Ekaladerhan Set Up Ile-Ife

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Written by Naiwu Osahon ( Friday May 14, 2004) (Last Update June 17, 2021)

Historical accounts are vague as to when and if the Bini (Edo), migrated from the Nile valley. What is not in doubt is that the earliest rulers of Benin were called Ogisos.

Thirty one Ogisos in all ruled the kingdom of Benin between 900-1200 AD, which is the earliest period so far accounted for in Benin history.

The Bini monarchy demonstrates strong affinity with ancient Egyptian gods and Pharaohs.
The Bini version is that in the beginning there was no land only water everywhere. In the middle of the water stood a tree on top of which lived (Owonwon), the toucan. Osanobua (The Creator) decided to populate the world. The Creator sent three sons, each with a choice of a peculiar gift.

One of the three Sons chose to have wealth and the next chose magical skills. As the youngest was about to make his choice known, Owonwon cried out to him to settle for a snail shell. This he did.

Osanobua then came down on a chain, from the sky, to demarcate the earth and allocate responsibilities. Osanobua appointed the youngest son as ruler of the earth. The son called the earth (Agbon) and promptly set up his headquarters at Igodomigodo.

The oldest son was given control of the waters by Osanobua. The other son was allowed freedom to use his magical powers to balance out the negative and positive forces of nature,

The youngest son, the ruler of the earth represents innocence and so is susceptible to the powers of the other deities,

The Ogisos (meaning rulers of the sky) because of their direct lineage to the youngest son of Osanobua (God) from the sky were of course, accorded divine qualities by the Bini. Because the kings (Ogisos) of Bini are considered divine, they are worshiped by their subjects who speak to them always with great reverence, at a distance and on bended knees.

The first Ogiso king was called Ogiso Igodo and his kingdom Igodomigodo was at Ugbekun. Ogiso Igodo’s successor, Ogiso Ere transferred the capital from Ugbekun to Uhudumwun.

Ogiso Ere was succeeded by Ogiso Orire. The fourth dynasty on the death of Orire introduced the system of gerontocracy, until the death of the twenty second Ogiso when the primogeniture system was restored. The twenty-third Ogiso extended the primogeniture rule to all his frontline chiefs known collectively as the Editon (Elders).

The last of the Ogiso kings was called Owodo. He reigned in the 12th century A.D and has only one child (a male) despite having many wives. In attempt to unravel the cause of his wives barrenness, he sent his first wife Esagho and three male messengers to consult an oracle. The oracle named Esagho as the cause. To avoid the wrath and punishment of the king, Esagho threatened to lie to the king that the male messengers had carnal relationship with her (an act carrying death penalty), if they revealed the oracles declaration. The messengers, in connivance with Esagho told the king that the oracle fingered his only son, Ekhaladerhan as the cause of his wives bareness and that Prince Ekhaladerhan had to be killed to reverse the situation.

The king, angered by the development but reluctant to take the life of his only child, banished Ekhaladerhan and his mother to a place called Ughoton on the outskirts of Igodomigodo kingdom. Three years after the banishment, Owodo’s wives were still barren, so he sent another set of messengers to the oracle. It was then that the truth about Esagho’s treachery was revealed. Esagho was executed as punishment and still the king’s wives remained barren.

However, Ogiso Owodo, was not a very popular king and his execution of a pregnant woman for some misdemeanor, proved to be one offence too many for his subjects. Frontline chiefs banished Owodo from this throne. Owodo took refuge at a place called Uhinwinrin, where he died miserably a few years later.

The death of Ogiso Owodo created leadership vacuum for the first time in Igodomigodo’s history. It was during this period of confusion that the elders, known as Edionisen, including Chiefs Edohen, Ero and led by Oliha mounted a search for their banished Prince Ekaladerhan.

In the meantime, Ekaladerhan had set up a settlement he called Ilefe, (meaning successful escape) and had changed his name to Izoduwa, (meaning I have chosen the path of prosperity).

Izoduwa’s new home, ‘Ilefe’ was in the heart of Yoruba land and because of his immense magic powers, and he soon endeared himself to his Yoruba community which included some Uzebu persons (corrupted in Yoruba to Ijebu) who had followed him into exile from. Igodomigodo, and were treating him as a god. The Yoruba corrupted his name Izoduwa to ‘Oduduwa’ and his camp, ‘Ilefe’ to ‘IleIfe.

Oduduwa became the spiritual leader of the Ifa divinity. The Yoruba (who call The Creator, Olodumare), saw Oduduwa as a direct descendant, which he claimed as a result of his Godson lineage, although his banishment link with the God-sons (Ogisos) was kept a secret from the Yoruba. In fact, the Yoruba believed he was a deity from the sky as he claimed and accorded him great reverence as their leading ancestor.

Oduduwa subsequently had eight children who later dispersed to found and rule other Yoruba communities.

Oduduwa’s first son was by a Yoruba woman called Onabi. The son was called ‘Omonoyan, (meaning precious child in Bini) which the Yoruba corrupted to “Oranmiyan”

When the Edionisien of Igodomigodo finally traced Ekaladerhan (Oduduwa) down to (Ilefe) Ile-Ife, they could not persuade Oduduwa to return to his father’s throne in Igodomigodo. The Edionisen, out of frustration for not being able to persuade Izoduwa to return home to his throne, installed Evian, the hero as a temporary administrator, to oversee the affairs of Igodomigodo.

Evian was a popular administrator. He ruled until a very old age and before his death, nominated his oldest son, Irebor to succeed him. Most of the people of Igodomigodo and senior chiefs would not like this. They rejected Irebor on the ground that his father Evian was not an Ogiso and, therefore, lacked divine authority to bequeath kingship (Ogieship) to his heir

Leadership vacuum was again created in Igodomigodo and after a period of uncertainly, the Edionisen decided to once again reach out to their son, Izoduwa, who had by then acquired the Yoruba title of ‘Ooni’. After much pleading by the Edionisen, for the Ooni to allow his first son to ascend to the throne of Igodomigodo, the Ooni decided to put the people of Igodomigodo to a test. He gave the Edionisen some lice and mistrusted them to bring them back in three years to get their answer.

Chief Oliha kept the lice in the hair of one of their slaves and after three years returned the lice to Izoduwa who was surprised at the level of preservation and development of the lice. Izoduwa (Oduduwa) concluded that if the Edionisen could so adequately take care of the lice, his son was likely to be in good hands.

In the meantime, Irebor was warning the people of Igodomigodo against what he called (Ogie a mien, Aimmein Oba), meaning “it is an Ogie that rules Igodomigodo and not an Oba,” in protest against the intrusion of the Ife Prince. The word Ogiamien then became the nickname of Irebor.
Ogiamien Irebor prevented Prince Oranmiyan from entering the heart of Igodomigodo kingdom. The people of Igodomigodo built a palace for Prince Oranmiyan at Usama. Prince Oranmiyan, unable to bear the challenges for very long, renounced his office and called Igodomigodo land, Ile Ibinu (meaning a land of annoyance and vexation). He declared that only a child of the soil, educated in the culture and traditions of Igodomigodo could rule the kingdom.

Prince Oranmiyan, on his way home to Ife, stopped briefly at Egor, where he pregnated Princess Erimwinde, the daughter of the Enogie of Ego’s Princess Erimwinde’s casual encounter with Prince Oranmiyan resulted in the birth of a baby boy who couldn’t talk in his early years but loved playing the game of marble.

When Oranmiyan, who had in the meantime established his Alafin dynasty in Oyo was informed about, is son’s predicament, he sent the child’s mother seven marbles. While playing with the marbles and other children one of his throws hit the target and in the excitement screamed: Owomika, (meaning I hit the target). This is how his title of Oba Eweka was derived and he ruled over Usama renamed lle-       Ibinu outside Igodomigodo in the meantime, Ogiamien Irebor who ruled Igodomigodo had been succeeded by Ogiamien Ubi by the time of Oba Eweka’s reign in lle-Ibinu.
Oba Eweka’s reign was not particularly eventful; He was succeeded by Oba Ewuahen, Oba Ehenmnihen and the Ewedo. Oba Ewedo changed the name of Ile-Ibinu, which the Portuguese corrupted to Benin or Bini. The Benin kingdom extended in the West to Lagos, where the Binis set up a military camp of occupation which they called Eko, in the North-East to Ekiti, Owo, Ondo, most of present Delta state and all of the North-west up to the River Niger.
The kings of Benin from the reign of Ewuare the great until the 17th  century AD were Ezoti, followed by Olua, Ozolua, Esigie, Orhogbua, Ehengbuda, Ohuan, Ahenzae, Akenzae, Akengboi, Akenkpaye, Akengbedo, Ore-Oghene, Ewuakpe and Ozuere.

The current king of this great African kingdom and one of the most vibrant, colourful and enlightened in the history of the world, is Oba Ewuare II, Uku AkpoloKpolo, the Omo N’Oba N’Edo.

(Source: Daily Independent, Friday May 14, 2004)

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