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Coronation Ceremonies of
an Oba of Benin
Edo Empire &
Edo Ethos & Social
The Ogiso Dynasty After the Ogiso Dynasty Oba of Benin Dynasty Oduduwa's Controversy Oba's Coronation Palace Societies Uselu Uzama
The coronation ceremonies of an Oba of Benin usually last about 10 days. They begin from Egua-Edaiken, the traditional residence of the heir-apparent to the Benin Throne. On a day fixed by the Edaiken, he is escorted by his Uselu people on his journey back to Benin City. On the way he stops at an historical palm tree named "Udin ama-mieson aimiuwa" (translated to mean "work before pleasure") which the Edaiken "climbs" symbolically. This little ceremony dates its origin to the time of Oba Ewuare the Great whose life as heir apparent to the throne was characterised by long suffering which included periods when he personally had to climb palm trees on this spot to cut the fruits for a living. This act of suffering by the father of the first Edaiken has ever since been re-enacted in a symbolic way by every Edaiken. From the palm tree the Edaiken continues his journey to Benin City; but at the first moat called (lya-akpan) in the vicinity of where the firm of Mid-Motors (Nigeria) Limited now stands, the Uselu chief in the procession take leave of the Edaiken and return to Uselu while the Edaiken is thereafter escorted into the City by Oredo Chiefs.
Having picked a name at Use, the Edaiken returns to Usama where the crowning ceremony is performed by Oliha, the leader of the Uzama and proclaims Edaiken in his newly acquired name as the Oba of Benin. It is significant to note that until the ceremony at Use, the Edaiken never knows before hand what name he is going to be crowned with. From this moment also the Edaiken ceases to use his personal names and he is henceforth known by the new name of an Oba. Also significant is the fact that both at Egor and Use, there still exist almost in their original form the shrines established by the diviners and the native doctors who brought the magical akhue seeds from Uhe. After the crowning ceremony the new Oba then leaves Usama on the 7th day for the town centre to be proclaimed and presented to Benin people.
On his way to the City he stops at lsekherhe to perform the ceremonial crossing of a bridge, a reminder of the day Oba Ewedo on a similar journey erected a bridge to enable him pass lsekherhe territory without stepping on the ground. After crossing the bridge the Oba and his entourage engage in a mock battle with Ogiamien and his followers. The resistance of Ogiamien forces collapses while the Oba and his entourage proceed to Urho-Okpota. Urho-Okpota (the gate of Okpota) dates its existence to the era of Oba Ozolua about 15th Century, and it is the area now known as "Ring Road" including where Exhibition Centre and the Local Governrnen't Secretariat now stand. Okpota was a powerful native doctor who prepared a charm of good luck for the Oba. It is said that the charm which was buried at the gate of the Palace brought prosperity to the Kingdom. The Oba lodged Okpota in a house near the Palace in the area of the present day Exhibition Centre. The verandah to his house soon became a meeting place for the elders, even for the Oba, and Urhokpota has ever since remained a Centre for meeting and useful deliberations. For the same reason Oba Eweka II chose the site for building the new Native Court, now known as Exhibition Centre. The ceremony at Urhokpota completed, the new Oba then moves into the Palace as the Oba of Benin. But he still has Ogiamien's challenge to meet and so 7 days after, he assembles his troops and proceeds to Ekiokpagha where he engages in a mock battle with Ogiamien, a reminder of the real battle between Oba Ewedo and Ogiamien in the 13th century when the latter attempted to prevent the former from entering the City from Usama. By the treaty between the two, Ogiamien surrendered his claim to the ownership of land to the Oba.