Eweka Dynasty

Members of Eweka dynasty depicted in this Benin Lead Brass sculpture
Benin Lead Brass sculptures often depicting royalty were carted away to the UK after the expediture which ended the independence of the kingdom in 1897. Photo: The Economist v. ALAMY

 
Oba Eweka (1200AD-1235AD) After the banishment of Owodo; the last Ogiso under the Ogiso Dynasty Oduduwa sent his son to Benin to rule the kingdom. The only area of departure is that the Benin people believe Oduduwa was their own Ikaladerhan who migrated to become monarch in Ile-Ife. It was believed that Oranmiyan (Oromiyan in Benin language), got to Benin in 1170 AD. He was said to have named Benin as Ule Ibinu. Unable to speak the Benin dialet, a gulf existed between him and the people. Thus, the reality dawned on him that only someone who understood the culture could pilot the affairs of the town. His son, Eweka I, was the first oba to rule the kingdom with the assistance of his maternal grandfather, Ogiegor. Oba Eweka reigned for 35 years. At his demise, his other children ruled in succession. They were Oba: Uwakhuanhen (About 1235AD-1243AD) and Oba Ehenmihen (About 1243AD- 1255AD).
 
Oba Ewedo (1255AD-1280AD) Prince Efabo ascended the throne after the death of his father with the title Oba Ewedo. He was the fourth oba. His brothers ruled with the support of elders called Edion or Uzama. But, he fought them to a stand-still when they sought to equate their status to that of the monarch.

 

Oba Oguola (1280AD-1295AD) The successor to Ewedo would have been Prince Obuobu. But, he went to Iboland to fight war. In his absence, his brother was crowned with the title Oba Oguola. He was the fifth oba. According to historians, he dug the first and second moats to fortify the city from invaders from Udo. He further decreed that important towns and villages should build similar moats as defense systems around their communities
 
Oba Oguola (c. 1295AD-1299AD) was succeeded by Edoni whose reign was uneventful.
 
Oba Udagbedo (1299AD-1334AD) He was the seventh ruler. Udagbedo ascended the throne after the death of his brother, Edoni. Udagbe do was industrious brave and kind- The 11th king usurped the throne of Benin kingdom in place of his senior brother, Prince Ogun, who was the heir apparent. Elis exiled senior brother murdered, him during night ceremonial performance at Oba’s market.
 
Oba Ewuare The Great (1440-1473) According to historians, he was the most revered, dynamic, innovative and successful monarch who transformed the Benin kingdom, politically, socially, and religiously. He changed the kingdom’s name from Ibinu to Edo as a reward to a young man called Edo who saved his life. The first contact with any European was made by Oba Ewuare when Ruy De Sequeira visited Benin City in 1472. He encouraged the carving of Ivory.
 
Oba Ezoti (1473-1473) Died from Injury one sustained from a poisoned arrow fired by an assassin during his coronation. After his death, Prince Okpame, his younger brother was sent to Esi, a town outside Benin City, to being Owere, the heir apparent, to be crowned the Oba. On their way to Benin City, Okpame murdered Owere. Okpame was later banished.
 
Oba Olua (1473-1480) Olua was the second son of Oba Ewuare. He was afraid that Okpame, who fled to Ora, would kill him. His sister, Princess Edeloyo, was asked to ascend the throne. She received the title of Edaiken, a title given to all heirs apparent before their ascension to the throne. She fell sick. As a result, the Uzamas (king makers) and Eghaevbo (executive council) enacted a law permanently prohibiting women from becoming king in ancient Benin Kingdom. Olua was eventually crowned the Oba of Benin after much persuasion.
 
Oba Ozolua (1481-1504) After the death of Olua without a dear successor, he was succeeded by Okpame. He fought wars to save the kingdom.
 
Oba Esigie (1504-1550) Prince Osawe ascended the throne with the title Oba Esigie, after the Eower struggle between him and his brother,  Aruanran.
 
Oba Orhogbua (1550-1578) He was educated under the Portuguese educational system. Efe expanded the empire to Eko and Badagry. He enacted the monarchical rule in those places and appointed his own representatives to rule them. He installed the first Oba of Lagos. He introduced the European type cooking salt to Benin kingdom.
 
Oba Ehengbuda (1578-1606) Oba Ehengbuda was the first Oba to be visited by English explorers while on the throne. The boundary of Benin Empire and Oyo Empire was set at Otun Ekiti during his reign after many wars were fought between the two empires.
 
Oba Ohuan (1606-1641) Prince Odogbo ascended the throne with the title Oba Ohuan. He died childless.
 
Oba Ahenzae (1641-1661) Since Ohuan died without a successor, the Eweka I lineage ended. Benin kingdom was in a renewed turmoil and nightmare because of the struggle for power.
 
NATION October 16, 2016

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