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Oba Ewedo (1255-1280 CE)
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Written By Osahon Naiwu

Oba Ewedo, succeeded Oba Ehenmihe. He changed the name Ile-Ibinu to Ubini and moved his palace from Usama to its original Ogiso site in the heart of Igodomigodo. The relocation of the palace site from Usama to the urban heart of the kingdom caused a bitter war between Oba Ewedo of Ubini and the Ogieamie Ode who was the ruler of Igodomigodo at the time. The fight was considered purely a family matter by the people of Igodomigodo and the Edion´isen. To prevent it leading to the loss of too many innocent lives, the Edion´isen prevailed on the adversaries to settle their quarrel amicably. Oba Ewedo requested Ogieamie Ode to sell Igodomigodo land to him. A treaty was struck requiring Ogieamie, as the traditional landlord of Igodomigodo kingdom, to sell Igodomigodo land to the Oba at the coronation of every successive Oba. The Oba elect first had to present gifts to the Ogieamie, which include two
male and two female servants, a royal stool, a wooden staff, a rectangular stool and a round leather box.

The Oba-in-waiting and the Ogieamie would then meet at their common boundary called ´Ekiokpagha,´ where the Ogieamie would take sand from the ground and put it in the hand of the Oba and say: “I have sold this part of Benin land to you but not to your son and when you pass away your son will buy the land from me as you have done.” The Ogieamie´s dormain in Benin kingdom is known as Utantan where he has chiefs assisting him in his traditional duties. The present Ogieamie of Utantan-Benin is Ogieamie Osarobo Okuonghae, a graduate of history from the University of Benin.

The relocation by Oba Ewedo to the heart of his kingdom, Ubini, also created immense difficulties for the Ihogbe. The three chiefs, who supervised the birth of Eweka, became known as the Ihogbe (meaning relatives of the Oba). Ihama and Letema titles became hereditary because the two chiefs had male heirs. Legema did not have a male child, so his title became non-hereditary. In the Ihogbe, the idea that the oldest man becomes the leader does not apply. Leadership is determined by the rule of who has served the longest as an Ihogbe, regardless of age. Such a person becomes the Enila before the title becomes vacant through death of the occupier when the Enila takes over as the new Owere Enila or Odionwere or Okaegbee of the Ihogbe. The Ihogbe, as the official family of Eweka and, therefore, of the Oba dynasty generally, has the responsibility of taking care of the ancestral or royal shrine at Usama. The Okaegbee of Ihogbe, in particular, performs sanctification and purification rites frequently at the palace and officiates during the Oba´s propitiation ceremonies. The Okaegbee Ihogbe, who usually was not a young man, could handle palace responsibilities when the Oba´s palace at Usama Ubini was within a walking distance of less than 500 meters from the Ihogbe´ s ´Ukhurhe´ ancestral shrine.

The journey to the new palace site was perilous, long and messy, even for a young man. It traversed a walk during the dry season, through an extensive marshland created by the crossing of each other of rivers Omi and Oteghele at Isekherhe. The rivers are now extinct. During the rains at the time, Ediagbonya, the second son of Okaegbee Ihama of the Ihogbe, made a living ferrying people and goods across the river in his canoe. Okaegbee Ihama´s first son could not be relocated to the heart of Ubini because he was the custodian heir of the Ukhurhe, the totem representing the royal ancestral spirits at Usama. Ediagbonya, the second son, was relocated to Ubini, to take over palace ancestral responsibilities, with the title of Isekhurhe. He built his house at Utantan High Street not far from Ewedo´s new palace. Isekhurhe is a hereditary title, and the current holder is a graduate of American Universities. He succeeded to his father´s title in 1981 at the age of 30 years.

The Esogban title, created by Oba Ewedo, may have been derived from the Yoruba word, Asogbon, meaning the source of wise counsel. Oba Ewedo spent some time in the Yoruba riverine area of Ugbo/Ilaje as a young man. Esogban ranks second in hierarchy to the Iyase who is the prime minister of the kingdom. Esogban heads the ´Think Tank´ that weighs options for the Oba, so he is usually a man of sound and reliable judgment and often a blood relative of the Oba. As the premier mystic or warlock of the kingdom, the Esogban monitors activities in the mystical realm, and people accused of sorcery are regulated and punished by him. He is also the priest of the Orhie day, the second week-day of the kingdom after the Eken rest day. He tends the day to ensure it brings peace and prosperity to the Oba and the land.

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