Benin Kingdom A Brief History


The Kingdom of Benin, also known as the Benin Kingdom, was a pre-colonial kingdom in what is now southern Nigeria.

Its capital was Edo, now known as Benin City in Edo state. It should not be confused with the modern-day Republic of Benin, formerly the Republic of Dahomey. The Benin Kingdom was “one of the oldest and most highly developed states in the coastal hinterland of West Africa, dating perhaps to the eleventh century CE until it was annexed by the British Empire in 1897.

The original people and founders of the Benin Kingdom, the Edo people, were initially ruled by the Ogiso (Kings of the Sky) who called their land Igodomigodo. The first Ogiso (Ogiso Igodo), wielded much influence and gained popularity as a good ruler. He died after a long reign and was succeeded by Ere, his eldest son.

In the 12th century, a great palace intrigue erupted and crown prince Ekaladerhan, the only son of the last Ogiso was sentenced to death as a result of the first Queen (who was barren) deliberately changing an oracle message to the Ogiso. In carrying out the order of the palace, the palace messengers had mercy and set the prince free at Ughoton near Benin. When his father the Ogiso died, the Ogiso dynasty ended. The people and royal kingmakers preferred their king’s son as the natural next in line to rule.

The exiled Prince Ekaladerhan had changed his name to Izoduwa meaning ‘I have chosen the part of prosperity’ and found his way to Ile-Ife. It was during this period of confusion that the elders led by Oliha mounted a search for the banished Prince Ekaladerhan whom the Ife people will now call Oduduwa. Oduduwa, who could not return due to age, granted them Oranmiyan, his son, to rule over them.

Oranmiyan was resisted by Ogiamien Irebor, one of the palace chiefs and took up his abode in the palace built for him at Usama by the elders (now a coronation shrine). Soon after his arrival, he married a beautiful lady, Erinmwinde, daughter of Ogie-Egor, the ninth


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