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Here is a website that presents narratives of British empire building exploits from an hitherto neglected angle. Narratives of European colonisation of other places have mostly centred on commercial and administrative implications and outcomes.
This website is different. The human side of both the colonised and the coloniser is illuminated by vivid descriptions of their interactions with each other. Their feelings are revealed and actions both take to advance or to protect themselves are presented in fine details leaving the reader with a full and complete picture of what happened, where, when, why and who was involved. Powerful leaders become vulnerable when they meet the same fate as the helpless indigenes they obliterated.
Africa was not colonised until late 19th century due to good governance and resistance by indigenous kings and leaders. In this case, it was only after the Kingdom of Benin was dismantled that Britain was able to fully colonise and amalgamate Northern and Southern Protectorates of present day Nigeria.
This website tells the story of how this was achieved.
One strong point of this website is its contents veracity. All claims can be checked against other sources. It includes newspaper articles and headlines published at the time of the incidents, government papers issued and dairies kept by those involved. These sources can all be checked against oral traditions and current Benin practices and compared to records made 500 – 600 years ago through the Benin Bronze Plaques.
There is plenty of materials for a full-scale study of an example of how Britain through independent trading merchants needing support and protection from the Crown acquired its colonies. It is a particularly good historical source as it has lots of interconnections which will provide students with plenty of materials to use in support of their work on point 5 below. They will be able to debate contrasting views on issues and events such as the Benin Massacre and long-term consequences of colonisation.
The website includes page sections on:
Home: A letter form of direct response to some historical misconceptions on Benin with links to an Atlantic Slave Trade information website.
About: Short bios on some key players in the colonisation of the Niger Rivers areas and Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria.
BM: Full descriptions and analysis of The Benin Massacre.
BPE: Full descriptions and analysis of the Benin Punitive Expedition of 1897 by the British.
Oba Overami Trial Transcript: A powerful web page showing how thorough and diligent the British officers were in their record keeping. It shows the commitment to the British cause by officers like Consul General Moor KCMG. This is matched equally and all the way by commitment of Benin chiefs opposition. My own personal reaction to this page is compassion for both sides. Find out why by visiting the page and reading it to the end. Students will be moved by the accounts on this page when they meet and hear directly from key players in this period of history.
To select topics, point the cursor over the topic bars at the top of the page to reveal more topics.
The contents of this website covers the Key Stage 3 history aims and objectives below:
Key Stage 3 History
Aims The national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:
- know and understand how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
- know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the expansion and dissolution of empires;
- gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’,
- understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence,
- understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed History
- gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
Pupils should be taught about:
- ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901
- the development of the British Empire with a depth study (Nigeria)
Benin: An African Kingdom – British Museum
History - The British Empire Collection
Slavery and the ‘The Scramble
for Africa’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition
TeachitHistory: British Empire: teaching resources --->
The British Empire - Where the sun never sets