Benin Monarchy


2000 Years Old Monarchy (BC 40 – AD 2015)





{About 40BC – 16AD}

Igodo or Obagodo established the kingdom in components of Benin were united and formed into a central Administrative Unit. He was the first recorded Ogiso {monarch} of Igodomigodo {Benin} kingdom with his seat of government at Ugbekun. He created the Edion Nene the {four elders} Oliha, Edohen, Ero and Eholo they were chosen based on their merit, to help the Ogiso management the affairs of the kingdom. Their positions were not hereditary if any of them died the post is filled with any person who remits the position. They were later to be known as Uzama nire hion {the seven kingmakers}.

{About 16AD – 66AD}

He succeeded his father in about 16 AD. The first Ogiso to wear a crown, a lover of peace. He transferred the capital of Igodomigodo {Benin kingdom} from Ugbekun to Uhudumwunrun. Created many villages. Build the first market called Ogiso market this market is now known today  as Agbado market. He introduced the specialized professional guild system of carpenters {Owina} and {Igbesamwan}the wood and ivory carvers. To promote the highest ideals. These guilds were accorded royal patronage.
To this day guilds like those of wood carvers are still operating at Igbesanmwan. He introduced what became the key components in Africa monarchism. Ekete {a royal stool}, Agba [{a rectangular stool}, and Ekpoki {a leather box},the round leather fan {Ezuzu}, beaded anklets {Eguen} collars odigba a simple undecorated form of crown, the swords of royal authority, {Ada and Eben} the former a sword of honour and the latter sword for royal dancing.  

{About 66AD – 100AD}

Ogiso Orire ascended the throne of Igodomigodo kingdom {Benin kingdom} in about 66AD, in continuation of the hereditary system after the death of his father Ere who reportedly transferred the capital of Igodomigodo {Benin} kingdom from Ugbekun to Uhudumwunrun. Tradition says Orire dead childless plunging the monarchy into a period of confusion that lasted for about 3 centuries, without a royal successor.
During this period Igodomigodo, kingdom {Benin kingdom} became a republic nation and fragmented, each community was governed by their community elders {Owere} and with the oldest man in the community Odionwere they managed the day-to-day affair of their various community. The ancient system of self-governance. 

{About 385AD – 400AD}

After more than three centuries of confusion, and as republic the communities that make up Igodomigodo land {Benin kingdom} agreed to a unified community under a monarchial government. Odia the oldest person in the united community was crowned the Ogiso of Igodomigodo kingdom [Benin kingdom] becoming the first Ogiso Odionwere of the kingdom, {A system there by the oldest person in the community is crowned the monarch of the kingdom.

{About 400AD – 414AD}
Tradition says before he ascended the throne, he was a blacksmith.


Tradition says, he was very old before he ascended the throne. He died at about the age of 110 years.

{About 432AD – 447AD

Tradition says, he hailed from Ugbague. He died on Ugie day.        

{About 447AD – 466AD}
He was born in Emehe quarters and he was a great diviner.

{About 466AD – 482AD}
Before he ascended the throne, he was a financier. 

{About 482AD – 494AD}
Before his ascension to the throne he was into commerce

{About494AD – 508AD}
Born in Urubi quarters in Benin City Before his ascension to the throne, he was a livestock farmer.

{About 508AD – 522AD}
Not much is known about him.

{About 522AD – 537AD}
Before his ascension to the throne, tradition says he was a professional game hunter.

{About 537AD – 548AD}
Before his ascension to the throne, tradition says he was skilful potter.

ascension {About 548AD – 567AD}
Before his abstention to the throne, tradition says he was a skilful wrestler

{About 567 – 584AD}
Tradition says he was a lover of songs and music and a folk tale teller.

{ABout 584AD – 600AD}

Some Historians are of the view that Emose was a female Ogiso {queen}. Others disagree, in their view; Emose was a posthumous male child who inherited his mother’s huge wealth and took his mother’s name along with it. No female has ever been positively confirmed to have reigned in Ighodomigodo kingdom [Benin kingdom].

Ororo {Orhorho}
{About 600D – 618AD}

Some Tradition says Ogiso Ororo {Orhorho} was a male Ogiso. Before his ascension to the throne, he was a skilful blacksmith and great trader. Another tradition is of the view that Ororo {Orhorho} was a female Ogiso {queen} who was assassinated due to her wickedness  while on her way to Omi her mother’s native village.

{About 618AD – 632AD}
Before his ascension to the throne traditional historians says, he was an angler and canoe carver.

{About 632AD – 647AD}
Before his ascension to the throne tradition says, he was a traditional midwife.

{About 1661AD – 1669AD}
Tradition says he was an historian and philosopher.

{About 1669AD – 1675AD}
He was the last Ogiso Odionwere. Before his ascension to the throne, tradition says he was a skilful wood carver and sculpture.

{About 685AD – 712AD}

He changed the odionwere system of Ogisoship to hereditary system. He created the title Ezomo to join the four members of Edion Nene {four elders} Chiefs Oliha, Edohen, Ero and Eholo-Nire and called them Edionnisen {the five elders} and made their position to be hereditary.

{About 712AD – 767AD}

Tradition says he was a very resourceful Ogiso, a warrior; he conquered many towns and villages. He stabilized the state by the formation of the Benin Royal Army during his reign. A class of people known as “Iyokuo”-the warriors– was established.

{About 767AD – 821AD}
He inherited a great kingdom. Brass casting was introduced into Benin kingdom during his reign. He decorated his daughter Emwinkururre with brass bangles/ankles.

{About 821AD – 871AD}
He inherited a large kingdom and wealth, improved art craft and trade.   

{About871AD – 917AD}

During his reign, there was serious inflation. There were other pestilences which followed. People counterfeited the coins of the realm by bringing illegal money into the country. What really happened was that people suddenly discovered a large quantity of cowries (which was the then known coin or money in use) and there after flooded the country with it. The attendant result was inflation.

{About 917AD – 967AD}
The kingdom was in the state of anarchy during his reign.

{About 967 AD – 1012AD}

When Ogiso Obioye came in as ruler, he harnessed the whole currency by nationalizing cowries wherever they were in private hands or with the state. This money became scarce and its value restored. It is this state of affairs which gave rise to the expression “a valuable article purchased with Obioye’s Coin”. Ogiso Obioye therefore was the first king who reformed the currency.

{About 1012AD – 1059AD}
He was a great merchant. Some tradition says he introduced the use of cowries as currency and slave labour.  

{About 1059AD – 1100AD}

He was the last Ogiso of Igodomigodo {Benin kingdom}. He banished to Ihinwirin for the killing of a pregnant woman. He brought a lot of stress and hardship on the nation for he was incompetent. He more or less fell back to the habit of not summoning the state council meeting unless there was trouble. He was preoccupied with the primogeniture law especially as he had only one son who he thought might die before him which might leave him without a successor. This obsession drove him to consult the oracle as to how he might have more male children who might succeed him. In the end, the tragic episode of Ikaladerhan’s banishment came into our history. However, Ikaladerhan by a change of fortune eventually emerged at Uhe (or Ife) as a king with the appellation Ododuwa derived from the Benin word “Imaghidoduwa or Imadoduwa” which is an exclamatory word “I have not missed the path to prosperity” a reminiscence of his surprise at his emerging as a king in a strange land after having left as a refugee.                                         


Benin Empire 800 Years Dynasty of Obas {1200AD – Present}
Compiled By

Ekalederhan the only son of Ogiso Owodo

and Grandfather of Eweka I

Oba Eweka I & the beginning of Oba Dynasty
{About 1200AD – 1235AD}

After the banishment of Owodo; the last Ogiso under the {Ogiso periods} for misrule. Evain who had earlier distinguished himself as a brave man by destroying the man-eating Osogan, was appointed as an administrator who ruled Benin for nearly 40 years. At his old age, Evian nominated his son Ogiamien as a successor. Unfortunately, this nomination did not go well with the Edo people who maintained that succession to the the throne is always applicable to kings and not to commoners to which class Evian belonged. Spear headed by Oliha, there was a serious agitation to bring back the monarch.

The nation was thrown into a state of internecine war and as a way out the elders {led by Oliha} went on a search party to look for Ikaladerhan {the barnished son of the last Ogiso Owodo} who had for some time taken refuge at Uhe {or Ife as is now known}. The seach party reached Uhe to meet Ikaladerhan already enjoying the status of a king. The Edo people could not persuade him to return home. Nevertheless, Ikaladerhan now known as Ododuwa agreed to send his son if only the Benin could take care of him.

This is how Ododuwa sent his son Oromiyan to Benin. To test whether the Edo people would care for their king, Ododuwa gave the Edo people three years to nurse the common louse. On their success, the great Ododuwa was convinced that the people really would care for their king.

Oromiyan was thereafter sent to Benin in 1170AD.He came into Benin amidst the serious opposition of Ogiamien who refused him entry into the city which was still under the firm grip of his administration.
Oromiyan was therefore forced to settle at Usama which was an outskirt of the city State . There he remained under the political support of the elders {Edion} headed by chief Oliha. Oromiyan had both language and cultural handicaps because of his Yoruba backgrounds. Although he had a Benin father {Ikaladerhan} yet he was really born and bred in yoruba land which was then the adopted kingdom, a refugee prince who had now found a new home at Ife.

When Oromiyan could neither speak nor understand the Benin custom, Unable to bear the animosity for very long renounced his position and labeled Edo land [Benin kingdom] lle Ibinu meaning land of annoyance and vexation and declared that only a child of the soil educated in the culture and tradition of the land could rule the kingdom. He thereafter returned to Uhe{IIe Ife} On his way back home he stopped briefly at Ego where he pregnated princess Erimwinde the daughter of the Enogie of Ego who bear him a son.

In his early years couldn’t talk when his father who by now established the Alafin dynasty in Oyo had of his son predicament, sent his son’s mother Ehendiwo seven marbles. While playing this marbles with other children one of his throws hit the target in excitement screamed Owomika {I have succeeded} which was Corrupted into Eweka.  
For a period of over 30 years, the administration of Benin City was virtually in the hands of Ogiamien family until 1200 AD when the “Boy-King” Eweka I as a young king ruled the kingdom with the assistance of his maternal grandfather Ogiegor.

Oba Eweka I stated the reign of the Obas. Hitherto, the kings were known as Ogiso but when Eweka I came as a king, he was referred to as Oba. Some people said that the word oba is a yoruba word which means king. Others said the word Obaa meaning it is hard or difficult or probably from an abbreviation of the original name of the first Ogiso {Obagodo {Oba godo}-Oba king; godo-high : High King}. Wherever the word is derived from one can only say that it really came into use as connoting kingship during Oba Eweka I in 1200 AD

Oba Eweka reigned for 35 yearss at his demise , his rival children ruled in succession

Oba Uwakhuanhen
{About 1235AD – 1243AD}

When Eweka I dead his son Oba Uwakhuahen ascended the throne. His reign was uneventful.

Oba Ehenmihen
{About 1243AD – 1255AD}

When Uwakhuhen died his brother Ehenmihen ascended the throne. There were no events of importance during his reign.

Oba Ewedo
{About 1255AD – 1280AD}


Prince Efabo ascended the throne after the death of his father with the title Oba Ewedo. Seen by historians as the second greatest monarch to reign in Benin kingdom.

It must be observed that the three first Obas – Eweka I, Uwakhuanhen and Ehenmihen had their political support from the elders {Edion who later became known as Uzama} Oba Ewedo discontented with the rudely behaviors of the Edionisen {five Elders} uzama he called them ‘Emwan nei zama omwan’ meaning people who don’t show respect to their Oba this was later corrupted into Uzama. This is not surprising because they brought Oromiyan from Uhe [IIe Ife]. These Edion more or less treated the monarchy as primus inter pares which position made Oba Ewedo therefore to embark upon a risky job of suppressing the Uzamas and miraculously he did not only succeed in doing so but eventually suppressed Ogiamien who was virtually in control of the City State.

The final settlement came at the battle of “Ekiokpagha” which the Oba fought with Ogiamien who was defeated. After the victory. Oba Ewedo received the royal stool from Ogiamen and build the present royal palace.
Ogiamien was appointed a chief converting Ogiamien his nickname to a title.
The apantominic re-enactment of this battle is now a part of the coronation ritual usually performed on the seventh day after a new Oba is crowned. It is in this light that one may venture to say that Ewedo really consolidated the position of Benin monarchy.

In other to make the Edionise five elders {Uzama} more, accountable to him he reduces their power, which before now was equals with the Oba.

He prohibits all chiefs including the uzama from sitting when they are before him instead they must stand in a row to identify him from them.

He prohibits all chiefs from carrying Ada the royal sword of office before him.
To weaken the power of Uzama the more he created the title Iyase [I ya ona se uwa] meaning this I create to be higher then you all. Most of the functions and powers of the Edionise [five elders] Uzama like the confirment of titles both hereditary or non hereditary were transferred to Chief Iyase who does so with the instructions of the Oba.The Iyase now became the second in Command & the kingdom Prime Minister.The only important function of the Uzama was to officiate at the crowning ceremony of a new Oba.

He also created additional titles such as Esogban-who was made to be incharge of the shrines of the elders, Uwangue {keepers of Oba’s wordrobe and the Regalia}, Osodin and Uso {keepers of of oba’s harem}, Isekhurhe as the kingdom chief priest- Incharge of Oba’s ancestral staff and the recorders of Oba’s ancestors.
To bring law and order into the kingdom he build the first prison called Ewedo named after him ,in which criminals were confined. The prison was kept under the control of chief Eribo.
He changed the name of the kingdom from IIe –Ibinu to Ubini.

Oba Oguola
{About 1280AD – 1295AD}


The successor to Ewedo would have been prince Obuobu who was engaged in endless wars in Ibo land. In his absence, his brother was crowned with the title Oba Oguola.

Oba Oguola dug the first and second Moats to fortify the city from invaders from Udo. He further decreed that important towns and villages should build similar moats as defense systems around their communities. This has given rise to twenty of such moats around Benin City and its environs. He encouraged the systematic organization of the ancient guild of brass casting which was declining.
The war menace from Akpanigiakon of Udo was ended when the Oba defeated his foe at the battle of Urhezen about the year 1285.

Oba Edoni
{About 1295AD – 1299AD}
Oba Oguola was succeeded by Edoni whose reign was uneventful.

Oba Udagbedo
{ About 1299AD – 1334AD}

Udagbedo ascended the throne after the death of his brother Edoni. Udagbedo was industrious brave and kind-hearted, encouraged agriculture. During his reign Benin kingdom extended its colonial rule to the present day Ghana. The ethnic group known as GA in Ghana were the early Edos who settled in that part of the world.

Oba Ohen
{About 1334AD – 1370AD}


Ohen ascended the throne after the death of his brother. Oba Udagbedo. Paralyzed 25 years after ascending the throne. He was stoned to death by his chiefs for ordering the murder of his Iyase for spying on his deformity.

Oba Ogbeka
{About 1370AD – 1400AD}


It was during his reign the Urhobos migrated from Benin kingdom.

Oba Orobiru
{About 1400AD – 1430AD}
There were no events of importance during his reign.

Oba Uwaifiokun

He usurped the throne of Benin kingdom in place of his senior brother prince Ogun who was the heir apparent. His exiled senior brother prince Ogun paid many secret and nocturnal visits to Benin through Oba’s market. On many occasions, Emotan warned Ogun of impending dangers and advised him against interacting with some treacherous chiefs who may reveal his presence.

Prince Ogun succeeded in murdering Uwaifiokun during night ceremonial performance at Oba’s market.

Oba Ewuare the Great
{About 1440AD – 1473AD}

Seen by historians as the greatest, the most revered, dynamic, innovative and successful monarch to have reigned in Benin kingdom. He completely transformed the Benin kingdom, politically, socially, and religiously.

Under his reign Benin kingdom witnesses its highest prosperity. He changed the kingdom’s name from Ibinu land to Edo land as a reward to a young man called Edo who saved his life.

He also honoured Emotan for her pivotal role played in serving his live from glaring dangers during his exile years. when Emotan died he ordered that the sacred Uruhe tree be planted at the spot where Emotan used to display her goods in Oba market. 

Oba Ewuare is remembered for many things. First contact with any European was made by Oba Ewuare when Ruy De Sequeira visited Benin City in 1472. In his time ivory carving was encouraged. A name like Eghoghomagha can still be remembered as one of the greatest carvers in Benin. Of music, Ewuare is remembered for his famous flute called Eziken and the royal band called Ema-Edo.He introduced the royal beads and scarlet cloth {Ododo} which remains the Benin Royal colour. The ugie Ewere started in his reign. 

Ewuare’s administration was specifically marked by the creation of the state council made up of Eghaevbo N’0re whose original members were Iyase, Esogban,Eson and Osuma. Ewuare elevated his eldest son to the position of Uzama when he created him Edaiken. He created the Eriyo title. He started Eko-Ohae {Bachelor’s camp} which is now a part of the coronation stations of any Oba of Benin.

He was a great mystic, physician, traveller and warrior.
Restored the primogeniture law. He was reputed to have travelled extensively to very many parts of the present day Nigeria , Dahomey {now called Republic of Benin} Ghana Guinea and Congo.It is on record that he fought and captured not less than 201 towns and villages.Expand Benin kingdom to the west Ekiti, Ikare, to the north, kukuruku.Eka {Ika}and Ibo land west of the Niger.

Re-builds the kingdom on a massive scale, public houses, royal palaces. Made good roads some of which can now be remembred as Akpakpava and Utantan. it was at the peak of his reign that Benin gained the name City.
The innermost and greatest of the Benin moats {generally referred to as third moat} was dug in his time.

He completely Re-organized the governmental mechanism of the kingdom.

Introduced a lot of annual ceremonies and re-organized the exciting ones.
At Usela, the outskirt of Benin City was a very powerful chief called Iken, rich and war-like fear by all even the Oba [monarch]. When there was a revolt at Owo; columns of royal troops headed by Iken were sent to Owo to bring down the revolt.

On the request of Iken the Oba sent his eldest son crown prince kuoboyuwa to deputized for Iken [Edayi n’iken] until he return from the war although Iken and his army successfully bring down the revolt , Iken lost is life in the process without surviving child.Kuoboyuwa became his heir apparent .It has since that period become traditional that the first son of every Oba of Benin, is conferred with the title of Edaiken and on coming of age, leaves his residence in the centre of the town for the Palace of Edaiken (Eguae-Edaiken) at Uselu where he remains until when he is called upon to ascend the throne as Oba.

Ewuare also vigorously promotion Benin art particularly the brass casting.

To talk of Oba Eware is like talking about Alexander the Great. The fame of Ewuare is known in other lands. Thus Chief Egharevba the traditional Benin historian recorded that the Ekiti refer to him as Oba Ado ngbogun lobo ile, Ogbomudu ngbeli orun, meaning “The Oba Benin wages war on the earth below and Ogbomudu {or the monster Osogan} wages war in heaven” Chief Egharevba did not mince words when he said that” The Ibo spoke of Idu Ala Eze Ika meaning Benin, land of the powerful Oba”. 

Oba Ezoti
{About 1473AD – 1473AD}

He reigned for only fourteen days having passed away as a resuIt of the injury he sustained from a poisoned arrow fired by a boy, assassin during his coronation. After his death, prince Okpame his younger  brother was sent to Isi, a town outside Benin city to be Owere the heir apparent to be crowned the Oba. On their way to Benin City Okpame murdered Owere and his mother then lied to the Benin elders that they both died of natural causes, when the truth became open Okpame was banished. He fled to a place call Ora {north of Benin City}.

Oba Olua
{About 1473AD – 1480AD}

Olua who was the second son of Oba Ewuare at first refused the crown, for fear of his banished brother prince Okpame who fled to Ora.

His sister princess Edeloyo was then asked to ascend the throne. She received the title of Edaiken, a title given to all heirs apparent before their ascension to the throne. She fell sick, as a result of this, the Uzamas (king makers) and Eghaevbo (executive council) enacted a law permanently prohibiting women form becoming king in Ancient Benin Kingdom.
Olua was eventually crowned the Oba of Benin after much persuasion from the Benin elders. He sent one of his sons to Eho [a town outside Benin City] to keep an eye on the movement of prince Okpame. Olua’s son eventually became the Ogia of Eho.

Historical account says Oba Olua was kind and generous. Concerned about his unpopular son Iginua among the Benin Elders and the prospects of been prevented from ascending the throne after his death, decided to create another kingdom for him near the coast.It is this kingdom which is popularly called warri today. Igiua gladly took the offer knowing that the possibility of him succeeding his father as the Oba of Benin kingdom was very slim.

Iginua left Benin City with many columns of subjects, to the newly created kingdom. Just by the coast of Benin kingdom with the title Odili n’ ame.

He became know to his Itsekiri subject and those who accompany him from Benin City as the Olu of Itsekiri.He eventually became the Founder of Itsekiri kingdom, the first Olu of Itsekiri or Olu of warri. 

Oba Ozolua
{About 1481AD – 1504AD}


After the death of Olua with out a clear successor. Prince Okpame who would have succeeded to the throne was in exile at Ora. There was struggle for control among the powerful chiefs for three agonizing years. They set up a republican administration. Without a formidable leader at the herm of the affair to maintain law and order, those placed in various levels of authority, were weak and incapable. Benin kingdom became totally disorganized and vulnerable to enemy attack. This compelled the Benin elders to call on prince Okpame in Ora to come back to Benin and ascend to his ancestral throne and save his fatherland. He rejected the offer. The Benin Elders were able to convince him to accept the crown.

Finally he ascended the throne, with the title Oba Ozolua.

With the City in serious disarray. He therefore embarked on consolidation of the City State. His first task was to launch a full-scale war to subdue the secessionists. He conquered many towns and village notable Owo, Ijebu-Land, Ondo. It is to his credit that he won not less than 200 battles which earned him the appellation Ozolua, n’ ibaromi’’ meaning Ozolua the Conqueror.

It was Ozolua who introduced a musical instrument called Emaba now used for the royal dance.He seized this instrument from Origbo who was a powerful Chief at Ogidi near Siluko. The conquest of Ijebu Ode, Owo and its environs are records which no one has surpassed. In 1503 it became necessary for him to march on Uromi to re-establish his suzerainty over the area when Enogie Agba rebelled.

Ozolua was the father of Alani of Idoani, Olokpe of Okpe in Akoko Edo Area {north of Benin city} Uguan of Ora, Owa of Owo, Awojale of Ijebu-Ode and Eze of Aboh. He established the settlement of sobo {Uhobe} Ijagba, Ifon and Uhie.

During his reign a portuguese, explorer John Affonso d’Aveiro visited Benin {1485-1486}.

Oba Esigie
{About 1504 – 1550AD}


Prince Osawe ascended the throne with the title Oba Esigie. After the power struggle between him and his brother Arhuanran {Goliath type stature} the powerful ruler of Udo town some kilometers outside Benin City.

Concerned about the transgression by his brother Aruanran against his monarchial authority, he launched a full-scale civil war on Udo. One of the bloodiest of the many wars in Benin history The battle was fought and won by Oba Esigie.

Arhuanran drowned himself in Lake Odighi N’Udo.

Chief Osemwughe the Iyase of Udo took arms again, against the monarchial authority to avenge the defeat and the death of Arhuanran.

Oba Esigie launch a full scale war on Udo once again. Udo was destroyed chief Osemwughe and his rebel armies fled to the west of Benin kingdom now part of Yoruba land.

Oba Esigie determined to put an end to Udo rebellion once for all. Sent royal troops under the command of Odobo and Aile to pursue them in the process the Benin royal army builds military camps {Eko} along the way some of these camps {Eko} are now towns in Yoruba land.

Some of the Camps are camp Odobo {Eko-Odobo} name after general Odobo contracted into Akotogbo and camp Ikalo {Eko-Aile}name after general Aile was contracted to Ikale.

Osemwughe and his militants gave themselves up; when they could not face the war machines of the Benin royal troops much longer.They were later given a royal pardons by Oba Esigie but decided not to return to Udo. chief Osemwughe and his party were called Emma n’ Udo{the Udo deserters} which was later contracted to Ondo and the leader of the militants chief Osemwughe was mispronounced Osemawe a title by which all Ondo monarchs are now know.

He was the Oba who established christianity in the kingdom and exchanged ambassadors with the king of Portugal. Missionaries were sent from portugal to establish churches the remainants of which are: Aruosa N’Idunmwuerie, Aruosa N’Akpakpava and Aruosa N’Ogbelaka.
Oba Esigie sent Ohen-okun [Olokun priest] of Ughoton to portugal to understudy christianity and report to Benin.

Chief Oliha always boast of his wife Imaguero fidelity. But Oba Esigie try to make him understand that women are full of surprises a view Chief Oliha disagree with to prove his point Oba Esigie decided to send a cripple to Imaguero Chief Oliha’s wife.Imaguero don’t only commit adultery with the cripple she created a way, the cripple can have free and easy access into her many times.

When chief Oliha had how his wife he trusted so much fell for a cripple he was ashamed. The disgrace too big for him to bear he ordered the strangulation of Imaguero.

To revenge the “expensive joke” of Oba Esigie, Chief Oliha created a war between Benin kingdom and Idah.
Queen Idia the mother of Esigie mobilized the people of Uselu backed by the Benin royal troops and Portuguese missionaries, Idah was defeated.

The Benins have a saying that “women do not go to war expect Idia the mother of Esigie”.
Today she is one of the most respected woman in Benin history. An ivory mask carved in her honour {the Idia ivory mask} was the official symbol of the second world black and Africa festival of art and culture {FESTAC} and has since become the global iconic FACE OF THE AFRICAN QUEEN. The true masterpieces are still lying captive in British & Amrican museums.

The title of Iyoba {Queen Mother} was created by oba Esigie and was conferred for the first time on his mother Idia. He also builds a palace for her, Eguae-Iyoba (Palace of the Queen mother) is located at the lower part of Uselu.{Benin City suburban}. The Queen warrior who also exercised a lot of political influence in the administration of the kingdom. Oba Esigie started this tradition probably to forestall the conflict that would have arisen between his mother and himself over the exercise of political power. An almost independent domain of the Queen mother was therefore carved out for her.The Oba grants her a priviledge of recommending to him people who she wishes to be conferred with specific title perculiar to her palace.

Thus it has become strongly -established in Benin tradition that a year or two after the coronation of every Oba, he invests his mother with the title, lyoba (Queen mother) and sends her to reside at lower Uselu in Eguae-lyoba (Palace of the Queen mother). If it happens that the mother dies before the coronation of the son, the body is preserved for a year or two after the coronation to enable the Oba confer the title lyoba on her and later bury her at Eguae-lyoba.

It was at the peak of Oba Esigie’s international diplomacy that the Portuguese explorer John Affonso d’Aveiro visited the City a second time. The Oba could read and write Portuguese fluently.

Oba Orhogbua
{About 1550AD – 1578AD}


Before he ascends the throne, he was educated under the Portuguese educational system. The reign of Oba Orhogbua is marked with the expansion of the Empire westwards. Thus Eko {Lagos} and Badagry were founded. He established the monarchical rule in those places and placed his own representatives to rule them. He established the first Oba of Lagos. It is said that during the oba’s long surjourn in Lagos and Badagry, some parts of the Eastern Empire were in a rebellious state which was quickly suppressed by the war general, Ezomo Agban who was despatched to Agbor in 1577.
The appearance of British explorers like Windham {1553} in this part of the world took place during Orhogbua’s period.
He introduced the European type cooking salt to Benin kingdom

Oba Ehengbuda
{About 1578AD – 1606AD}


Oba Ehengbuda was the first Oba to be visited by English explorers while on the throne. During his reign, he nurtured the martial growth of Chief Ezomo Agban a celebrated warrior, who led Benin army to conquer Agbor. In his days the chief reportedly thought a troublesome man lived overhead in the sky who disturbed the peace of Benin Kingdom each time the rainy clouds rumbled. Because of this belief the no-nonsense Benin war general was said to have embarked on building a ladder up to the sky to take on the “troublesome man” in a bloody contest before he passed on.

The boundary of Benin Empire and Oyo land was set at Otun Ekiti during his reign after many wars was fought between the two which led to many kings in the Oyo land compelled to become subjugated to the rule of Benin empire as tribute paying vassals of the Imperial Oba of Benin.

Oba Ohuan
{About 1606AD – 1641AD}
Prince Odogbo ascended the throne with the title Oba Ohuan. He died childless.

Oba Ahenzae


Since Ohuan died childless and without a successor. Eweka I lineage ended. Benin kingdom was in a renewed turmoil and nightmare. Once again there was struggle for power and control among various factional chiefs; they crowned someone from their camp as monarch under rotation system among the different branch of the royal family for six reigns this practices produced series of weak monarchs whose legitimacy were questionable and left the kingdom ones again vulnerable. Akenzae was sixteen years when he ascended the throne under this system.
During his reign many of the kingdom’s treasures were wasted and gambled away

Oba Akenzae
{About 1661AD – 1669AD}
There were no events of importance during his reign.

Oba Akengboi
{About 1669AD-1675AD}
There were no events of importance during his reign.

Oba Akenkpaye
{Abou1675AD – 1684AD}
His rebellious chiefs, for abuse of power, corruption and selfishness, dethroned him.

Oba Akengbodo
{About 1684AD-1689AD}
There were no events of importance during his reign.

Oba Oroghene
{About 1689AD-1700AD}


He received a letter from Pope Innocent XII encouraging him and his subjects to continue to keep to the Christian faith.

Oba Ewuakpe
{About 1700AD – 1712AD}


Prince Idova ascended the throne with the title Oba Ewuakpe in about 1700 A.D and was the 26th  monarch of the hereditary title of Benin dynasty.

He reigned for about 12 years which was characterized with series of set backs during the early period to the extent that all subjects in the kingdom revolted against him.

The fundamental cause of grouse was to protest against the monarch’s high handedness and his flagrant disrespect of human lives which culminated in the mass killing of his subjects at Uselu during the funeral of his demised mother Queen Ewebonoza in about 1705 A.D. When it became apparent that the elders and the citizens of the Kingdom could no longer accommodate the excesses of their king they were compelled to sever their disreputable connections. This uprising also affected all his wives (Iloi) the royal slaves (ovien) and other palace attendants.

In-view of this misdemeanor it would behoove queen Iden to single handedly take the bull by the horns. Queen Iden became the only friend of Oba Ewuakpe in that time of need, as she made herself present as the kings only hope in time of great calamity when it became apparent that there was no solution to his predicaments, the king decided to seek refuge amongst his mothers relations at Ikoka village out the monarch was also rejected in his material abode.

In his sad state of mind he came back to Benin City on the arrival of the Oba Queen Iden observed his hopelessness and decided to do something about it by consulting an oraclelist on behalf of her husband Oba Ewuakpe, to seek the oracle instruction on what should be done to ward off the calamity bedeviling the ancient kingdom and its monarch.

After a thorough divination by the oraclist he concluded that all that was needed for the peace of the kingdom and the restoration of its throne was a human sacrifice.

Immediately after finding a solution to the problem from the oraclist, she headed for the palace to give the message of the god to his majesty the King in their empty harem. The message from the diviner seemed to aggravate matters for Oba Ewuakpe because there was no other human being in his palace, free or bonded beside his dear wife Queen Iden who incidentally was the conveyor of this report. Consequently, the possibility of getting some body else for the human sacrifice became remote for the royal couple.

In the absence of any other person Queen Iden in a gesture similar to the Jewish Jesus Christ volunteered to be used as a sacrificial lamb needed by the god for the restoration of the kingdom and his royalty.

As soon as Queen Iden suggested to her husband that she submit herself for the supreme price determined by the ancestors Oba Ewuakpe became nervously embittered as he could not comprehend the possibility of himself killing his dear wife, who had stood with him in times of calamity of this magnitude in order to atone for the sins she had not committed. But the determined Queen encouraged the royal hands to shed her blood. If only that will appease the ancestral spirits of the land of Benin. So as to put aside the upheaval in the kingdom.

And as it became glaring on Oba Ewakpe that there was no other way out of the predicament he conceded reluctantly to the pressure mounted by his real lover the Queen and atone the gods with the precious blood of Queen Iden, as he buried her alive on the spot near the Oba market in the heart of Benin metropolice.

Before Queen Iden voluntarily offered her self as an atonement to the gods, she requested for one favour from the king, that he should make sure her grave side is kept clean at all times. In addition, she cautioned against the reality of any person treading on her grave or else such trespasser should be killed on the spot as a mark of respect for her blessed remembrance.

Consequently her desire was strictly adhered to till the invasion of the British forces in 1897. This Queen had paid the ultimate price requested for by the ancestors but she did not know the outcome of her cherished kingdom and the reign of her beloved husband.

As soon as Oba Ewakpe finished the sacrificial rituals, some of the prominent chiefs in the kingdom called for a trace between the throne and it’s aggrieved subjects. Other Benin Chiefs started paying homage to the Benin monarch again and pledge their loyalty to the bereaved Oba Ewakpe.
Then all other Benin’s came in the same spirit to pledge their allegiance to his authority over them as their king. Consequently, the entire kingdom was reconciled back to the king and remained loyal to the royal majesty till the end of his reign.

Since it was necessary to celebrate such re-union, the Benins came together at the palace and rolled out drums to give such occasion a memorable one. During his happy mood the people were taken back to see their own king weeping profusely in the midst of merriment instead of being happy for the reunion of his subjects with him. This made his subjects to find out from the Oba why he was weeping at the time of celebration like this, the Oba replied that the motive behind his tears was because of his desire to mourn the sacrificial demise of his dear wife queen Iden.

He went further to narrate all the ordeal in the palace at the time the kingdom fell apart which resulted in the untimely exit of his best friend and beloved Queen who because of her unfeigned love for the unity of her fatherland, offered herself as a scrape goat to the gods of her pedigree. For the redemption of their intergenetional equity and social cultural heritage.

Oba Ozuere
{About 1712AD – 1713AD}


Ozuere was the second son of Oba Ewuakpe. He usurped the throne with the help of some chiefs in place of his senior brother Akunzua I in contrary to the law made by Oba Ewuakpe and approved and passed by Eghaevbo [executive council] and Uzama Nihinron [the seven kingmakers] that says only the eldest son of the Oba should ascent the throne.

On the other hand, some very powerful chiefs were prepared to uphold and defend the laws of the land at all cost, questioned Ozuere legitimacy to the throne.

A civil war once again broke out in Benin kingdom, it lasted for many weeks. Ozuere was eventually defeated and dethroned. His reign lasted for just a year.

Oba Akenzua I
{About 1713AD- 1735AD}


Akenzua ascension to the throne followed the defeat and dethronement of Oba Ozuereo his younger brother widely viewed as the beginning of the second Obaship periods.

Historical record says he was one of the richest monarchs who reign in Benin kingdom. He was nicknamed Akenzua Nisonorho {Akenzua the rainy sky}

He was the father of Ogie of Avbiama and Obi of Isele-Uku.
During his reign Benin Kingdom witnessed a period of peace and prosperity.

Oba Eresoyen
{About 1735 AD-1750AD}


Benin kingdom continued to grow in prosperity during his reign. He introduced the banking system called Owigho [House of money]. Eresoyen also introduced Ododua masquerade, the ivory flutes [Akahen].

Oba Akengbuda


During his reign, the royal army launched a war against Oboro-uku a kingdom within Benin Empire, as a revenge for the murdered of Adesuwa the daughter of chief Ezomo by its Obi. He murdered Adesuwa for refusing to marry him.

When the news of her murder reached the Oba he quickly sent royal troops under the commands of Imaran, Adiagbon and Emokpaogbe Agboghidi [Enogie] of Ugo. Oboro-uku was captured, its Obi who murdered Adesuwa was tried and beheaded.

The Oba for their braveness rewarded the troops and their generals. Emokpaogbe the Aboghidi of Ugo dissatisfied with his rewards engaged in a rebellious act toward the royal authority. The Oba at first ignored him due to the part he played during the war with Oboro-Uku as if that was not enough, Emokpaogbe turned his war machine against the royal authority. When Emokpaogbe rebellious acts continued to transgress the monarchical establishment, the Oba sent royal troops lead by Ologbose and Imaran to Ugo to quash the rebellion. Ugo was captured Aboghidi drowned himself in Igbaghon River before he could be arrested by the royal troops. 

Oba Obanosa
{About 1804AD-1816AD}
There were no events of importance during his reign.  

Oba Ogbebor
{About 1816AD – 1816AD}


He usurped the throne of Benin Empire in place of his senior brother Eredia-uwa after defeating the army of Eredia-uwa in the civil war with the help of his mother and some powerful chiefs. To avoid being killed Eredia-uwa fled to Evbokhimmwi in Ishan a town, north of the kingdom. Eredia-uwa eventually regained his right place to the throne of Benin with the backing of Enigie of Ishan, Erebo the Ezomo of Uzebu and the people of Uselu fought and won the battle against Ogbebo and his backers; Eyan and Eboide.
His reign lasted for just 8 months.

Oba Osemwende
{About 1816AD – 1848}


Prince Eredia-uwa was crowned the Oba of Benin kingdom with the title Oba Osemwende after the defeat of Oba Ogbebo.
He ordered the Akure punitive expedition of 1818AD to avenge the murder of Osague the Benin empire goodwill ambassador to Akure who was murdered with the order of Arakale the Udezi of Akure. When the news of his killing reached Benin city; Battalions of royal troops under the general command of Ezomo Erebo assisted by ologboshere and Imaran were sent. Akure was captured, but Arakale managed to escape to Ado for help, he was expelled by Ewi of Ado for fear of Benin royal troop invasion. Arakale fled from Ado to Uju from Uju to Uhen there he was finally handed over by Arinjale of Uhen to Ezomo.

Arakale was later trialed and executed. Osemwende also conquered Ekiti kingdom.

In 1840 Osodin{Okunbo} accompanied by Ehennua and Arhunmwunde were despatched to Lagos to demand from Eleko of Eko the customary annual tribute to the king of Benin but the emissaries found Lagos in a state of war of Succession between Akintoye and Kosoko.

By the close of Oba Osemwende’s reign, John King in 1815,jame’s fawknar in 1825 and Moffat and smith in 1838 visited Benin.

Oba Adolo
{About 1848AD-1888AD}

Historical records says he was kind-hearted, generous, rich, industrious and respected by his subjects.

Oba Ovoranmwen
{1888AD – 1914AD}

The Benin Empire fell to the British forces 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 captured after 10 days of heavy bloody fighting and up to six months of resistance battles from the hinterland.

The kingdom was destroyed and looted of its 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. Purportedly buried at old

Calabar by officials 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

Oba Eweka II

The advent of the British brought much disaster to the throne of Benin and hope was almost lost as to whether Benin would ever have its Obaship again. The British conguered Benin exiled its monarch to calabar. During this traumatic period, Chief Obaseki worked with the British to rule Benin. Benin lost its grandeur and the monarchy almost became extinct. In 1914, at the demise of the exiled king Ovonramwen, the monarchy was restored when prince Aiguobasimwin Ovoranmwen was crowned Oba of Benin with the title Eweka II on 24th July, 1914. The colonial rule with its indirect rule by Lord Lugard altered a lot of things.

Eweka II was the first post – Imperial Benin Monarch. He took the oath of allegiance to the British imperial king. The first time in Benin history, a Benin monarch took an oath of allegiance to another king or kingdom. A history defining moment that Benin kingdom is yet to recover from. Before his ascension to the throne, Oba Eweka II was a skillful brass smith and an expert in ivory and woodcarving. 

He rebuilds the Oba palace, which was destroyed by the British force during the expedition of 1987.

His enemies often accused him of human sacrifice,every reports of it kind was vigorously investigated, by searching the whole Oba palace and other secrets places nothing incriminating were ever found.     Any act or festivals that involved anything incriminating were drop or reorganized. Many secret ceremonies were scrap.

Oba Akenzua II
{1932AD – 1978AD}


Born in 1899 in Benin City, as crown Prince Godfrey Edokparhogbuyunmwun basimi. Ascended the Benin throne on April 5th, 1933 with the title Oba Akenzua II.

Before his ascension to the throne, he attended king’s college lagos.

Oba Akenzua struck a balance of stability and progress tradition and modernity. He was a father-figure to all. For his dimensional contributions to the development of his people and Nigeria, Oba Akenzua II received such honours as Justice of Peace, Knight of the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a honourary doctorate degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

He was equally a notable royal monarch of Benin kingdom. He initiated the campaign for the creation of Mid-West Region which materialized in 1962. in 1947, he opened the Benin Divisional council Museum seen as the mustard art seed that later inspired the germination of the giant oak tree that is now the National Museums and Monuments, Benin City. This isn’t all. Because of his vast influence, power, authority and acknowledged traditional mystique, he was allowed to hold’the first Obas’ conference in 1941. The establishment of Edo College in 1937 is largely through’his hardwork.’His reign witnessed peace, love and progress in the whole of Edo land not just Benin Kingdom.

Oba Erediauwa


When the young prince was born June 22,1923 . His father Oba Akenzua II presented the new baby to his father Eweka II, who lifted the baby up and smiled. “You Agho! (Chief Agho Obaseki, the Iyase of Benin during the reign of exiled Oba Ovonranmwen & Oba Eweka II ) You again, you have passed through this route. You have reincarnated to become an Oba. An Oba indeed”. Eweka proclaimed him an Oba: you will be Solomon – wise as King Solomon. The Lord will be your pillar and strength – (Igbinoghodua) but nobody should dare cause or invite your wrath – (Aiseokhuoba). As a young Prince and heir apparent Oba Erediauwa was known as Prince Solomon, Aiseokhuoba, Igbinoghodua Akenzua until he was crowned Oba on March 23, 1979.
Never by the use of those names be identified except by the title, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin. Those circumstantial names are now archival materials. Reincarnation is in the beliefs of the Binis. This can happen in any circumstance depending on the life aspiration of the deceased whose prayers might be answered if he so desired to become a King in his next world. Although this is beyond human comprehension, nevertheless, the traditional belief is that a man may have an opportunity to reincarnate for as much as seven times after which he fizzles out. By this belief, Prince Solomon is a reincarnation of the desperate Obaseki!
Erediauwa had the throne as his cradle. Apart from the usual traditional palace tutorials which begin at birth, he went to Government School, Benin after which he proceeded to Government College, Ibadan in 1939 and obtained with flying colours – his London Matriculations which qualified him to gain admission into Yaba College in 1945. After the completion of his course at Yaba, he was admitted into King’s College, Cambridge to study Law and Administration. He returned to Nigeria to join the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service as a District Officer (D.O.) in 1957. He transferred his services to the Federal Civil Service and rose to the position of Permanent Secretary.

He retired from the service as a Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in 1973 and became the regional representative of Gulf Oil Company. He was appointed Commissioner for Finance in the Military Administration of Major-General Innih in 1975. His early retirement from the service was to have time to expose him fully to the intricacies of the administrative challenges that would confront him in the performance of his duties as Oba of Benin. His father, Akenzua II was Secretary to Eweka II, his father. This made him to have a first hand knowledge of traditional issues that arose from the Native Administration. The political turbulence that confronted Akenzua II due to the exposure of the new elites to participatory Native Administration in the 40s and introduction of party politics in the 50s could only have been surmounted by a ruler of Akenzua’s experience, patience, courage and subtle diplomacy.

In his time, traditional rulers could be members of political parties; even form parties. Akenzua II was in the forefront of the creation of the Midwest State. He formed a political party for this purpose – Benin-Delta Peoples’ Party in 1953. Otu-Edo was formed to defend his person against the political onslaught of the Ogboni/Action Group under the leadership of Eguobase Gaius Obaseki, the ninth child of Agho Obaseki. Inspite of the unconfirmed relationship as a result of circumstances of reincarnation, Akenzua and Gaius Obaseki were never the best of friends.

The present Oba Erediauwa witnessed the rule of the army, formation of political parties several times over since he ascended the throne in 1979. Although, it would seem he is insulated from partisan politics not many would accept this as a solution to the numerous political and party problems that confront the people today. He welcomes and blesses all aspirants that call on him. Even then the tone and length of his prayers are misinterpreted in varied partisan ways. But the Oba usually put his foot down never to be intimidated.

Erediauwa N’Oba had used his kingly office to influence the welfare and the fortunes of his people. He is an unmoving pivot around which the life of his subjects revolve. Over the years, he had discharged his responsibilities with much worldly wisdom and with dauntless courage. Men and kings must be judged in the testing moments of their lives. His refusal to succumb to the administrative tantrums to change his stance on the vague urges of the military proved that he rated the welfare of his people far above his personal sentiments or pride even more above his interest.

How best, can one describe the odious ordeal of the immediate past if not governed by love and respect for his tradition and culture. Since his ascension to the ancient throne he had given effective leadership to his subjects. On his coronation day, he pledged to unite all Edo-speaking people including those in diaspora. His main focus was to re-establish the great Edo culture and tradition in line with acceptable norms of a modern society.

Soon after his ascension to the throne, he appointed Late Justice S.O. Ighodaro as the Iyase of Benin. Justice Ighodaro was the first Benin graduate and lawyer who became Minister of Justice and Attorney-General in Awolowo’s Action Group government of Western Region in the First Republic. After his demise, West Erhabor though also late succeeded him as Iyase. Chief Samuel Igbe a retired Police Commissioner is the present Iyase of Benin. The Iyase according to Benin custom is the head of Eghaevho N’Ore (town chiefs). The position of an Iyase is that of the Prime Minister who is the spokesman of the Binis before the Oba. The Oba usually honours a worthy subject or citizen with the title of Iyase whenever the need arises.

Apart from the Iyase, a position that is open to all indigenes of worth, the Oba had created titles to honour some of his prominent subjects drawn from various backgrounds. Some of the titles are hereditary, some are achieved and some are pronounced to commemorate specific events in accordance with the Oba’s political, or social perspectives. Only the Oba possesses the rights and privileges to create and confer titles on his subjects. The titles are certainly not for sale to non-indigenes mainly because of the traditional and cultural roles of the titles. Chiefs are selectively distributed into the palace societies of Iwebo, Ibiwe, Ihogbe, Egaevbo N’ore, Eghaevbo N’ogbe. The seven king makers – Uzamas, include the Edaiken – the heir apparent. Their titles are also hereditary. There are also the dukes-direct blood relations of the Oba who preside over their dukedoms. These titles are hereditary too. Some of the traditional deity priests who take care of state shrines across the kingdom also enjoy hereditary roles. The Oba definitely sits over a complex machinery of state that makes him political, spiritual and social leader of his people. Without the Oba, the machinery of state grinds to a halt. You can never banish, exile or dethrone an Oba of Benin. When an Oba joins his ancestors who are also presumed to be a part of the machinery of state, his oldest son – Edaiken (heir apparent) steps in and continues from where his father stopped.

One of the most respected Africa monarch. An author, writer, advocate of peace and co-existance. His high educational background help being to light the correct history of Edo people and the ancient Benin kingdom, one of Africa oldest kingdom.

When he was crowned as the 38th Oba of Benin, Erediauwa was just about 56 years old. Today he is in his 90s, still waxing strong, alert and sensitive to issues that affect his kingdom. His mind is sound, never entangled in the briars of detail. All through his reign, he had demonstrated inflexible integrity, regal mannerisms that tie him to the souls of the ordinary folks.

Oba gha to Okpere Ise!

One thought on “Benin Monarchy

  1. […]   2000 Years Old Monarchy (BC 40 – AD 2015) BENIN KINGDOM 1,000 YEARS DYNASTY OF OGISOS OR SKY KINGS {ABOUT 40BC -1100AD} _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st Igodo {About 40BC – 16AD} Igodo or Obagodo established the kingdom in components of Benin were united and formed into a central Administrative Unit. He was the first recorded Ogiso… — Read on […]


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