Lagos – Egor, a small settlement on the outskirts Benin City claims a historical pre-eminence but remains unsung. But for the ‘Teacher’s Lake,’ the pond which cuts the Siluko Road in the local government area into two clear sections for close to eight months of the year, rendering it inaccessible, not much is known about the village. Yet Egor, a village on the outskirts of Benin City, the Edo State capital occupies a special part of the history of both the Edo and the Yoruba.
Benin City whose traditional ruler is a product of the goodwill which Egor extended to Oranmiyan who created the Eweka dynasty in Benin has more or less ignored it. For the descendants of Oduduwa (and Oonis after him) Egor appears to have been one ancient forgotten accident of history. The typical ‘in-law’ relationship has become extinct. However, Dr. Peter Ogupor, (MON) the Ogiefor traditional ruler of Egor in Egor local government area is not resting on his oars. He has embarked on restoring this ancient town to its once glorious past. Historian Jacob Egharevba has it that when the last Ogiso was banished from ancient Benin for maladministration and the commission of Kirikuvua (murder of a pregnant Bini woman), a vacuum was created which had to be filled. The people found in a man called Evian, the type of leader they wanted.
Evian it was who killed a monster, ‘Osogan,’ which had made a duty of terrorising the citizens on market days. Though a commoner he was appreciated to the extent that the Bini poeple saw him as a natural leader with the last Ogiso gone. Towards the end of his reign, he, in order to build an own dynasty, nominated his son, Ogianwen as his successor but the young man was rejected by the people. Infuriated, the people sent to Ooni Oduduwa of Ile-Ife to come to their aid by providing them with a capable ruler. Oduduwa in response, sent one of his sons, Oranmiyan but not before he sent seven lice to Benin chiefs to nurture for 1,000 days.
When the chiefs passed the test, Oduduwa was so impressed that a people could nurture creatures as minute as lice felt they could look after his son. Oranmiyan stepped on Bini soil to meet a stiff opposition in Ogiamwen. Since he did not understand the language and culture of the people, Oranmiyan concluded that only a child born and bred in the land could be their king. Subsequently,
he met, fell in love with and married the beautiful daughter of Obanego called Erunwinde by whom he had a son, who he ordered should be installed ‘Oba’ in his stead as he headed back for Ile-Ife. But Prince Ukwere Ogiegor says that the relationship between Egor, Oranmiyan and Ile-Ife was not as cut and dried as depicted by the historian. He told The News that because Benin was ungovernable for Prince Oranmiyan due to the machinations of some chiefs and, especially, Ogiamwen the Ile-Ife prince had to seek refuge and found the Osanego (Ogiegor’s palace at Egor), a home away from home.
Prince Oranmiyan, he says, lived in Egor, where the abode he shared with Erinwinde, prior to and after the birth of his son, still stands till today. It was recently reconstructed as the shrine of Amoto Nuhe. He also mentions the birthplace of Oranmiyan’s son (now also a shrine) at Egor known as Aruo Amego, the Egor main market. According to the historian, Oranmiyan’s son who was said to be the progenitor of the Obas of Benin was brought up at Egor by his grandfather Osanego, until he was 12 years old before he was taken to occupy the throne of his father. Prince Ogiegor said the son has a name known only to the Egor people.
The name, Eweka, by which he is popularly known, Ogiegor insists, was only a cognomen he acquired after he ascended the throne. He also speaks of a warm relationship between Egor and Ile-Ife as a result of the union between their children asserting that in all ramifications Egor occupies a pride of place as far as Yoruba and Bini histories are concerned. Dr. Ogiegor told this magazine that the present Ooni of Ife once visited Egor in the company of the Oba of Benin but that was years ago. The photograph taken at the occasion is more or less fading. Since that visit in the mid-eighties, The News gathered, Egor has remained an unsung in-law of Oduduwa.