THE OBA OF BENIN

OBA GHATOR'KPERE - ISE
Oba Ewuare II (2017 - Present)
Oba Ewuare II
The new Oba of Benin
(2016 - present)

Oba Erediauwa I (1979 - 2016)
Oba Erediauwa I
(1979 - 2016)
Oba Akenzua II (1933 - 1978)
Oba Akenzua II
(1933 - 1978)
Oba Eweka II (1914 - 1933)
Oba Eweka II
(1914 - 1933)
Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888 - 1914)
Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi
(1888 - 1914)


The OBA of Benin

The Oba of Benin controlled the Benin Empire, an empire surrounding the West African city of Benin (now in Nigeria), from 1180 until 1897. In 1897, the British 'Punitive Expedition' destroyed the city of Benin and exiled Oba Ovonramwen, taking control of ...the area in order to establish the British colony of Nigeria. The expedition was mounted to avenge the killing of an official British delegation in 1896.The expedition consisted of indigenous soldiers and British officers. To cover the cost of the expedition, the Benin royal art was auctioned off by the British. The Oba was captured and eventually allowed to live in exile until his death in 1914.

According to oral tradition, the first dynasty of the Kingdom of Benin was Ogi-Suo (Ogiso). The second dynasty was founded by Oranyan, a prince from the city of Ife, Nigeria. His son Eweka I became the first Oba. The present Oba, Erediauwa I, is the 39th Oba of the dynasty.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Oba's power was at its peak and different monarchs of the dynasty controlled an area stretching from the Niger River in the north to the coastal area in the south. During this era, exquisite naturalistic bronze art was created to enhance and embody the power of the Oba. The art often depicted the ancestors in order to establish legitimacy. Only Obas were allowed to own the famous bronze heads of Benin.

List of Obas of the Benin Empire (1180-Present)

Pre-Imperial Obas of Benin (1180-1440)
1. Eweka I (1180 - 1246)
2. Uwuakhuahen (1246 - 1250)
3. Henmihen (1250 - 1260)
4. Ewedo (1260 - 1274)
5. Guola (1274 - 1287)
6. Edoni (1287 - 1292)
7. Udagbedo (1292 - 1329)
8. Ohen (1329 - 1366)
9. Egbeka (1366 - 1397)
10. Orobiru (1397 - 1434)
11. Uwaifiokun (1434 - 1440)

Obas of the Benin Empire (1440-1897)
12. Ewuare the Great (1440 - 1473)
13. Ezoti (1473 - 1475)
14. Olua (1475 - 1480)
15. Ozolua (1480 - 1504)
16. Esigie (1504 - 1547)
17. Orhogbua (1547 - 1580)
18. Ehengbuda (1580 - 1602)
19. Ohuan (1602 - 1656)
20. Ohenzae (1656 - 1661)
21. Akenzae (1661 - 1669)
22. Akengboi (1669 - 1675)
23. Akenkbaye (1675 - 1684)
24. Akengbedo (1684 - 1689)
25. Ore-Oghene (1689 - 1701)
26. Ewuakpe (1701 - 1712)
27. Ozuere (1712 - 1713)
28. Akenzua I (1713 - 1740)
29. Eresoyen (1740 - 1750)
30. Akengbuda (1750 - 1804)
31. Obanosa (1804 - 1816)
32. Ogbebo (1816)
33. Osemwende (1816 - 1848)
34. Adolo (1848 - 1888)
35. Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888 - 1914) (exiled to Calabar by the British in 1897)

Post-Imperial Obas of Benin (1914-Present)
36. Eweka II (1914 - 1933)
37. Akenzua II (1933 - 1978)
38. Erediauwa I (1979 - 2016)
39. Ewuare II (2016 - present)

THE BENIN EMPIRE
The Benin Empire or Edo Empire (1440-1897) was a large pre-colonial African state of modern Nigeria.

Origin:
According to one traditional account, the original people and founders of the Benin Empire, the Bini, were initially ruled by the Ogisos (Kings of the Sky). The city of Ibinu (later called Benin City) was founded in 1180 AD.
About 36 known Ogiso are accounted for as rulers of the empire. On the death of the last Ogiso, his son and heir apparent Ekaladerhan was banished from Benin as a result of one of the Queens changing the message from the oracle to the Ogiso. Ekaladerhan was a powerful warrior and well loved Prince. On leaving Benin he travelled to the west of the present day Nigeria to the land of the Yorubas. At that time the Yoruba oracle said that their King will come out of the forest and when Ekaladerhan arrived at Ife, he was received as a King

He changed his name to Imadoduwa meaning 'I did not misplace my royalty' and became The Great Oduduwa of The Yoruba Land. On the death of his father, the last Ogiso, a group of Benin Chiefs led by Chief Oliha came to Ife, pleading with him to come back to Benin to ascend the throne. Oduduwa's reply was that a King cannot leave his Kingdom but he had seven sons and would ask one of them to go back to Benin to rule as the next King.

Oranmiyan, the son of Ekaladerhan aka Oduduwa, agreed to go to Benin. He spent some years in Benin and came back to Ife after his wife gave birth to a son named Eweka. Eweka I became the first Oba of Benin. In 1440, Oba Ewuare (Ewuare the Great) came to power and turned the city-state into an empire. Around 1470, he named the new state Edo.

Golden Age:
Pendant ivory mask, court of Benin, 16th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art)The Oba had become the paramount power within the region. Oba Ewuare, the first Golden Age Oba, is credited with turning Benin City into a military fortress protected by moats and walls. It was from this bastion that he launched his military campaigns and began the expansion of the kingdom from the Edo-speaking heartlands. The lands of Idah, Owo, Akure all came under the central authority of the Edo Empire.
At its maximum extent the empire is claimed by the Edos to have extended from Onitsha in the east, through the forested southwestern region of Nigeria and into the present-day nation of Ghana. The Ga peoples of Ghana trace their ancestry to the ancient Kingdom of Benin.

The state developed an advanced artistic culture especially in its famous artifacts of bronze, iron and ivory. These include bronze wall plaques and life-sized bronze heads of the Obas of Benin. The most common artifact is based on Queen Idia, popularly called the FESTAC mask.
Benin grew increasingly rich during the 16th and 17th centuries on the slave trade with Europe; slaves from enemy states of the interior were sold, and carried to the Americas in Dutch and Portuguese ships. The Bight of Benin's shore soon came to be known as the 'Slave Coast.'

Government:
The empire was ruled by a regent called the Oba. Today, the Oba of Benin is still very respected in Nigeria though his powers are largely ceremonial and religious. The capital of the Benin Empire was Edo, now known as Benin City. It can be found in what is now southwestern Nigeria.

People:
The Benin Empire gets its name from the Bini people who dominated the area. The ethnonym may possibly derive from groups in western Nigeria, where the term 'ibinu' means 'anger' reflecting the warring nature of the Binis or from central and north-central Nigeria, where the term birnin means 'gated' or 'walled area.' The city and its people are more properly called the Edo.
Today, this population is found mostly in and around modern day Benin City. It is from Portuguese explorers that we get the name the Benin Empire. However, the Bini name for the land and even the capital city was Edo.

European contact:
The first European travellers to reach Benin were Portuguese explorers in about 1485. A strong mercantile relationship developed, with the Portuguese trading tropical products, and increasingly slaves, for European goods and guns.

BENIN CITY (Nickname: City of Blood)
Benin City, a city (2006 est. pop. 1,147,188) in Edo State, southern Nigeria, is a port on the Benin River. It is situated 200 miles by road east of Lagos. Benin is the center of Nigeria's rubber industry, but processing palm nuts for oil is still an important traditional industry.
Founded around the 10th century, Benin served as the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, the empire of the Oba of Benin, which flourished from the 14th through the 17th century. No trace remains of the structures admired by European travelers to 'the Great Benin.' After Benin was visited by the Portuguese in about 1485, historical Benin grew rich during the 16th and 17th centuries on the slave trade with Europe, carried in Dutch and Portuguese ships, as well as through the export of some tropical products.

The Bight of Benin's shore was part of the so-called 'Slave Coast', from where many West Africans were sold (usually by local rulers) to foreign slave traders. In the early 16th century the Oba sent an ambassador to Lisbon, and the King of Portugal sent Christian missionaries to Benin. Some residents of Benin could still speak a pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century.

The city and kingdom of Benin declined after 1700, with the decline in the European slave trade, but revived in the 19th century with the development of the trade in palm products with Europeans. To preserve Benin's independence, bit by bit the Oba banned the export of goods from Benin, until the trade was exclusively in palm oil.
On 1 February 1852 the whole Bight of Benin became a British protectorate, where a Consul (representative) represented the protector, until on 6 August 1861 the Bights of Biafra and Benin became a united British protectorate, again under a British Consul.

On February 17, 1897, Benin City fell to the British. In the 'Punitive Expedition', a 1200-strong British force, under the command of Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, conquered and burned the city, destroying much of the country's treasured art and dispersing nearly all that remained. The 'Benin Bronzes', portrait figures, busts, and groups created in iron, carved ivory, and especially in brass (conventionally called 'bronze'), were taken from the city by the British and are displayed in museums around the world.
The defeat, capture and subjugation of Benin paved the way for British military occupation and the merging of later regional British conquests into the Niger Coast Protectorate, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and finally, into the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. The Benin monarchy was restored in 1914, but true power lay with the colonial administration of Nigeria.
In September 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, the city was part of the secessionist Republic of Biafra.

THE FALL OF BENIN KINGDOM
On February 17, 1897, Benin City fell to the British. On that fateful day in history, the city of Benin lost its independence, its sovereignty, its Oba (king), its control of trade, and its pride. The aptly-named 'punitive expedition' totally humiliated the nation.
The city was looted and burned to the ground. The ivory at the palace was seized. Nearly 2500 of the famous Benin Bronzes and other valuable works of art, including the magnificently carved palace doors, were carried back to Europe. Today, every museum in Europe possesses art treasures from Benin City.
The defeat, capture and subjugation of Benin paved the way for British military occupation and the later conquest of adjacent areas with Benin, under British administration, being merged into the Niger Coast Protectorate, then into the protectorate of Southern Nigeria and finally into the colony and protectorate of Nigeria.

BENIN BRONZES
Two typical plaques. The left one portrays a warrior flanked by two shield-bearers.

The Benin Bronzes are a collection of more than 1,000 brass plaques from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin. They were seized by a British force in the 'Punitive Expedition' of 1897 and given to the British Foreign Office. Around 200 of these were then passed on to the British Museum in London, while the remainder were divided between a variety of collections.
The seizure of the Bronzes led to a greater appreciation in Europe for African culture. Bronzes are now believed to have been cast in Benin since the thirteenth century, and some in the collection date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Bronzes depict a variety of scenes, including animals, fish, humans and scenes of court life. They were cast in matching pairs (although each was individually made). It is thought that they were originally nailed to walls and pillars in the palace as decoration, some possibly also offering instructive scenes of protocol.
Nigeria, which includes the area of the Kingdom of Benin, bought around 50 Bronzes from the British Museum between the 1950s and 1970s, and has repeatedly called for the return of the remainder, in a case which parallels that of the Elgin Marbles.

Coombes writes in detail of the Benin Bronzes in the book Reinventing Africa: museums, material culture, and popular imagination in late Victorian and Edwardian England. In addition to an explanation of the effects of colonization, Coombes discusses how the display of the Bronzes by Europeans constructs particular images of the people of the Kingdom of Benin.

IGUE: EDO'S STEADFAST FESTIVAL
Written By: Adie Vanessa Offiong

Just as Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims the Ramadan, Jews Hanukkah, African-Americans Kwanzaa so the Binis celebrate Igue Festival.

For the Binis, the Igue Festival which emphasizes the ritual of Head worship, ushers in the New Year. It is a week-long event which takes place in Benin City featuring traditional dancing and parades with thousands of colorful-costumed participants. It celebrates the end of the Benin year which is calculated using the moon and not the Gregorian calendar. It also offers prayers for peace and prosperity in the coming New Year.
In his write up - Igue Festival, Ademola Iyi-eweka explains that, Igue Festival is also the time the Oba and some chiefs are involved in AGWE (fasting). The Oba goes into seclusion, not to be seen by visitors. When the Oba and his chiefs break the fast, they are ready to perform UGIE ERHA OBA- a ceremony honoring the Oba's ancestors. The Edos believe in ancestral worship and everybody joins the Oba in Ugie Erha Oba. The Edo man's belief is in no way different from that of the Jews, when they call on the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. The ceremony of the worship of the head-the real IGUE, of the reigning Oba takes place openly at this festival. This is followed by that of the princes and princesses. This is rounded with up Ugie Edohia and Ugie Ewere three days later.
Ugie is a word which means Festival. Before these the Ugie Iron which is a celebration reenacting the conflicts between the Oba of Benin and the seven hereditary chiefs - the Uzamas. Ugie Iron is celebrated after a 4 to 14 days interval of the other festivals.

The Binis have a long lineage of Obas, and Igue is also an occasion to celebrate Ugie-Evhoba among other occasions. During this period, the anniversary of their deaths is celebrated by the Binis, and for seven days propitiations are made to the spirits of the departed Obas. This is done to invoke their blessings on the reigning monarch, his family and subjects as sacrifices are offered to some shrines in the palace. Nowa Omigui, author of History of Igue Festival in Benin City, on edofolks.com, explains. During this period, chieftaincy title holders display their Eben emblem in the Ugie dance as they appear in their traditional attire, according to the type of dress the Oba bestows on individual chiefs during the conferment of title, while the Oba seats majestically in the royal chamber (Ogiukpo). Ancestral gods are worshipped for protection and propitiation is done in the various palace societies. The shrines are considered holy and therefore defied traditionally. The Oba pays homage at the shrines and he is accompanied by some of his chiefs. Indeed, it is a period of merriment, rituals and dancing.
After it is publicly announced by the town criers, the festival kicks off with Otue (greetings). Members of the Ihogbe (a palace society) together with important Edo chiefs pay tribute to the Oba, who presents a bowl of kola nuts. With the kola nuts, the chiefs bless the Oba and his family.
After this, there is a social gathering in the palace, during which members of the various palace societies and the public entertain the Oba with different dances. The Oba himself takes part in the dance. In other words, he entertains his guests lavishly.

Day two is a day for rituals. The Oba, dressed in ceremonial attire with all his wives and young children assemble in the royal chamber. He is sanctified by the Efas (priests of blessings). After this, the Oba offers prayers before handing the sacrificial items to the Isekhure, who offers the last benediction before the Ehondor slaughters the animals.
During the seven days of elaborate traditional and cultural activities, Bini chiefs are seen in their enviable traditional regalia, including the Iloi (Queens) in their Okuku (hairdo). It is a rare occasion of their public appearance, where the Oba's stalwarts (Ifietes) are seen in active service. Traditional dances like Esakpaide, Ohogho and above all the display of Eben by the chiefs while dancing and paying homage to the Oba in Ogiukpe at Ugha Oba or the Oba's chamber are a delight to behold.
During the festival, Ugie dance is performed by all important chiefs, including the Iyase, leader of Eghaevbonore. When Chief Esoghan dances with the Eben, the Iyase follows with the Eben. After homage to the Oba as leader of his subjects or Eghaevbonore, nobody else dances with the Eben as homage to the Oba on that particular day.

The Ugie dance as typified is a ceremonial palace dance performed during the annual festival in honour of the Oba. It is also an ancestral dance by chiefs who perform sacrificial and priestly functions in the shrines at the end of a successful year while soliciting for a happy new year.
As the chiefs dance with the decorative Eben symbol of authority, they chorus incantations, and using Edo proverbs they communicate wisdom, pay homage and answer questions through gesticulations during the Ugie dance at the palace.
It is difficult for anyone who does not belong to any of the palace societies to understand.

The symbolic moments go into great conflicting details about the ritual dialogue between the dancing chief at the ceremony and the Oba. The monarch is seated majestically at Ugha Ozolua and arrayed in ceremonial robes amidst his retinue of chiefs in Ughozolua, as he receives homage from his chiefs in the dance, which reassures him of their loyalty.
No matter how old or grand in size each chief puts up a regal display ensuring that the Eben does not fall regardless of the nimbleness of their dance steps. If it falls, there is a heavy penalty involving sacrifices to some shrines at the palace for profanity.
Chief Isekhure anoints the Oba in the presence of Chief Ihama, other chiefs and members of the various palace societies. After the sacrifice, the chiefs dance to the Oba and his family with the Eben.

Every chief scheduled for Ugie dance leaves his home dancing with his followers. He dresses in his traditional regalia permitted by the Oba or granted him on the day of conferment of his title. No chief is allowed to dress in a manner or attire not permitted him by the Oba. As a chief moves from home to the palace, he dances with two men beside him among others holding his hand to and from the palace.
On the last day of the festival, that is, the seventh day, Chief Osuma of Benin collects the Ewere and then hands it over to the Ihogbe, who in turn hands Ebewere to the Oba in a dance procession and melodious traditional songs about Ewere.

The Igue festival has however endured and continues to retain its main features despite modernization in all aspects of political, economic, sociological and technological development. The Bini Kingdom still pays so much attention to traditional matters because, according to the Iyase of Benin, tradition is supreme.
It is after the Oba has rounded off all his ceremonies that other traditional rulers in the kingdom like the Enogies fix a time to celebrate theirs.

Oba Erediauwa's 30 years on the throne: Benin history at a glance...
By: Eno Louis Enobakhare

The Benin throne was established in 475 A.D. For 713 years, the Ogisos ruled over the kingdom and created 100 enigies (dukes). As Oba Erediauwa CFR marks his 30th anniversary on the throne. This article will dwell more on the challenges faced by the 38 Kings that have ruled over this great kingdom.
One major challenge Oba Erediauwa faced was his suspension by the former military administration of Edo State, Commodore Onyearugbulum of blessed memory. I was invited to play at the Oba's anniversary during the period of his suspension.

As my band played congratulations... to usher the king into the arena, the Oba, revered and respected by all because of his strict adherence to the traditions of his ancestors apparently broke one of the tenets by busting into a dance - half waltz (as he is oxford trained) and half esakpade -a benin traditional dance.
The arena went into immediate excitement and celebration. A suspended king who all expected to look sad and pensive dancing to the music of a commoner? The press men sighed and waited impatiently for the question and answer session.

Oba of Benin Your majesty one of the pressmen quipped (it was another case of Jesus healing on Sabbath day) you should not be dancing to the music of Eno Louis. The royal father said I did not dance to the music of Eno Louis. The journalists either did not believe their ears or that their eyes did not see the Oba dance. The Oba continued, I danced to the music of an Ogbelaka man. There was a thick silence.
My father from Ogbelaka was the head of the royal musicians and thus, extend that right to me. The continuous misunderstanding between the palace and some chiefs reminds one of Ovio, a wealthy man who lived during the time of Owodo.

The last Ogiso, the peaceful nature of Oba Erediauwa and his solomonic wisdom made him deal with such matters in a fatherly, civilized way that stunned all other subjects. Ovio was banished and eventually founded Obior in Delta State where the immediate past Governor Elue of delta state hails. I was there too, to play for Hon Elues homecoming too.
Erediauwa's father, Oba Akenzua 11, faced a major challenge when Benin was overrun by Biafran soldiers.

Was he to remain loyal to the Federal Government or co operate with the Biafrans to become a major catalyst in the Benin Republic being suggested. Then Oba's ancestors quickly intervened and Benin was liberated averting a blood letting that many thought was inevitable.
Oba Akenzua was a founding father to Mid west region with all the intrigues that followed. The western regions asset have not been shared till this present day.

Eweka, 11 became Oba of Benin in 1914. The fact that he ascended the throne of Ovorawmen at all makes him a hero in the preservation of the Benin kingdoms aristocracy, second only to that of Japan in longevity. His challenges and that of his father are one and the same. He could have been banished along with his father but was much favored by posterity. His doggedness to reclaim his throne can only be compared to the fight between David and Goliath.
Ovoramwen surrendered to the British to save his kingdom and beloved subjects from being razed from the surface of the earth. He was not at all a coward or self centered.. He was ready to lay down his life for a kingdom he so much cherished.
Adolor mounted the Benin throne in 1848. Dolor1 in Edo language means repair. Adolor father, Osemwende and grandfather, Obnosa were together the bridge between the rapidly fading past and rapidly threatening future (iro eweka).

Alan Ryder wrote - the threat to the very existence of the kingdom posed by British intervention came no nearer in Adolor's lifetime. It might even appear to have receded Obanosa, bore the title Edaiken - heir apparent for a long time. He was said to have plucked white hairs and sent it to his father to show that he was getting old only for his father to send back to him salt and native chalk, meaning life is sweet.
Akengbuda reigned for 55 years. The Obi of Obuluku had asked for, Adesuwa, chief Ezomos daughter's hand in marriage, not knowing she was already betrothed to the Oba. Adesuwa's refusal and her subsequent murder by the Obi led to a battle that ended with the Obi's head brought to the Oba Akengbuda.

Eresoyen, Akengbudas father built a house of money. The walls and floors were paved with cowries. He subdued the Agbor rebellion and settled disputes in faraway Abor, Akenzua 1 was Ewuakpe's first son. His first challenge was the usurping of his throne by his younger brother Ozuere for one year. The re enactment of primogeniture law triggered a civil war. Uzuere was supported by lyase but was defeated. Akenzua 1 was the richest king to ever ascend the throne of his ancestors. How he came about his wealth has not been properly addressed by historians.
Benin is admired for its government, laws, tolerance and hospitality to visitors writes Dutch trader, Van Nyendael in 1702 during the reign of Ewuakpe. His wife Idia sacrificed herself to fulfil the demand of an oracle for a human sacrifice. Ewuakpe was treated unkindly by his mother's people and he cursed them.

In 1692, Pope Innocent 12 sent a personal letter to Oba Oreoghene who was crowned three years earlier. Because Christianity had crept into the kingdom already, the Pope encouraged him to remain a catholic. One might ask at this point what would become of his ancestors. This departure from the om must have created challenges. But, Oba Ahenkpaye's high handedness led to his dethronement in 1684, the year Akengbedo was placed on the throne.
Ahenzae, Akenzua and Akengbo (1614 -1669) all had peaceful reigns even when an oracle predicted the predicament of Ovoramwen about 200 years later...

Benin Kingdom: Yesterday and Tomorrow
By: Victor Omoregie

Thirty years ago in the ancient city of Benin, a great phenomenon took place: The eclipse of the sun (the moon covering the sun). It was Friday, 23 March, 1979, when Prince Solomon Igbinoghodua Aisiokuoba Akenzua became the 38th Oba of the Great Benin Kingdom.
As he ascended the throne of his ancestors, he took the name Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa II. By tradition, announcement of the name meant that the crown prince and all his children have had to forgo forever the name by which they had been known in the past.
Leaders or rulers in the first Benin dynasty were called OGISOS, with the OBASHIP heralding the second dynasty which began around 1170 A.D.

A general survey history of the Benin kingdom from the earliest times has the Ogiso period (c. 900-1170); the second is the period of the new dynasty of kings or Obas (c. 1200-1897), while the third phase is that of colonial rule and its impact on Benin society (after 1897).

The name Benin's can be found on European maps of Africa from the sixteenth century onward; from that time, the kingdom was an important trading partner. Trading relations was first with the Portuguese, then with the British, Dutch and French. Goods supplied by Benin in 1897 were Guinea pepper and ivory, then cotton and textiles, beads, redwood, rubber and palm oil. Ivory was also exported up to the end of the 19th century.
The Europeans exchanged these goods mostly for copper and brass manillas or for cowry shells from the Maldives, as well as for diverse luxury goods such as European and Indian textiles and fine silks, hats, and Mediterranean coral. Later also firearms and munitions were traded, and a great variety of metal goods, spirits, tobacco, as well as bars of iron and lead.

In the end it was economic factors that led to the destruction of the kingdom of Benin. In the late 19th century, the Niger coast was dominated by the British, who increasingly became reluctant to accept the trading conditions dictated by Benin, and were desperate to take control themselves. They gradually brought the areas bordering Benin under their administration, removing or exiling unwilling local rulers. Furthermore, they started to add the areas delineated as their sphere of influence at the Berlin Conference of 1885 to their territory.
The uniqueness and influence of the Benin Kingdom lies in the fact that in its occupation of foreign lands it established a strong traditional and cultural impact on the conquered people. Probably the greatest legacy of the ancient Benin Kingdom is their bronze sculptures, many of which reside in the British museum in London. At the height of its greatness, Benin Obas patronized craftsmen and lavished them with gifts and wealth, in return for the depiction of the Oba's great exploits as fabulous and intricate sculptures.

Her bronze and carving artifacts that are to be found everywhere in the world today depict the height of Benin civilization as early as the 12th century. The ancient Benin Kingdom had borders from the present day Gabon extending to Togo through the Republic of Benin and down to the entire coastline of present day Nigeria to the east. During the reign of Oba Orghogua, who understood the power of navigation and sea power, he established control over the entire West African coastline. He signed treaties of friendship with many of the local leaders.
The present Edo State of Nigeria is home to Edo people. In spite of different variations in Edo dialects, the language is Edo. These people are all from the same quaver as they left Benin at different times in the history of the ancient Benin Kingdom. All Onojie or Enijie or Onogie or Enogie of towns and villages in Edo State are all blood relations of the Oba. The history of Benin can be divided into three parts.

The first period spans the arrival of Edo people from the Nile valley to Igodomigodo and the reigns of all Ogiso to the last one Ogiso Owodo. The second period spans from the end of the interregnum to the annexation of the Kingdom by the British forces in 1897. The current period spans from 1908 when Oba Eweka the 2nd was crowned and more precisely when the monarchy was restored and authority bestowed by the British to the present day.
There have been three Oba in this period, Oba Eweka who restored the monarchy and power from the British after the deportation of Oba Ovoramwen to Calabar; Oba Akenzua who campaigned for the creation of Mid West Region and the present Oba Erediauwa who is a product of Cambridge University, a seasoned civil servant and a keen writer doing all in his power to straighten the history of Edo people.

During the period of the interregnum when Igodomigodo was difficult to govern, diviners recalled that there was a surviving son of the last Ogiso Owodo who was banished due to the treachery of the principal wife Esagho and the messengers by altering the message of the diviners.
Ekaladerhan refused to return to the city of his birth as he was very old but sent his son Omonoyan in his place. He found it difficult to rule but had a child from the daughter of the Enogie of Egor who gave birth to a son later crowned Eweka the first.

There have been 38 Obas, most leaving their foot prints in the sand of Edo land. Oba Esigie was the first to come in contact with Europeans (Portuguese) and had an ambassador in the court of the King of Portugal. Oba Ewuare, a physician, magician, hunter and warrior constructed Akpakpava Road and renamed the kingdom EDO.
The history of Benin is documented in wood carving, brass casting and oral tradition and it is authentic.

The system of government is a mixture of autocracy, democracy and gerontocracy. The Oba has absolute powers but there is an Iyase (Prime Minister) who heads the town chiefs who can argue or disagree with him on rare occasions. There are the palace chiefs and the Uzama ni Ihinron who are the King makers.
The Binis excel in arts. The wood carving industry is located on Owina Street, Bronze/Brass casting on Igun street and weaving in Ihumwunidunmwun. The Benin artist perfected the lost wax method which they still use till today. After the sacking of the Kingdom by the British forces, a large number of the art works were looted and can be found in major museums in Europe and America.
The most popular is the Idia mask which was the mascot for Festac 77 and symbol to many Black and Edo groups around the world.

There are numerous festivals in Edo land to commemorate important events in the history of the Kingdom. The most popular is Igue Festival which takes place about Christmas time, the Ehor, new yam festival, Ikpoleki and the initiation of one age group into another.
Generally Benin people believe in the supreme God who is Osalobua (Osanoghodua) who they put first in everything. They also serve or remember their ancestors. In recent history there have been many deities introduced into the City from adjoining ethnic group like the Yoruba and Christianity by the missionaries.

The impact and extent of the influence of the Benin Kingdom is exemplified in the renaming of the Republic of Dahomey to the Republic of Benin. Isadahomey was the Benin war general that led the army into the area of Dahomey, and subsequently had the area named after him. So when it became imperative that the people could no longer bear citizenship to a country named after an individual, the ruler of Dahomey Matthew Kereku had to seek the permission of the Oba of Benin for a change in name. Thus Dahomey was transformed into the Republic of Benin, which to the people was an honour to the citizens of the Great Benin Kingdom.
Another influence and extension of power of the Benin Kingdom can be found in the establishment of Lagos referred to initially as EKO. Lagos was established as a WAR CAMP by Oba ORHOGBUA in the 1500s. It was an attempt by Oba Orhogbua to control the present day coastline of Nigeria about 600 years ago.

When it became necessary to establish a government in Lagos with an accompanying bureaucracy, Oba Orhogbua made one of his sons to take charge with the title ASIKPA. It is on record that the first ten Obas of Lagos bore distinctively Edo names. The establishment of Dukedom of Lagos was accompanied with the establishment of the traditional bureaucracy. This evident in the dressings of White Cap Chiefs of Lagos
It is also important to note that the Obaship of Lagos has a lot of Benin influence. Up to the 1920s, the ruler of Lagos (Eko) was referred to as ELEKO.

This link with Benin is confirmed with the building of a mosque by Olojo, the second son of King Kosoko opposite the Oba market. Olojo Kosoko arrived in Benin while fleeing from British agents when his father Oba Kosoko lost to Oba Akintoye and Madam Tinubu.

A piece of land was given to him where he built his house but later converted it to a mosque, because he was a Muslim. That mosque is still standing at the beginning of Lagos Street in Benin City, opposite the Oba Market. That street was named LAGOS STREET because of Olojo Kosoko, the Edo/Eko man who came back home. His descendants in Benin today simply go by the name OLOJOs and the OLOKEs without the Kosoko attached.
Succession in the Benin kingdom is very unique. Succession is by primogeniture, hence there is no in fighting for the exalted position when the Oba transcends unlike in other communities. The heir apparent is usually conferred with the traditional title of Edaiken of Uselu. The title of the Edaiken (Edayi Ni Iken) has a long history behind it; he is the heir apparent who lives away from his father.

Like some other villages around Benin City such as Ego, Use, Oka and Ihimwirin, to mention a few, the foundation and growth of Uselu dates back to the period of the Ogiso. But its significant position in the history of Benin did not come into limelight until the Palace of Edaiken (Eguae-Edaiken) and the Palace of the Queen mother (Eguae-lyoba) were established there during the reigns of Oba Ewuare and Oba Esigie respectively. Uselu is therefore divided into two sections: the upper Uselu where the Eguae-Edaiken is situated and lower Uselu where Eguae-lyoba is established.

Oba Ewuare the Great sent his son, Kuoboyuwa, to hold brief for a man called Iken of Uselu, who was a strong powerful warrior who constantly challenged the authority of the Oba and often prevented Uselu people from paying the annual tributes to the Oba in Benin City. As a result of this opposition constituted by Iken, Oba Ewuare wanted to eliminate him by sending him to the battle front during the war between Benin and Owo. Kuoboyuwa, the senior son of the Oba was to hold brief for him during the period. Iken won the war but he was killed on his way back.
When the Oba realised that Uselu people would react violently if Iken failed to return from the war front, he decided to make the position of his son a permanent one to enable him assume full responsibility of the ruler of Uselu. He therefore conferred on him the title of Edaiken (Edayi Ni Ken) that is the person holding brief for Iken. The Palace of Edaiken was established there.

It has since that period become traditional that the first son of every Oba of Benin, is conferred with the title of Edaiken and on coming of age, leaves his residence in the centre of the town for the Palace of Edaiken (Eguae-Edaiken) at Uselu where he remains until when he is called upon to ascend the throne as Oba.
The Edaiken of Uselu, like the Oba of Benin his father, also has various title Chiefs under him, apart from the central ones created by the Oba himself. Eguae-Iyoba (Palace of the Queen mother) is located at the lower part of Uselu. It was established by Oba Esigie for his mother Idia the Queen warrior who also exercised a lot of political influence in the administration of the kingdom.
Oba Esigie started this tradition probably to forestall the conflict that would have arisen between his mother and himself over the exercise of political power. An almost independent domain of the Queen mother was therefore carved out for her.

Thus it has become strongly -established in Benin tradition that a year or two after the coronation of every Oba, he invests his mother with the title, lyoba (Queen mother) and sends her to reside at lower Uselu in Eguae-lyoba (Palace of the Queen mother). If it happens that the mother dies before the coronation of the son, the body is preserved for a year or two after the coronation to enable the Oba confer the title lyoba on her and later bury her at Eguae-lyoba.
What befell Oba Ovoramwen was typical of the fate of other potentates of the 19th century, who dared to stem the tide of advancing imperialism. The punitive British expedition plundered the Benin kingdom and carried away its rich works of art to museums in Europe. The Benin Kingship regained its foothold when in 1914, when Oba Eweka II ascended the throne

His son Oba Akenzua II added respect to the place of the Oba in Benin tradition. Oba Akenzua struck a balance of stability and progress tradition and modernity. He was a father-figure to all. For his dimensional contributions to the development of his people and Nigeria, Oba Akenzua II received such honours as Justice of Peace, Knight of the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a honourary doctorate degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Today, though the Benin Kingdom has shrunk from its original size, its influence and impact is still being felt all over the world. With a modern King, who schooled at some of the best educational institutions in the world, the Benins have everything to be grateful. Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin, has brought with him to the throne of his ancestors, a combination of modern administrative skills and the extension of the frontiers of Benin Tradition and Culture. Under the present monarch, the tempo for the agitation for the return of stolen artifacts from Europe has been increased. Individuals, Corporate bodies, Federal and State governments have now joined the Benin monarch in asking for the return of these stolen artifacts.

AYOGWIRI AND THE BENIN CONNECTION
By: Barr Aztogwe John Oglue

WHEN in 1478 Oba Olua, the then Oba of Benin died, a republican form of government was set up by the whites to replace that of the traditional, monarchical form of government. This change of government sparked off unrest allover the empire with revolutionary civil disobedience.
There was a break down of law and order because the interim government became very weak.

In midst of this chaos , prince Okpame took the courage to deliver the empire through incessant war.

After delivering the empire he was made Oba Ozolua. It was this period of unrest of inter-tribal wars, hostilities and rebellion that led to the migration of the Esan and Afemai to what is today known as Edo North and Edo Central. Ekperi was a nephew of Azama who was the founder and progenitor of the present day Etsako with Imekeye, Ikpemhi and Omoazekpe.
There was a great hunter at that time in Ekperi called AGIANA who married a Queen called Eleuma. When Eleuma became very heavy, his husband went on hunting expenditure and he killed a lion.

In the tradition of Edo people, it was customarily mandatory for any hunter who killed a lion to fray it and submit the lion skin to the Oba of Benin by himself in Benin. It was strictly enforced by the village Chiefs and the clan heads as failure to ensure strict compliance to this tribute to Oba attracts grave penalties such as dethronement of the village head and the clan head because of the Oba's sovereignty over them. And the clan head of Ekperi clan, told Agiana to skin the lion and send the skin to Oba in Benin and Agiana said his wife was about to put to bed and if he goes to Benin, he might not return at all ,or it will take him at least three years to return so he would like to see his child.
This sparked off a sharp disagreement between Agiana and the clan head and the clan head warned Agiana not to skin it in his land since he is not willing to send the lion skin to Benin. So Agiana dammed the consequences, dared the Oba and was the first hunter in available records known to history to have challenged the custom so he tied a rope on the neck on the lion and took his wife and dragged the lion out of Ekperi and his brothers, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu followed him out of fear that they could be vicariously held liable in place of their brother Agiana because the clan head of Ekperi went to Benin to report Aglana to Oba of Benin as custom demands. It was this killing of the lion that they nicknamed the present day Ugbekpe in Ekperi because each time the Oba sent his traditional police to arrest Agiana in Ekperi they will ask where is Ugbekpen.

As Agiana dragged it along, Eleuma went into serious pains of labour and when the pains became unbearable, Agiana refused to move further and he took her with the Lion to a lake called Ikekhegbe in the present day Ayogwiri and frayed the lion there and, butchered it and used part of it to prepare pepper soup for his wife. His brothers were afraid that they were too close to Ekperi and might be found out easily by the Oba's Police so they left Agiana and his wife to their fate in spite of the incessant appeals by Agiana not, to leave them alone. God on their side, the woman put to bed a baby boy. After many months, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu came to find out what had happened to, Agiana and his wife, and they met him cultivating the land by the lakeside for planting and they asked him, what sex of child did your wife put to bed and he replied them in a logical polite anger-Avhiugwi Omoavhia.
That is, no man gives birth to a vulture, man gives birth to a human being, from that time, any time they wanted to visit him, they would say let us visit Avhiugw. It was wrongly mis-spelt by the whites as Ayogwiri. Ayogwiri has no meaning in our language so we should try and correct this mistake.

The question now is, why is an average Ayogwiri man logical, diplomatic and having a tendency to revolt against any inhuman law? It is not our fault but a game in us that we inherited. One may now ask why was Agiana not willing to obey this culture and tribute feared and paid by all? The answer is that the killing of a lion was not an easy task to accomplish. That was why majority of those who went to pay this tribute to the Oba of Benin never returned.
They were seized on arrival at the palace. They were castrated immediately and made everlasting palace guards and whenever there was war against the kingdom they were made to serve as the leading soldiers to defend the empire.

The, unfortunate loyalists were mourned by their relations while they were away to pay tribute in Benin with the lion skin. They use to curse the day a killer was born because of the Barbaric culture as that meant doom for the one and one's family. Now, the little wonder is Despite the misfortunes one's family incurred by killing a lion, why did people still kill lions with gusto. The reason Agiana did not go to Benin to pay the tribute was because of the risk to one's life and the compelling love for his wife and his yet unborn child because, if people waited for three years for the hunters without return from Benin, their wives would. be given out to others. All their rights and privileges would be withdrawn. Now, if our founder father could save and redeem the entire Edo this Ignoble Barbaric punishment in those dark days, why can't at least a date be set aside to celebrate this brave man by the entire Edo as the Maryslessor of our state. From all available, records to history, it was after Agiana survived this customary disobedience that other subsequent killers all over stopped sending the lion skin to Benin forthwith until all later gradually rebelled against the tribute generally and the custom died a natural death. Agiana was a brave warrior who was the first to change this custom Agiana was a true lover of his family and Ayogwiri was founded with and on natural love.
Agiana was not a hero but a brave hunter. A hero is a soldier who goes to war to fight and die in battle field while a brave soldier is a soldier who goes to war to fight and return. Agiana made the brave choice to remain a brave soldier rather than to be a hero because heroes are found in the grave.

Now, Ayogwiri, where is the love you were born with? Will you allow political differences and trivialities steal this love from you? The Motto of Ayogwiri is unity is power. Are you now leaving the track of unity that gives power to the opposite track of disunity that weakens? Let us go back to the drawing board today to retrace our steps back to history. We have retraced our steps back to our present origin, our root, the Ogieieni of Uzairue's Palace. The first university graduate in Uzairue was Chief J. O. ILUEBEY the Ukpagi of Uzairue Ukpagi; is the only tree that can withstand the painful labour of an elephant. Is Ayogwiri still the Ukpagi of Uzairue today academically, politically and financially? Let us reclaim our true position in Uzairue and the only way is by unity and love and the power to do all good things will now follow. Is the exit of Chief Uluebey from service the exit of Ayogwiri from service? If not, who is an Ayogwiri son who is now in the leading position in the Federal, State and Local Government service today?
The boneless, toothless, handless earth worm says ,it is in imitation of his father that it enters the ground because it has no means of digging a hole in the hard earth, where is the love for our wives and children as Agiama laid down for us all. Do we send our children to school today? When Sir. Chief James Idornigie and Dickson Atogwe were yet unmarried they were training their brothers children. How many people today show that love to even their biological children;

Agiana knew how to live close to a river because of the necessity of water to woman who has just put to bed. That was why he erected a hut close to Ikekhegbe. Every Ayogwiri man has a logical mind of dealing with issues. The killing of lion was the highest way of proving bravery and varlour then. Our land is fertile so nature loves us we have six river~ and our sands are used to build houses. What more do you need from nature with corresponding blessed intelligent sons and daughters in Ayogwiri.
We are praised, called Ivhiuchekpeotor because Agiana dragged a lion to his settlement Ayogwiri-nibo, Ivhiuchekpeotor, this celebration should be made a yearly affair where unity and love should be preached in the Temple of peace in Ayogwiri.

A creditor's silence over a debt -owed him is as good as frequently reminding a debtor of his Obligation to pay his debt for the debtor is never at heart ease when ever he comes across his creditor. Ayogwiri, by this celebration, the love that Agiana found you with is now demanding fulfillment from every Ayogwiri child let us learn to love one another as children from the same descendant.
As hard as an iron is, there is bound to be a mark on the spot where you continue to hit it repeatedly. It is only when there is no sincere wishes for true divination that a diviner puts it off for want of a lioness milk. Who can dare the forest where a nursing lion lives. You may wash snails of its slime to a consumable state but you can never rid off the slime completely if you doubt it, when you think you have washed a snail of its slime completely, add salt to it and you will see more slime than you have already washed.

The vulture that Agiana used metaphorically in reply to his brothers, is a symbol of safety, looking Askance at the vulture does not harm it. The vulture, a scavenger, is not an edible meat. No one normally haunts for the vulture. Whenever it is seen flying past or feeding on decaying f1esr. It is merely eyed either with hatred, contempt or suspicion. The fact remains that in whatever way it is looked at, the vulture remains unscathed. That is so because; all unspoken intention or ill-feeling towards one cannot harm one. The vulture says, is there no wise one in a community where a child fixes an arrow on a string and aims it at it? Whoever aims an arrow ,at the vulture aims it at the head of his father and mother. No one kills nor eat the vulture.

A fire brand should not be quenched by rain in a home where there is an elder. The lion which led Agiana out of Ekperi is the strongest animal in the forest and yet, it obeys the laws of the forest. A lion does not kill because it can kill. It only kills when it is hungry and it is the size of the animal it kills today that will determine when it will kill again. The lion does not live in disobedience and kills at random, otherwise, he would have killed all the animals in the forest at once and dies in hunger too because he will not have fresh meat to feed on nor fresh blood to drink. So it is not all you have power to do that you do. You must allow all the laws of nature to guide you. There is no profession without guiding laws. Nothing exists without guiding laws.

An average Ayogwiri man obeys the law so he toys the fashion of the lion. Ayogwiri was nursed on a lion skin. When a common interest is what is sought, every one should have a stake in the comm. On effort being made to pursue and actualise he interest being sought, since if we are to eat, we must work. Watch it, a lazy child who sees nothing wrong in ransacking his mother's basket as a means of livelihood shall soon become a thief. Let the good lead by example. It is natural that the good and the bad must live together in any community if the black oil does not go to sleep, the red oil will not be allowed to go to the market.

Do not quarrel but if quarrel comes, avoid a fight but if fighting comes, do not go to police. But if police action follows, do not go to court but if court action follows do not send to jail and if jail terms follows finally, when he finishes serving the jail term, he should still be allowed to come back to the village and live together again because if you keep him in exile, he will certainly become a bad ambassador to your community so it is better to avoid a quarrel because if you covert red pepper, people will bring black pepper to you. (ICHORA) you cannot be saved the consequences of your action. He who eats gluttonously without caution until he is sick must be prepared to fast painfully until he is well. I will finally on behalf of Aygwiri Community thank the Ogieneni of Uzairue who in spite of our disagreement for years still restored the Chief of Ayogwiri his rightful position in the palace. Long live Ogieneni of Uzairue.
Your Royal Highness Sir, no one waits for war to come before preparing for the war. You prepare well ahead time. The Federal and State Government are already c1amouring for creation of more Local Government Councils in Nigeria.

A clan is a large group of families that are related to each other with an interest or aim ruled by a clan head.

A kingdom is a collection of many villages ruled by a king.

An empire is a collection of many kingdom ruled by an emperor.

Your Royal Highness Sir, Auchi was clan that has now elevated their quarters to villages and has now become a kingdom to maintain equal status with you.
Avianwu Clan has elevated all their quarters to villages in order to have many wards. Auchi now has four wards.

For Uzairue to now have a Local Government you should elevate all the villages to various clans so that Uzairue can now become an empire. It is only Uzairue that has what it takes to become an empire in the whole Edo North by land mark and population.
A man who made fire before rain starts will not suffer the same cold like a man who allowed rain to start before making fire.

The Azama, Omoazekpe, Ikpemhi, Imeyeke are all children of the same parents hence they were called Ivieira, and Ayogwiri was the head quarters of the defunct Iviera Local Government Area. Therefore, let us be our brother's keeper and live as one in Harmony. This is where we stand. Your Royal Highness Sir, The Ogieneni of Uzairue.
Your kingdom is second to none in Afemai and it will forever remain so because your great grand father was the founder and progenitor of the present day Afemai. So all matchets shall return to the Blacksmith.

THE BENIN - IFE CONNECTION
By: Omo N'Oba Erediauwa

How and where this is done began with the arrival from Ile-Ife of Prince Oranmiyan, the son of Oduduwa of Uhe, about 1170 years ago according to modem historians. Briefly, this is the account. Before the advent of Qranmiyan, the kings that ruled the people that came to be known as Edo or Benin were called Ogiso.
The title is said (by local tradition) to have derived (and abbreviated) from the description Ogie n 'oriso (meaning King in Heaven) and it originated from the wisdom in managing the affair especially settling disputes as demonstrated by the first and second of the earliest rulers known as Igodo and Ere.

I must comment here, in passing, that I personally have never accepted the account of our late illustrious historian, Jacob U. Egharevba when he wrote in the very first edition of his now authoritative book A Short History of Benin, the following:

Many, many years ago, Odua (Oduduwa) of Uhe (Ile-Ife) the father and progenitor of the Yoruba kings sent his eldest son Obagodo - who took the title of Ogiso - with a large retinue all the way from Uhe to found a Kingdom in this part of the world. And in the fourth (and now current) edition of the book, the late author wrote:
Many many years ago, the Binis came all the way from Egypt to found a more secure shelter in this part of the world, after a short stay in the Sudan and at Ile Ife. which the Benin people call Uhe.

The rulers or kings were commonly known as Ogiso before the arrival of Oduduwa and his party at Ife in Yoruba land, about the 12th Century of the Christian era.

It is this fourth edition of the book, which historians in the University of Ibadan assisted to re-write and was printed by the Ibadan University Press, that earned the late illustrious historian the doctorate from that university.
It is not the intention here to discredit Jacob U. Egharevba, an illustrious historian (and traditional chief), but since this write-up will bring in the historical link between Ife and Benin, it is impossible not to point out errors or contradictions in the extracts quoted. There are contradictions between the first edition and the fourth edition of the man's books. Apart from the fact that the Edo n 'ekue (Edo-Akure-.partly Benin partly Yoruba by birth) blood in the man manifested itself, the experts in the Ibadan University contributed to the contradictions.

Confining ourselves for now to the extracts quoted, it is necessary to point out that it is historically wrong to describe Odua or Oduduwa as the father and progenitor of the Yoruba kings. The knowledgeable (and one may add, the honest ones) among Yoruba traditional historians know only too well that the person who came to be known as Odua or Oduduwa had only seven children with Oranyan (or Oranmiyan) as the last and youngest. It is also a known historical fact that by the time Oduduwa emerged in Ife, from the east as modern Yoruba historians usually put it, there were many Yoruba communities in existence and who had their leaders or kings. So Odua or Oduduwa could not have been the father of Yoruba kings.

The mistake that modem historians (including Yoruba) made, as I have found from my own studies, is that they confused Oduduwa with Qrunmila, the bringer of Ifa divination. It was Orunmila who, according to traditional account, had sixteen children, each of whom he sent to rule over each of sixteen communities in his own world, among which were Ife and Ado (Benin).

Furthermore, Oduduwa could not have been the founder of Yoruba kings because, of his seven children, one became lame, one developed hunchback, and another turned to a river leaving four able-bodied ones. Every babalawo (whom love of money has not tainted!) knows these accounts. Still on the extract quoted above, it is also a known traditional historical fact that it was not his eldest son, but the youngest that Oduduwa sent to the Benin people.

That Oduduwa could not have been the father of Yoruba kings, or founder of Yoruba race as modern Yoruba historians now put it, is also borne out of the fact that the Ife account itself has it that there were five rulers in Ife before the advent of Oduduwa and this makes the reference to the 12th Century in Jacob U. Egharevba's fourth edition relevant.
Some apology for that rather lengthy digression; but it is necessary because of what follows here.

This is a convenient point to return to the issue I began this section with, which is where and how the future Oba of Benin chooses the title - name by which he is to be known at his coronation. As stated above, it all began with the arrival of Prince Oranmiyan from Ife. We have stated that the earliest rulers or kings in what is today Edo or Benin were known as Ogiso. The first was known as Ogiso Igodo and the last (of the thirty-one or so of them) was Ogiso Owodo.

It can be said that Ogiso Owodo's era ended the first period of kingship in our history. His was a long account of an unhappy reign but briefly it was that as a result of these events, which were traced by oracle to his only child and son, Owodo was advised by oracle, so it was said, to have the son executed. Owodo (unaware that he had been tricked about his son) got the Oka odionmwan (public executioner) to perform the act. But the executioner had pity on the son, and on reaching the outskirts of the city, let him off. From there the prince wandered into the world, settling alone first in Ughoton, where the elders gave him hospitality.

Ogiso Owodo passed away without an heir. In the period of interregnum that followed, powerful community leaders began to strive for the throne. Among the most powerful was one known as Evian. His attempt to usurp the throne was stoutly resisted by the Edion (the elders) of the Benin people. While this was going on, word came in that Ogiso Owodo's son (his name was Ekaladerhan) who was to have been executed was seen alive in Ughoton. Immediately, the elders sent out emissaries to look for him and invite him to come to take his throne.
When information got to him, he was stricken with fear that they were still after his head. So after consulting with his Ughoton hosts, he fled the village.

When the Benin emissaries got to Ughoton and reported their mission, the Ughoton elders told the emissaries that Prince Ekaladerhan had been there but had since left. When asked where to, the people said they did not know but that he went in that direction. The emissaries followed in that direction until they arrived at a village where they announced their mission like in the former village the people in this second village also said he was there but had since departed and went in that direction. And so making enquiry from village to village and following in that direction the Benin emissaries emerged in a community they got to know as Uhe.
The local people, on sighting the strangers got frightened and ran to inform their village head who ordered that the strangers be brought to him. When they appeared before the village head, the Benin emissaries introduced themselves, narrated their mission and whom they were in search of.

Prince Ekaladerhan, who by this time had assumed new name, Oduduwa, said he was the one they were looking for. To be sure, the emissaries gave him a test by throwing at him some events back home in Benin which, to their surprise, their host recollected vividly and even narrated himself. This, indeed, was Ekaladerhan, and they fell on their knees to greet him.

The emissaries from Benin, having satisfied themselves of the man's identity, asked the next obvious questions: how had he become the village head of the people with the name they heard the people call him? Ekaladerhan (or Oduduwa) narrated his experience in Benin language thus: When he emerged from the bush into the village, he was led by the local people to their village head to whom he narrated his story.