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Colonial Cases

Benin (West Africa)

Glamorgan Gazette, 24 August 1833
LAMENTABLE FATE OF DOCTOR DIXON, THE AFRICAN TRAVELLER. - A letter received from Cape Coast Castle, dated April 28th, 1833, gives the following account of this catastrophe:-
  Dr. Dixon was proceeding through the interior of Africa from the Dahomey coast to meet Captain Clapperton and his companions at Katunga.  The King, into whose territory he was about to enter from Dahomey having sworn to afford him protection and assistance, came out of his principal town to meet him, attended by his sons and chiefs, and desired his eldest son to swear fidelity to the stranger after the fashion of the country.  This is done by drawing a sabre and making a long harangue, using the most violent gestures, pushing the sword in the face of the person in whose favour the oath is taken; in fact they show their dexterity by cutting close to the face without actually touching it.  Dr. Dixon unfortunately mistook the nature of the ceremony, and thinking the King's son meant to kill him, drew his sword and thrust it into his body.  The Doctor would have been sacrificed on the spot, but the King ordered him to be safely guarded, declaring that he could not break his oath though his son had been killed.  The next morning Dr. Dixon was sent on his journey, under the protection of an escort; but the instant they passed the boundaries of the King's dominions, thinking the King's oath no longer binding, they fell upon the Doctor and killed him.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School