THE REIGN OF DOM ANTONIO DOMINGO (OLU OYENAKPAGHA OR OBANIGHENREN) PART 2

That day in the year 1657 was one of the great joy of Olu ANTONIO DOMINGO and the Christian Marriage between him and the half-caste was at once solemnized.
Father Angelo was handicapped by the fact that the people had to be taught in Portuguese instead of Italian but a closer link with Sao Tome helped for a while since it was possible to bring in a few teachers. Father Angelo and his colleague travelled extensively in the Kingdom and succeeded in converting a large number of people.
The converts may have been mostly members of the Royal Family and the Nobility. If the common people accepted conversion, it may have been from a desire to please their King and Chiefs rather than because of real belief in the Alien Religion.

For some time the Portuguese Authorities in Sao Tome allowed the Italian Mission to continue its work. There was however a growing suspicion that if it were allowed to go on for too long, Italian Christian activity might divert the loyalty of the ITSEKIRI people and secure commercial concessions to the detriment of the dwindling Portuguese interest.
Though, the Italians did not in fact show signs of commercial interest, four years in Warri at a stretch was enough; the Missionaries wanted some rest and so went to Sao Tome whence the suspicious Portuguese refused to allow them to return.

It was not only the Priest who failed to visit Warri; the Olu found that Ships which used to trade between Warri and Sao Tome had ceased to operate. This was a matter of great concern to the administration because it was from this trade that the Olu had derived most of his revenue.
And without the Missionaries and the Ships the supply of goods ceased which the Kingdom needed to ward off foreign foes, especially Benin, with which state relations were becoming more and more strained.

The people of Benin were meanwhile reaping the benefits of trade with the DUTCH who sold them large stocks of Arms.
Since the Dutch did not consider it worth while to trade with Warri there was an ever-present fear that should the Oba of Benin decide to invade the smaller Kingdom, the odds would be in his favour. At the same time, internally all was not well with the Warri Kingdom itself. It is likely that many of the Chiefs had never been reconciled to the rise of an Alien Creed, displacing indigenous Religious practices.
From time to time there were sporadic revolts which were mercilessly quelled. “A Chief who led one of these revolts was summarily executed and his Son fled to establish himself on the fringe of the Kingdom between Warri and the City of Benin where he represented a constant threat to the Olu”.

Tension existed between Benin and the Warri Kingdom, also because of the increasing activities of the ITSEKIRIS in the URHOBO Country which the Bini claimed as their sphere of influence. The ITSEKIRI territory was comparatively unproductive and the people depended for many commodities on the URHOBO Country. This was a source of irritation to the Bini.
Moreover, because of the relationship between Warri and the Portuguese, the Olu of Warri claimed that he was an Independent Sovereign. He treated the Oba of Benin as the equal Ruler of the neighbouring State and nothing else.
This was an intolerable position for any powerful King of Benin.

At the same time, the Ijoh were becoming a serious menace to trading Vessels and the Olu thus found his Kingdom threatened from both sides. Even if the ITSEKIRI were allowed to trade with Benin, they found the Benin River blocked by Ijoh Pirates whose Boats patrolled the length and breadth of the River.

The ITSEKIRI felt they were fighting for their very survival and it was probably their need for Arms which prompted the Olu to appeal again for the resumption of Missionary activities.
This time his appeal was directed to the King of Portugal instead of to the Pope. While his letter emphasized the Religious needs of the Country it also expressed concern at the lapsing of trade between his Country and Portugal.
He reminded the King that successive Portuguese Governments had compelled Portuguese Merchants to come to Warri to trade. His letter implied that since the Portuguese had a Monopoly of Trade in the Warri Kingdom they should make it a point of duty to trade there.

END OF PART TWO

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART THREE

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