The History of the Edo Empire

Edo State is seen today as only a state with a capital – Delta, but Edo Empire is one of the pillars of Nigerian origin and civilization. If you didn’t know much about the Edo Empire, you are about to.

History

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’s 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 naturally as next in line to rule.

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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 the elders led by Oliha ( an elder) mounted a search for the banished Prince Ekaladerhan whom the Ife people now called Oduduwa. Oduduwa, who could not return due to his advanced age, granted them Oranmiyan, his son, to rule over them.

Government

The empire was ruled by a regent called the Oba. Today, the Oba of Benin is still very respected in Nigeria; he is the most revered traditional ruler in Nigeria although his powers are largely ceremonial and religious. The capital of the Benin Empire was Edo, now known as Benin City in what is now southwestern Nigeria.

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People

The Benin Empire derives its name from the Bini people who dominated the area. The ethnonym may derive from groups in western Nigeria, where the term “ibinu” means “anger” reflecting the warring nature of the Binis or from central and north-central Nigeria, where the term birnin means “gated” or “walled area.” The city and its people are more properly called the Edo. Today, this population is found mostly in and around modern-day Benin City. It is from Portuguese explorers that we get the name the Benin Empire. However, the Bini name for the land and even the capital city was Edo.

Author: BF

light sleeper, heavy dreamer.

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