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100 FACTS ABOUT GREAT BENIN EMPIRE
DO YOU KNOW THAT?
The Second Oldest Surviving Kingdom in the World is Great Benin Kingdom and is 2054 years Old. The Ogiso dynasty lasted for about 854 years plus an interregnum of 285 years between the reign of Ogiso Orire and Ogiso Odia, there was an interregnum of 70 years between Ogiso Owodo and Oba Oranmiyan(Odolorre) plus 845 years of Oba ruler-ship till date.
1. The First Storey Building in Nigeria was built at Ughoton by the Dutch in the year 1718, and it was called “The Factory”. The said building was destroyed by the British during the war against the Benins in 1897. The site of the building is still intact.
2. The Oldest Church in West-Africa was established in Great Benin Empire by the Earliest Portuguese missionaries in the 16th Century which is today known as the Holy Aruosa (Benin National Church). Pope Pius XII emissaries visited Benin and handed the church to the Oba of Benin, Oba Oreoghene in 1692AD.
3. The first Known Embassy Established in Nigeria was during the reign of Oba Esigie in the 16th century.
4. Elaba is the only Chieftaincy title in Benin Kingdom in whose presence the Oba’s Sword bearer (Omada) would ceremonially hold the Oba’s symbol of Authority(Ada) upside down
5. Oba Orhogbua is the first literate king ever recorded in the present day West-Africa.
6. Chief Ogiamien is one of the Uzama N’Ibie (Uzama Minor), the council was created by Oba Esigie.
7. The Oldest known letter written in Nigeria was by Duarte Pires instructed by Oba Esigie which was addressed to King John II, on the 20th October, 1516AD. The second oldest letter was written by Anthonio Domingo (Great-grand Son of Oba Olua) to the Pope to seek for missionary assistance in other to spread Christianity in Benin Empire in 1652AD.
8. Oba Orhogbua founded Lagos and planted a dukedom, the Obaship of Lagos (Eko).
9. Oba Orhogbua introduced the common salt from his numerous voyage to Benin Cuisine in replacement of our traditional organic salt (Obu).
10. The word Okoro means prince in Benin and Uvbi as princess.
11. Oba Orhogbua is the first Sailor king in the present day West-Africa.
12. They are five fighting Empire building Obas of Benin, Oba Ewuare I, Oba Ozolua, Oba Esigie, Oba Orhogbua and Oba Ehengbuda N’Obo.
13. Oba Ehengbuda was the last Oba of Benin to lead the Benin armies physically in battle.
14. Ogiso Odoligie and Oba Esigie were regarded as the redeemer kings because of their pre-ordination by God.
15. Ogiso Orriagba created the college (council) of the hereditary Uzama Chiefs.
16. The last Ogiso palace was located in the present day Ring-Road where the National museum is sited and it was called “Ogbe Ogiso”
17. Oldest ever recorded market in Africa is Ogiso (Agbado) Market dated 60BCE.
18. Ekpeye, Ogba and Iwurhuohna people of River State are children of Akalaka a Benin warrior that migrated from Benin to found their present location during Oba Ewuare I reign.
19. Onitcha town was founded by Benin royal house who migrated during Oba Esigie reign.
20. The shortest Oba that reigned in Great Benin kingdom was Oba Ezoti (14 days) 1473-1473AD.
21. They are three usurpers to the revered Benin throne, Oba Uwaifiokun (1430-1440), Oba Ozuere (1712-713) and Oba Ogbebo (1816-1816)
22. The longest Oba that reigned in Great Benin Kingdom was Oba Akengbuda (54 years) 1750-1804AD.
23. The oldest crown prince (crown prince Osifo) to become an Oba of great Benin was later crowned as Oba Obanosa.
24. Oba Akengbuda relocated from the palace to Ogbe N’Alaka to pave way for his son, crown prince Osifo (Oba Obanosa) to become an Oba i.e two Oba’s in one kingdom (Benin).
25. The first ever recorded bank (Owigho) in present day West-Africa was built in Benin kingdom by Oba Eresoyen, construction started in the year 1740AD and was completed in the year 1743AD.
26. Oba Akengboi kept his hair like a Rastafarian Benin call Agbihiagha.
27. Oba Ahenkpaye was dethroned because of his selfishness and ruthlessness by chiefs of Benin Kingdom.
28. Isi Aghadahomen, corrupted as Dahommey was a name of Esan General who led Benin warriors to conquer present day republic of Benin. The country was named in 1975 after their former colonial master. Great Benin Kingdom.
29. Oba Esigie created the school of astrology (Iwoki) and was the first man to speak a foreign language (Portuguese) in Nigeria in the year 1518AD.
30. Queen Idia (Oba Esigie mother) is the first Oba’s mother to be alive to see her son becoming an Oba. That’s because traditionally previous Crown prince mothers were killed before their Sons ascend the throne.
31. Oba Ewuare I conquered more than 201 towns and villages during his reign. This remarkable feat earned him the title Ewuare Ogidigan (Ewuare the great).
32. Iyase, Esogban, Eson and Osuma are referred to as the four Cardinal chiefs (Eghaevbo N’ore)
33. Since Oba Ewedo relocated the palace from Usama to Ogbe only four Oba’s were not buried at Ogbe. Hence “Aiguoba vbie Ogbe” (no one sleep at ogbe except the oba)
34. Agbodo mystically was buried at ogbe (he is the only man to ever achieve that feat after Oba Udagbedo enacted a law of nobody aside the Oba can be interred at Ogbe quarter)
35. Great benin kingdom has been ruled by 71 kings (documented) and 21 kings(undocumented) and two documented administrators (Evian and Agho Obaseki)and about 12 undocumented administrators
36. Ga tribe of present day Ghana migrated from Benin during the reign Oba Udagbedo of (1299-1334)
37. Oba Ahenzae is the youngest Oba to be crowned, was crowned when he was 16 years old.
38. Between Oba Ahenzae and Oba Ewuakpe the Oba-ship was rotated amongst different branches of the royal family for six reigns.
39. Oba Akenzua I is the richest monarch that ever ruled in Benin kingdom. Hence nicknamed Akenzua N’Isonorho (Akenzua, the money raining sky).
40. Oba Ewuakpe enforced the primogeniture Law in Benin Empire, called the Atoro oath. N.B: primogeniture had started during Ogiso Orriagba but was not consistent
41. The 39 Obas in second dynasty all ruled averagely in 22 years (excluding the present Monarch)
42. Ogiso Igodo or Obagodo is the oldest king that has ever ruled Benin Kingdom across the two dynasties, he reigned for 56 years.
43. Oduduwa was the exiled crowned prince from Benin known as Ekaladerhan, which is being purported as the progenitor of the Yoruba race.
44. The 31 Ogiso’s in the first dynasty all ruled in average of 28 years (excluding the 285 years of interregnum).
45. Prince Akennuzama rejected to be crowned as Oba of Benin instead asked the elders to crown his son Idova in his place because of his old age. Prince Idova was crowned as Oba Ewuakpe.
46. The monarch of Warri kingdom is an off shoot of the royal house of Benin kingdom founded by prince Iginuwa the Son of Oba Olua in the 15th century.
47. The Osemawe of Ondo was corrupted from Osemwughe, the Benin warrior who deserted Udo town, when there was war between Benin City and Udo town.
48. The word Ondo was corrupted from the town “Emwan N’Udo” (people of Udo town)
49. The world most famous mask Queen Idia mask was the face of FESTAC 77’ held in Lagos.
50. Ezomo is the last amongst the Uzama N’ihinron that was made hereditary by Oba Akenzua I.
51. The first Edaiken of Uselu is Crown prince Kuobuyuwa, son of Oba Ewuare I.
52. The word Benin was corrupted from Ubini by the Portuguese explorer meaning “a place of heavenly pageantry and prosperity”
53. Ohen Okun, Olokun priest of Ughoton is the first known Diplomat of Nigeria origin to Europe, who was sent as a Benin ambassador by Oba Esigie in the year 1526AD, hence the first man to be exposed to western education
54. Affonso .D. Aveiro is the first ambassador from Europe to Benin and first in Nigeria.
55. Olu Atuwatse (Dom Domingo) Son of Crown Prince Ginuwa and grand Son of Oba Olua who was sent to Portugal in 1601 for advanced studies by his Grandfather, the reigning Oba. He graduated from the University of Coimbra in 1611. He is the first person to obtain a European university degree in present day Nigeria. He later married the daughter of a Portuguese noble, Dona Feirs. Their son Antonio Domingo referred to in Benin History as the Golden Skinned king, succeeded him to the throne in 1643.
56. Oba Esigie is the first King in Africa to be baptized in the year 1504AD.in Benin.
57. Oba Ozolua N’Ibaromi was the father of Alani of Idoani, Olowo of Owo, Uguan of Ora and Eze of Aboh.
58. Oba Esigie created the title of Iyoba nu’Uselu (Queen Mother of Uselu).
59. The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180, 000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples … His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, in his capital – Olfert Dapper, description of Africa, 1668.
60. According to the Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era.
61. According to estimates by the New Scientists Fred pearce, Benin City’s walls were at one point “four times longer than the great wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”
62. Benin City is surrounded by massive walls dug by Oba Oguola in 13th century and Oba Ewuare I in the 15th century.
63. Great Wall of Benin extended for some 16,000km in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They covered 6, 500sq km and were all dug by the Edo people.
64. The Great wall of Benin took an estimated 150million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.
65. Benin City is the first City to have a semblance of street lighting in the world.
66. The Portuguese were the people who called our land “Great City of Benin” because they were astonished with what they saw that the Edo people achieved centuries before any major cities in the world.
67. 1n 1691, the Portuguese ship captain Lourenco Pinto observed: “Great Benin, where the king resides, is larger than Lisbon; all the streets run straight and as far as the eyes can see.
68. In ancient times there were no doors in Great Benin because it was so secure that the people didn’t bother about doors and windows.
69. The Benins are the best bronze casters (Igun – eronmwon) in the world.
70. In the golden age, Oba Ewuare I changed Benin into a city states from a military fortress built by Ogiso.
71. Two kings were installed without a crown, Ogiso Igodo (40BC-16AD) and Oba Oranmiyan (Odolorre) 1170-1200AD.
72. The present palace has been burnt down three times, Prince Ogun who later became Oba Ewuare I, Oba Ogbebo and lastly the British military fiasco.
73. The first palace in Benin Kingdom was located at Ugbekun quarters built by Ogiso Igodo in about 40-42BC.
74. The progenitor of the Benin race is known by the earliest Benin oral documentary as “PA IDU”
75. Great Benin is known as the cradle of Black civilization and the centre of the world (Edorisiagbon).
76. Igodomigodo was the former name for what we now call “Edo land”
77. The Benin were the first to use sophisticated weapons (guns) to fight war(Idah war) in the present day Nigeria in about 501 years ago (August, 1516), the war was led by Oba Esigie mother (Queen Idia).
78. No female King has ever ruled Benin kingdom across the Two dynasties, the purported female Ogiso Emose(584-600AD) and Orrorro(600-618AD) are male kings on coronation, took over their mothers name.
79. All Oba’s in Lagos(Eko) were all buried in their ancestral home (Benin City) until late 19th century, to further lay credence to that Oba Osemwende in 1834 instructed Idewu Ojulari, the Oba of Lagos to zegbele(kill himself) the instruction was, expectedly, complied with. The Lagos Oba complied by taking poison.
80. Prior to present day civilization/infrastructural developments, ten gates/ roads historically led into Benin City. They are: 1). Akpakpava (Ikpoba) Road 2). Irhuase (Ogba). 3). Imose (Sapele). 4). Okhoro Road 5). Ughoton Road 6). Udo Road 7). Ugbor Road 8). Uhunmwun Idunmwun Road 9). Uselu (Oyesunu) Road. 10). Utantan (Esokponba) Road.
81. Princess Edeleyo and Prince Kuoboyuwa are the only Edaiken in Benin History that was never crowned as the Oba of Benin.
82. The Oba’s of Benin starting from Ewuare I have a special body guards and police called Isienmwenro with an appellation of “Asaka no Soghionba” named so because of their swift justice system.
83. Ogiso Iredia created the morning salutation, which is unique to only the Benins world wide as a form of family identification system (FIS).
84. Laiso/Delaiso is the oldest morning greeting in Benin History.
85. Edo language belong to the Kwa – Negro language.
86. Oba Ovonramwen involved in the daily daily activities of his Kingdom while in Calabar through his magical telegraphic stool.
87. Ogiso Odoligie is the first recorded War king, who fought and conquered, Udo, Iguabode and Urhonigbe, through there he unified parts of independent places to be under the Sovereignty of Benin.
88. Ewuare is coined from the word “Oworuane” meaning it has cooled down.
89. In ancient time during the Ogiso Era, Benin Kings and wealthy Nobles used to go on a pilgrimage at a place called Uhe (not present day Ile-Ife) which is North East of Benin where Oghene’s altar built by Pa Idu (Progenitor of Benin/Edo race), whose guardian was often referred to in historical records as “the potentate of the interior”
90. The first and last king of Benin to visit Uhe on a pilgrimage was Ogiso Ere and Oba Ewuare I respectively.
91. The Benin equivalent of the Christian harvest is Emorho which was instituted during the Odionwere era, i.e. the era before Ogiso Igodo.
92. The Iwu body mark (modern tattoo) is the identity of the free born of the ancient Benin Empire.
93. The Iwu dress (Benin dress) was invented by Dr. Aisien Ekhaguosa.
94. The first Benin indigenous history writer is Chief Dr. J. U Egharevba he wrote the first book called “Ekhe re vbi itedo” published in 1933 and translated to English version by CMS press in 1934 “Short history of Benin”
95. Osagbaye is the first ritual festival started by the Benins.
96. Ughoton is the first known seaport established in West-Africa
97. The first prison built in Edo land post-colonial era was built in the exact same spot that Oba Ewedo built the Benin Kingdom prison in the year 1275A.D.
98. The names of the First wives of the Oba of Benin was formerly known as Enahen but now presently called Eson nerie.
99. The head of the prison built in the pre-colonial era by Oba Ewedo was Chief Erigbo
100. The first prison system established in present day West – Africa was in Benin Kingdom in the year 1275 A.D. because of the feat achieved by the Oba, EWEDO means “prison” in Edo.
Extract from the book “ANCIENT TOWN OF IGBEKHUE” Originally written by Imasuen Amowie Izoduwa.
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Wa hia Iselogbe!!!
Oba Gha To Kpere. Ise.
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