BENIN HEROINES IN HISTORY By Paul Osa Igbineweka
Queen Idusogie: Mother of Ogiso Ere, The Great who reigned in the 10th Century. Idusogie was reputed as a reconciliation strategist blessed with the spirit of marriaging divergences.
Queen Ometo: Mother of Ekaladerhan (12th century) was an epitome of resilience in bearing long suffering and lessons of loyalty. She was nicknamed, Arukhọ, as opposite of Amwẹebọ , Esagho was Amwẹebọ to Ogiso Owodo, just as Ọmeto was Arukhọ because she became the envy of other wives of Ogiso Owodo for having a male child in the harem. She was loyal and endured the persecution and execution, which she never knew had turned out to be banishment of her son, by the executioners, who spared her son on account of earlier kindness of Queen Ọmeto toward the executioners.
Ọkhẹn (Trader) Emotan: (1340-1440) She was an epitome of simplicity, industrious, kindness, and love. Though childless, she ran, perhaps the first ever day care center opposite Oba market where she lived and traded. For her strategic role in nation building during the reign of Ọba Ẹwuare The Great (1440-1473) she was declared the "Soul of the Benin Nation" on 20th of May, 1954 by Ọba Akenzua II. Native of Eyaẹn, with a maiden name: Uwaraye, but was named Emitan (Emotan) by her husband because of her role as a crèche for taking care of the children of others and would not have time for home chores.
Queen Idia: (1455-1535) Queen mother of Ọba Ẹsigie (1504-1550), she is easily the most famous. Often referred to as the power behind the throne, she was a very astute political and military strategist. Her most remarkable exploit was her role in the Benin - Idah war (1515 - 1516). But for her courage Benin might have suffered defeat in that war that got to the outskirts of the city. She is fondly remembered for her courage, bravery, loyalty and patriotism.
Queen Ewere: Queen Ẹwerẹ "acted humbly, respectful, and honourably. Peace, love, concord. Good health and prosperity prevailed in the harem and the whole palace. The Ọba Ẹwuare The Great (1440 - 1473), the women and the maids in the harem therefore loved Ẹwerẹ more than any being on earth. Ẹwerẹ was beauty personified. Yet, she was full of humility and respect. Till date, the name "Ẹwerẹ" connotes joy, festivity, fortune, peace, honour, love happiness, prosperity and good luck. No wonder Benins' wish for a safe and joyous trip is "Okhian- Ẹwerẹ".
Queen Idẹn: Fondly referred to as "Idẹn N'Okpo Okhuo" - Idẹn The Great Woman. She was a loyal and courageous wife of Oba Ẹwuakpẹ (1712-1713) who offered herself as a sacrificial lamb to avoid the disintegration of the Empire Kingdom. She became "a martyr of love and a woman of all seasons" To this of Idẹn, Prof. Iro Ẹwẹka gave a hint to Idẹn's tenderness and love; "Idẹn held him (Ọba Ẹwuakpẹ) close to her chest and rocked him as any Ẹdo Woman would rock her whimpering baby".
Queen Ede: Mother of Ọba Eresọyẹn (1735-1750), very industrious, she was extremely wealthy; she built a "house of money" - Owa-igho, with cowries - the currency of the era.
Queen Ọmọzogie: Mother of Ọba Ọsemwẹdẹ (1816-1848), she was "a defensive royalist and most girded for crisis management."
Princess Aghayubini: She was the daughter of Ọba Ọsemwẹdẹ and was renowned for her riches and influence. She placed these at the disposal of her brother Ọba Adọlọ (1848-1888) to gain the throne by her generosity.
Princess Evbakhavbokun: She was the eldest daughter of Ọba Ovonranmwẹn (1888 - 1897) who was renowned for her great riches and her many servants/slaves. She displayed love and affection, especially during the trying periods of her father, Ọba Ovonranmwẹn (1897 - 1914).
Paul Osa Igbineweka
@ Benin Cultural Heritage Centre (BCHC) (2010).