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How the Oba of Benin will be Crowned tomorrow .. Tradition and Culture in full Throttle
The Benin Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, will tomorrow, Thursday, October 20, 2016, ascend the revered throne of his forefathers as the 39th Oba of Benin Kingdom, and the 70th king of Benin from the era of the Ogisos.
Ambassador Erediauwa was on March 2015, formally installed as the Edaiken of Uselu after the successful completion of the mandatory traditional rites following the transition of his father, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa.
Since his installation, the Edaiken has stayed in his Uselu Palace for over a year and six months praying and waiting on the ancestors to bless his reign as the next king that will rule the Edo people who are popularly called “Ivbie ‘do N’ Imose”.
The journey of fulfilling the age long tradition of the Benin people however began on October 8 following an announcement by the Chairman of the Coronation Planning Committee and Enogie of Evbuobanosa/Abudu, Prof. Gregory Akenzua, of the processes that will climax tomorrow’s crowing of the King.
Our correspondent in Benin, who has been monitoring events leading to tomorrow’s coronation ceremony observed that, the Edaiken N’Uselu on leaving his Palace at Uselu stopped at the Udin (Palm Tree) called “Amamieson Aimiuwa” (meaning ‘work before pleasure’ ) which he climbed symbolically and performed some vital rituals in accordance with the customs and tradition of the Benin Kingdom.
From the palm tree the Edaiken continued his journey to Benin City; but at the first moat called (lya-akpan) the Uselu chief in the procession took leave of the Edaiken and returned to Uselu, while the Edaiken was, thereafter.escorted to the city by Oredo Chiefs.
This signified that the Uselu Chief has presented their ruler to the Benin kingdom to take over the throne of his father.
On his way to the city, he stopped at lsekherhe to perform the ceremonial crossing of a bridge and then the Edaiken entered the city through Iguisi (now Lagos Street) and proceeded to Eko-Ohae (bachelor’s camp) or Urho-Okpota (the gate of Okpota) where he stayed for three days.
While at the Eko-Ohae, the Edaiken performed some ceremonial rituals, and thereafter, proceeded to the Usama palace where he stayed for seven days performing all the rituals and ceremonies meant for the Oba.
Meanwhile, dignitaries from all walks of life have swarmed Benin City, the Edo state capital, ahead of tomorrow’s coronation ceremony. All the major hotels in the city have been taken over by these dignitaries, and it appears that those coming late might be confronted by accommodation problem in a serene and decent hotel.
For now, many of these dignitaries have trooped to the Usama palace to pay homage to the Oba-in-waiting; all showing deference to the rich Benin culture and love for the revered Benin traditional institution.
While at the Usama palace located close to the king square at Siluko road in Benin City, the Edaiken paid a visit to Evuekoi, Ughoto and other places including Azama N’ Uhe ancestral shrine at Oloton’s Palace in Isekhere Street, to perform traditional rites.
The Edaiken also engaged in a mock wrestling match, which symbolized ‘wrestling’ with the Chief Priest of Okhuaihe shrine, Osarodion Usuanlele, the Ohen N’ Ukoni Neyedo in Evbuekoi in Uhunwode Local Government Area of the state.
After the symbolic wrestling match, both of them went opposite ways never to see each other again once the crown prince becomes the Oba.
Tradition forbids the Okhuaihe chief priest to enter the city of Benin again, and whenever the Oba wants to pass through the vicinity, the chief priest would leave the area completely.
Before then, the crown prince had visited the chief priest and both of them proceeded to the sacred forest in the community to perform some rites.
Also performed, was the Ekasa spiritual dance by Ogbelaka, Eguadase and Eben groups. They will be led into the coronation arena by the queen mother of Oba Esigie, Idia N’Iyesigie as a guild.
The Ekasa is an unusual dance and the song eulogizes Idia N’Iyesigie and curses whoever is an enemy of the Oba. It is believed that whoever is mentioned or cursed in any of the songs will die within a period of one year.
The Edaiken – on Tuesday, October 18, had visited Usen near Okada in Ovia North East LGA of the state, where he performed the ceremony for choosing the name he will answer as the Oba of Benin.
After the Edaiken returns to Usama where he will be crowned Oba by the Oliha, the leader of the Uzamas,’ will address him by his newly acquired name.
The Uzamas’ are the most ancient and the highest ranking Chiefs in Benin. The origin of Uzamas’ dates back to the thirteenth century, during the era of Eweka I.
They (uzamas’) perform the function of crowning the king. The idea that they make a king by crowning him may be correct, but they do not choose a king like the Oyomesi of Oyo Empire, who can make and unmake a monarch.
Historically, Eweka I ordered that every Oba of Benin should be crowned by Chief Oliha, the most senior Uzama, because it was he who led the team of elders to Uhe (Ife) to persuade Izoduwa to return to Benin, to rule the people.
When he is crowned tomorrow, the new Oba will cease to use his personal names, rather he will be addressed by the new name which he has chosen for himself.
Chief Osarobo Orue, who is the Oba Iyekeagbon of Benin Kingdom, said he will witness the coronation of the third Oba of Benin on the first day of the coronation, adding that the reign of the new Oba of Benin will be more peaceful than his predecessors. He stressed that since the crown prince came to Uselu, peace has reigned in the land.
“This will be my third time of witnessing the coronation of Oba of Benin. I witnessed the coronation of Oba Akenzua, Oba Erediauwa and now that of Edaiken N’Usele. Though I am one hundred years old, I will be among those who will trek from Uselu to Benin tomorrow.”
Also speaking, Chief Osamede Adun, the Ayobahan of Benin Kingdom, said he was 25 years old when the late Oba Erediauwa was crowned king, noting that today, “ I am a chief in the palace and I am is happy to be among those who will trek from Uselu to Benin to demonstrate my loyalty to the throne.
“Today, is a special day to all the chiefs in the palace,. We are happy that our father, the Crown Prince, will be leaving Uselu to Benin tomorrow. We are very happy for it. That is the reason all the chiefs here dressed in white to follow him down to Benin.
“When the late king of Benin was crowned, I was 25 years. I was not made a chief of the palace then. I know the history.
“Today, I am the happiest person on earth because as a chief, I have easy access to the king. Where I am with the king now, no ordinary person can get there. Even you as a press man, you will be somewhere in the front while I will be sitting right with the king. He is now for everybody. He is my king and he is also your king”.
He added that “Edaiken himself as king, does not like lies. If you want to be closer or be his friend, tell him the truth. And once he finds out that you are not truthful, he will not be happy with you. I am advising all my fellow chiefs, if you are talking with our king, give him the true picture of things and when he later finds out that you are telling him lies, he will never be happy with you”, he said.
Chief Ada Igbinovia, the Edosomwan of Benin Kingdom, said those who will witness the coronation ceremony should count themselves very lucky as it is not what one experiences often, adding that he is very happy to be part of the ceremony. He said he is fit enough to trek to Benin, saying he has done it before.
The Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, was a former Nigerian Ambassador to Norway and Angola. He was born in 1953.
He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and sociology from the University of Wales. He is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
The Oba-in-waiting, was before he became a successor to the throne, a leader in the Nigerian business community. He has interest in the oil and gas industry.
He is married to three wives: Princess Iroghama, (Obazuaye N’Erie), Princess Iyayiota, (Obazuwa N’Erie) Princess Ikpakpa (Ohe N’Erie).