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Great Kingdom of Benin
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Topic: Great Kingdom of Benin
Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 10:00
Again , just throwing this culture in
According to one traditional account, the original people and founders of the Benin Empire, the Bini, were initially ruled by the Ogisos (Kings of the Sky). The city of Ubini (later called Benin City) was founded in 1180 AD.
About 36 known Ogiso are accounted for as rulers of the empire. One oral tradition states that during the reign the last Ogiso, his son and heir apparent Ekaladerhan was banished from Benin as a result of one of the Queens changing a message from the oracle to the Ogiso. Prince Ekaladerhan was a powerful warrior and well loved. On leaving Benin he travelled in a westerly direction to the land of the Yoruba. At that time the IfÃ¡ oracle said that the Yoruba people of Ile Ife (also known as Ife) will be ruled by a man who would come out of the forest. Following Ekaladerhans arrival at the Yoruba city of Ife also known as Ile Ife, he finally rose to the position of the Oba (meaning 'king' or 'ruler' in the Yoruba language) and later received the title of Ooni of Ife. He changed his name to 'Izoduwa,' (which in his native language meant, 'I have chosen the path of prosperity') and became The great Oduduwa, also known as Odudua, OÃ²dua and Eleduwa, of the Yoruba. On the death of his father, the last Ogiso, a group of Benin Chiefs led by Chief Oliha came to Ife, pleading with Oba (King) Oduduwa to return to Benin to ascend the throne. Oduduwa's reply was that a ruler cannot leave his domain but he had seven sons and would ask one of them to go back to Benin to become the next King.
Note: there are other versions of the story of Oduduwa. Many Yoruba often attribute Oduduwa as coming from a place towards the east of the land of the Yoruba peoples, however it tends not to be attributed to Benin City.
Oranyan (also known as Oranmiyan), one of the sons of Oduduwa and son of Oduduwa's Yoruba wife Okanbi, agreed to go to Benin. He spent some years in Benin before returning to the Yoruba lands before establishing his own Yoruba kingdom at Oyo. It is said that he left the place in anger and called it 'Ile Ibinu' (meaning, 'land of annoyance and vexation) and it was this phrase that became the origin of Benin city's former name 'Ubini'. Oranmiyan, on his way home to Ife, stopped briefly at Ego, where he impregnated Princess Erimwinde, the daughter of the Enogie of Ego and she gave birth to a son named Eweka.
During Oba Oduduwas reign as Alaafin of Oyo, Eweka became the oba at Ile Ibinu. Oba Ewedo, an ancestor of Oba Ewaka I, changed the name of the city of Ile Ibinu to Ubini, which the Portuguese, in their own language, corrupted it to Benin or Bini. In 1440, Oba Ewuare, also known as 'Ewuare the Great', came to power and turned the city-state into an empire. Around 1470, he named the new state Edo.
The Oba had become the paramount power within the region. Oba Ewuare, the first Golden Age Oba, is credited with turning Benin City into a military fortress protected by moats and walls. It was from this bastion that he launched his military campaigns and began the expansion of the kingdom from the Edo-speaking heartlands.
Oba Ewuare was a direct descendant of Oduduwa, the first Oni of Ife. Oduduwa was considered divine according to some legends the god Oduduwa descended to Ife (the center of all creation) and became it's first Oni or ruler. Other legends say he came from Mecca or Egypt. a series of walls marked the incremental growth of the sacred city from 850 CE until it's decline in the 16th century. In the 15th century Benin became the greatest city of the empire created by Oba or king Ewuare. To enclose his palace he commanded the building of Benin's inner wall, a seven mile (11 km) long earthen rampart girded by a moat 50 feet (15 m) deep. This was excavated in the early 1960s by Graham Connah. Connah estimated that it's construction if spread out over 5 dry seasons would have required a workforce of 1,00 laborers working 10 hours a day 7 days a week. Ewuare also added great thoroughfares and erected 9 fortified gateways. Excavations also uncovered a rural network of earthen walls 4 to 8 thousand miles long that would have taken an estimated 150 million man hours to build and must have taken hundreds of years to build. these were apparently thrown down to mark out territories for towns and cities. 13 years after Ewuare's death tales of Benin's splendors lured the Portuguese traders to the city gates.
At its maximum extent the empire is claimed by the Edos to have extended from the Igbo kingdom of Onitsha in the east of Nigeria, through parts the southwestern region of Nigeria, Modern day Benin Republic, Togo, and into the present-day nation of Ghana. The Ga peoples of Ghana trace their ancestry to the ancient Kingdom of Benin.
The state developed an advanced artistic culture especially in its famous artifacts of bronze, iron and ivory. These include bronze wall plaques and life-sized bronze heads of the Obas of Benin. The most common artifact is based on Queen Idia, now best known as the FESTAC Mask after it was used in 1977 in the logo of the Nigeria-financed and hosted Second Festival of Black & African Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77).
More info here -----> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin_Empire
Edited by dieheart - 14-Apr-2009 at 10:01
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