Saturday, June 22, 2013

EDO PEOPLE: AFRICA`S MOST POPULAR AND ARTISTIC PEOPLE FROM NIGERIA THAT BUILT THE PRE=COLONIAL ANCIENT AND POWERFUL BENIN KINGDOM

 "Ahianmwen gue oto ru eghian; ona ya tin yaen Ulelefe. Ughemwin ghee oto 'ye ye!" (A bird that flew from the ground only to perch on an anti-hill; is still very much on the ground!)~ Edo Proverb,Nigeria

The Edo  people are the ancient Kwa language Bini-speaking ethnic groups who occupy South/Mid-Western Nigeria now called  Edo State.  The Edo/Bini-speaking ethnic groups include the Esan, the Afemai, the Isoko, the Urhobo among others. They are the descendants of the people who founded the ancient and mighty Benin Empire. The generic term "Edo," therefore, refers to these peoples who have shared historical origin as well as political and cultural similarities. These peoples are called the Edoid peoples.

                           Edo woman in her traditional marriage attire with Edo beads embroidery

However, these days the Esan, the Afemai, The Isoko, the Urhobo and others see themselves as distinct ethnic group though they are all of Edoid origin. As a result, the Edo (proper) now occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the Edo State which constitute 57.54% while others Esan (17.14%) Afemai compirising of Etsako (12.19%), Owan (7.43%), and Akoko Edo (5.70%). However, the Igala-speaking communities exist in Esan South East, Igbira related communities in Akoko and Afemai Areas as well as Urhobos, Izons, Itsekiris and Yoruba communities in Ovia North East and South West Local Government Areas especially in the borderlands.

The Igbos across the Niger call the Edos, IDU, the name of the progenitor of Edo race.  The Yoruba people call Edo people as  ADO, which is a corruption of the word EDO. However, the Itsekiris, another sub group in the Edo clans call Edos as UBINI,which came into use during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great in 1440. Tradition asserts that it is derived from ILE-IBINU, which is descriptive of the exasperation and frustration encountered in Benin City, by Prince Oranmiyan of ILE-IFE. Research may prove that, it was the Itsekiris who gave that name, to the people living in and around Benin City.
beautiful Edo girl

 The Itsekiris told the white man (Portuguese) of the powerful overlord living in Igodomigodo and the name of the tribe of this powerful king was UBINI- a term which White man (the Portuguese) corruptly wrote down as Benin when they began trade relations with Oba Ewuare around 1845. For example, the name of the eldest daughter of Oba Osewende, the mother of the OSULAS and the AIWERIOGHENES is today known as AGHAYUBINI. A closer examination of that name would reveal that the name is an Itsekhiri phrase-" The Ubini Lady or woman " i.e. the woman from Benin. Aghayubini was a very wealthy trader among the Itsekiris, from whence she got the money she used, in getting the throne for her brother, who became Oba ADOLO. An Itsekhiri descriptive phrase has simply over powered her original Edo name, to the extent that nobody knows anything.

The Edo people pride themselves on their wealth of history and civilization. The arts of Benin Kingdom are global brand. Benin artifacts are among the most exquisite and coveted in world's history which represents the earliest civilization among blacks, specifically Africans. The Benin Kingdom is the fourth earliest known civilization recorded by historians, archaeologists and anthropologists.

Myth (Creation)
Their mythical story of creation says that Edo is the candle of the world (“Edo ore Isi Agbon”). They say that when God Almighty was creating the world, he also created the king who was to rule the various parts of the world. This is the origin of the saying that “Oba Yan Oto Se Evbo Ebo” meaning that the Oba owns the land up to the European country.

                                                                 Edo dancers

According to Prince Edu Agharese Akenzua , the Enogie of Obazuwa-Iko, near Benin, Edo State "Mythology tells us that kingship in Benin is as old as time; it was there at the time of creation. When OSAN'OBUWA ( God, the Creator) finished creation, He decided to send his sons to live on earth. Before they departed, He asked each one to take along a talent or a gift. Among the talents were wealth, knowledge wisdom and an old snail shell. One of the sons chose wealth, another knowledge,and another wisdom. When the youngest was to choose, only the old snail shell and a couple of nondescript items were left.
 As he wondered which to take, a hornbill emerged and whispered to him to choose the dirty, old snail shell. What would he do with an old snail shell? But he obeyed the hornbill and told OSA N'BUWA he wanted the shell. They set forth on their journey, each in his boat. They arrived at their destination and found it was water. The boats could not berth. The hornbill appeared again and told him to pour the shell's content into the water. As he did so, the water solidified: land emerged and rolled forth into the distance. He anchored his boat and stepped onto TERRA FIRMER. OSA N'BUWA was impressed by the intuition which made his youngest son choose the shell. God named the land EDO and made him king over it.
Edo kids

The other brothers could not find a place to anchor their boats and settle down. They offered part of their talents to their younger brother in exchange for a place to settle. Thus the Oba of EDO became owner of all land on earth. To this day, a snail shell containing medicinal earth forms an important and integral part of the coronation rituals of the Oba of Benin. The story we have just heard is told and retold to every royal child."
Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century
Nigeria; Edo peoples, court of Benin
Ivory, iron, coppe
(Among the most celebrated masterpieces of African art, this pendant is at once a prestige object worn by the king on ceremonial occasions and the portrait of an important historical figure at the court of Benin. The preciousness of the material and the refinement of the carving indicate that it was created by the exclusive guild of royal ivory carvers for the king.
Framed by an elegant tiara-like coiffure and openwork collar, this likeness of an Edo royal woman is in fact a portrait of Idia, mother and close advisor to one of Benin's greatest leaders, Esigie, who ruled in the early sixteenth century. Esigie honored Idia for helping to secure his claim to the throne and for the wise counsel that she provided him throughout his reign. As a consequence of Idia's role, the title of Queen Mother (Iyoba) was introduced to the Benin court, granting the mother of the oba (king) equal authority to that of senior town chiefs.
The miniature motifs of Portuguese faces depicted along the summit make reference to the extraordinary wealth generated in the Benin kingdom in the sixteenth century through trade with the Portuguese. Since the Portuguese arrived by sea, generated local wealth, and have white skin, they were immediately connected to Olokun, god of the sea, who is associated with the color white. Additionally, Olokun is linked to purity, the world of the dead, and fertility. The mudfish motif, which alternates with the Portuguese faces, is one of the primary symbols of Benin kingship. It is associated with the qualities of aggressiveness and liminality due to its ferocious electric sting and its ability to survive in water and on land.
The hollowed back of this work suggests that it was both a pendant and a receptacle, possibly containing medicines to protect the king while worn during ceremonial occasions.
Given the scale of this artifact and the inclusion of suspension lugs above and below the ears, it appears likely that it was worn suspended as a pectoral. Recent ritual practices, however, suggest that related works may alternatively have been worn at the king's waist.)


Geography
The State has a land mass of 19,794 km square. Lying on 05 44 N and 07 34 N latitudes, 05 4 E and 06 45 E longitudes.
Edo State is low lying except towards the north axis where the Northern and Esan plateaus range from 183 metres of the Kukuruku Hills and 672 metres of the Somorika Hills.

Location
It is so located that it forms the nucleus of the Niger Delta region. It is bordered by Kogi state to the North and Delta State to the East and South, Ekiti and Ondo States to the West.

                                      Edo culture on display
Climate
The climate is typically tropical with two major seasons- the wet (Rainy) and the dry (harmattan) seasons. The wet season lasts from April to November and the Dry Season December to March.

 Language
Edo people speak Edo also called Bini (Benin). It is a Kwa Niger-Congo language spoken primarily in Edo State, Nigeria. It was and remains the primary language of the Edo people of Igodomigodo.
Edo is a core member of the group of genetically related languages called the Edoid group (Elugbe 1989). It is rated as one of the first few of the twenty-four languages, which make up the Edoid group in Nigeria. The language is currently spoken throughout most of the territories, which are coterminous with the old Benin province. This constitutes the permanent core of the pre-colonial Benin Kingdom and includes the following local government areas: Oredo, Ikpoba-Ikha, Orhionmwon, Uhunmwunode, Egor, Ovia, North East and Ovia South West. Edo is the main language spoken in these local government areas.


Origin of Edo People/Edo Empire
It is said that the origin of Benin monarch which is in tune with the origin of its people date back to Ogiso Igodo who was reputed to have begun his reign in the year 900 AD. According to R.G Armstrong in his book “The Study of West Africa languages” the glotto-chronological period of separation between Edo, Yoruba and Ibo has been put between 3,000 and 6,000 years. It is no wonder therefore that prof. A.F.C Ryder aptly wrote about the Edo, that “Linguistic evidence suggests that they have occupied this region for some thousands of years”. P .Amway Talbot confirmed that about the seventh millennium BC, the Edo (Benin) and Ewe (popo) and then the Ibo, followed maybe about thee second millennium BC by the earliest Yoruba”. These suggestions give strong indications that Benin Civilization has grow over a period of some 6000 years if not more.

                         Oba of Benin

Many writers have put the origin of Edo people as coming from Egypt while other thought they originated from Ife. Eminent writer like Chief (Dr) J.U Egharevba even suggested that the Edo People migrated from Egypt, made a short halt in the Sudan, then at Ife, and finally came to this land where they met an inferior people. The most interesting point about this theory is that no one has paused for a while to ask where the Egyptians migrated from. No one is really certain about the Origin of the Edo people whose origin appears to have lost in myths and legends of the distant past. In the absence of any archeological evidence one is forced to have a second thought on this issue of migration from Egypt and rather let their origin in their present environment prevail.

                                  Benin Chiefs Performing their traditional rites at the 2011 Igue Festival

Benin And Ife (Edo and Yoruba) Controversy on "who is the father of who?"
Some contemporary historians claim that kingship began in Benin in the 13th century with the arrival in Benin of the PRINCE FROM UHE( Ile-Ife or Ife) ORANMIYAN, son of ODUDUWA, who was sent to Benin at the request of the people of Benin, to become King, circa 1200 AD. The respected Benin historian, Jacob U. Egharevba, in his SHORT HISTORY OF BENIN, stated that Benin requested Oduduwa to send a king to rule over them. Some persons who read Egharevba have concluded that there were no kings in Benin until ORANMIYAN arrived.  Here too the Edo historians claim those who have jumped to that conclusion have not taken into account, the period of the OGISOS of Benin. Egharevba named 15 Ogisos who ruled over Benin. He referred to the period of the OGISOS as the FIRST DYNASTY of Benin Kingship. Dr. O.S.B. Omeregie, in a paper on THE EVOLUTION OF BENIN which he presented as part of a series of lectures on the LOST TREASURES OF ANCIENT BENIN, organised by Nigeria's NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS in Benin City on June 25, 1982, named 31 Ogisos of Benin. Both Egharevba and Omoregie however, named OGISO OWODO as the last of them and the father of EKALADERHAN.

However, the view that the first king of Benin came from Ile-Ife, has raised an interesting, albeit controversial question about the BENIN-IFE CONNECTION and the origin of the Benin royal family itself. Since Egharevba, some historians hold the view that the Benin royal family has its origin in Ife and that the OONI OF IFE is the FATHER of the Oba of Benin. Some have even said that the entire people of Benin come from Ife.
There are anthropological and folkloric evidence that prove the existence beyond a doubt. Songs and rituals are still performed today in both Benin and Ife which eulogise it. In Benin, the story is told with nostalgia; in Ife, with euphoria and pride and belief that the Ooni of Ife is the father of the Oba of Benin.
That belief was, no doubt, on the Ooni's mind when he hosted the Oba of Benin who paid him an officail visit on November 11, 1982. The Ooni, speaking with the pride of a father receiving a son who made good abroad, described the oba's visit as a "short home-coming" He said, inter alia: "We welcome Your Royal Highness most heartily back to Ile-Ife, the cradle of our common culture. The origin of your dynasty and ours...... Today is really a very good day for us in Ife and its environs because since you left in 891 AD, we have come to know that your dynasty has perfomed wonderfully well. As we have mentioned briefly during our historic visit to your domain not too long ago, we said that we were there to pat you on the back for a job well done... Your present visit.... we regard as a short home-coming where you will have an opportunity to commune with those deities you left behind.... Now, my son and brother, long may you reign."
That address made a clear, unequivocal allusion to the suggestion that Benin, or at least , the Royal Family, owes its origin to Ife. But in his reply, the Oba of Benin tacitly rejected that submission. In the prelude to his main speech, he said: "IF THE OONI OF IFE CALLS THE OBA OF BENIN HIS SON AND THE OBA OF BENIN CALLS THE OONI HIS SON, THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT."
Children in house of Chief Oghiamien, Benin city, Nigeria. During his trip to Nigeria, Elisofon visited Benin City in the Edo region. This photograph was taken when Eliot Elisofon traveled to Africa from March 17, 1970 to July 17, 1970. Source: Smithsonian Institution

He did not elaborate But that assertion, innocuous as it might seem, represents the other part of the story which never really been fully told, although told with varying details in Ife and Benin. Despite the varying details, the central theme THAT BENIN DID GO TO IFE TO GET A KING, remains constant. The question then is: WHY DID BENIN CHOOSE IFE INSTEAD OF A NEARER "COUNTRY," TO GO AND LOOK FOR A KING, ESPECIALLY AS IFE ITSELF NEITHER HAD A KING NOR A MONARCHY? The question was answered by the Oba of Benin himself in a lecture he delivered on the EVOLUTION OF TRADITIONAL RULERSHIP IN NIGERIA under the auspices of the Institute of the African Studies of the University of Ibadan on September 11, 1984.
Oba Ovoramwen, The Oba of Benin Kingdom & wives in Exile at Calabar 1900s . Source: National Archives

The Oba said, inter alia: "Another important traditional ruler whose origin deserves examination is the Oduduwa of Ife whose origin is also shrouded in myths and legend. He is believed to be the father of the principal rulers of Yorubaland, the father of Oranmiyan who was the the father of EWEKA I of Benin and who was the founder and the first Alafin of Oyo Kingdom; Ife traditional history says Oduduwa descended from heaven ( in a like manner to the Edo account). Some modern historians say that the great Oduduwa was a fugitive from the Moslems of the Middle-east and that he came to settle in what is present -day Ile-Ife. We in Benin believe, and there are historical landmarks for such belief,that the person whom the Yoruba call Oduduwa was the fugitive Prince EKALADERHAN, son of the last OGISO OF BENIN by name OGISO OWODO; he found his way to what is now Ile-Ife after gaining freedom from his executioners and wandering for years through the forests. It was after the demise of his father and when, in the interregnum, Evian, and later his son Ogiamien, tried to assume the kingship, that those who knew that Ekaladerhan was still alive organized a search party to fetch him. It was this search party that emerged at Ile-Ife and discovered Ekaladerhan, known then to the people of Ile-Ife as Oduduwa and already enjoying the status of a King. After failing to persuade him to return with them to Benin, they succeeded in getting him to send his son, ORANMIYAN, to rule Benin...."


Benin Empire
The Benin Empire (1440–1897) was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria.
The original people and founders of the Benin Empire, the Edo people, were initially ruled by the Ogiso (Kings of the Sky) dynasty who called their land Igodomigodo. The rulers or kings were commonly known as Ogiso. Igodo, the first Ogiso, wielded much influence and gained popularity as a good ruler. He died after a long reign and was succeeded by Ere, his eldest son. After the death of Ere, the country was ruled by the following princes and princesses in succession: Orire, Akhuankhuan, Ekpigho, Oria, Emose, Orhorho, Oriagba, Odoligie, Uwa, Hennenden, Obioye, Arigho, and Owodo. Emose and Orhorho were women. It is said that thirty-one Ogisos reigned but few of their names are known and they are very hard to trace. Therefore it is wise to research it because some people doubt the existence of the first period of the Benin Empire. This is partly because many mythical and frightful tales have been attached to the people connected with the Ogiso. In the 8th century, the ruling Ogiso successfully expanded Igodomigodo into a system of autonomous settlements. According to the new spin of history[citation needed], revisionists claimed that in 12th century, a great palace intrigue and battle for power erupted between the warrior crown prince Ekaladerhan son of the last Ogiso and his young paternal uncle. In anger over an oracle, Prince Ekaladerhan left the royal court with his warriors. When his old father the Ogiso died, the Ogiso dynasty was ended as the people and royal kingmakers preferred their king's son as natural next in line to rule.

The exiled Prince Ekaladerhan who was not known in Ile-Ife, somehow earned the title of Ooni (Oghene) at Ile-Ife and refused to return, then sent his son Oranmiyan to become king. Prince Oranmiyan took up his abode in the palace built for him at Usama by the elders (now a coronation shrine). Soon after his arrival he married a beautiful lady, Erinmwinde, daughter of Osa-nego, was the ninth Onogie (Duke) of Ego, by whom he had a son. After some years residence here he called a meeting of the people and renounced his office, remarking that the country was a land of vexation, Ile-Ibinu (by which name the country was afterward known) and that only a child born, trained and educated in the arts and mysteries of the land could reign over the people. He caused his son born to him by Erinmwinde to be made King in his place, and returned to his native land, Ile-Ife. After some years in Ife, he left for Oyo, where he also left a son behind on leaving the place, and his son Ajaka ultimately became the first Alafin of Oyo of the present line, while Oranmiyan himself was reigning as Oni of Ife. Therefore, Oranmiyan of Ife, the father of Eweka I, the Oba of Benin, was also the father of Ajaka, the first Alafin of Oyo.
By the 15th century, Edo as a system of protected settlements expanded into a thriving city-state. In the 15th century, the twelfth Oba in line, Oba Ewuare the Great (1440–1473) would expand the city-state to an empire.
It was not until the 15th century during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great that the kingdom's administrative centre, the city Ubinu, began to be known as Benin City by the Portuguese, and would later be adopted by the locals as well. Before then, due to the pronounced ethnic diversity at the kingdom's headquarters during the 15th century from the successes of Oba Ewuare, the earlier name ('Ubinu') by a tribe of the Edos was colloquially spoken as "Bini" by the mix of Itsekhiri, Edo, Urhobo living together in the royal administrative centre of the kingdom. The Portuguese would write this down as Benin City. Though, farther Edo clans, such as the Itsekiris and the Urhobos still referred to the city as Ubini up till the late 19th century, as evidence implies.
The Fall of Benin
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. 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.
Aside from Benin City, the system of rule of the Oba in his kingdom, even through the golden age of the kingdom, was still loosely based after the Ogiso dynasty, which was military and royal protection in exchange of use of resources and implementation of taxes paid to the royal administrative centre. Language and culture was not enforced but remained heterogenous and localized according to each group within the kingdom, though a local "Enogie" (duke) was often appointed by the Oba for specified ethnic areas.
Oral tradition
Nearly 36 known Ogiso are accounted for as rulers of the empire. According to the Edo oral tradition, during the reign of the last Ogiso, his son and heir apparent, Ekaladerhan, was banished from Igodomigodo (modern day "Benin Empire 1180-1897") as a result of one of the Queens having deliberately changed an oracle message to the Ogiso. Prince Ekaladerhan was a powerful warrior and well loved. On leaving Benin he travelled in a westerly direction to the land of the Yoruba.
At that time, according to the Yoruba, the Ifá oracle said that the Yoruba people of Ile Ife (also known as Ife) would be ruled by a man who would demonstrate his proof of birth and relation to Ile-Ife. Ekaladerhan's arrival at the Yoruba city of Ife was never known or told as oral history anywhere until revitionists' spin that he changed his name to 'Izoduwa' (which in his native language meant 'I have chosen the path of prosperity') and became The Great Oduduwa, also known as Odudua, Oòdua, of the Yoruba.
On the death of his father, the last Ogiso, a group of Benin Chiefs led by Chief Oliha came to Ife, pleading with Oduduwa (the Ooni) to return to Igodomigodo (later known as Benin City in the 15th century during Oba Ewuare) to ascend the throne. Oduduwa's reply was that a ruler cannot leave his domain but he had seven sons and would ask one of them to go back to become the next king there.
There are other versions of the story of Oduduwa. Many Yoruba often regard Oduduwa as a god/mystery spirit or prince coming from a place towards the east of the land of the Yoruba peoples. Though this would rudimentarily seem to confirm the Bini spin on his history due to the fact that Benin is technically to the east of Ife, his origin tends not to be attributed to Benin City.
Eweka I was the first 'Oba' or king of the new dynasty after the end of the era of Ogiso. He changed the ancient name of Igodomigodo to Edo.
Centuries later, in 1440, Oba Ewuare, also known as Ewuare the Great, came to power and turned the city-state into an empire. It was only at this time that the administrative centre of the kingdom began to be referred to as Ubinu after the Itsekhiri word and corrupted to Bini by the Itsekhiri, Edo, Urhobo living together in the royal administrative centre of the kingdom. The Portuguese who arrived in 1485 would refer to it as Benin and the centre would become known as Benin City and its empire Benin Empire.
The Ancient Benin Empire, as with the Oyo Empire which eventually gained political ascendancy over even Ile-Ife, gained political strength and ascendancy over much of what is now Mid-Western and Western Nigeria, with the Oyo Empire bordering it on the west, the Niger river on the east, and the northerly lands succumbing to Fulani Muslim invasion in the North. Interestingly, much of what is now known as Western Iboland and even Yorubaland was conquered by the Benin Kingdom in the late 19th century - Agbor (Ika), Akure, Owo and even the present day Lagos Island, which was named "Eko" meaning "War Camp" by the Bini.
The present day Monarchy of Lagos Island did not come directly from Ile-Ife, but from Benin, and this can be seen up till in the attire of the Oba and High Chiefs of Lagos, and in the street and area names of Lagos Island which are Yoruba corruptions of Benin names (Idumagbo, Idumota, Igbosere etc.). Other parts of the present day Lagos State were under Ijebu (fiercely resisting domination by the Oyo Empire) and Egun (tossed between the Dahomey Kingdom, with its seat in present day Republic of Benin, and the Oyo Kingdom).
Golden Age
The Oba had become the paramount power within the region. Oba Ewuare, the first Golden Age Oba, is credited with turning Benin City into City States from a military fortress built by Ogiso, 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.
Oba Ewuare was a direct descendant of Eweka I great grandson of Oduduwa, Oni of Ife.
A series of walls marked the incremental growth of the sacred city from 850 CE until its decline in the 16th century. In the 15th century Benin became the greatest city of the empire created by Oba Ewuare. To enclose his palace he commanded the building of Benin's inner wall, a seven mile (11 km) long earthen rampart girded by a moat 50 feet (15 m) deep. This was excavated in the early 1960s by Graham Connah. Connah estimated that its construction, if spread out over five dry seasons, would have required a workforce of 1,000 laborers working ten hours a day seven days a week. Ewuare also added great thoroughfares and erected nine fortified gateways.
Excavations also uncovered a rural network of earthen walls 4 to 8 thousand miles long that would have taken an estimated 150 million man hours to build and must have taken hundreds of years to build. These were apparently raised to mark out territories for towns and cities. Thirteen years after Ewuare's death tales of Benin's splendors lured more Portuguese traders to the city gates.[1]
At its maximum extent, the empire extended from the western Ibo tribes on the shores of the Niger river, through parts of the southwestern region of Nigeria (much of present day Ondo State, and the isolated islands (current Lagos Island and Obalende) in the coastal region of present day Lagos State). Expansion of the MidWestern Benin Kingdom eastwards was stopped by the aggressive autonomous Igbo villages southeast of the Niger river, the Oyo Kingdom, which extended through most of SouthWestern Nigeria in the West to parts of present day Republic of Benin, and the Northerly tribes united under the new and fiercely proselytistic Islamic faith.
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 depicting the Obas of Benin. The most common artifact is based on Queen Idia, now best known as the FESTAC Mask after its use in 1977 in the logo of the Nigeria-financed and hosted Second Festival of Black & African Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77).
European contact
The first European travelers to reach Benin were Portuguese explorers in about 1485. A strong mercantile relationship developed, with the Edo trading tropical products such as ivory, pepper and palm oil with the Portuguese for European goods such as manila and guns. In the early 16th century, the Oba sent an ambassador to Lisbon, and the king of Portugal sent Christian missionaries to Benin City. Some residents of Benin City could still speak a pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century.

The first English expedition to Benin was in 1553, and significant trading developed between England and Benin based on the export of ivory, palm oil and pepper. Visitors in the 16th and 17th centuries brought back to Europe tales of "the Great Benin", a fabulous city of noble buildings, ruled over by a powerful king. However, the Oba began to suspect Britain of larger colonial designs and ceased communications with the British until the British Expedition in 1896-97 when British troops captured, burned, and looted Benin City, which brought the Benin Empire to an end.

                                        King of Benin receiving Portuguese traders

A 17th-century Dutch engraving from Olfert Dapper's Nauwkeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaansche Gewesten, published in Amsterdam in 1668 wrote:
The king's palace or court is a square, and is as large as the town of Haarlem and entirely surrounded by a special wall, like that which encircles the town. It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers, and comprises beautiful and long square galleries, about as large as the Exchange at Amsterdam, but one larger than another, resting on wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper, on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles..."
—Olfert Dapper, Nauwkeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaansche Gewesten
Another Dutch traveller was David van Nyendael who in 1699 gave an eye-witness account.
The Legions of Benin
"The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180,000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples. . . . His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, is his equal."
—Olfert Dapper, Nauwkeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaansche Gewesten (Description of Africa), 1668.

The kingdom of Benin offers a snapshot of a relatively well-organized and sophisticated African polity in operation before the major European colonial interlude. Military operations relied on a well trained disciplined force. At the head of the host stood the Oba of Benin. The monarch of the realm served as supreme military commander. Beneath him were subordinate generalissimos, the Ezomo, the Iyase, and others who supervised a Metropolitan Regiment based in the capital, and a Royal Regiment made up of hand-picked warriors that also served as bodyguards. Benin's Queen Mother also retained her own regiment, the "Queen's Own." The Metropolitan and Royal regiments were relatively stable semi-permanent or permanent formations. The Village Regiments provided the bulk of the fighting force and were mobilized as needed, sending contingents of warriors upon the command of the king and his generals. Formations were broken down into sub-units under designated commanders. Foreign observers often commented favorably on Benin's discipline and organization as "better disciplined than any other Guinea nation", contrasting them with the slacker troops from the Gold Coast.
Until the introduction of guns in the 15th century, traditional weapons like the spear and bow held sway. Efforts were made to reorganize a local guild of blacksmiths in the 18th century to manufacture light firearms, but dependence on imports was still heavy. Before the coming of the gun, guilds of blacksmiths were charged with war production—–particularly swords and iron spearheads.

Benin's tactics were well organized, with preliminary plans weighed by the Oba and his sub-commanders. Logistics were organized to support missions from the usual porter forces, water transport via canoe, and requisitioning from localities the army passed through. Movement of troops via canoes was critically important in the lagoons, creeks and rivers of the Niger Delta, a key area of Benin's domination. Tactics in the field seem to have evolved over time. While the head-on clash was well known, documentation from the 18th century shows greater emphasis on avoiding continuous battle lines, and more effort to encircle an enemy (ifianyako).
Oba Ovoranmwen
{1888AD-1914AD}
The Benin Empire fell to the British force during the Benin punitive expedition of 1897 during his reign.
Captain Phillip and his party started a trade mission to Benin City in January 1897, when the Oba and his subjects were celebrating the annual Igue festival a period when outside visitors were not welcome. They were encouraged to postpone their visit for two months but they refused. The parties were massacred however, some of them managed to escape. This event is referred to generally as the Benin massacre.
February 1897 the British forces launched an attack on Benin City,it was finally capture after 8 days of fighting.
The kingdom was destroyed and looted of it many valuable artifacts, Ologbohere the alleged masterminded of the massacre of captain Phillip and his party was trialed and hanged. Oba Ovoranmwen was dethrones, and deported to calabar where he lives and dead on the month of January 1914 after sixteen years of British captivity. Buried at old calabar by official of colonial authority in the absent of his Benin royal family.
The truth is that Oba Ovoranmwen has nothing to do with the massacre of Captain Phillip and his party. The fall of Benin Empire was an event the British colonial power has always hoped for, it gave them the opportunity to stretch their Empire into West Africa hinterland.

Fortifications were important in the region and numerous military campaigns fought by Benin's soldiers revolved around sieges. As noted above, Benin's military earthworks are the largest of such structures in the world, and Benin's rivals also built extensively. Barring a successful assault, most sieges were resolved by a strategy of attrition, slowly cutting off and starving out the enemy fortification until it capitulated. On occasion however, European mercenaries were called on to aid with these sieges. In 1603–04 for example, European cannon helped batter and destroy the gates of a town near present-day Lagos, allowing 10,000 warriors of Benin to enter and conquer it. In payment the Europeans received one woman captive each and bundles of pepper.[5] The example of Benin shows the power of indigenous military systems, but also the role outside influences and new technologies brought to bear. This is a normal pattern among many nations and was to be reflected across Africa as the 19th century dawned.
Decline
The Gallwey Treaty of 1892
By the last half of the 19th century Great Britain had become desirous of having a closer relationship with the Kingdom of Benin. Several attempts were made to achieve this end beginning with the official visit of Richard Burton in 1862. Following that was an attempt to establish a treaty between Benin and the United Kingdom by Hewtt, Blair and Annesley in 1884, 1885 and 1886 respectively. However, these efforts did not yield any results. Progress was finally made by Vice-Consul H.L Gallwey's visit to Benin in 1892. This mission was significant in several ways. It was the first Official visit after Richard Burton's in 1862 when he was the consul at Fernando Po, and it would also set in motion the events to come that would lead to Oba Ovonramwen's demise.
Ovonramwen, Oba of Benin
Ovonramwen, Oba of Benin. Photograph taken by JA Green, 1897

Contrary to the stories told by Gallwey later, for a number of reasons there is still today some controversy as to whether the Oba actually agreed to the terms of the treaty as Gallwey had claimed. First, at the time of his visit to Benin the Oba could not welcome Gallwey or any other foreigners due to the observance of the traditional Igue festival which prohibited the presence of any non-native persons during the ritual season.Also, even though Gallwey claimed the King(Oba)and his chiefs were willing to sign the treaty, it was common knowledge that Oba Ovonramwen was not in the habit of signing one sided treaties. The Treaty reads "Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India in compliance with the request of [the] King of Benin, hereby extend to him and the territory under his authority and jurisdiction, Her gracious favor and protection" (Article 1). The Treaty also states "The King of Benin agrees and promises to refrain from entering into any correspondence, Agreement or Treaty with any foreign nation or power except with the knowledge of her Britannic Majesty's Government" (Article 2), and finally that "It is agreed that full jurisdiction, civil and criminal over British subject's and their property in the territory of Benin is reserved to her Britannic Majesty, to be exercised by such consular or other officers as Her Majesty shall appoint for the purpose...The same jurisdiction is likewise reserved to her Majesty in the said territory of Benin over foreign subjects enjoying British protection, who shall be deemed to be involved in the expression "British subjects" throughout this Treaty" (Article 3).

Gaius Ikuobase Obaseki (in suit) standing second from left), Governor General Bernard Bourdillon (fifth from left) and Oba Akenzua ll the Oba of Benin (Middle). and other officials and chiefs outside the Governor's resident at Ugha Ozolua, Benin city, Nigeria, October 9th 1936. 

It makes little sense that the Oba and his chiefs would accept the terms laid out in articles IV-IX, or that the Oba or his chiefs would knowingly bestow their dominion upon Queen Victoria for so little apparent remuneration. Under Article IV, the treaty states that "All disputes between the King of Benin and other Chiefs between him and British or foreign traders or between the aforesaid King and neighboring tribes which can not be settled amicably between the two parties, shall be submitted to the British consular or other officers appointed by Her Britannic Majesty to exercise jurisdiction in the Benin territories for arbitration and decision or for arrangement." Oba Ovonremwen was a tenacious man, which is contrary to the accounts of treaty portrayers such as Gallwey; he was not doltish.

 
Ologbosere 
Great Benin General Ologbosere after his capture in 1899. For a couple of years after the British army decimated Benin, the Edo general, Ologbosere, added a new dimension to the combat by moving loyal troops outside the city, from where he launched a barrage of attacks on British outposts. Ologbosere and his guerilla fighters hid among villages and towns that supported Edo insurgency. The British expedition retaliated with bloody ferocity. British troops burned these supportive locations, destroyed villagers’ crops, detained their youths, and incarcerated their rulers. Weary of these heavy reprisals, some villagers betrayed Ologbosere and delivered him to the hands of the British troops. The arrest of Ologbosere and other fighters including Chief Ebohon did not quell the anti-British campaigns. It further drove the fighters into the underground, escalating a conflict that remains unresolved till today.

The chiefs attest that the Oba did not sign the treaty because he was in the middle of an important festival which prohibited him from doing anything else (including signing the treaty). Ovoramwen maintained that he did not touch the white man's pen. Gallwey later claimed in his report that the Oba basically accepted the signing of the treaty in all respects. Despite the ambiguity over whether or not the Oba signed the treaty, the British officials easily accepted it as though he did because they were driven (to a large extent) by greed; British officials were increasingly interested in controlling trade in Benin and also in accessing the kingdom's rubber resources to support their own growing tire market.

                      Captain Gallwey and Edo chiefs, Benin city 1892. Source: © The Bridgeman Art Library

The city and empire of Benin declined after 1700. By this time, European activity in the area, most notably through the Trans-Atlantic slave-trade, resulted in major disruptive repercussions. However, Benin's power was revived in the 19th century with the development of the trade in palm oil and textiles. 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.
His Majesty Oba Akenzua II Served As The Secretary To His Dad Oba Eweka II Where He Learned The In & Outs Of The Adminstration. He Began The Movement To Return Back The Benin Bronzes Stolen During The Punitive Expedition of 1897. First Oba's Conference Was Held In The Kingdom In 1937. Benin Divisional Council Museum Opened In 1947. He Began The Campaign For The Creation Of The Mid-Western Region. He Was Appointed Chancellor Of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on The 9th Of March, 1966. His Era Witnessed Intellectual, Cultural, Social And Economic Advancemen
Akenzua II
Oba Akenzua II (1933–1978) was an Edo king (or Oba), son and heir to Oba Eweka II (1914–1933). In 1936, Oba Akenzua began the movement to return back to Nigeria the Benin Bronzes stolen in the punitive Benin Expedition of 1897. During his reign, only two of the 3,000 royal court bronzes were returned.
Akenzua II was succeeded by his son Erediauwa.

Benin resisted signing a protectorate treaty with Britain through most of the 1880s and 1890s. However, after Benin discovered Britain's true intentions, eight unknowing British representatives, who came to visit Benin were killed. As a result a Punitive Expedition was launched in 1897. The British force, under the command of Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, razed and burned the city, destroying much of the country's treasured art and dispersing nearly all that remained. The stolen portrait figures, busts, and groups created in iron, carved ivory, and especially in brass (conventionally called the "Benin Bronzes") are now displayed in museums around the world.
9 September 1897, Omo n'Oba Ovoramwen is taken out of Benin by a NCPF :unit of sixty men commanded by Captains Carter and Henniker to Gele-Gele port, and transferred on to a Protectorate yacht on the final journey to Calabar. Phillip's objectives, as stated in his letter dated the 16 November 1896) were finally achieved. The city had been `visited' (invaded and captured), the `obstruction' (Omo n'Oba Ovenramwen) had been removed and the `ivory' (treasuries of Benin kingdom: Artworks, sacred and religious items, mnemonics and visual history, including personal effects) in his house(Palace) seized (as one shameless writer wrotey) or obtained (in the words of another shameless one). Some of the `ivory' was shipped to England, and a fraction of it finally auctioned in Paris to pay for the `visit'. A reference book has it that a large collection of art from Benin is brought to France; these works influence the artistic and formal concerns of modern artists, especially Pablo Picasso and the Cubist. Source: British museum

Monarchs
The mythic origins of Benin state that the city was originally under the rule of Ogisos, meaning "Kings of the Sky". When the last Ogiso died, the nobles and chiefs disagreed over who would be the next Ogiso, so the Benin sent a message to Ife to the Ooni (Oghene) of Ile-Ife, Oba Oduduwa, the king of Ife. Benin's nobles asked him to send them a king; eventually Oduduwa sent to them his grandson, prince Oranmiyan. When Oranmiyan came to Benin, he struggled with the culture and customs of the Benin people. Because of his own difficulties acclimating to his new kingdom, Oba Oranmiyan changed the name of the city to Ile-Ibinu (1180-1897) which in the Yoruba language means the "Land of Vexation," and decided to leave the city.
Oba Ovonranmwen of Benin, shortly before exile in 1897. PHOTO: c/o Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, U.S.

However, before leaving Benin, Oranmiyan had a son, Eweka, by princess Erimwinde. When Oranmiyan heard of this, he sent to him seven marbles for the child to play with. One day, as the prince was playing, one of the marbles broke. He immediately said "owomika!" or "eweka!", meaning "I succeeded!" He immediately became the first Oba of Benin, Oba Eweka I. Oba Eweka was the first to reject the title of the native Benin "Ogiso" and took the title "Oba," meaning 'king' in the Yoruba language. Allegedly Oba Eweka later changed the name of the city of Ile-Ibinu, the capital of the Benin kingdom, to "Ubinu." Around 1470, Ewuare changed the name of the state to Edo. This was about the time the people of Okpekpe migrated from Benin
City.

Feb 1956 ... HRH Queen Elizabeth II's visit ... Her Majesty meets His Majesty The Oba of Benin at the Benin Aerodrome (now Benin Airport) 

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 - present)
Oba Erediauwa

The Economic and Commercial Foundations of Ancient Benin Empire
Available records have shown that the development of ancient Benin into a powerful imperial state started with the reign of the empire builder and moderniser, Oba Ewuare (c.1440 – 1480), during the second half of the fifteenth century and, at its peak, the ancient Benin Empire occupied the land to the southeast of the Yoruba country and the land between the River Niger and the Bight of Benin in the south (Abiola, 1975: 45). The glory of the ancient Benin Empire dates back to a number of centuries before the arrival of the Europeans on its soil. Oliver and Fage observed that Benin City was in a flourishing state by the time the Europeans inaugurated the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the sixteenth century (Oliver and Fage, 1975:108). 
The Fall of Benin
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. 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.
Similarly, Rodney recaptured the structure of Benin, as recorded by an eye witness, a Dutch visitor to the city thus:
The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it,
you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to
be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes Street in
Amsterdam…
The king’s palace is a collection of buildings which
is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments…
and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the
Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden
pillars encased with copper, where their victories are
depicted…
The town is composed of thirty main streets, very
straight and 120 feet wide, apart form infinity of small
intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another,
arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior
to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub
their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a
looking-glass (Rodney, 1989: 69).
Although the tone of the report suggests some level of equality between Benin and Holland, which is not correct, it, however, represents some level of achievement by the Benin people. Based on this argument, it
may be safe to argue that the rise of Benin from a small Empire to a vast empire owed little to the introduction of the slave trade by the Europeans.
Until it lost its independence in 1897 when it was annexed to the Niger Coast Protectorate, the ancient Benin Empire was commercially vibrant and buoyant. In addition to the revenue that accrued to the Empire from the sale of slaves as a result of its participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, agriculture, arts, and crafts, as well as industrial activities contributed greatly to the prosperity of the ancient Benin Empire. It is noteworthy to mention that Benin is located in the forest zone of West Africa and had the advantage of seating on fertile soil. 
Ancient Benin Map

With ample rainfall and many rivers, the ancient Benin Empire from time immemorial was naturally an agricultural settlement, and a majority of its people earned their living as farmers. The major crops produced by the people included yam, pepper, melons,groundnuts, and corn. Yam production was dominated by the men while women dominated the production of the other crops mentioned above. The people of Benin also produced oil palm products, although oil palm trees belonged to the village as a whole.
Small scale fishing and hunting were also engaged in by the people. The availability of rivers around Benin facilitated fishing activities which served two purposes of providing income for the families engaged in it
while at the same time meeting their consumption needs. Men and women were actively engaged in fishing activities during the period under study. Unlike fishing, hunting was done by the men alone. Hunters used
traps to catch different kinds of animals, including antelope, grass-cutter, deer, rabbits, etc. Some men who had guns, bows and arrows, sword and other hunting equipments hunted for bigger and wild animals. In both
categories, the hunters sold some of the wild animals while the remaining ones were consumed by their families and relations. Some hunters who were brave enough hunted elephants for both their meat and ivory. Also, leopards were hunted for their meat and skin but all these activities were regulated by the Oba of Benin (Rodney, 1989: 69, 109).
Old Benin Kingdom of Edo people of Nigeria

Trading activities constituted a major aspect of the economic structure of Benin. Indeed, trade formed an important feature of Benin’s economy and became more important with the arrival of the Europeans from
the end of the fifteenth century onwards. In terms of structure, there were two categories of trade, namely internal and long distance trade. Internal trade consisted of exchange of goods in local and inter-regional markets. Local markets included those situated in the ancient Benin Empire and the surrounding neighbourhood by other Edoid-speaking communities like Ishan (Esan), Etsakor, Ivbiosakor and parts of today’s Niger-Delta area, such as the Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri, Agbor, to mention but a few.
Inter-regional markets included those of the neighbouring Yorubaland close to Benin. It also include markets located in such other areas like Idah (across the River Niger, and located northeast of Benin) and the nearby Igboland. Sometimes these markets fall within the category described as long-distance trade. The long-distance trade was divided into two sectors – trade with the north and trade with the south or Atlantic. Trade
between Benin and the sea coast dwellers dates back to the period before the arrival of the Europeans, the trade extended to the coast of modern Ghana. In fact, when the Portuguese arrived in the region of modern Ghana in the 1470s, “they were able to trans-ship from Benin in Nigeria supplies of cotton cloths, beads, and female slaves, which were saleable on the Gold Coast.” (Rodney, 1989: 69, 109)
Edo Bronze sculpture

According to Rodney, the Portuguese were only responding to a given demand in the Gold Coast. Thus, it can be argued that a previous trade must have been in existence between the people of Benin and those of the Gold Coast, particularly the Akan who were gold producers while the people of Benin were specialist craftsmen who had a surplus of cloth and beads which they manufactured (Rodney, 1989: 69, 109). Also, the female slaves which the people of Benin sold to the Akan people were probably prisoners of war, and some of these females slaves became wives of some Akan chiefs and nobles. The channel of trade between these people was through the creeks behind the coast of modern day Benin and Togo republics (Rodney, 1989: 69, 109). Also, there existed the long-distance trade with the Yoruba and Hausa States; this trade dates back to about the thirteenth century as is evident from the copper used in the making of Benin bronzes (Boahen, Ajayi and Tidy, 1986: 75, 80). The main goods exported by Benin northwards into Owo, Ekiti, Akoko and beyond, were salt, coral beads, iron implements and brass utensils. Additional items were added from the 16th century onwards when European goods such as cloths, calicoes, iron brass, linen, beads, mirrors and cowries became available to the people of Benin. In the 17th and 18th centuries, tobacco, necklaces, guns and gunpowder joined the list of goods exported by the people of Benin (Boahen, Ajayi and
Tidy, 1986: 75, 80).
In return, the people of Benin bought home-made cloths, ivory, palm oil, leather goods, Ilorin beads and savanna products such as locust beans known as “iru” by the people of Benin. Again, cloths produced by
women in Ijebu, Ekiti, Igbomina and Nupe communities were purchased by Benin traders and re-exported to far as the coasts of modern Ghana, Gabon and Angola (Daaku, 1970: 89), this inter-regional trade became more intensified with the arrival of the Europeans. Slaves also constituted a major part of the imports from the north; this made the rulers of Benin to establish a tight political control over a Yoruba community of Okeluse in order to ensure that slaves coming from that section of the trade route were optimised. The long-distance trade was very rigidly organised and controlled by the Oba. This control was carried out through numerous trading associations of which the Oba was either the patron or grand-patron with a firm grip on the associations as regards decision making and implementation. Some of these associations included the ekhen-egbo meaning, (traders to the forests) comprising markets like Owo, Ekiti and Akoko, ekhen-oria meaning, (traders to Ishan); ekhen-Irhuen (traders to the Ivbiosakon area in northern Afenmai); and the traders to the coast who dealt with European and Itsekiri merchants (Daaku, 1970: 89).
Edo woman

It is interesting to note that the Oba and palace officials personally controlled the trade to the coast. Certain exports such as pepper and ivory, as well as imports such as fire-arms and powder were the exclusive monopolies of the Oba; therefore heavy duties were imposed on visiting ships by the Oba. It is also important to add that non-native traders from the interior were allowed to operate in the Empire of Benin; all these measures were intended to safeguard the revenue accruing to the Oba. Revenues accrued to the coffers of the ancient Benin Empire through several avenues. First, tributes came in form of foodstuffs from
those subjects or vassal states nearer the capital. Also, slaves and livestock came from the distant Edoid-speaking peoples or communities of Afemai, Ivbiosan, and Yoruba communities to mention but a few. Second, revenue was also derived from tolls collected at the gates in the city wall from all  traders passing through the area. Third, revenue also accrued to the ancient Benin Empire through trading activities with the Europeans, and the Oba sought to obtain maximum revenue from such activities. For instance, the Oba enjoyed a monopoly of many of the products sold to the Dutch, the English and the Portuguese, such products included slaves, pepper, and ivory. The people of the ancient Benin Empire also got some important items like manilas, guns, gun powder, and cloth from the Europeans (Malyn, 1981: 2).
The economic prosperity of any nation, whether in the present or in the centuries before now, depends to a very large extent on the political stability of the nation. Thus, realising this fact, the authorities of the ancient
Benin Empire attempted to lay a strong political foundation for the effective governance of the empire as this they believed would be the basis for economic prosperity and socio-cultural and commercial take-off of the
empire. Therefore, it can be argued that the stability which accompanied the reorganisation of the ancient Benin Empire in the seventeenth century helped in stimulating the prosperity of the area, and in particular the capital, Benin City. Even, before the seventeenth century, a great leader like Ewuare, who prepared Benin for the coming of the Europeans, had put in place an elaborate kingship system which gave the king enormous powers to preside over socio-political and economic matters. Indeed, during the reign
of Ewuare, the limited monarchy hitherto operating in Benin was transformed into an autocracy, and the small territory was transformed into a Empire and later an empire. Ryder attributes these remarkable and great
changes to a combination of force and intelligence and described Ewuare as “a man of violence and genius” (Ryder, 1980: 118). 
The Fall of Benin
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. 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.
British after destroying Benin Kingdom.These are their looted artifacts

By the seventeenth century, ancient Benin had already perfected its control over the Atlantic slave trade and this contributed enormously to an increase in the wealth of the Oba. On the whole, both trade and tributes from vassal states constituted some of the main avenues of increasing the wealth of ancient Benin before, during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, other important avenues were arts and crafts as well as industrial activities which were widely practised by the people of ancient Benin. It must be mentioned here that arts and craftsmen were very carefully organised into guilds and were controlled by the Oba. For effective control, the capital of ancient Benin was divided into fifty wards, and each was occupied by a special group or guild of craftsmen, such as bronze-casters, smiths, carvers, leather-workers, cloth-weavers, hunters, pot-makers, etc., with each guild having its own internal political organisation. Such political
organisation relied heavily on the principle of age as the criterion for apportioning authority. Thus guilds were normally headed by the most senior member of the group. This is not to suggest that merit and skills did
not count in the performance of members. Indeed, talents and merit constituted a major aspect of the requirements for leadership within a guild(Akinyemi, 1983: 172 – 73).
Producing according to their specialty, members of a guild produced iron tools, cloth, beads, ivory, and so forth, which were sold locally and also exported far and wide-as far as modern Ghana and Hausaland, as explained earlier (Curtin, 1969: 122). What is more, both males and females formed their guild since all the categories of arts and craft enumerated above were those that concerned the two sexes. In fact, some craft guild like clothweaving guild was dominated by females, while others like blacksmithing, and the hunter’s guilds were exclusively male guilds.
Source" (Ancient Benin: Surviving on the Highway of Commerce During the Post-Abolition Era Michael M. Ogbeidi).
Edo woman from Benin,Edo state,Nigeria

 Economy
Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The basis of the economy is farming, with the main food crops being yams, cassava, plantains, and cocoyams, as well as beans, rice, okra, peppers, and gourds. Oil palms are cultivated for wine production and kola trees for nuts for hospitality rites. Farming is not an exclusively rural occupation, as many city dwellers own farms on the outskirts of the capital and commute regularly to work on them. Domestic animals include cattle, goats, sheep, dogs, and chickens. Most villages have markets, and there are also several large regional markets supplying Benin City and the other towns. In the precolonial period trade was in foodstuffs and locally manufactured products, but in the colonial period cash crops were introduced; by World War I Benin had begun to prosper from the commercial growing of timber and rubber trees. Whereas shifting cultivation used to prevail, with the introduction of cash crops it has begun to disappear in favor of crop rotation. Today all farmers grow food crops for their own consumption as well as cash crops. Rubber processing and the preparation of tropical hardwoods are major industries in the state. As Makinwa notes (1981, 31), Benin City's unique position as the state capital, coupled with the discovery of oil and a tremendous increase in its production in the late 1960s and early 1970s, drew financial resources and industries to Benin.
Main carbohydrate staple(s): “They subsist primarily on yams, supplemented by corn (maize), plantains, cassava, and other vegetables.”(“Edo”)

                        Edo woman at the Market

 Main protein-lipid sources: “Livestock includes goats, sheep, dogs, and fowl” (“Edo”)
The urban economy is dominated by government in the formal sector and trade in the informal one. Because Benin is the capital of Edo State, the government and its agencies are the main employers for the wage-earning portion of the population. At least half of the urban work force is in clerical and, especially, sales-and-service professions. Men are typically involved in tailoring, carpentry, or electrical and mechanical repairs, and women tend to be hairdressers, dressmakers, and petty traders. Women dominate in the street and local markets in the city. Youth unemployment has become a growing problem as the influx of migrants from the villages and other parts of Nigeria steadily increases.

                                                               Edo people
Industrial Arts.
Benin (Edo) iron art

 According to oral traditions, craft guilds have existed since the Ogiso period. Members of these guilds (carpenters, carvers, brass casters, leatherworkers, blacksmiths, and weavers) live in special wards of Benin City and produce ritual, prestige, and household objects for the king and court. In the villages, there were also smiths, carvers, potters, weavers, and basket makers who created ritual paraphernalia like masks, cloth, and utensils. In the twentieth century local production of cloth, baskets, and other useful items has almost died out because of competition with European products.
Benin art

 The changing social and economic situation has adversely affected the patronage of many of the traditional crafts, although some guild members, especially the carvers and casters, have made a successful transition to production for tourists and the Nigerian elite.
Edo statue of Oba

Trade
 Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of long-distance trade from at least the twelfth century, but the best documentation commences with the arrival of the Portuguese in the second half of the fifteenth century and spans from that time until the present. Throughout the history of European trade, one of the sources of the king's wealth was the monopoly that he held over ivory, pepper, and certain other exports. His control extended to the markets and trade routes, which he could close whenever he wished. High-ranking chiefs of the Iwebo Palace Society administered European trade for the king, and various trading associations controlled the routes to the interior that brought products to Benin for export. These exports varied over time but also included cloth, palm oil, and slaves. In exchange, Benin imported European goods such as cloth, mirrors, coral beads, and brass and other metal objects. Since the colonial period, Benin has been tied in to the Western capitalist system.
BENIN ART

Edo Beads of Royalty
Coral beads worn mostly by Edo women of Nigeria are symbolic of power, prestige, wealth, royalty and beauty. They are worn mostly during Edo traditional weddings and cultural events. Historically, In Edo royal symbolism, beads figured prominently, but  but the richest beads were made from red corals, not from glass or stone. The striking red coral beads were used for everything from royal veils to full length royal cassocks. They were held to contain power - ase- to transform things, to effect outcomes.

Precious corals seems to grow in the bush-like formations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Japan. Oba Ewuare in the 1400's A.D. is credited in oral tradition as the man who brought them to Benin when he stole them from the " goddess of the Sea " at Ughoton ( Gwatto ). Since Ughoton was the gateway to Europe in those days, the White man, specifically the Portuguese and the Spaniards may have brought them to Benin. The Portuguese influence on Edo culture is very great especially in the area of costume and clothing.
Edo bride wearing the coral beads

Ivie and Ekan are members of the Coral beads family. CORALS ( Phylum coelenterata ) or ( Cnidaria ) are mined from coral stones in oceans and polished as jewelry. EKAN looks like a stone and is grayish in color. IVIE is another specie of coral beads, an important type of jewelry worn by Edo chiefs. This kind is described as precious coral. It has a hard core that can be polished to bring out beautiful red, rose, or pink colors. The use of Ivie and Ekan is controlled by the Oba of Benin. There are some shapes you can not wear without being a chief. Corals beads used in Edo speaking areas are very different from those got from the North of Nigeria, in Yoruba land and the Eastern part of Nigeria.

It is historically documented that some chiefs have been barred by Royal Edict, from wearing any Ivie or Ekan as a punishment. An example is Chief Oliha of Benin. It was a punishment for collaborating with the Attah of Igala in IDAH, about 1500's A.D when the Idah soldiers invaded Benin City. Oba Esigie and his queen mother IDIA led the Edo soldiers to victory. The Portuguese soldiers fought on the side of Benin. Oba Akenzua II in the 1940's seized the bearded head gear and most of the beads belonging to Chief Okorotun, the then Iyase of Benin for being disloyal and arrogant. He also took his ADA from him. When an Oba of Benin sends a bead or beads to anybody, it means simply one thing, " you are being made a chief " whether you like it or not. To refuse to accept a bead sent to you from the palace is unpardonable sin. You have in one way or another become an " OGHIAN OBA "-the Oba's enemy.

Division of Labor. In precolonial and colonial villages, adult men tended the principal crop, yams, clearing and working the land together with male relatives, affines, or friends. Women cared for their households and grew subsidiary crops. Marketing, at least in precolonial times, was entirely in the hands of women. Within the city, the labor was divided in a similar way, that is, male guild members did the craft or ritual work, and women sold some of the products of the guild in the market. Since the colonial period, men and, to a lesser extent, women have been involved in the administrative and economic sectors of what became a regional capital.

                                                   Royals of Edo
Land Tenure.
 The king is considered "the owner" of all the land in the kingdom. Although this prerogative has mainly symbolic significance, the king could actually revoke rights to land in cases of insurrection or treason. Today he plays a role in the allocation of building sites in Benin City and the use of land and resources by strangers in the Edo region.

                                                        Edo elders in their traditional dress

The actual landholding unit is the village; its elders act as the custodians. Approval must be sought from the elders and chief for the right to use certain plots. Land is abundant, and new settlements are still being founded in the reserves of wooded land. Patterns of land use are changing, however, and, especially in the city, individual purchase is increasingly common.
Edo man in his traditional dress

Kinship
Descent is reckoned patrilineally in Edo society. Descent groups are called egbee, a term that refers both to the immediate lineage and to the dispersed clan of which it is part. There are about thirty-five clans, which are distinguished by exogamy, the possession of special morning salutations, and the adherence to particular avoidances of foods or activities.
Beautiful Edo woman

 Unlike those of the neighboring Yoruba, Edo lineages are not landholding, nor do they have political significance, except for that of the king and a very few hereditary chieftaincy titles. The royal lineage is particularly set apart by virtue of its descent from the Yoruba culture hero Oranmiyan (called "Aranmiyan" in Edo), who founded the second Benin dynasty, which has reigned continuously since about the twelfth or thirteenth century.
Awesome Edo cultural dress

Family
Domestic Unit
Edo tribe boy

 The basic unit is the household, which varies in size from a single man (least common) to an extended family (most common). This family can consist of a man with his wife or wives and their children and, in some cases, married sons and their wives and children and even younger married brothers. Widowed or divorced mothers, daughters, and sisters can live there as well. If the marriage is polygamous, the wives and their children all live in separate apartments within the larger compound. Women past childbearing age often move to their own houses.
Little Edo girl


In precolonial times the family groupings in the city were much larger, since the chiefs had more wives and children and numerous slaves and servants. Thus the households of high-ranking chiefs might have included several hundred people. Today in Benin City the average size is seven to ten per household, and the number of nuclear families is increasing (Sada 1984, 119).

                                           Edo elder

Inheritance
 The system of primogeniture prevails among the Edo: the eldest son receives the rights to property, hereditary titles, and ritual duties. The eldest son performs the funeral ceremonies for his deceased father and inherits his father's house and lands. Although the bulk of the estate goes to the senior son, the eldest sons by the other wives of his father receive shares as well, in order of their seniority. When no sons are left, the property sometimes passes to the father's brother or sister, or sometimes to a daughter. A woman's property is inherited by her children. Royal traditions indicate that primogeniture may not always have been the rule of succession to the kingship, but it clearly has been in place since the early eighteenth century.
Beautiful Edo woman

Socialization
 In Benin the extended family is the unit of socialization within which the individual learns the necessary social and occupational skills. Babies are cared for by their mothers, grandmothers, and elder sisters. Weaning takes place when they are 2 or 3 years old, unless the mother bears another child in the meantime. Boys and girls play together until the age of 6 or 7, but then they begin to take on gender-related activities: boys accompany their fathers to the farm or, if they are artisans, to the workshop.

Girls go with their mothers to the farm and learn how to sell things in the market. Formerly, the circumcision of boys and clitoridectomy of girls took place in infancy or early childhood but, in the latter case, is becoming less common. Since the early part of the twentieth century, but especially after World War II, urban crafts and small industries have adapted Western apprenticeship systems for the training of workers. Western-based education also offers avenues for the acquisition of skills. Since 1955, primary-school education in both the urban and rural areas has been free and compulsory. Secondary schools are primarily in the towns, and only the initial stages are free. Edo State has two institutions of higher education: the University of Benin, in Benin City, and Edo State University, in Ekpoma.
beautiful Edo child in her tribal dress

Sociopolitical Organization
Social Organization. The basic organizing principle within both the village and the urban ward is the division of the population into age sets. Every three years, boys who reach the age of puberty are initiated into the iroghae grade, whose main duties within the village include such tasks as sweeping open spaces, clearing brush, and fetching water. After the age of 25 to 30, they pass into the ighele grade, which executes the decisions made by the senior age set, the edion. The elders are exempt from physical labor and constitute the executive and judicial council of the village, led by an elected senior elder (odionwere ).

  Chief Anthony Enahoro, Edo tribe man and Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists walking with Dr Kwame Nkrumah,first president of Ghana

Precolonial Benin society had a clearly demarcated class structure: a mostly urban elite, comprising the governmental, religious, and educational bureaucracies; a commoner group, consisting of lower-status urbanites, such as artisans; and the peasantry. Formerly, the king and chiefs had slaves, primarily acquired through warfare, who constituted an agricultural workforce for the elite. In contemporary society, factors such as the extent of one's Western education and the nature of one's employment—or lack thereof—play a role in determining one's position in the multidimensional system of social stratification.

                                              Edo women

Political Organization. At the summit of precolonial society was the king (oba ), who was the focal point of all administrative, religious, commercial, and judicial concerns. He was the last resort in court matters, the recipient of taxes and tribute, the controller of trade, the theoretical owner of all the land in the kingdom, and the chief executive and legislator. As the divine king, he crystallized generalized ancestor worship in the worship of his own ancestors. It is in his office, then, that the various hierarchies met.
Edo Chieftain

The members of the king's family were automatically part of the nobility. His mother was a title holder (iyoba ) in one of the palace societies and maintained her own court near Benin City, and his younger brothers were sent to be hereditary chiefs of villages throughout the kingdom, thus constituting part of a limited, rural-based elite. Besides the king and his family, the political structure consisted of the holders of various chiefly titles, who were organized into three main orders of chiefs: the seven uzama, the palace chiefs, and the town chiefs. These various orders of chiefs formed the administrative bureaucracy of the kingdom, and their main concern was to augment the king's civil and ritual authority. They constituted the state council, which had an important role in creating laws, regulating festivals, raising taxes, declaring war, and conducting rituals. The king controlled the granting of most of these chiefly titles and used this power to consolidate his control over governmental processes. Once granted, a title could not be rescinded unless treason could be proven.

                                                          Oba of Benin

The kingdom was formerly divided into a number of tribute units, which corresponded to local territorial groupings. Each was controlled by a title holder in Benin City, who acted as the intermediary between the villagers and the king and whose main duty was to collect taxes and tribute in the form of money (cowries) and goods (cattle, yams, etc.). The income the king received from these sources enabled him to carry on elaborate state rituals. The king could also call on villagers to supply labor for the upkeep of the royal palace.

    Iyoba N’Errua during her title-taking ceremonies, with chiefs and bearer of the ada sword. Iyoba’s palace, Benin City, 1981

Kings varied over time in their ability to control the political situation. At the end of the eighteenth century, for example, senior chiefs rebelled against the king, and a long civil war ensued, which the king finally won. According to oral traditions, several obas were in fact deposed.

In contemporary Nigeria, Edo State officials consult with the Benin king and chiefs. Since 1966, the federal level of government in Nigeria has vacillated between military and civilian rule, with the exact relationship between federal and traditional authority changing under each new circumstance. In 1993 the newly established military government dissolved all existing state bodies and prohibited political activity. Supreme executive and legislative power was vested in a military-based Provisional Ruling Council and an Executive Council, both headed by the commander-in-chief, who is also the head of state. Plans for a return to civilian rule have been announced.

                                      Nigerian beauty queens in Edo beads dress

Social Control
 The principle of the judicial system was that every head of a compound, quarter, village, or town heard cases within his jurisdiction, but serious issues—murder, treason, or succession disputes—were formerly brought before the king's council in Benin City. Trial by ordeal was used in cases of theft, perjury, and witchcraft (if the offender denied the charge). The British established a bipartite judicial system, with a supreme court administering British law and native courts for maintaining customary law. In 1947 the new Nigerian constitution established a federal system of government with a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, and a High Court at the federal level. Edo State, like others in the federation, has its own High Court, as well as a Customary Court of Appeal.

                                                  Awesome Edo culture

Conflict
 In precolonial times warfare was an important component of the state polity. It apparently was the custom for kings to declare war in the third year after their succession to the throne. Ruling princes of the empire who refused to pledge their allegiance at that time were considered rebels, and war was declared against them and their towns.

 Economic factors were undoubtedly central to Benin's expansion: the Edo were intent on increasing their income from tribute, protecting and developing trade, and augmenting their army with captives and allies. There was a military organization involving specific chiefs who each had a core of warriors attached to his household but also recruited soldiers from their villages. For long campaigns, the soldiers built camps where they lodged and grew food for themselves.

RELIGIOUS BELIEF
The Binis/Edo believe in many gods and life after death. Their religion grew up from many sources. Some gods and beliefs (or the guiding spirits) of every family were inherited from the first people who settled in Benin; Some were introduced by Obas, e.g. Ekoko, Awanuroho, etc, by Oba Ewuare, and Orumworia by Oba Ozolua; others were introduced by priests and religious thinkers, e.g. Osanughegbe by Okhionkpaimwonyi.

Those apart, the Binis also worship those phenomena they did not understand in nature e.g. too much rain, too much sun, thunder, the sky, etc. Altogether, they worship over 800 gods. These can be classified as follow:
DEITIES (ERINMWIN NOHUANREN)
HERO-DEITIES (IHEN)
SPIRITS OF THE DEPARTED (ERINMWIN N'OWA).
The name of Edo supreme of chief God is OSANOBUA or OSA. He is god of god and above anything in the sky, on earth, in the sea or forest or in the air. He is also referred to as Oriole, Udazi, Akpama, Okodudu, Oghodua and Ohovba. He works with other deities known as ERINMWIN NOHUANREN.

                         Ominigbon/Oguega Divination, Chief Dr. Daryl M. Peavy JD

The other deities (ERINMWIN NOHUANREN) include:
OLOKUN - The god Olokun is to the Binis as Athena is to the Greeks. It is the god of the sea - giver of good luck, riches and children. It is also called EZIZA. The Olokun worshipping is more for the women folk. It is worshipped throughout the year; but its annual festival is regular during which period, the priest/priestess and worshippers pray for peace and plenty for the society, and the women pray for children and money. Its worship is done with songs accompanied with drums (ema olokun), maracass (ukuse) and gongs (egogo), to summon the attention of the god. The Priest/Priestess or worshipper dances to inspiration point and starts visionizing and telling the future.

OBIEMWEN - Mother of human beings. The goddess in charge of child delivery.
OGIUWU - The god of death. He eats human flesh and human blood is the fluid he drinks. Ofoe is his chief messenger.
ESU - Devil. The controller of coup d'etats. He is the god of hell. He is the director of art, power, cunning and all knowledge. He is more feared and better served than the good God who is harmless. Any misfortune is taken as his handwork.
ISO - Sky. Holder of lights and water.
Dr, Osemwegie Ebohon
Osemwegie Ebohon was born in Benin City on 11th November, 1940 into the family of Wilfred Aiyanyi Ebohon by Madam Omorariagbon Izevbokun Ebohon. Now a High Priestess of African Traditional Religion, she wears a natural mystifying ritual crown of hair which appeared on her head in 1987. The hair is clear evidence of her high state of spiritual development. Ebohon’s father, who died on 21st October, 1974 was a devout Baptist Church Christian.
To the students of occult and occult scholars, the birth of Osemwegie Ebohon on November 11, 1940 into the family of late Wilfred Aiyanyi Ebohon was not an accident of history.

HERO-DEITIES (IHEN)
These are men or women, some of whom turned themselves into some natural features e.g rivers, ponds, hills, etc.
History holds them as mythical and semi-mythical figures of the past.
The Edos have many of them which they worship with reverence.
These deities have their cults or shrines at their locations of origin, ususally village wide. Although several villages, in some cases worship one deity. Some examples of such are:
DEITIESVillages where worshipped
1OKHUAIHEEVBIEKOI, IKPE, IKHUEN-NIRO, etc
2EBOMISIUGO N'EKI
3OGIERUMWANBOOKA
4ORAVANIRHIRHI
5IZALOGHAISI
6AKEISI
7OVATOIGIEDUMA
8OGANEKHUAE
9IREGHEZIEKAE
10EZUKUOGAN
11EKIORHOIYEKOGBA
12IGBAGHONUGO N'IYEKORHIONMWON
13EREDEUSEN
14AWANUROHOUROHO
15OVIAUNUAMEN, UHOGUA, OGHEGHE, OKHUNMWUN
16EKOKOUTE
17ERINMWINDEEGO
18ORINMWIORIAUTEKON
19ISEUTEKON
20ERUMIANAHOR
21OKHUOISI
22IKHOKHOIGUOGHO, UGBAYON
23OKPOOZA
24ORUEOKA
25ADABIORA, BENIN-CITY
26OVBOUZALA
27OSAUZALA
28EGBAENIWU
29ERUVBIUTEKON
30ERHAN VB'IRIUGIEGHUDU
31IREWE (Ebo n'uvunokuta)IYEKOVIA
32ARO-ISOUGBEKUN
33ERHUNMWOGBEUHI
34IGBILEUGHOTON
35ODIGHIEHOR
36OZELAAYEN
37EKPENEDEBENIN-CITY
38ARENBOBENIN-CITY
39EMIHEBENIN-CITY
40EKHIBIBENIN-CITY
41AGBAGHUZALEBENIN-CITY
42EMOTANBENIN-CITY



SPIRITS OF THE DEPARTED (ERINMWIN N'OWA)
This is the ancestral or lineage shrine.
When a father or a mother dies in Benin, the children make an altar aro-erinmwin in his or her memory. It is here sacrifices are made. It is composed of Ukhure - Staves, Eroro - Bell, and objects.

EBO (JUJU)
These are also deities - in their special class.
The deities listed in the first paragraph above also fit in here.

OGUN - god of iron and war.
OSUN - god of medicine and charms (worshipped by professional doctors)
OTO - Soil (Edion). The keeper of the peace of the land.


12 EDO LUNAR MONTHS.


MONTH

IN EDO

EVENTS

JANUARY

UKI- AGUE

SELF PURIFICATION

FEBRURY

UKI- IFIE

BUSH CLEARING

MARCH

UKI-EGBO

TREE FELLING

APRIL

UKI-EKHUEN

FARM CLEANING

MAY

UKI- EGUA

YAM PLANTING

JUNE

UKI-IKPESI

YAM STAKING

JULY

UKI- IVIEMA

VINE TENDING

AUGUST

UKI-OHIE

RAIN RECESSION

SEPTEMBER

UKI- EHO

NEW YAM GIFTS

OCTOBER

UKI- EMORHO

HARVEST EATING

NOVEMBER

UKI-EWE

HARVEST STORING

DECEMBER

UKI-IGUE

FINAL THANKSGIVING



Marriage (Wedding)
Edo bride

For thousands of years, Edos have been getting married.   It is unfortunate that , there is no more powerful corresponding word in Edo lexicon than ORONMWEN,  that captures the meaning of the word MARRIAGE,  as in the anglosaxon sense.  The closest word we have is ORONMWEN    All we have are
descriptive phrases about marriage-
" Okhia ye omo ye oronmwen,"-he wants to give the daughter away in MARRIAGE.
" Okhia rie Okhuo,"- he wants to marry a woman.
" Okhia romwen odo," she wants to marry a husband
But sometimes an Edo man/ person would say, " Ma khia du ugie oronmwen," we want to perform the festival of marriage.

                                      Edogroom and his bride in traditional wedding attire

Before 1897, girls were generally regarded as ready for marriage between the ages of 15 through 18.   Courtship can begin among the individuals during the trip to the river to fetch water or during the moonlight play-EVIONTOI. But sometimes parents actually go looking for a wife or husband for their children.  This led to the BETROTHAL SYSTEM where marriage were conducted with or without the consent of the individuals involved.  Sometimes such betrothal, took place when a baby girl was born.   Suitors would begin to approach the parents by sending a log of wood or bundle of yams to the parents of the child.   You are likely to hear statements such as -" Imu' Ikerhan gboto"-I have dropped a log of firewood.

                                                                    Edo couple

 When a boy decides to get married and the parents have accepted the bride as a prospective daughter-in-law, messages go up and down between the two families.  This is called IVBUOMO-SEEKING FOR A BRIDE.   Series of investigations are conducted by both families-about disease, scandals and crimes which may affect the families. The term of the marriage which of course may include the DOWRY would be settled in some families. Gifts for mother of the bride and IROGHAE- members of the extended family would be part of the settlement.

Then a date would be set for the ceremony which would take place in the home of the woman's family.   This was called IWANIEN OMO in the old days  The go-between for the two families must be somebody well known by both families. There would of course be a lot of merriment on the day of marriage when the bride and the bridegroom are presented openly to the two families. Kola nuts and wine are presented. The OKA EGBE of the woman's family would normally preside over the ceremony. Prayers are said  and
kola nuts broken at the family shrine.
Edo marriage ceremony

Rituals vary from family to family. The woman always sit on her father's lap before she is given away.  Amidst prayers, laughter and sometimes tears, the woman would be carefully hoisted on the lap of the OKA EGBE of the bride's family. Many years ago, the woman would be sent to the bridegroom house  about thirteen days after IWANIEN OMO and gingerly hoisted either on her husband's lap or the OKAEGBE of  his family. They are done immediately nowadays in the home of the bridegroom. The bride,  now known as OVBIOHA would be led by her relatives to the husband's house with all her property. Meanwhile the family and friends of the bridegroom are feasting,drinking, singing and dancing while waiting for the bride to arrive.   As the family and friends of the bridegroom awaits the OVBIOHA, messages will arrive suggesting that there are UGHUNGHUN-barriers on the road.  The bridegroom has to remove the barriers by sending money to the party,  bringing the wife to him or else the wife will not arrive.

                                    Edo groom in his traditional outfit

As they approach the house of the bridegroom, you can hear the echo of OVBIOHA GHA MIEN ARO-ARO, meaning " Bride ! be proud/ the Bride is proud." Arrival at the bridegroom's house is immediately followed by the ceremony of IKPOBO-OVBIOHA-washing of the bride's hands.  A bowl of water with money in it would be brought out. A woman in the bride's family, sometimes his senior wife would bring out a new head tie, wash the hand of the  Ovbioha in the bowl and dries her hand with the head tie.  Both the new head tie and the money in the bowl belong to the bride.  
Beautiful Edo bride in her traditional marriage dress

A few days later,  the bride would taken to the family altar and prayers are said for her.  She undergoes what is called the IGBIKHIAVBO ceremony-beating of OKRO on the falt mortar.   This would be followed by a visit by the bride's mother-in-law  and other female members of the family  to the newly wed,  if they are not living in the same house. She would demand the bed-spread on which they both slept when they had their " first sexual relationship " after the wedding.    If the bed-spread was stained with blood, the bride was regarded as a virgin and she would be given many presents including money.

                                                    Edo traditional wedding

If it is proven that she was not a virgin, then the preparation for the ceremony of IVIHEN-OATH TAKING ceremony would be set in motion. First, she has has to confess to the older women,  the " other men " in her life before she got married.    The husband would never be told any of her confessions. Then,  she would  be summoned to the family shrine early in the morning , without warning to take an oath of  FIDELITY, FAITHFULNESS, TRUSTWORTHINESS, HONESTY ETC,  to her husband and family.

This ceremony is the equivalent of the oath people take in the church, mosque or marriage registry.  Once the oath taking ceremony is over, she would be fully accepted into the family. She immediately becomes married
not only to her husband but to the family and sometimes to the community.
Christianity, Islam and Westernization has already weaken the Edo traditional system of marriage  The traditional ceremony,  is sometimes done the same day with many of the rituals avoided in the name of Christianity or Islam.

Many women would rather die than take the oath we described above.  It was the oath that kept our women out of prostitution for many years.  Edo women were regarded as very faithful, trustworthy, honest with strong fidelity to their husbands. Neighboring tribes wanted them as wives. It made divorce on the ground of adultery, less common in those days. The scourge of prostitution which has eaten deep into Edo women's life ( as reported in the news media) should be placed on the shoulders of Christianity, Islam and Westernization.
Beautiful Edo bride

Edo Naming Ceremony
Before the birth of a child some names are jostled about but an important event or circumstance in the family or occasion in the community may be used to name a child born during such an occasion. Examples:
 "Onaiwu": This child will not die again, "Osamamianmianmwen": God did not forget me.
"Ighiwiyisi": I shall not get lost in a foreign land", "Nowamagbe": He who is not harmed by members of his family cannot be harmed by outsiders, "Iyare": Safe journey, "Iyegbekosa": I lean on God, "Ikponmwosa": I give gratitude to God, "Izevbokun": I have chosen from the basket of gifts. Or I have chosen from the Goddess of the Sea., "Okwoemose": War is not pretty (A name that was commonly given to children born during or just after the Second World War.)
"Pulley": A British name given to children born during the era of a popular British resident of Benin called Mr. Pulley.
 Benin names also show respect and deference to the King. Examples: "Iyalekhuoba": You are forgiven for the sake of the King, "Obayantor": The King owns the land.
 Others adulate the nation:"Edorisiagbon": Edo land is the center of the world.
 
Usually when a child is born by a young couple the culture is to ask the grandfather or great grandfather to send a name. Although the parents of the child can give their own pet names to the child, the name given by the paternal elder of the family supercedes. However, during Christian baptism, Christian names can be added. [More recently, African names have been used as Christian names].
Among Edos, the traditional naming ceremony is usually performed on the seventh day after birth. Before 10 am, family elders and very close friends gather to pray to God for long life, good health and prosperity for the child and its parents. The elders present the family name to the father of the baby. Oracular consultations and divination may precede this phase.
Edo woman

Later on in the evening, the main "naming" ceremony occurs at about 7 p.m. Although the family elders and friends, (male and female) are present, the ceremony is usually a mainly female affair.
Ingredients used are as follows:

Ingredient

Significance

Kola Nuts

For prayers to welcome the child to the family.

Gin (or other hot drink)

For prayers. Used to symbolize an appeal to God not to let a drunkard harm the child during its life. Hot drinks are also used to pray to God that the child not become an alcoholic.

Palm Wine

For prayers and libation

Native chalk mixed with salt

For prayers that symbolize happiness

Honey

Honey, sugar and bitter kola-nuts are also used for prayers. They symbolize the duality of life�s experiences, good and bad, sweet and sour� etc� Prayers are offered for the child to experience sweet things in life and that may the child have good oratorical qualities.

Sugar

Bitter Kola Nuts

Alligator Pepper

The role of alligator pepper in prayers is to catalyze or energize the child�s speech�

Coconut

Inside a coconut there is fluid, which can only be seen by breaking the nut. This symbolizes the mystery of a secret within the coconut the mechanism of which is unknown. During the ceremony, a coconut is broken and shown to the women present.

Yams

These are cut into pieces and shared to the women present. It signifies the staple food of the Edo people.

Palm Oil

The symbolism is that oil is an emollient for life�s problems

Water

Water has no enemy

PROGRAM
 All are seated with males on one side and females on the other side of the living room. The mother who is gorgeously dressed for the occasion holds the child. The eldest male representative of the head of the family says the opening prayers in Edo language with Kola-nuts and drinks. He breaks the nuts and shares them.
 The eldest female member of the family now takes up the remaining activities of the evening. She will ask the mother of the child what she calls the child. The same question is asked seven (7) times. On each of the first six occasions the mother will give an unthinkable name to the child which the other women will reject.
Edo culture

 Example:
 Female Elder: "Mother (by name), what do you call your child?"
Mother: I name my child Eagle".
Chorus: No one delivers a child and calls it an eagle.

Traditional songs and local music then follow this. 
In response to the seventh (7th) question, the father of the child whispers the actual name to his wife, who then announces it publicly. In response, all the women affirm and pray that the child lives long with the parents.
 
Additional prayers follow.
OPPORTUNITY FOR GUESTS TO NAME THE CHILD.
It is customary that all those present at the ceremony give a name to the child by putting a gift or any amount of money in a bowl before stating the name they want to give the child. After each guest gives a name, the chorus responds: "Ogha gue dia. Ise"[May he/she live long, Amen]
Food and drinks follow.

                             Smiling  Edo woman

Religious Practitioners
 There are two main categories of religious specialists: priest (ohen ) and diviner/herbalist (obo ). A priest, who can be either male or female, undergoes a long series of initiation rites before specializing in performing a wide variety of ceremonies and communicating directly, often through trance, with his or her patron deity. Such priests can be found presiding over congregations in cities and villages, as well as in the countryside. The diviner/healer, usually male, specializes in some branch of magical activity such as curing, divining, handling witches, or administering ordeals.

Ceremonies
 In precolonial times there was a royal ritual cycle of ceremonies, one for each of the thirteen lunar months. Some were of a private nature, such as the sacrifices the king made to his head or his hand; others were public. Oba Eweka II curtailed many of the private ceremonies in the palace, and his son, Akenzua II, reduced and limited the public ceremonies to the Christmas vacation in order to facilitate attendance. The most important of these are Ugie Erha Oba, which honors the king's ancestors, and Igue, which strengthens his mystical powers. Domestic ceremonies mark the life cycle and the private worship of various deities and ancestors.

                             Edo people at a Festival

NAMEORIGINPURPOSEIKHURE (AMA)15TH Century: EwuareThe real name is AMA IKHURHE is the first month of the Edo year (there are 14 months in the year!) The festival is celebrated only by the children of reigning Oba and is designed to ascertain their number and give thanks for their lives and wellbeing. The celebrants are adorned with orhue (hence Ama)  after being given iwu body marks. It is partially a fertility festival during which domestic livestock (chicken, goats, e.t.c) are slaughtered.UG'IVIE ('UGIE-IVIE)ESIGIE- 16th CenturyTo the Edo, Ivie (Coral beads) are perhaps the most precious possessions and are the Obas exclusive monopoly. Only he can give out ivie but to nobody else except his children, his wives and his chiefs. There is an Edo saying that "aiy'ivie ru emwin oya" ( no one wears ivie and does anything dishonourable). The Ug'ivie festival is the annual washing and cleaning of all the ivie wealth. It also commemorates the legendary event when Ewuare came across Olokun's hoard of ivie, spread out on the sand to dry and stolen them. Those were the first ever ivie owned by any mortal.UG'ORO (UGIE-ORO)13th century EwedoIn about 1255AD, Ewedo introduced   the festival to commemorate his affluence and success as well as the general prosperity of his kingdom. Having triumphed over the UZAMA and moved away from USAMA, he had initiated far reaching reforms which greatly benefited him and his entire kingdom. To mark his achievement, he introduced the oro festival in which each citizen in the city was at liberty to indulge in eating, drinking and total debauchery for a day. However 250 years later, Esigie added bird cast in brass and called AHIANMWEN-ORO, to the ceremony. It was last performed in the reign Eweka II.

UGIOGUN (UGIE-OGUN)

Unknown, but certainly by one of the warrior- kings.

Ogun is the deity of iron and war. The purpose of the festival is two fold. First, it is a thanksgiving for all disturbances already overcome. Second, it is an appeasement and a propitiation to ward off accidents, conflicts, wars and strife. There is an enormous Ogun shrine in the palace. It is called Ogun Oba and is a dreaded deity. Practically every household in the city especially those of the chiefs, contains an Ogun Shrine because anyone who uses any iron tool is beholding to the deity. Ogun is the national deity and he has shrines of various sizes all over the kingdom. Each shrine is the preserve of an OGIOGUN (Ogun Priest) His favorite attire is made of Ododo (scarlet - color of blood)  and his favorite sacrificial victim is the do (ekita)  The annual festival in the middle of the dry season (uyunmwun) used to last for seven (7) days. IHIEKHUProbably from EsigieThis ceremony last for one day and it is a thanksgiving to the deity of Hands.  Among the Edo, the Land is the maker, the Creator of things, including wealth and prosperity.  The Ihiekhu ceremony serves to honor the human hands and appease them.  In the palace and in homes of chiefs there are always shrives where sacrifices are offered.  Whereas any chief may celebrate the ihiekhu privately, the entire city joins in the Oba's celebration, which involves lavish sacrifices.

By the way, every part of the Oba's body is a deity and has a special name in the palace, with a special shrine devoted to it.  Further more, some chiefs as well as some of the Oba's wires 9iloi) are named after the parts of the Oba's body.  For example, Ehi (ulter-ego"), inene (anus), Esa (pens), etc.  Most of the titles of the Ogbe chiefs are duplicated among the women in Oderhie (harem)UGIERH'OBA
(UGIE-ERHOBA ERHA-OBA)Unknown indefinite This festival, which used to last for 21 days, commemorates the memory of the Oba's father.  In the distant past, it involved human sacrifice.   However, it is the particular time in which the Oba displays his royal generosity by conferring chieftaincy titles.

IGUE
15TH CENTURY BY EWUARE
                                    Edo royals at Igue festival in Benin,Edo State,Nigeria

This is principally a festival of propitiation for good luck, long life and prosperity.  It is largely addressed to the Oba's HEAD which in itself, is considered by the Edo to be a sacred deity.  It is an annual festival, which often takes place in the 13th month of the Edo year.  The Edo firmly believe that their king's LUCK (uhunmwun n'oma") is inextricably bound with their own.  It involves the entire population and usually lasts for 7 days.  It begin with the anointing of the Oba's head with Orhue (signifying PURITY) and with the blood of numerous sacrificial victims from the human being (in the distant past) to cows, goats, sheep, chicken, tortoise and snail.  The anointing is performed by ISEKHURHE while the slaughtering of victims is the function of Ehondo with the special knife called ABIEZE.  
The chiefs then pay homage to the Oba by dancing before him with their EBEN After that it is general merry-making in the palace forecourt, UGH'OZOLUA (UGHA - OZOLUA). The dancing and feasting in the Palace will go on, to be joined three days later by the members of the Royal Family performing their own separately and individually in the own homes.  The IHOGBE are generally summoned privately to the homes of the members of the Royal family to offer the sacrifices to their Heads in much the same way that the ISEKHURHE led done in the palace.  Cows and goats are most frequently slaughtered, and kola-nuts (evbee) and coconuts (ivin-Ebo) are essential parts of the libation.  Three days later, the rest of the population celebrates their own separately and privately.  Igue brings everyone back home to the ancestral domain (igiogbe) for feasting and merry-making, and no family is ever too poor to celebrate it.
EMOBO is an integral part of Igue.  It was added to the original festival by ESIGIE in commemoration of his victory over his brother, ARHUANRAN in the Edo-Udo war.  Emobo is the preserve of the BARDS (OGBELAKA) who perform seven different songs and seven different dances - all of which reenact ESIGIE'S INSANITY OF THE ROAD FROM Udo.  The Oba joins in the bords' songs and dances and it is the only time in Igue when he sings and dances.  It takes place on the sixth day of the Igue festival.  On the 7th day, when the city has done its own UGIEWERE brings the entire festival to it conclusion.  UGIE- EWERE was part of the Igue festival from its very inception.  It is said that Ewuare obtained his good luck in the birth of another son after the tragic deaths, in the same day, of his two sons (IKUOBOYUWA who was the EDAIKEN and EZUWARHA who was the Enogie of Iyowa) form the Ewere leaf ("luck-leaf"-rather like the four-leafed clover which is supposed to bring luck to its finder).,  at the end of the Igue festival, the Ihogbe dance to the Palace, carrying Ewere leaves to the Oba, thus commemorating the lucky birth of the heir to the throne.  The only song they sing all the way from Ihogbe through the city streets is as follows:

Arhiewere gi'Omo vb'ugha-O
Ewere'were oyoyo-o
Ewere de-e, kie n'Ewere.
Edo woman

Incidentally, after the deaths of Ewuare's two sons and the subsequent suicides of their respective mothers, Ewuare took to wife the young daughter of the OGIEKAE who bore him a son-and-heir.  Her name was EWERE.  How convenient!!ISIOKUOOgiso (first dynasty) before 1170 A.D.According to Edo folktales, there was a monster called Osogan who lived at OKEDO (now known as IKPOBA Slope). The monster captured and devoured passersby, mostly women on market days. For many years nothing could be done about the monster. But then came EVIAN, a fearless and powerful blacksmith, who managed to thrust into the mouth of the monster a piece of red-lot steel rod which destroyed the monster.   The ceremony of ISIOKUO was invented in honor of the daity, OGUN, the god of iron / steel through whose aid the monster was destroyed.  In this ceremony both the Oba and his war chiefs, all dressed in scarlet, parade through the city, singing war songs and doing war dances.  The people from the village of ILOBI then stage a mock-battle, using the pinioned arrows which had been invented by the deity called AKE.  The ceremony ends with the spectacular display of tree-top acrobatics known as AMUFI.  The Amufi acrobats are also the specialists who capture live eagles for the Edo Palace in peace times.  The ISIOKUO ceremony, therefore, an OGUN festival basically (see the section on UGIOGUN).

UGIE ODODUA ("AGUOSA")

13TH Century:- EWEKA I

This festival, which lasted a single day early in the dry season, was invented to memorialize ODODUWA, the legendary founder of UHE (Ile-Ife) it consists of masquerades dressed in long scarlet attires (Ododo), singing songs.  It was Oba ERESOYEN (1735 - 1750 A.D.) who later modified the masquerade to present seven bronze masques which were modeled on those of the spiritual leader of UZALA, called
OSA N'UZALA. Pregnant women were forbidden to watch the procession for fear that their babies might be born to resemble any of the ghastly masks.AGUEUnsure but probably Ewuare in 15th centuryAGUE is really not a festival or ceremony, as such; it is a PERIOD of time which used to last for 3 months.  It was the Edo traditional period of FASTING, similar in many respects to the Moslem Fasting month and the Christian lent.  During AGUE, strangers were forbidden to enter the city, nobody except the palace servants was allowed to see the Oba, on man was allowed to sleep with his wife or wives; very little food was consumed.  It was a period of total abstinence.  It was usually between January and March.  Presumably, its purpose was to demonstrate that no one who has never been hungry could appreciate the value of wealth; no one who has never been sex-starved could appreciate the value of marriage, etc, etc, etc.  Such a period of total deprivation must have taught the Edo the importance of prudence and moderation.  By the way, it was during AGUE that the British insisted on Visiting OVONRHAMEEN in Benin city in 1897.  The refusal to allow the visit resulted in the so-called massacre of captain Phillip and the subsequent "punitive expedition" which changed Edo life and culture forever.  The rest is "History" but who's History?  I wonder !!!!!!!!!
EHO, IKPOLEKI, EHO-AMA
15TH Century:- EWUARE
IKPOLEKI and EHO-EMA are both part-and -parcel of Eho people However, EHO-EMA is only for the princes and the Enigie ("Dukes")."  ENIGIE" is the plural form of "ENOGIE" (singular) and they are normally SON of departed Obas and therefore brothers and uncles of the reigning Oba.  They never reside in Benin City.

The Eho festival takes place before harvest time, around the month of September in modern reckoning.  The new yam, i.e. the yam of the current farm under cultivation, has yet to be harvested, and the old yam, the previous year's harvest, has virtually been eaten up, since much of it had earlier been used as seed-yams for planting of the current farm.  The yam tuber is therefore scarce, and expensive in Benin City during Eho festival season.  And it is only the pounded yam that the spirit of the ancestors are fed upon.  The Edo's say:
    

       EDO KHOO!
       IRAN EKHO VBE EGHE EHO:
The Benin People are hard to Please But not during the Eho festival season.


Please see below for details of
THE EHO FESTIVAL OF THE BENIN KINGDOM
By: EKHAGUOSA AISIEN.
A paper presented during the Centenary Celebration.


UGI'AZAMA (UGIE-AZAMA)ESIGIE(1483 - 1504 A.D)

This ceremony commemorates the whole of the struggle between Oba ESIGIE and his brother, ARHUANRAN who was the "DUKE" of UDO and who laid claim to the throne of the Edo kingship.  As a result of Palace intrigues, promoted by IDIA, Esigie's mother, the claimant had been sent of Udo as Enogie ("Duke" in the English language).  When he eventually discovered the truth, he rebelled and a war broke out between Edo and udo. UGIANZAMA commemorates the entire struggle between the brothers, ending in the defeat of udo. At this ceremony, the eldest son of the Oba (the Edaiken)and the eldest daughter of the Oba are both represented by carefully chosen "Ordinary" (Non-royal) persons who are called UHUNMWEGHO (the title means, simply, SCAPEGOATS ) It is those two who lead the procession around the city and end up in the palace where sacrifices are made.  The presence of the Prince and Princess was meant to demonstrate the legitimacy of their fathers reign.  It also demonstrated their ineptitude and non-participation in their fathers struggle to gain and retain the Edo crown


THE EHO FESTIVAL OF THE BENIN KINGDOM
EKHAGUOSA AISIEN.

The Ikpoleki Festival of the Okhuaihe deity has been completed.  Its completion makes way for the commencement of Eghute Festival.  The Okhuaihe devotees, fresh from completing the Ikpoleki gather at the Okhuaihe grove at Ikpe village, on the banks of the Orhionmwon River.  There they are met by the OKHUE OSUAN, a ceremonial personage, on his way to Benin City.

The OKHUE OSUAN, translated as the "Parrot of Chief Osuan of Benin" is on his way to the premises of Chief Osuan in Benin.  In ceremonial robes he left his native village of Igbekhue in Iyekorhinmwon earlier that morning, accompanied by a band of retainers.  Arriving at the far bank of Orhionmwon river at Evbuarhue village he gets into a canoe which ferries him and his little bank across the to Ikpe village.   Disembarking, he moves to the Okhuaihe grove to meet the Ikpoleki celebrants.

Igbekhue village, as its name implies, is the home to the guild of the Royal Patriot Hunters and Trappers.

There are the Okhuaihe grottos in Ikpe. The Okhue Osuan, singing the ancient songs of the land, dancing to the approbation of the Okhuaihe devotees.  In response, the Okhuaihe raise once again the deeply moving songs of the Ikpoleki festival, and dance in entertainment of their wayfarer visitor.  With this session of mutual recognition and appreciation over, the Okhue Osuan resumes his ceremonial journey to Benin.
                                               Beautiful Edo family from Benin,Edo State,Nigeria

The visitor arrives in the City and progresses along UTANTAN (Sokponba Road) High Street, singing the seasonal songs of the occasion.  He stops only once along UTANTAN, and that is at the EKI OKPAGHA, the Okpagha Tree Market.  Now taken over by residential building, the site of what was the Okpagha Tree Market is today the area of Sokponba Road between Ogbelaka Street and the Cathedral Church of ST, Mathew.  The Okhue Osuan carries out a mandatory ritual observerance there at the EKI OKPAGHA.  Then he moves on to the Osuan premises, behind The Moat, opposite the present day "Nigerian Observer" premises.


At Chief Osuan's premise, the purposes of the of the Okhue Osuan's long trek from Iguekhue village to Benin City are met.  As he and his entourage embark on their homeward journey along Utantan High Street, the people of the City say that the OKHU OSUAN has duly thrown open the gates for the commencement of the year's EHO festival, and they hail him as he passes by.  In Nine days, they say, the Iyase will kick off the celebrations with the performance of his own Eho.  In thirteen days, five days after the Iyase ceremony, the generally of the City Citizen, along with other Chiefs, will arrange their own ceremonies in their individual homes.

The Eho ceremony is a yearly festival during which during which the Edo feed their dearly departed ancestors.  The ceremony is the Principal festival of the religion of Ancestor's worship.  And ancestor worship is the only collective religion possessed by the Edo's as an ethnic group.  It is native to the land and to its inhabitants, subscribed to by all of the people.  The other native religions which exist in Edo land, like the Okhuaihe, the Ovia, and the Olokun - are mere cults, hero warship cults, restricted in spread and acceptance, and practiced only by their adherents.  On the other hand, ancestor -worship is practiced by all without exception.  It is the religion which people refer to when they talk about the "Traditional Religion".  

The Eho is its yearly celebration.

The elaborateness of the Eho festival in each individual household is directly proportional to the size of the family purse.  A titled citizen would go to the Oba Palace to inform the Monarch that he4 intend to feed his "ancestors" on the evening of that particular day.  The Oba would present to the Chief a gift of a bawl of kola nuts.  These would be the kola nuts, augmented by the Chief, which would be used for prayers at the
 aro erha, the alter of the ancestors, at the actual ceremony later that evening.

The whole of the extended family gathers at the family home.  Grown-up sons who have already left home to set up homes of their own arrive at the ancestral family home, accompanied by their own individual families.  The married daughters of the home also arrive with their husbands and children.

Early at dusk, the worship at the ancestral alter by the whole family takes place.  The worship at the
 aro erha, aro iye or aro erhinmwin, by the gathered congregation is climaxed by the slaughtering of the sacrificial livestock earmarked for the ceremony  The sacrificial offering provides the meat for the general feasting which takes place at break of day.  When the religious aspect of the ceremony is over, the main business of the evening commences, which is the NARATION OF THE HISTORY OF THE FAMILY, begun as far back in time as it could be remembered.  This history is told by the head of the household of the home, around whom are gathered his wives, Sons and Daughters, with their wives and Husbands, grand children and great-grand children.  The Family history narration is the HIGH WATERMARK of the night's activities, re-invigorating all the listeners and renewing the BONDS OF THE KINGSHIP WHICH LINK THEM TOGETHER.


What remains of the night is then taken up with singing and dancing and story telling, i.e. the telling of Folk tales, until the early hours of the next morning when haven had their fill of  the merriment, people wander off to catch a nap before daybreak.

The festival cooking starts at Dawn.  The ancestral spirits are given their own portion of the cooked food in a short ceremony at the ancestral alter, after which the general ceremony commences.  Cooked food, especially portion of the slaughtered animal, is sent to all the neighbors and friends.  If a Cow has been slaughtered for the ceremony in the household, of a Chief, a hind-leg of the sacrificial offering along with other items would be sent to the Oba's Palace.

The Benin City grandee is less censorious of the unrefined habits of the visiting villager during the Eho season because the villager always comes to Benin with welcome bundles of the yam tuber.

During the Eho festival period, the sons-in-law of household get yet another opportunity to give meaning to their son-ship of the family of their wives.  They accompany their wife/wives tot the Eho ceremony laden with bundles of scares yam tubers plus calabashes of sweet palm wine, augmented frequently with sacrificial items of livestock like cockerels and goats. 
 
Ini Edo, ace Nollyhood actress in her traditional Edo bridal wear

Arts
 The Benin Kingdom is well known for its brass and ivory sculpture, which is found in museums throughout the world. These objects were produced for the king and the nobility by members of craft guilds in Benin City.
Ivory Leopard,Benin art

 Among the most famous Benin works of art are the brass (often mislabeled "bronze") commemorative heads topped by elaboratly carved ivory tusks that are placed on the royal ancestral altars and the rectangular brass plaques depicting court ceremonies and war exploits that used to decorate the pillars of the palace. In the villages, devotees of local deified culture heroes perform rituals employing a variety of different kinds of masks some of wood, others of cloth or red parrot feathers, to honor these deities and appeal for health and well-being.
Benin Bronze Head
 Benin Head 
Tribe: Edo People at Benin
Country: Nigeria
Material: Metal
Size: 18" Tall
Private Collection: London, England
The brass heads honored the deceased person they represented, they refer to the special role of the head in directing not only the persons body but also a person's success in life.
Most Benin castings were made of brass, which ia an alloy of copper and zinc with varying amounts of other elements. A few castings, especially in the early period, were made in bronze the copper and tin. It is believed that the cast brass heads were introduced for royal ancestors in the late fourteenth century under the reign of Oba Oguola, the fifth king or Oba.

Medicine
 The Edo distinguish between common and serious illnesses. The former can be treated at home or by Western-trained doctors; the latter must be treated by specialists in traditional medicine, whether priests or diviner/healers. Serious illnesses (childhood convulsions, smallpox, etc.) are believed to be caused by witches or by deities angered over the violation of a taboo. Traditional medical practice centers around belief in osun, the power inherent in leaves and herbs that grow in the bush. Most adults have a basic knowledge of herbalism, which helps them to care for their immediate families, but there are also specialists, both priests and diviner/herbalists, who treat a variety of illnesses. Edo today distinguish between "White man's medicine," for the treatment of diseases such as measles, and "Edo medicine," which is still used for problems such as barrenness or illness created by witches.

                                                              Edo people

Death and afterlife beliefs:
 A generalised account of the burial ceremonies may be given. The first act is to wash the body and place
it, usually wrapped in white cloth, upon the bed. A goat or a fowl is sacrificed close to this bed to the feet of the dead body, and the reason given for this sacrifice is that it makes the dead person strong to go to heaven. The grave is dug either by relatives of the deceased or, in the villages, by the Igele.
SALOMON IGBINOGHODUA Oba Erediauwa of Bénin. The Oba of Benin,Omo N'Oba,N'Edo Uku Akpolokplolo is the king of Benin Kingdom, Oba Erediauwa, the reigning Oba of Benin is a leader with a charming personality and background. Oba Erediauwa is the mature fruit of the seed his grandfather Eweka II, planted and nurtured by his father Akenzua II. Hence, a new Oba, groomed and well-equipped, steeped in the culture, norms and traditions of the old Benin Kingdom

 During the burial rites traditional burial songs are sung. The burial is attended sometimes by the family of the deceased only, sometimes by the wives also. After the grave is filled in a sacrifice is sometimes offered upon it, and  the gravediggers purify themselves with water or with a chicken. Sacrifices go on night and morning for a varying number of days, and where the awaigbe is used, the final act is to purify with afo.
 On the last night of the burial ceremonies,which are of course prolonged for some time after the body has been put in the grave, and may, if the family is a poor one, be postponed for years after the actual burial, a member of the family dresses up to represent the dead man, whose seat he occupies. An important point to be noted in connection with the burial ceremonies is that the sons-in-law of the dead man have to bring contributions of cloth, yams, cocoanuts, and other objects, together with one goat.
    Edo Tribes
ESAN/Ishan-for the immediate neighbor to the north are people living in around Irrua, Orhodua, Uromi, Ubiaja, Ewu, Ewatto, Igueben and the almighty Evbohimwin (Ewohimi))" the city by the big river " or " the city of Ikhimwin trees " etc.
c) The Afemais known as IVBIOSAKON by those living in and around Benin City to the north of Ishan/Esan clan.
d) Akoko-Edos based in Igarra, Ibillo and its environs to the north of Afemais.
e) The Owans-ORAS occupying Eme, Sabogida-Ora, Afuze, etc. Uhobe (SOBE) and Ifon in Ondo State.
f) Ekas-to East of Benin. A sizeable chunk of the Edo speaking people flow across River Niger and ending at ONITSHA.
g) Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiris and about 70% percent of western Izon (Ijaws) in Ndegeni and its environs
h) A sizeable chunk of the Edos is found in River States and Balyesa States e.g. Ogba land and Diobu, Port Harcourt.
i) A sizeable chunk has been " Yorubanised in Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos and Ogun States. The descendants of Edo soldiers stationed in Akure are referred to today as ADO-AKURE (Edo ne �kue) There are many Edos in Ekiti land, Idoani, Idanre etc going through life in Nigeria with Yoruba names. Acculturation has taken place. You are either a Yoruba man or you go nowhere.
j) The ILAJE community at OKITIPUPA and its environs.
k) The Edos who conquered and settled far way land like Dahomey, Togo and Ghana.

 These people have lived were they are now for " Thousands of years." The monarchy centered in Benin City is about 6000 years old, including pre-ogiso and Ogiso era of history. All the clans had various functions, which they perform at the palace. For example, the Ishans/Esans were principally the medicine men and warriors of the ancient empire. They were the medical practitioners. The chieftancy groups responsible for the Oba's well being are dominated by Ishan/Esan descendants. The Ivbiosakon (Afemais) were the dental surgeon of the palace. That is the origin of the name IVBIOSAKON. Oba Esigie assigned that function to them in the c1500's.
Edo couple

The Owan/Ora people were the propitiators of the physical earth for the Oba of Benin. It was their responsibility to prevent things like earthquake, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and anything associated with geological disturbance to occur in Benin. In short, they were the geologists and weathermen of their day, forecasting and preventing physical calamities. Those we call BINIS today, were the traditional bureaucratic administrators and military generals. The Izons (Ijaws) were the " OZIGUE" -SAILORS The Ekas were farmers. They were in charge of the royal farms.
The ancient Edo/Benin Empire covered the whole of Bendel, parts of Bayelsa State and I repeat Balyesa State. The second son of the Enogie of Brass, popularly known as IYASE NE OHENMWEN became the Iyase of Benin under Oba Osewende. IyaseOhenmwen is the ancestor of the OTOKITIS, THE OKEAYA-INNEH AND THE AIWERIOGHENES of Benin today. It also covers the IGBO-speaking areas of Delta State stretching to Onitsha. People hardly know that the actual title of the Obi of Onitsha is AIGBOGHIDI. The historical Chief Agho Obaseki of Oba Ovoranmwen era and later the Iyase of Benin under Oba Eweka II, was a descendant of the second son of Enogie of NSUKWA now in Delta State. It extended to the whole of Ondo State, parts of Ekiti and Ogun State and the whole of Lagos State including BADAGRY. It stretched to southern Dahomey (Republic of Benin) and on to the coast of Togo and Ghana.
Onogie of Ewohimi.Circa 1910

THE OWANS /ORAS:
Oba Ozolua is traditionally regarded as the ancestor of the Owans/Ora. He was known as Prince Okpame before he became known as Oba Ozolua. He had sought refuge in Uwokha in Ivbiosakon areas in c1473. From Uwokha, Oba Ozolua founded Ora and other villages. Oba Ozolua was a warlord. He beat the people of Uzea near Uromi to a pulp when there was a revolt. He extended his carnage to Uromi when the Enogie was reported to have been rude to his messengers. He went up through Akoko land, wandering into Nupe lands where he acquired a lot of sophisticated weaponry then. He attacked the Igallas and Igbirras in the present Kogi and Kwarra states. After spending the greater part of his life in ORA, he left behind his son UGUAN and returned to Benin City.
But before he left, he proclaimed everybody free men and free women, entitled to enjoy the privileges of Edo princes and Princesses, for all the services they had rendered in his military campaigns. That is why the Oras call themselves today, the CHILDREN OF OZOLUA. Besides being in charge of propitiating the physical earth, they are responsible for ritually exorcising any harm that might come upon the EDO NATION-the land due to violation of sexual or other taboos. Their GUILD, quartered at EVBORHAN quarter in OGBELAKA in Benin City by Oba Esigie, demands steep fines from the culprits for their services.
Edo woman

                                                 
HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE MIGRATION OF THE PEOPLE
OF AFENMAI FROM THE BINI KINGDON.
A republican form of government had replaced that of monarchy after the death of Olua (1473-1478). This change in government had sparked off unrest all over the empire as civil disobedience became the other of the day. There was break down of law and order as the interim government was weak.It was amidst this chaos that Prince Okpame was hailed as both the deliverer and Oba. Prince Okpame later became the Oba Ozolua. (Ozoluwa), and ruled the Bini kingdom from about 1418 to about 1504. Oba ozolua´s reign marked what one might called a migration plaque. During his reign mass migration of different tribes and at different times were recorded. The Edos speaking people of north-east of Benin city migrated to their present homelands in groups in Ozolua´s reign. Some had left to escape pains, conscription and for refusal to bring to the Oba leopard skins as the custom dictated. The migration of the Etsako peoples- the Ibies, Uzairues, the Avhianwus, the WeppaWanos, the Auchis, the Agbedes, the Okpellas, the Avhieles, the Jagbes and the
Anwains- had been associated with these movements.
Azama, who later become the great Ancestral Father and the Foster father of the peoples who today form two thirds of Etsakor, was a Bini by birth.Azama married his first wife called Ughiosomhe for whom he had four sons. They were Imekeyo, Ikphemhi, Anwu and Omoazekpe. Azama married another woman Etso for whom he had two sons. Eppa and Ano. The marriage with Azama has been Etso´s second. Her first son, Uneme, was from her first marriage. Etso married for the third time after Azama´s death and had her fourth son, Ekperi. All sons and parent lived happily together in Bini.
All the children of Azama and their step brothers, who today comprises the Ivhiera communities, migrated with their families in this said period of 15 century, and became the founders and progenitors of the Clans that make up Etsako. Imekeyo, Ikpemhi and Omoazekpe, the first, second and sixth sons of Azama became the great Patriarch of most Uzairue clan. Anwu, the third son of Azama, founded the Avhianwu clan while Eppa and Ano, the fourth and fifth sons of Azama became the great Ancestoral patriarchs of the clan called today UweppaWanno. Their step brothers Uneme and Ekperi co-founded all Inemes and all Ekperi clans respectively. Anwu had married a woman called Aleukoko for whom he had seven sons. These
were Unone, Arua, Egwienabo, Okpolimhi,, Adaeso (Adachi), Iraokhor and Imhakhena(Ogbona).
POST MIGRATION.
The children of Avhianwu still owned allegiance to the Bini Oba many years after
migration. They pay tribute to Edo in recognition of the Oba of Benin.
It was said that the Oba has right over certain animals killed in the kingdom including Avhianwu. One of such animal was Leopard. Anyone who killed a leopard
had to send the skin to the Oba in person.
This journey they say, takes months even years to accomplished, and most of
those who left never returned. History says they were used as Oba guard as a
result of their boldness.
To give one the benefit of doubt, one was normally waited for a period of three years during which all one´s right and privileges were withdrawn at the expiration of this period. Then their wives could be given out to other people for marriage at the expiration of such period. (three years).
This experience begot the following hackneyed proverbial saying among the people of Avhianwu that:
Ogb´ekpe lo ghi egbo usomhi Edo
Meaning: It is he that killed a leopard that send himself on a mission to Edo
Aro amhi khe ono yi Edo
Meaning: A wife is not kept for one who is away to Edo
Ikpe ela l´akhe ono yi Edo
Meaning: its three years of waiting for one who is on a mission to Edo

EDO CREATION MYTH AND HISTORY (840 BCE – 1100 CE)
by Naiwu Osahon
The Bini cosmological account of the universe draws significantly from the Egyptian one. The Egyptian version, which later formed the basis of Genesis in the Bible, is that the universe was created from chaos and primaeval (or ancient) ocean. After a hill (called ta-tjenen) arose from the bottom of the ocean, a son-god (God´s child or baby god) called Atom, (which is the Sun without which life on earth is impossible), appeared on the land created by the hill. The son-god or Atom then created eight other gods, which together with himself made nine gods. These nine gods are presumed by modern science to be symbolized by the nine major planets of the universe.
The Bini version is that, in the beginning, Osanobua (God, Oghene-Osa, Tu-SoS), decided to populate the world so He asked His four sons in Erinmwin (Heaven), to choose whatever gift of nature each fancied. The oldest chose wealth, the next in age chose wisdom, the third chose mysticism (spiritual energy), and as the youngest was about to announce his choice, Owonwon (the Toucan) cried out to him to settle for a snail shell. This did not make sense to him but he settled for it all the same. The brothers laughed at his stupid choice but Osanobua said it was a wise choice. That when they get to the middle of the water where He was sending them, the youngest son should turn his snail shell facing the water.
There was no land only water every where and the four sons were in a canoe, sailing, drifting, propelled by the power of eziza (wind). In the middle of the water stood a tree on top of which lived (Owonwon) the toucan. The importance of the emergence of the tree before man on earth is not lost on modern science, which recognizes that without the tree manufacturing oxygen, life on earth would have been impossible. Modern science has also confirmed the Bini cosmology that birds, insects etc preceded man to earth. The Bini myth of creation was earth based in scope.
Bini woman smoking pipe,Circa 1911

When the children got to the middle of the water, the youngest son turned his snail shell upside down resulting in an explosion from the bottom of the water that forced volumes and volumes of sand to gush out of the water and fill up space around them for as far as the eyes could see. With the explosion, the four elements of creation, amen (water), eziza (air), arhen (fire) and oto (sand or land) were in place. Land was every where but the kids did not know what it was. They were afraid to climb out of the canoe to step on the land, so they sent the Chameleon to test its firmness. That is why the Chameleon walks with hesitation.The youngest son of Osanobua was the only spirit out of the four sons who could have the physical human body attribute on stepping on the land, because that was the advantage of the physical or material choice he made. It was put in his hand from heaven. The other sons were deities. The youngest son, the ruler of the earth, represents innocence and so is susceptible to the powers of the deities, his brothers. These same weak and strong, good and evil, physical and spiritual, influences form the basic elements of all modern religions, with man endowed with the power to make choices.
The Aighobahi of benin in the 1970s . He was the functional head of the royal palace society of Iweguae in the absence of the substantive head Egere.

Junior wanted his older spirit brothers to remain with him on his land. The oldest brother chose to take
his spirit gift and live in what was left of the water. The other two brothers accepted junior´s invitation and
deposited their spirit selves and gifts on the land as soon as they stepped on it from the canoe. Junior
stepped on his land gingerly at first, then vigorously, stamping hard and repeatedly on it, running and rolling over it. He looked around and felt good and happy with his enormous gift. He called his land agbon
(earth), and himself, Idu, meaning the first human on earth. He decided to walk around and explore the
extent and nature of his gift. It had trees, shrubs, birds, animals, insects, which all came out of water with
the land, and the land sprawled endlessly. After walking for a while pushing through shrubs; almost stepping on insects, ants and crawlers; talking to birds that appeared to be serenading him and animals that
came close or ran from him, he was tired. He sat on the stump of a tree to rest, later lying on the ground
to sleep.
While asleep, Osanobua came down with a chain from heaven, looked around to ensure that everything was in place, including the Sun and the Moon that were to regulate day and night and the seasons. When Idu woke up, he was excited to find himself in the presence of a huge, soothing illumination, surrounded by darkness. The earth was dark. He knew he was in the presence of the ´Almighty´ and did not want to look
directly at the illumination. He went down humbly and quickly on his knees to thank Osanobua for the immense earth gift bestowed on him.
“You are happy then?” Osanobua asked Idu. “Very, very,” Idu said, adding humbly, “but I am hungry. I have not eaten since I arrived here?  What do I do for food?” Osanobua said, “Stretch your hand up above your head; the sky would respond by coming close to your hand. Pluck what ever you need from the sky. Don´t pluck more than you need to eat to satisfy your hunger at any one time though.” ”I won´t, I won´t,” Idu said eagerly, stretching his right hand right away to pluck a mouthful of food from the sky. As he munched away happily, eyes and head rolling to show joy and satisfaction, he managed to mumble, “it tastes very nice, I love it.” “What else do you need?” Osanobua asked Idu. “Dad, I could do with a human companion. I am lonely. My brothers are spirits and I can no longer relate with them,” Idu said. Osanobua said, “You are not flesh and blood alone. You are part spirit too. Your spirit brothers are not far away. Experience would teach you how to harness wisdom, one of your spirit brothers, which would teach you how to combine your physical and spiritual energies to cultivate wealth and spiritual fulfillment, your other two spirit brothers.”
HRM The Oba of Benin, Solomon Akenzua, Omo N\'Oba,Erediauwa of Benin Kingdom

Osanobua gave the oldest son control of the waters. The Bini call this son, Olokun (meaning the god of the waters). Olokun represents aspects of life such as good health, long life, good luck, prosperity and happiness, to which man may appeal through ritual purity. The other spirit sons were allowed the freedom to use their magical powers to balance out the negative and positive forces of nature. To shorten the process of
acquiring spiritual wisdom, Osanobua strengthened the mystical energy with three new forces: Oguega, Ominigbon and Iha, to provide humans with spiritual guidance to differentiate rights from wrongs.
Osanobua then told Idu to take sand with both palms from the ground and stretch his hands close together in front of him. As soon as Idu did as he was told, Osanobua called forth a female person, pointing His staff where she appeared in front of Idu. “Whao,” Idu exclaimed on beholding the beautiful female person standing in front of him. She smiled happily and went down on her knees to greet Osanobua, looking at Idu who she also greeted. Idu held her hands in response and hugged her.
Osanobua said, “She is Eteghohi (a woman) and you are Etebite, (a man). In marriage you would multiply to ensure there is no shortage of hands in the management of the earth´s resources.”
As Osanobua was making to leave, Idu politely asked: “what if we have other problems and want to reach our creator quickly?” Osanobua said, “you can individually live for up to five hundred years, but you can come to me at will through your individual spirit self, ehi, whose double is permanently with me in heaven. All you would need to do is climb the Alubode hill and you are with ehi in heaven, who would bring you to me.”
As Osanobua left to his abode where the earth, water, and the sky meet, darkness was lifted from the earth.
Life was sweet and easy and before long, Idu and his wife, Eteghohi, were making babies. As the years rolled by, generations of extended Idu´s family began to spread out in all directions, setting up communities, villages and towns. The different communities farthest from base spoke variations of Idu language and knew that they came from one common ancestor, Papa Idu, the ancestor of all mankind. Everything went well for thousands of years until one day when Emose, a pregnant woman, out of greed, cut more food than she needed to eat at once, from the sky. There was an immediate explosion and the sky began receding from human reach. Direct interaction with Osanobua from then on became difficult because humans could no longer walk in and out of heaven at will. Emose´s greed destroyed the age of innocence and brought into human affairs, two new spirits, Esun and Idodo, both representing obstacles humans must now overcome to reach heaven. Idodo is the spirit ´police´ that ensures that natural or divine laws are obeyed. Idodo seeks to ensure we repent and atone for our sins. Esun is the ´servant´ spirit or angel that takes genuine human
pleas, performed in the purity of heart, before Osanobua.
Emose´s greed also brought a lot of suffering and pains to humans. Forests were soon depleted of their natural food supply, so humans began to toil hard clearing forests, burning bushes, tilling the land, planting, weeding, nurturing, threshing and harvesting. It was not easy. Before long, the lazy began to die like fowls in the desert. Farming activities began to take their toll on the ecological balance of the earth too, causing droughts, unpredictable seasons, and environmental degradation. The soil began to suffer and die from over use, yielding less and less food despite the use of excrement as manure, which in turn caused its peculiar illness, pains and deaths.

Two new spiritual forces of nature were now evident and critical to human survival. They were Uwu (death), the harbinger of death, and Ogi´uwu (the spirit of death), representing mourning, evil omen, and diseases. Ogi´uwu owns the blood of all living things. Uwu and Ogi´uwu were causing havoc among humans. Humans who could live before for ukpo iyisen-iyisen vb´ iyisen (five hundred years) at a stretch, were now dying prematurely. Death was ready to take life at any time, and Ogi´uwu was sending every one who disobeyed Osanobua (or nodiyi-Osa) to death, regardless of age.
To convince Idodo to prevail on Uwu and Ogi´uwu to temper justice with mercy and get Esun to take our pleas to Osanobua to control the forces, required the services of our own individual spirit called ´ehi.´ Ehi could no longer go directly to Osanobua because of Emose´s sin, except at the point before our birth. The Bini say there are two aspects of man. One half is ehi, which is the spirit essence, and the other half is the okpa, which is the physical person. Before birth, ehi, (the spirit essence) of the individual, humbly goes before Osanobua to request endorsement of the kind of life the individual would wish to live on earth (agbon). The request is obviously made with a baby´s sense of innocence about rights and wrongs, and the weight of the karmic debt and credit baggage of the individual from previous life cycles and styles. However,
the choice of the new life style is patently and entirely the individual´s, and could be any of one or a combination of scenarios. The individual may want to be a powerful spiritualist, a rich business man or farmer, a great warrior or soldier, a happy or unhappy family man, a wimp or beggar, a revered medicine man, a famous chief, politician, or popular king, and even a notorious or very successful thief.
The request process is called ´hi´ and leads to Osanobua stamping his sacred staff on the floor to seal the wish. The approved secret wish is only known to ehi, who is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that his second half, okpa, (the physical human self), keeps to the promises made before Osanobua. Ehi is the spiritual counterpart of okpa in heaven. Half of ehi comes with okpa to earth to ensure permanent link with ehi in heaven. That half is called orhion. When okpa dies, orhion stays close to okpa until okpa is properly buried and all rites are completed. Orhion, cleansed of sins, returns to heaven to be one with ehi. Ehi and okpa may come back 7 times each, making a total of fourteen times in all. Each return, known as reincarnation, provides the opportunity to atone for the sins committed in previous life times. When cleansing
is complete, ehi takes its proper place in Eguae Osanobua vb´ Erinmwin (heavenly paradise).


 Edo Mysteries
Everything discussed so far is encapsulated in the Idu (Edo) Mysteries. Idu mystics are known as Oboihoi abbreviated generally as Obo. They say, ‘emwin agbon nat ’ole okhiokhi,’ meaning, events on earth move in cycles. They insist that ‘one should live for the benefit of other things.’ Idu Mystery priests or Oboihoi, are vast in miracles and magic. Initiation ceremonies still retain some of the ancient Egyptian enigma, such as the shaving of the head, and peculiarly include spending some days alone in the forest. No one returns from the sojourn and not be a changed personality. Initiates study several means of divination, the main ones being: Iha (Ifa), Oguega and Ominigbon. All four divinities are repositories of the history, philosophy, culture and traditions of the Idu (Bini). The central figures, like in other mysteries with their saints, deities, and spiritual icons, include: Okhuaihe, Oravan, Ogun, Olokun, etc., who are intermediaries and can be imaged, unlike Osanobua who is imageless.
Edo woman

The divinities are oral, secretive and thrive on the words of wisdom from the obvious to the proverbial, the mystical to the esoteric. Both the Idu (Edo), and Egyptian Mysteries, use myths, parables, proverbs, symbols; magic and numbers, to conceal truth and knowledge from the non-initiate. Iha, for instance, is a gigantic memory bank of words, ideas, anecdotes on all sorts of events on earth and under the heavens. No issue is too trivial to preserve, and the information bank’s subjects range from births to deaths of the lowly and the kings, wars, evolutions of great and small empires, nations, journeys, marriages, quarrels etc. Every incidence imaginable is carefully catalogued, itemized, and stored away, ready to be accessed by the trained mind at will. The knowledge bank is constantly being replenished and updated to make it ever fresh, relevant, contemporary and comprehensive. Initiates go through long, tedious periods of training where teaching is memorized rather than written down. Progress between grades is slow and laborious, subjecting initiates to memory and bodily ordeals and tests. Only the physically fit, tough, and determined, can last that long, complete the training and graduate. Many fall by the way side. Those who qualify, become Oboihoi, abbreviated as Obo. The mavens among them are gods in their own rights and can do anything.

The Idu people, like other Africans, have only one Osanobua and several intermediaries in form of saints, gods, deities, because Osanobua became remote to humans as a result of Emose’s sin. With pains and suffering on earth refusing to abate after Emose’s sin and Osanobua’s anger by taking the sky (therefore food) too far out of human reach, Idu people started praying for abundant rainfall and sunshine all year round to replace the droughts they were experiencing. The intermediary gods and deities were expected to intercede on their behalf before Osanobua over the relentless suffering on earth, and Ogi‘uwu’s merciless execution of the mandate of death. At their individual, family, and community shrines, Idu people plead their cases through their individual ehi to the deities to take their pleas to Osanobua. After a while they began to feel that the response to their pleas was too slow or inadequate and began yearning for the opportunity to continue to visit heaven at will and plead directly before Osanobua as it was in the beginning. They felt they could maximize their chances by combining their efforts to reach Osanobua through their ehi and deities, with direct plea. This happened thousands of years before the Christian era.
In fact, the Christian creation ideas about Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the Son-of-God, appear to have been taken verbatim from the Idu (Edo) corpus. But the Idu (direct interaction concept) is superior to the Christian one because, while Christians rely on an intermediary or a Messiah to reach the Supreme God, Idu people go directly, collectively. They have a human saint too who died for their collective well-being, but they believe every human must account individually for his or her deeds. No Messiah can cleanse your sins for you because we each have our individual covenant with Osanobua through our ehi, on the day before our birth on earth.


The Aruosa

Leaders and priests of all the Idu deities agreed that while they should continue with their various individual efforts to reach Osanobua, they should also come together regularly to plead and pray with one voice for Osanobua’s direct intervention and blessings in their lives. They each first went through self purification processes such as fasting and spiritual cleansing, and collectively cleansed the place chosen for the prayer gathering. The prayer sessions at the gathering point, went on regularly for a long while without any noticeable change in their plight, so one day, one of them, a powerful spiritual leader and priest by the name Okhuaihe, offered to take the people’s prayers and pleas to Osanobua in heaven. That meant dying for the uplift of his people, of course. The Idu people reluctantly agreed with him and promised to continue to pray at the chosen spot until he returned, or forever if he failed to return.

They continued praying at the same spot regularly for years and still Okhuaihe did not return and there was no visible change in their circumstance. Droughts were still ravaging the earth and many were dying helplessly from hunger and diseases. To mark the prayer spot, they planted the Uwerhien ‘otan tree, and heaped earth at its base to create a shrine to Osanobua. This was the only spot where direct prayers were offered to God in Idu land. At every other shrine, whether at home or in communal settings, they prayed through their ehi and deities. Still, Okhuaihe did not come back but one day, darkness fell on earth at noon. A huge ball of fire descended from the sky and with it came a thunderous voice confirming the presence of Osanobua and suggesting that Okhuaihe’s mission had not been in vain. The voice said: “Okhuaihe delivered your message to me, but your wishes are against my creative will and I will not grant them.”

A while after the voice spoke, another ball of fire descended from the sky through the darkness and fell on earth to lift the darkness. Idu people were expecting Okhuaihe to return with the lifting of darkness but he didn’t, so they declared that: Aimi ‘ose no ye ‘rinmwin.” Meaning life after death is beyond understanding. Idu people, however, consoled themselves with the thought that the new ball of fire from the sky must have brought a message from Osanobua. They organized a search party to locate where it fell and what it was. At the spot where the ball of fire fell, at the junction of Igbesanwman and today’s Aruosa Street, they found a strange huge Blackstone. The unique Blackstone, which looks alien to our world, is one of the relics the British took away during their sacking and burning of Benin City in 1897. Idu people named the stone ‘Aruosa,’ meaning the Eye of Osanobua (God) watching over His creation. It is a symbol of Idu people’s direct experience of God. They built a proper house of worship at the spot where they had always gone to pray to Osanobua. This happened over 3000 years ago. The ancient site is at a place known today as Akpakpava Road. Therefore, nobody can teach Idu (Edo) people anything about how to worship God. They knew and heard directly from God, thousands of years before the Christian era.

Aruosa doctrine is described as Godianism, meaning, direct one-on-one interaction with God. It requires no intermediaries, Messiahs or Redeemers. Aruosa’s body of beliefs, teaching and practices, have not changed in thousands of years. Their preaching is pre-occupied with what they describe as the saga of creation by Osanobua. In worship, they invoke the presence of God with songs and by cleansing and sanctifying themselves. Ihonmwen ‘egbe n’ Osa mwen, meaning, “I purify myself for my God.” They pray and dance to their songs, using traditional musical instruments, including drums and the ukuse, to produce their music. They believe the sounds of drums, songs and dance help to invoke the spirit of God. Prayers are rendered in songs and a typical one goes like this:

“We believe in God
and we serve Him
because we abhor quarrels
bitterness, sickness,
death and poverty.”

A popular closing song goes like this:

“God, we have made time to serve you,
Give us the time and blessing
to achieve our goals.”

Worship is on Sundays (African veneration day), from 10 am to 12 noon. Aruosa is ruled by a Council of Elders under a Chairman who is the ‘Ohen Osa Nokhua,’ (Chief priest/ Pope). The current Ohen Osa is Col. Paul Osakpamwen Ogbebor (Rt.) The patron of the Aruosa is the Oba of Benin. The Aruosa’s Ohen Osa led a delegation of Aruosa priests to Portugal in 1462, during the reign of Oba Ewuare. The Aruosa priests picked up a few ideas about mode of dressing which they adapted. They were surprised that baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church played similar roles as the Aruosa initiation rites into the lower and upper sanctum of the Aruosa faith. Initiation at the level of baptism in Aruosa is not with water as in the Catholic faith, but with the white chalk (orhue) which is the symbol of cleanliness, purity, joy, and success.
Edo outfit

The equivalent to confirmation initiation rites in Aruosa, use palm fronds (igborhe) which is the symbol of renewal of life, multiplicity and endlessness. Christians use palm fronds in their Palm Sunday rituals as a symbol of renewal of life but deride Africans they copied from, as primitive and savage for using them. The British, after conquering and burning Benin City, banned the worship of the Supreme God at Aruosa, describing the practice, which is not only superior to their concept and mode of worship, but older by thousands of years, and from which they took their religious bearing, as barbaric. Oba Akenzua II defied the British ban in 1945, by building the first Aruosa Cathedral on the ancient Aruosa site at Akpakpava Road, which the Roman Catholic Church had usurped before that time to erect their Cathedral. Akenzua II set up 12 Aruosa schools in Benin City, Urora and other places, to spread the teaching of the faith. Through his influence Aruosa houses of worship were built in Onitsha, Umuahia, and Port-Harcourt, as well as in Cotonou in Benin Republic. The Nigerian civil war truncated the gains made by Aruosa during Akenzua’s reign. The military regime seized all mission schools, including the Aruosa’s, and ran them aground.



       Edo origin of Ile-ife monarchy
Prince Ekaladerhan of Benin who Became Imadoduwa (Oduduwa) Obalufon
the Ooni of Ile-Ife: The Edo Origin of Ile-Ife Monarchy

              Ogiso Owodo and the Political Crisis in Igodomigodo (Ile) 
Ogiso Owodo who became the last Ogiso of Igodomigodo ascended the throne about 1068 following the death of Ogiso Arigho his father. Owodo had some physical defects which affected his personality and
behavior. He was a hermaphrodite with fully developed male and female organs, which gave him conflicting emotions. (There are other known cases in history and their behaviors brought crisis and disaster to their people. Examples are Emperor Nero of Rome and King Henry VIII of England (1491 - 1547). Even before his installation he was known to have an erratic character. He had murdered his mother and because of this known problem, his father Ogiso Arigho covered it up. He had a secret wife Imade who bore his only son Ekaladerhan, and did not take her into his harem until he was persuaded to do so. He had a strong passion for his late father's senior wife Esagho and fell under her influence.
Edo beauty

Esagho was known to be a huge woman believed to be a witch who practiced lesbianism. In addition to
Esagho, he married ten of his father's wives, murdered two and sent the rest packing from the palace. He also married many other women into his harem. Owodo also committed a lot of political blunders
because of his erratic ways. From the beginning of his reign, he failed to cultivate the required loyalty and support of the Edion Uzama led by the Oliha. He bypassed and overruled them in the performance of the many ritual ceremonies connected with his installation. This made some of these ceremonies incomplete. A
glaring example was his neglect and refusal to consult the Iso Temple. The Oliha and Edion Uzama's various attempts at bringing Owodo into line were met with rebuff and physical assault. In one of his fits, he is reported to have spat on the Oliha's face, though he apologized later. The biggest problem of Owodo was the failure of his numerous wives to bear children for him. This caused a lot of quarrels between the wives and Owodo, before he was persuaded to consult the oracle. Owodo sent Esagho and three men to consult onhis behalf. After consultation, the Obiro instructed that Esagho should be executed. But Esagho bribed the three men to report that Owodo's only child Ekaladerhan was the cause of the problem and he should be executed. But Ekaladerhan was a powerful mystic who was destined for greater things and could not be so easily killed. This was known to Esagho and she secretly advised Owodo to banish Ekaladerhan and his mother instead. 
Edo woman and her kids

Moreso, Ekaladerhan was known to have a lot of strong allies who could destabilise Owodo's administration. Prince Ekaladerhan and his mother were taken into the forest and banished about 1084 A.D. But the Edion Uzama led by the Oliha did not leave matters entirely in the hands of Ogiso Owodo, as they were doing other things to safeguard the throne for Ekaladerhan. For so many years after the wives of Ogiso Owodo remained barren. He sent another team to the Obiro about 1087. This team found out that Esagho was the cause and should be executed, while the Ogiso should consult the Obiro. Owodo ordered the
execution of Esagho which was done, but he failed to consult Obiro as was instructed. Due to this failure to consult the Obiro, Owodo could not be instructed on how to atone for the abominable adulterous
acts of lesbianism coupled with sapphism which the executed Esagho had practiced with her co-wives. Since the wives of Owodo did not perform the atonement at the Iso temple with a bearded she-goat and
other items to the spirit of Owodo's father, they remained barren.  This greatly distressed Owodo, especially after he realised that he has been misled into banishing his only child. He then sent soldiers to capture and bring back Ekaladerhan from Ughoton. But the soldiers did not return. These developments further worsened Owodo's condition as he was always having abnormal fits. He started executing people, especially women at random. In one of his fits in about 1091, he executed a pregnant woman, an abominable act known as Kirikuvua. This led to the peoples rebellion against Ogiso Owodo. They invaded his palace, drove him out and banished him from Ile - the capital of Igodomigodo. He fled to the village of Ihinmwirin with only three of his old wives and nobody knows where he died in misery as a farmer.
Edo woman

The Role of Oliha and Evian in the Conduct of the Affairs of
Igodomigodo During Owodo's Misrule.

The Oliha as the head of the Edion Uzama Council, had the responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing of the kingdom through his control of the various religious activities especially the Iso Temple. The Oliha title holder tried to live up to his responsibilities during the misrule of Ogiso Owodo. Having failed in their attempt to bring Ogiso Owodo under control, the Oliha and other members of the Edion Uzama tried to find a solution to the crisis.  They were aware of the problems in the Ogiso's palace and the banishment of Prince Ekaladerhan. They could neither help Prince Ekaladerhan nor bring him into their plans for the resolution of the problems because of his tender age. The Oliha, other members of the Edion Uzama and the Ohen Iso then sent their relations and supporters to join and help Prince Ekaladerhan in Ughoton. They consulted the
oracle of Iso temple and used their mystic powers to invoke Belial to send one beast herbivore or Osogan which was put at their service.  The Osagan was capable of eating up mighty trees and clear space in the thick forest. The Osagan was directed into the forest in a North-Westerly direction where he cleared a large area which was to be known as Ile-Ife about 1075. The beast then started moving from place to place to capture and transport people to settle in Ile-Ife. 
Edo man in his traditional outfit

One place the beast visited regularly was a market in Ile called Agbayo-Aigbare (meaning we go together, but we don't return together) so named because of the activities of Osogan. This market which was mainly used by women was the place where the Osogan selected and seized people for transportation to Ile-Ife. The Osogan was capable of carrying as much as twenty people in its open mouth at a time. The Oliha and the Edion Uzama selected some people and sent to the market for transportation by the beast to Ile-Ife. The people carried away by the beast were not killed as earlier believed. If they were being killed, people would have stopped attending the market. But the market held regularly in spite of the Osogan's activities. Soon craftsmen and physicians joined in the strange kind of migration to Ile-Ife. These people carried by the Osogan increased in population and formed a populous and commercial town known as Ile-Ife. It soon started attracting people from other places who went there to trade. This was how Ile-Ife came into existence in about 1075 A.D., though it had no king yet. Osigo Owodo paid no attention to the dwindling population of his headquarters.
Edo woman and her kid

He was too busy with his personal problems. But the problem of disappearance of people from the market as a result of the activities of Osogan, started to disturb other notable personalities who were not party to the Oliha's plans. This problem led to the emergence of community leaders in Ile, who were concerned about finding a solution to this problem. These leaders had no access to Ogiso Owodo. They decided to find solutions to the problem on their own. Once such community leader who emerged during this period was Evian. Before this crisis he was already an important personality in Ile. His family came from Mede and were renowned diviners. Evian himself had acquired this trade from his forebears and had the five powers of a Magi. Through this power he was able to know of the activities of the Oliha. But since he was not consulted by Owodo and the Oliha, he joined the other community leaders in solving the problem.
 Edo tradition

 Later he was driven by his personal ambition of wanting to become king. He therefore invoked his power for control of malevolent spirits after which he went to the market of Agbayo-Aigbare to await the coming of Osogan. When the Osogan arrived, he waved his magical wand across the face and the Osogan fled the market into the Iso forest. This defeat of the Osogan was hailed by the people of Ile and it helped to enlarge the stature of Evian. This finally established him as a foremost community leader who was consulted regularly in the
administration of Ile and other parts of Igodomigodo kingdom. Oliha and the Edion Uzama members on the other hand continued with the control of Osogan and its activities. The Osogan soon started to operate from the Iso temple in the Ugbeku bush. It was also directed to Ughoton to carry away the troops sent by Owodo to capture his heir Prince Ekaladerhan. In addition they continued to monitor the activities and movement of Prince Ekaladerhan in preparation for his installation after the exit of Owodo.
Edo chieftain

The Story of Prince Ekaladerhan who Became Imadoduwa Obalufon the
First Ooni of Ile-Ife.

After the establishment of Ile-Ife in 1075 A.D., the town started to attract migrants who came to practice their trade as well as settle in the place. It became populous and specialised trades and services began to develop. Also because of its increasing population the administration of the town started to become problematic. But the town was destined and foreseen by mystics for higher things as the abode of a great king, whose descendants would establish dynasties in many places. One of such mystics was the Babalawo
Osamienmwinaisetinru known as Setinru who had transformed the Edo Iha divination system into Ifa during his sojourn in Ado-Ekiti. He had received mystic messages that a prince would soon established his
kingdom with his followers in Ile-Ife. About 1080 A.D., Setinru shifted his divination business to Ile-Ife. He became a foremost Babalawo whose presence attracted a lot of people to Ile-Ife who came to consult him and to learn the divination system. Thus Ile-Ife became a spiritual centre as well. Sentinru was to play an important role in the installation of Prince Ekaladerhan as the first Ooni of Ile-Ife. Prince Ekaladerhan, as already indicated, was the only child of Ogiso Owodo. He was born about 1070 A.D. by Imade, the secret
wife of Ogiso Owodo. Because he was a mystic destined for great things, the attempts by Queen Esagho to use witchcraft to terminate the pregnancy failed. He grew up a tall, handsome and obedient prince in Ogiso's palace. He had a large circle of friends who wereto form the core of his allies in exile. He developed interest in the religious practices in the kingdom. 
Edo woman

Due to the intrigues of Queen Esagho, he was taken to the forest and banished along with Imade, his mother. Ekaladerhan was joined by his friends and moved further near the sea where they built a new town called Ughoton. Due to the distance from Iso temple in Ugbeku, he decided to built a temple for worship in Ughoton. Since life in Ughoton revolved around the sea, he used water and sea creatures as symbols, while retaining virtually all the ritual practices of Zoroastrianism associated with Iso temple. This new temple was known as Olokun temple and thus was the origin of Olokun worship which was to spread far and wide. He
appointed a priest for the temple who followed him to Ile-Ife, but later returned to Ughoton where his descendants continued as custodians of the temple. The obstruction and capture of his father's soldiers by the Osogan made him realise that he was a fugitive wanted in Ile. This made him abandon Ughoton for the forest, moving in a north westerly direction along with allies, supporters and subjects.  
Edo chieftain

In the course of this escape, he changed his name to Imadoduwa (a reaffirmation of his destiny which means "I did not buy my way to prosperity") to conceal his fugitive identity. Driven on by some mystical forces, they arrived in Ile-Ife which was in dire need of a king to rule over the town. The people of Ile-Ife assembled at the house of Setinru, the supreme Babalawo to find a solution to this problem. It was at this time that (Prince Ekaladerhan) Imadoduwa and his followers entered the town. The people recognised him as the awaited king and started pointing at his direction. While some of the people were pointing him out and describing him in Yoruba language, Babalawo Setinru was asking them in Edo language whether they were referring to Ooni? Which in Edo language was a question meaning "this one?" The people now replied Ooni in unison after him. They proclaimed king with the title Ooni and renamed Oba Olufon Imadoduwa, the Ooni of Ile-Ife. Since that time in about 1090 A.D. all the rulers of Ile-Ife adopted the title of Ooni of Ile-Ife. All the elders and leaders of the people of Ile-Ife accepted him as king, and paid homage to him by kneeling and bowing to him as a mark of respect. The coronation took place immediately after. The name Obalufon was given by the Ifa-Olodumare through the supreme Babalawo Setinru who became Babalawo to Imadoduwa Obalufon the first Ooni of Ile-Ife. After his coronation, he established a large pantheon at the side of his house. There he housed the various deities he had known and worshipped in Ile the headquarters of Igodomigodo. Amongst them were the Iso temple, Olokun (or water) temple, Ogun temple, and so on. In addition he established a large garden continuing every known plant. He also kept a large forest behind the garden which was home to both benevolent and malevolent spirits as well as animals associated with these temples like swallows, locusts and so on. He was surrounded in his palace by many practising diviners, physicians and medicine men. He married his first and other wives in Ile-Ife. 
Oba of Benin

They had many children for him. At the time of his mother Imade's death about 1140 A.D., he was already blessed with twenty seven sons and seventeen daughters from five of his wives. In accordance with the tradition of his forebears in Igodomigodo, he started to send out the sons to various parts of Yoruba land like Ekiti, Ijebu, Ijesa, Egba, Ondo and so on. They were installed as Obas (king) over these people. The eldest son Aigbovo whose pet name was Omonoyan (given by his grandmother Imade) was designated as the successor to the Ooni.  But certain developments and circumstances in Ile (Igodomigodo) made his father Imadoduwa Obalufon the Ooni of Ile-Ife to send Aigbovo to Ile as king.
Edo chieftains

SUCCESSION CRISIS AND THE FOUNDING OF THE PRESENT 
EWEKA DYNASTY IN BENIN
"It was some years after Evian's victory over Osogan that Owodo was banished for misrule by the angry people, who then appointed Evian as administrator of the government of the country because of his past
services to the people. When Evian was stricken by old age he nominated his eldest son, Ogiemwen as his successor, but the people refused him. They said he was not the Ogiso and they could not accept his son as his successor, because as he himself knew, it had been arranged to set up a republican form of government. This he was now selfishly trying to alter.
While this was still in dispute the people indignantly sent an ambassador to the Ooni Oduduwa, the great and wisest rule of Ife, asking him to send one of his sons to be their ruler, for things were getting from bad to worse and the people saw that there was need for a capable ruler. This passage quoted above did not show that Ekaladerhan went to Ile-Ife and became Imadoduwa who became the Ooni of Ife. There is no doubt that Chief (Dr). Egharevba knew everything about Ekaladerhan's departure to Ile-Ife but became silent on it. This seemingly deliberate omission obviously created some of the aforementioned difficulties in understanding the Benin-Ile-Ife connection. Having shown and established the connections between Benin and Ile-Ife, it is now necessary to narrate the events that led to the request for a king from Ile-Ife and the founding of the present dynasty in Benin. The seeming complacence of Oliha and Edion Uzama during Owodo's misrule seem to have worked against them after the banishment of Owodo. None of them was called upon to rule over the people. Rather the people of Ile chose one of their community leaders Evian. He was appointed as an administrator about 1091.  Evian's rule was peaceful, but he had his own ambition to perpetuate his family in office. In short, he wanted to establish his own dynasty.
Edo woman

 When he became old, his administration started to weaken and problems started to develop. The people then started agitating for a new rule. During this period, too, the Oliha during Owodo's misrule died and he was succeeded by his young son. Evian took
advantage of his situation to nominate his eldest son Ogiemwen and proceeded to enthrone him. The people of Ile led by the young Oliha did not accept this arrangement. Moreover, they were aware that
Ekaladerhan the rightful heir was still alive and ruling in Ile-Ife. The Oliha and the other four members of the Edion Uzama decided to go to Ekaladerhan Imadoduwa the Ooni of Ife to beg him to return to Ile to assume his throne in 1153. The Ooni received them, but he was not happy with them. After the preliminary quarrels, the Ooni told them that he was not prepared to return to Ile for two reasons namely that his new kingdom Ile-Ife was too big to be abandoned and that he had become too old to embark on such a journey. In addition he was still bitter and had not forgotten about the way the former Oliha had neglected and abandoned him. But due to the persistent pleading of the delegation, the Ooni agreed to help them on the condition , they underwent some tests. They agreed. He gave them some lice to take home and return with them back to Ile-Ife after three years. Three years later about 1150, the Oliha and his team returned to Ile-Ife with the lice. The Ooni was happy with them for having been able to take care of insects as small as lice. He then concluded that since they have been able to take care of lice, they would be able to take care of his son. The Ooni called his eldest son Prince Aigbovo (alias Omonoyan who had been appointed as successor to the Ooni) to follow them to Ile to establish an administration. Prince Aigbovo Omonoyan obeyed his father's instructions and left Ile-Ife with some allies among whom was the Oloton who was made the sixth member of the Edion Uzama about 1100 A.D. he stayed in a palace built for him at Usama and became friendly with Erinmwinde the beautiful daughter of the Enogie of Egor.
Edo people

She soon became pregnant. But he did not seem to be receiving full cooperation from the people of Ile after two years of staying in Usama. It was because of this that he started calling the town Ile-Ibinu. He abdicated about 1163 A.D. and left some of his allies to look after his son. He instructed the people to enthrone his son as the next Oba, before he left for Ile-Ife.  From there Omonoyan proceeded to Oyo where he had another son Oranyan who later became the Alafin of Oyo. Omonoyan returned to Ile-Ife about 1167 and succeeded his father as the second Ooni of Ile-Ife. The instructions he left behind that his child from Erinmwinde should
be enthroned as the king of Oba of Benin was adhered to. This child was male and was crowned Oba Eweka I. He founded the presentdynasty. What happened was not really the founding of a new dynasty
as such. It was rather the reestablishment of the dynastic line started by the Theban Prince Ogiso Igodo.

APPELLATIONS FOR THE OBA OF BENIN.
Benin history is full of rich traditions and one of such traditions is the habit of addressing the Oba by various appellations instead of his actual names as a sign of deep respect and awe. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Oba of Benin is known by several appellations as listed below:

EDO

ENGLISH

1

Ovbi' Umogun Oza

The Child of the Oba whose mother hailed from Oza

2

Ovbi' Ekpen N' Owa

The son of the home leopard

3

Ovbi' Adimila

The son of Adimila - who is next to God

4

Ikeja Orisa

Second in command to the gods

5

Agbaghe, N'Ovbi Olokun

Olokun's son, the cynosure of all mortals

6

Abieyuwa N'Ovbi Odua N'uhe

The son of the wealthy Odua of Uhe. (Uhe is Ile-ife, a town now in Yoruba land, founded by Ekaladerhan, the first child and banished son of Owodo, the last Ogiso of Benin)

7

Ovbi' Ada, Ovbi' Eben

The child of the owner of the Ada = scimitar and Eben = royal sword, Edo symbol of sovereignty.

8

Ovbi'Ekenekene ma deyo

The son of beauty that never fades.

9

Ovbi'Ekuaho N'Olo, Ovbi'Ekuabo N'Olo

The son of the rocky arm, the brave and powerful

10

Ovbie Ikpinhianbo kpuru no Gb'oduma

The son of the short fingered man that was still able to kill a lion

11

Nohien utete no gh'ughe s'omwan

The king on a hill, who sees more than everybody

12

Ovbi'Oghonwan nei bun aro

The son of the fearless, who looks without twinkling his eyes

13

Ovbi'ode, ode n'ohan ren mu' ete

The son of the warrior whose enemies got frightened at the announcement of the approach

14

Uku Akpolokpolo

The mighty that rules

15

Ovbi' Adolo no dolo uwa dolo utomwen

The son of the wise judge and peace maker who combined wisdom and wealth with long life

16

Ovbi' oven owie no gbaisi (erhan gba iri)

The son of the morning sun that covers everywhere

17

Ovbi' okpogunla, ogie no y'igho b'owa

The child of the womb of Akpogunla - the warrior who fought big wars and built a house of cowries

18

Oba n'osa

A king that is god to his subjects

19

Ovbi' otolo n'olomi; Ologberonmwon nei rie iruen, ebo, ayemwinre eminiminimini

The son of the water controller, the son of beauty itself, the starter of things and the person whose reign saw people with many tongues

SICKNESS OR INDISPOSITION
When the Oba is indisposed you described this in the following ways
EDO ENGLISH

1

Ehoho hoho vb'ode ugha

The wind is blowing (in the inner chambers of the palace)

2

Uhun v'ekpen vb'ato

The leopard is sick in the wilderness

3

Oni fi

The weather is cold

4

Amen bi

The rain is threatening

5

Oni gb'edo

Edo has cold

6

Owen bi vb'agho

The sun is being covered by cloud

7

Emwin zebagha

A bad thing is happening (when the illness was critical)

8

Ukpo na vi'iloi gbera gh'ugbekun

The year the iloi were removed from the Oba's harem to ugbeku

9

Ukpo na ru'emwin nekhua

The year the big great events were performed

10

Ukpo na y'unu kha vb'ere khare

The year Ewuare's predictions were repeated

11

Eko - z'eken

The stool has touched the ground

12

Orie igie no bunse

He had gone to where everything is surplus

13

Obu' enikao

He has gone to join his ancestors

BURIAL
When the Oba is interned, the following expressions are used

EDO

ENGLISH

1

Oto ri' orhue

The earth has eaten some chalk

2

Adole osorhue yi ne

The chalk has been kept

3

Aye egho y'oto

The ground has been paid some tributes
The period between the passing away and the announcement to the Binis(public) is regarded as the time the Oba is said to be carrying out some harvesting " OBA GHA DUGIE ORHO ". The uwangue acts as a regent until the Edaiken is crowned.










































Source:http://www.edo-nation.net/toc.htm

9 comments:

  1. I always thought that the dieties of the Orisha were Yoruba, as a writer/ artist this site is most informative as I've never come across the Edo, but rather the Ibo, guess we in the west have a lot to learn, thanks for the lesson.

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    Replies
  2. I've always thought that the pantheon of the Orisha and Benin were a Yoruba expression, I've never heard of the Edo before now, this is different from the Ibo i suspect. Guess we in the west have much more to learn about the Mother land, thanks for the lesson, and the women are exceptionally beautiful.

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  3. What a fantastic history of my people! Thank you so much for putting this ancient and modern Bini history together. I'm writing a historial romance set in the ancient Benin City of Igodomigodo (1700s). I just stumbled across your site. This will provide great research material for me.

    Thank you,
    Stella

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    1. i like this post, i think that the african cultures must be exposed more in the media, specially because i have the bad luck of find racist blogs where the african people is acused of not creat e nothing of cultural interest, and this post is proof of the contrary, i enjoy this :D

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