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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Robert Norris, Agaja, and the Dahomean Conquest of Allada and Whydah
Author:Ross, David
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:Dahomey polity
traditional polities
historical sources
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3171789
Abstract:In his book 'Memoirs of the reign of Bossa Ahadee, King of Dahomy' (1789), in which he gave an account of the reign of Tegbesu (1740-1774), Robert Norris, the late eighteenth-century slave trader historian of Dahomey (Benin) included a brief sketch of the career of Tegbesu's father, Agaja (1718-1740), the conqueror of Allada and Whydah. Norris portrayed Agaja as a nationbuilder who brought the Dahomeans and the people of Allada and Whydah to think of themselves as 'one people'. The present author argues that Agaja was far from having been a nationbuilder; still less was he a farsighted statesman who saw to it that 'every part of his dominions became replenished with people'. This is demonstrated on the basis of evidence dating from the reigns of Agaja and Tegbesu. The author further argues that, when looked at in the broader context of 18th and 19th-century Dahomean history, the influential 'nationbuilder' argument looks even more unconvincing. It is unlikely that any Dahomean leader ever dreamed of creating an Aja nation-State. In the mid-nineteenth century the Dahomeans appear to have viewed their kingdom as an Abomey-area military community whose raison d'Ítre was raiding for slaves. Agaja and Tegbesu probably both did the same. Notes, ref.