, had attracted many to have and maintain regular diplomatic contact with. Benin Iron works give plenty evidence of complex society as well as a university acclaimed artistic achievement. In relation to this, many scholars and Researchers are very kin in Benin Art work and Benin History generally. However, some written sources have however been found useful and are review below.

Ryder AFC 1485-1897. Benin and Europeans. The book centered on the relationship between Benin and the European which discuss the origin, political, Economic and socio-cultural activities of the Benin.

The glory of Benin Kingdom and the shame of the British Empire by ANTHONY OKOSUN. He throws light on the state development in the area of cultural value and Benin Art work especially in its famous Bronze, Iron and Ivory casting.

A cursory look at the work written by onions A. Edionwe. ECHOES OF A KINGDOM

‘Great Benin’ is bases on some papers presented by his royal majesty, Oba Erediawa CFR. During the commemoration of British invasion of great Benin Kingdom in 1897.

Mention must be made the work of K.A AGBONTAN. Department of sociology and Anthropology. University of Benin, Nigeria. In his journal “AN ASSESSMENT OF FOUR CENTURIES” (15th -19th c) of Benin Art production of Evaluating the role of the craft Guide system in Benin polity. The key work is the Benin kingdom, pre-colonial Nigeria. Royal patronage, guilds, palace societies.

Also the work of Anthony I Okoduwa. Department of History and International students. Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma Nigeria. In is work “where bottom dropped of manufacturing innovation in Nigeria” the keywords “manufacturing innovation technological” growth Economy.

Furthermore, is the book of flint J.E Snr. George gold i.e and making of Nigeria London (1990). The detail account Europeans Economic Activities of royal Niger Company, the various attack of the native primitives Expedition of the royal Expeditions. For the fact that Benin played a vital role makes it valuable to this research work.

Finally, is the history of indigenous science and technology in Nigeria Edited by R.A Olaoye. This book provides an insight into Nigerians indigenous skills and techniques. The book clearly recognizes the deliberates and consequential destabilizing impact of colonialism on indigenous science and technology.

1.6 Historical Perspective Of Benin

The heartlands of the old Benin kingdom are inhabited by a people who called themselves, their capital and their language Edo which belong to the kwa family. The Edo speaking group of people covers an area extending from the broken, hilly country that boarder the igbirra and Igala in the North, to the edge of the coastal swap forest in the south, were their neighbors are Ijos and Itsekin. Their other boundaries are with the Yoruba to the west and Igbo to the east.

The origin of the Kingdom is lost in myth and antiquity from which survives only a traditions of migration from east that is common to many west Africa people.

Tradition asserts that the Edo people became dissatisfied with the rule of a dynasty of semi mythical kings, the Ogisos, and in the 13th century they invited prince Oranmiyan of Ife to rule them. His son Eweka is regarded as the as the first Oba, or king, of Benin, through authority would remain for many years with hereditary, order of local chiefs. Late in the 13th century, royal power began to assert itself under the Oba Ewedo and was firmly established under the most famous Oba, Ewuare the great. (reigned c. 1440-80), who was describe as a great warrior and magician He established a hereditary succession to the throne and vastly expended the territory of the Benin kingdom, which by mid 16th century extended from the Niger river delta in the east to what is now Lagos in the west (Lagos was in fact founded by a Benin army and continued to pay tribute to the Oba of Benin Until the end of the 19th century).

Ewuare was succeeded by a line of strong Obas, chief of whom were Ozolua the conqueror (c. 1481-c. 1504, the son of Ewuere) and Esigie (early to mid 16 th century , the son of Ozolua) who enjoy good relations with the Portuguese and sent ambassador to their king. Under these, Obas of Benin became a highly organized state. It numerous craft men were Organized into guild, and the kingdom became famous for ivory and wood carvers. It brass smiths and bronze casters excelled making naturalistic heads, bas-reliefs, and other sculptures. All in all Benin attained her greatest glory and military achievement through the increase in metal works.

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