Sikemi Ifederu: Oba of Benin’s Coronation, Oba Ewuare II
The Ancient City of Bronze.
Benin City is home to Benin art- sculptures of famous heads and pieces made of bronze or brass; it is the capital of Edo state and is located in the southern part of Nigeria. Benin City is called The Ancient City of Bronze. It is one of the most cultural areas in Nigeria and has maintained its rich culture and tradition. Benin art can be found locally and internationally. It is known for its rich history, culture, festivals and arts.
The Royal Family
The Benin Royal Family is one of the oldest first class traditional institutions in Nigeria. The King is called the Oba of Benin and is known as Omo n’oba n’edo Uko AKpolokpolo ( I love this title). He is the spiritual head and the source of customary law of the Edo people. When an Oba dies in Benin, his oldest son succeeds the throne unlike some other traditions where the kingship is rotated among different royal families.
The New Oba of Benin- Oba Ewuare II
- Graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Economics from University of Wales, Cardiff, 1977
- He has a Masters Degree in Public Administration at Rutgers Graduate School, U.S.A, 1981
- Nigerian Ambassador Norway and Angola
I got to Benin at 6pm on Wednesday. It was a 30 min, more like 15 mins flight. Immediately I got out from the airport, all the buildings and street lights were swarmed with posters of the Oba’s face. There were GIANT inflatable balloons everywhere!!. Benin was really prepared. They didn’t come to play at all.
The traditional coronation took place at 2am at the Usama Palace. This was very symbolic because Usama Palace was the first Palace built by Oranmiyan King of Yoruba land who was the son of Oduduwa- (you see the link between Yoruba and Benin people, we are one big family). The ceremony was an amazing display of fireworks and lots of dancing. It was special because it was also his birthday.
Traditional Coronation Video
The coronation was a once in a life time event and of all days it chose to rain, it chose that day! It rained all through the coronation and we stayed in it like that oo. I love Benin people; they are very dedicated and passionate about the royal family, this may have been due to the fact that some had never witnessed a coronation in their lifetime and after this, they may never witness one.
The Official Coronation
We slept for like 4-5 hours and got ready for the ceremony which was supposed to begin at 10am. When we got to the Oba’s Palace we had to take a walk to Urho-Okpota Hall. Red carpets had been rolled everywhere for WE the dignitaries..Lool. The protocol to enter the venue was on another level. They had to be very very strict even if you are related to the royal family or a top government official. We passed through different check points till we got to the final one. Guess who I saw waiting for little me? The Sultan of Sokoto. NOW…. the Northerners know how to do royalty differently!!! I’m still deciding on which king won the award for ‘best entrance’. The Chaperones were all dressed in their traditional Benin attire and there were about 30 of them. So much attention was paid to their hair down to their feet. They all wore the same gold sandals. Royalty!!!!
We sat waiting for all the high and mighty people to come in and settle down. The procession of the Kings was simply one splendor after the other, The Sultan of Sokoto enters then you think you have seen it all till you see Emir of Kano- Lamido Sanusi. Just when you think it’s time to finally start the ceremony, Ooni of Ife comes in. Now each King does a grand entrance, the best movie I can relate this to is- Coming to America. I was overwhelmed!!. I gave up. It was an exquisite display of culture and royalty. This was the best event to attend if you are a Cultural enthusiast. The event was graced by so many dignitaries, tourists and media houses from all over the world. The hall became a gallery of Traditional Kings, Diplomats from Italy-Angola, Ambassadors and top government officials including the vice president Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN)
You know I mentioned earlier that the event was meant to start at 10am right?….This didn’t happen till 4pm. We were entertained by different dance groups dancing the traditional Ekassa dance which only happens during coronations.
The Oba had to walk 10km from Usama palace where the traditional coronation took place, to Urho-Okpota (the coronation venue) which took about 2hrs. It was a celebration galore for everyone in the state, dancing on the street and hailing the King as he walked through the streets. It was Christmas in Benin.
Oba’s Entrance Video
Chiefs Shout: OBA GHA TO KPERE
He was dressed in his complete regalia- a coral beaded garment which weighed 20kg. His Crown and shoes were also made from coral beads. It was beautiful!. Imagine carrying a bag of rice and walking for 2hrs in the Sun.
The Staff of office was then presented to the Oba by the Governor of Edo State- Adams Oshiomole. The Vice President of Nigeria, the Oba of Benin and the Governor of Edo State gave speeches and then the new Oba announced his new name- Oba Ewuare II ( Every New Oba changes His name). The whole of Benin scattered both inside the hall and outside (don’t worry I could see what was going on outside, we had projectors showing activities on the streets).
The Crest was revealed which means No reward without Industry. The new Oba believes so much in empowerment, culture and tourism. I am really excited about his enthusiasm towards tourism, culture preservation and general development within the Benin Kingdom. We danced to the palace and ended the night with a reception.
Video of the Reception.
OBA GHA TO KPERE…….ISE!!!!!
Photo Source: Emir of Kano- Tolani Alli, Staff of office-Vanguard, Pendant Mask- Altoon Sultan