Could This Black City Have Been The Greatest Wonder Of The World?

benin city in 1897
Briona Lamback
May 15, 2023

Benin City  was a beautiful mosaic of interconnected villages. Long before machinery existed, the Edo people built the walls surrounding their kingdom, which were four times the size of the Great Wall of China.

Today, hardly a trace of the city remains.

Originally called Edo, Benin City was the capital of an African empire located in today’s southern Nigeria. It was one of the first cities to have a resemblance of street lights. Tall metal lamps fueled by palm oil dotted the city, illuminating the streets after sunset. 

The city was Black, beautiful, and thriving until Europeans  “discovered” it.

When the Portuguese snuck in, they found a well-designed city, so wealthy and peaceful folks didn’t need front doors on their homes. Meanwhile, European cities like London were full of thievery and murder. 

Slowly, the colonizers invaded, exporting ivory, palm oil, and pepper and importing guns. Then they burned it all down.

British soldiers looted and burned Benin City to the ground. Today, there is no preservation or replica. Only a lone house and a neglected piece of the wall stand forgotten. 

Ironically, most looted bronzes are displayed at London museums, but Nigeria recently demanded their artifacts back.

Our greatness transcends the lies we’ve been told about who we are. We’ve never needed them to be great, and we must find ways to determine our futures without white influence. Teaching our history to one another is a good start.

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