List of Obas of the Benin Empire (1180-present)

List of Obas of the Benin Empire (1180-present)

Pre-Imperial Obas of Benin (1180-1440)

Obas of the Benin Empire (1440-1897)

-  Ewuare the Great (1440–1473)
 Ezoti (1473–1475)
 Olua (1475–1480)
 Ozolua (1480–1504)
 Esigie (1504–1547)
 Orhogbua (1547–1580)
 Ehengbuda (1580–1602)
 Ohuan (1602–1656)
 Ohenzae (1656–1661)
 Akenzae (1661–1669)
 Akengboi (1669–1675)
 Akenkpaye (1675–1684)
 Akengbedo (1684–1689)
 Ore-Oghene (1689–1701)
 Ewuakpe (1701–1712)
 Ozuere (1712–1713)
 Akenzua I (1713–1740)
 Eresoyen (1740–1750)
 Akengbuda (1750–1804)
 Obanosa (1804–1816)
 Ogbebo (1816)
 Osemwende (1816–1848)
 Adolo (1848–1888)
 Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888–1914) (exiled to Calabar by the British in 1897)

 

Post-Imperial Obas of Benin (1914-Present)

 Eweka II (1914–1933)
 Akenzua II (1933–1978)
 Erediauwa I (1979–present)

 

Erediauwa I (1979–present)

Some of the families of the Royal Benin Empire live elsewhere in the world through Europe, The United States, and Africa.

 

Footnotes== Encyclopedia Britannica [1] Ewuare the Great

 

Oba of Benin

An Oba of Benin from the late 17th century

 

The Oba of Benin, or Omo N'Oba, is the oba or king of the Edo people or Benin Kingdom, the current capital is Benin City in modern day Nigeria, from 1180 until 1897. The title of 'oba' means king or ruler. The Edo or Benin homeland (not to be confused with the modern day country of the Republic of Benin, formerly known as Dahomey), has and continues to be most significantly populated by the Edo (also referred to as Bini or Benin ethnic group). The title of 'oba' was created by Oba Eweka the Great to mean symbolically king or ruler. Oba Eweka I was the kingdom's first 'Oba'. The current capital is Benin City in modern day Nigeria. The name "Benin" is a Portuguese corruption of the Itsekhiri's "Ubinu", which came into use in the 1400s during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great. The Itsekhiri's "Ubinu" was used to describe the royal administrative centre or city or capital proper of the kingdom and was later corrupted to Bini by the mixed ethnicities living together at the centre; and further corrupted to "Benin" around 1485 when the Portuguese began trade relations with Oba Ewuare.

 

In 1897, the British 'Punitive Expedition' (see Benin Expedition of 1897) sacked Benin City and exiled Oba Ovonramwen, taking control of the area in order to establish the British colony of Nigeria. The expedition was mounted to avenge the killing of an official British delegation in 1896. The expedition consisted of indigenous soldiers and British officers. To cover the cost of the expedition, the Benin royal art was auctioned off by the British. The Oba was captured and eventually exiled until his death in 1914.

According to oral tradition, the first dynasty of the Edo or Benin Kingdom was the Ogi-Suo or Ogiso dynasty. The second 'Oba' dynasty was founded by Oranyan (also known as Oranmiyan), a prince from the Yoruba Kingdom of Ife in modern-day Nigeria. His son Eweka I became the first Oba. The present Oba, Erediauwa I, is the 39th Oba of the dynasty.

 

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 Ifá 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" Yoruba) and later received the title of Ooni of Ife.

 

He changed his name to 'Izoduwa', (which in his native language Edo language means, "I have chosen the path of prosperity"). The name Izoduwa has been corrupted to Oduduwa, also known as Odudua, Oòdua 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.

 

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 Yoruba land before establishing a Yoruba kingdom at Oyo. It is said that he left the place in anger and called it 'Ile Ibinu' (meaning, 'land of annoyance and veexation)and it was this phrase that that became the origin of Benin city's former name 'Ubini'. Oranmiyan, on his way home to Ife, stopped briefly at Ego, where he pregnated Princess Erimwinde, the daughter of the Enogie of Ego and she gave birth to a son named Eweka.

 

During Oba Oramiyan 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[1], 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.

 

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Oba of Benin's power was at its peak and different monarchs of the dynasty controlled significant stretches of land in Africa. During this era, exquisite naturalistic bronze art was created to enhance and embody the power of the Oba. The art often depicted the ancestors in order to establish legitimacy. Formally, only Obas of Benin were allowed to own the famous bronze heads of Benin.

 

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