Kingdom of Benin - Wikipedia
The Yoruba kingdoms of Benin and Ife sprang up between the 11th and 12th centuries. that the Oba of Benin stool had no relationship with the Yoruba people. whose traditions were manipulated to political advantage by the oni . The Guinness Book of Records ( edition) described the walls of. The special relationship between Yoruba and Benin obas, not unlike . in African Political Culture”, Ali Mazrui describes in the context of the. about the relationship between the various states of the southern accepted the view that early Portuguese texts describing the kingdom I will also attempt to explain the way in which .. developed in Benin after , the Yoruba traditions of origin can change over time to reflect changing political conditions or status.
When Evian was stricken by old age he nominated his eldest son, Ogiemwen as his successor, but the people refused him. They said he was not the Ogiso and they could not accept his son as his successor, because as he himself knew, it had been arranged to set up a republican form of government. This he was now selfishly trying to alter. While this was still in dispute the people indignantly sent an ambassador to the Ooni Oduduwa, the great and wisest ruler of Ife, asking him to send one of his sons to be their ruler, for things were getting from bad to worse and the people saw that there was need for a capable ruler.
Putting aside for now the historical nuances in the reasons for the invitation to Ife, there can be no doubt whatsoever of the people's role in terminating the Ogiso dynasty and in launching, by their election, of a new dynasty that began with Eweka I, the royal reward of the people's efforts to govern their affairs effectively.
Let me now turn to the second principle of Benin history which, I claim, has made Benin history and culture what they are. It may be stated as follows: Dynastic struggle between the Ruling House of Eweka and the defeated House of Ogiso has had the intended and unintended consequences of consolidating and greatly expanding the small state that the House of Ogiso experimented with and built in the course of many centuries.
In exploring this region of Benin history, we are approaching a line behind which it is not historically responsible to talk about authoritatively. Indeed, our knowledge of the era of the Ogisos is murky for two principal reasons. First, dynastic struggles in world history include a determination by the succeeding dynasties to diminish and control the knowledge of the events of the dynasties that are being overtaken. This has been the case in Benin history. Second, the historical events of the Ogiso era occurred in relative isolation, at a time when the people of these lands did not have much contact with outsiders.
One reason why historians have been able to talk with privileged authority about the later dates of Benin history, under the dynasty of the Obas, is that its events can be measured in time against outside incidents.
The arrival and activities of Europeans in our region in the later half of the fifteenth century had opened up the historically pristine political territories of what historians have labelled the forest states of West Africa see Connah [ edition: Having stated these two principles of Benin history in more or less general terms, let me now move on to discuss each of them in the context of the events of Benin history. I will handle them in reverse order.
Historical scholarship can shed some light on a great deal of the events of the prehistoric era from various sources, provided we are modest enough to admit that we are reconstructing probable events from a period about which there are no clear records.
Unfortunately, two fallacies have beclouded the studies of prehistoric portions of our existence in Nigerian history.
In order to render a responsible and truly probable interpretation of the Ogisos and their times, it is necessary to comment on, and then correct, these two fallacies in Nigerian scholarship. First, Nigerian historiography is infested with what I would like to label as the fallacy of the regal origins of societies and cultures.
It is the false assumption that societies and cultures have grown from kingdoms that were built by immigrant princes. This habitude and preoccupation with kingdoms as sources of cultures and societies probably began with the Reverend Samuel Johnson's tortured acceptance of the view that Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba, was a fugitive prince who fled religious persecution from Muslim devotees in Arabia.
In his famous The History of the Yorubas, Johnson initially rejected any suggestion that the Yoruba were Arabians in their origin: The Yoruba are certainly not of the Arabian family, and could not have come from Mecca -- that is to say the Mecca universally known in history, and no such accounts. The result has been imitation of migration stories in other areas of Nigeria, ignoring traditions of origins of our people that do not incorporate migrations from distant places.
For example, Robin Law, the British historian who is an authority on Oyo, has noted the existence of other traditions of Yoruba origins, which have apparently been ignored: There should be little doubt that the original intention of these fabulous migration stories was to establish the specious point that all Nigerians were after all migrants, as the Fulani overlords of the Sokoto Caliphate undeniably were, and that rival groups like the Yoruba and the Edo had no superior indigenous claims to their own lands.
When compared to the age of human existence on the African continent, Mecca and Islam, and indeed Christianity, are late instances of human history. Such knowledge does not seem to hinder this type of improbable mythology dressed up as respectable prehistory. Mohammed was born in C. He died in C. Seven years later, in C. Since then, there are clear records of the movements of Arabs in Africa. None contains any mention of this fantastic connection between Yorubaland and Arabia.
This distortion is a troubling aspect of our scholarship because it insults our claim to be some of the oldest humans on earth. The fallacy of the regal origins of societies and cultures seems to have influenced some students of Benin history to assume that the Ogisos founded the societies which they then ruled.
Such land has retrospectively been named after the first Ogiso as Igodomigodo see OronsayeBradbury However, it is much more probable that the Ogiso dynasty arose from clan and village societies that were already in existence for thousands of years. That would not make their accomplishments smaller. Bringing various clans and villages under the control of a ruling family must have been a major challenge for the Ogisos, a challenge that they seemed to have met magnificently until the mismanagement of their own successes overthrew their long era of dominance.
Our region of humankind is not young, certainly not as young as the last two millennia within which the House of Ogiso built their kingdom. We must acknowledge the contribution of these village and clan communities in the evolution of what eventually became the Kingdom of Benin. It is to their credit that out of the numerous indigenous communities that existed for tens of thousands of years in our corner of humanity, it was their culture that began the process of state building which mushroomed into a powerful kingdom many centuries later.
A second troubling fallacy in Nigerian historiography, which affects our appreciation of the Ogisos and their times, is what Professor Reinhard Bendix from the University of California, Berkeley, many years ago labelled as the fallacy of retrospective determinism.
It surfaces in the assumption that the themes and features that characterize our modern societies and history also applied in ancient times. In effect, this fallacy is the process of falsely levelling our history backwards into antiquity. I will give an example from within our subject matter. One of the great achievements of the kings in the House of Eweka is the founding of the City of Benin, which then nurtured an urban ethos among the Benin.
Some historians of Benin seem to imply that the Ogisos did the same thing. Actually, not all dynasties build cities and there is no evidence that the Ogisos built one.
Certainly, their contemporaries did not seem to be as urban as modern Benins have become. Aware of the dangers in these two fallacies, let us now explore the Ogisos and their times. What type of kings were the Ogisos and what type of societies did they preside over? Here our exploration must take the route of discovering the distant past from their reconstructed refractions in our own existence.
But understanding that the Ogisos, like the Stuarts of English history, have sometimes been maligned in Benin folkways, we will need the help of other fragments of the culture that the Ogisos influenced in their times. Just consider the appearances of the Ogisos in Benin and Urhobo folktales. In Isidore Okpewho's comprehensive and scholarly study of Benin folklore, there is a Benin folktale concerning the Ogiso, which ends as follows: Ogiso goes back on his word.
Whereupon heaven and earth threaten to convulse the nation, forcing the Ogiso to capitulate. But such treatment of Ogisos in Benin folktales would be thoroughly baffling, probably annoying, to the Urhobo. In Urhobo folktales, the Ogiso has a different imagery. The Urhobo, even modern educated Urhobo, have not studied Benin monarchy in the way that it has understandably occupied the Benin.
But the Ogiso was the King whom the Urhobo know and understand thoroughly. The Ogisos were ruling when many communities left these lands, which later became known as Benin, to sojourn southeastwards to establish new communities or else to join indigenous people who were already established in the western Niger Delta.
In doing so, they took away fragments of the culture that was in existence at the time of the Ogisos. It is difficult to estimate what centuries these were. But it was most probable that these migrations were serial. Rather than taking place in one fell swoop, they probably covered a course of several centuries in the first millennium of the Christian calendar.
Urhobo understanding of kingship was shaped by the political culture that was in existence at the time of the Ogisos. It included a complex imagery of the Ogisos in Urhobo folklore. That composite picture was of a king who was most argumentative.
He had a troublesome first wife, Inarhe, who would not brook much from the demands of the Ogiso. Ogiso could be harsh in his ways, but he clearly attended to the needs of ordinary people, including the proverbial yaws-infested man, okpufi, whose needs could not be neglected in the society in which Ogiso was king.
Urhobo language yields clues to the profile of the society and culture which the Ogisos ruled. To begin with, the Urhobo know this king by his straightforward name, Ogiso, without any other titles.
He was their king. Of course, Urhobo language does not contain the word Benin. Nor does it have Edo. Benin and Edo were names that were introduced by Ogiso's powerful successors into the culture that the Ogiso once ruled.
By the time these words of Benin and Edo, by which the culture is now known, were introduced in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Urhobo had left these lands. If any of the Ogisos were to be called back from the Great Beyond to our modern world, they would be baffled by these new names. They were not there in their times.
The reawakened Ogisos would probably understand the Urhobo word for Benin, namely Aka, and might well understand the word Uhobo by which modern Benins know the Urhobo. But the resurrected Ogisos would not be aware that the lands they once ruled are now known by the names Benin and Edo. They might be lost in complex Oredo, the City of Benin, which was built long after they left the scene.
According to Urhobo folklore, Udo would be the town that the Ogisos would know well. There is little doubt that the shades of the Ogisos would be much more comfortable among the modern Urhobo than with the modern Benin. There certainly would be greater mutual respect and understanding between the Urhobo and the shades of the Ogisos than anything the Ogisos could expect from modern Benin.
Any of the Ogisos might also have difficulties understanding modern Benin language. A language changes over time, especially when a new powerful dynasty emerges in its society.
Just consider the vast changes from the English of Chaucer's era in the 14th century to the English language spoken nowadays -- a bare separation of some seven centuries, certainly less than what separates us from the Ogiso times.
There is always a temptation to assume that any language has remained constant over centuries. But languages do change. Let me illustrate this aspect of probable changes in the language spoken at the time of the Ogisos and modern Benin. It is well known that Urhobo shares a host of words with Benin, because the two cultures were joined by their common experiences of the culture over which the Ogisos presided. But it would be a mistake to assume that the meanings of all of these common words have come from the times of the Ogisos.
Take the word ohwo plural ihwo. It is common to Urhobo and Benin as well as Ishan. But what does ohwo mean in these languages? In Benin and Ishan, ohwo means woman. In Urhobo, ohwo means human being.
Obviously, the two usages are related. Which of these was in use in Ogiso's times? I rather suspect that the Ogiso usage of this word would be closer to its Urhobo meaning.
I say so because there is a pattern in cultural migrations that favours immobilities in fragments of a master culture that have undergone migration to other climes, while changes tend to be much more profound in its original habitat.
As Louis Hartz put it somewhere else, modern French is spoken in Paris, but in Canada's Quebec an 18th century version of the French language is spoken. By far the more manifest refractions of Ogiso times in modern Urhobo is in its organization of society and culture. Despite the geographical and cultural proximity between Benin and Urhobo, there are deep-seated differences in the cultural organization of these fragments of what has been called Edoid complex of cultures. Urhobo is certainly segmented into smaller cultural groupings that are all linked together into the Urhobo cultural whole.
Each of these constitutive cultural groupings is organically linked to the wholeness of Urhobo culture. None of them would feel complete without their linkage to the whole of Urhobo culture. But none of them would feel whole without their singular distinction in the wider framework of Urhobo culture. By contrast, clan identities are minuscule in Benin culture.
If there is one area in cultural organization where modern Benin can claim a uniqueness, it is in the fact that kinship organizations are weak in Benin culture and society as compared to its significant neighbours, Urhobo and Yoruba. With respect to a comparison between Yoruba and Benin, the British anthropologist R. Bradbury has noted the "absence of large lineages with continuing rights in offices" in Benin culture, in contrast to the Yoruba where they are abundant Bradbury We may therefore ask the following question: Was the political organization of these lands during Ogiso times more like those in Urhobo land or were they closer to the centralized political system, which is relatively free of strong subcultural loyalties, that has come to distinguish Benin political organization?
I would suggest that the Ogiso political system was closer to the Urhobo pattern. The Urhobo, in all probability, took away with them the pattern of clan organization in place under the Ogisos, while the Benin experienced important transformations under the succeeding dynasty of the House of Eweka.
In the cultural sphere, the elementary society of villages and clans that existed under the Ogisos were transformed into a city-centered culture. There is need to characterize what this means, lest it be confused with the related urban culture of the neighbouring Yoruba. The city-centredness in Benin culture was unique because it was based on the notion that all Benin citizens had space within the political culture of the City in the same way as the Greek City-states were run. In one sense, all Benins were citizens of the City.
In other words, Benin was a City-state. But there was an important difference between the two. While Ile-Ife conveyed a symbolic significance for the Yoruba, Oredo provided a substantive meaning in the lives of the Benin because it was at once the religious and political headquarters of their existence. The tremendous authority that the Obas of the House of Eweka wielded for many centuries in the affairs of Benin derived from their management of the affairs of the City of Benin as the centre of Benin culture as well as their control of the relationships between Benin City and the rest of the city-state of Benin.
In this transformation from the elementary clan-based state and society that the Ogisos ruled, Benin culture achieved a uniformity that is absent from Benin's significant neighbours. Consider, for instance, the variations in language. Each of Yoruba, Igbo, and Urhobo have far more internal variations within their languages than what exists in Benin, although significant pockets of dialectic distinction remain entrenched in a few areas of Benin.Benin empire was Yoruba civilization
We must assume that the spread of a common urban Benin language, which has overridden major dialects in Benin culture, is a product of the transformation that followed from the works of the new dynasty of the House of Eweka. There is a second area where the transition from the Ogisos to the ruling House of Eweka led to major changes in the fortunes of Benin.
It is in the sphere of empire-building. The Ogisos were not empire-builders. Nor was it clear from the early Obas that the new dynasty would embark on empire-building. The change probably came with the famed five Obas of the middle fifteenth and the whole of the sixteenth centuries -- Ewuare the Great, Ozolua, Esigie, Orhogbua, and Ehengbuda -- whose reigns in close proximity established Benin as a foremost imperial power in West Africa.
- Yoruba people
- Kingdom of Benin
But it is easy to overstate the achievements of these great Obas relative to earlier ones. In one of the ritual ceremonies where nobody was allowed to be seen outside, a foreign woman of no means of tracing her background was captured and was to be used as scarifices for the gods.
She was later spared because she was found to be pregnant beside, it was against ritual requirement. The child from the woman was dedicated to the gods and act as a servant to assist Oduduwa in his day-to-day ritual and voodoo job. The child was named Ooni: Oranmiyan gave a condition that he must be buried at Ife to symbolise his right to Ife thrown.
Ooni's assumed superiority was a British creation because the King of England assumed a king at Ife, the cradle of Yoruba, must be superior to all Obas just like the British did in Abeokuta by imposing Alake's superiority over other Obas at Abeokuta.
This is the reason why there is conflict between Alake and Osile till date. Oranmiyan was buried at Ife and not at Oyo, which is the reason for the Opa Oranyan at Ife till today. Ooni was not a true son or direct descendant of Oduduwa and his title was not recognised. Ooni was just his name which became his title.
Ooni like other Yoruba Obas paid duties to Oranmiyan during and after the death of Oduduwa. This practice stopped after the Oyo Empire was destroyed. It is rather difficult to accept the Ooni's version as against the Omonoba Polopolo. Oranmiyan was a belligerent person. A war hero and where his brothers and sister refused to give the yearly ten percent duty as agreed with the staff of Oduduwa he would use force. He later appointed his representatives in each of the kingdoms of Yoruba to monitor the returns, thus the creation of Oyo Empire that led to the end of the kingdom Oduduwa created which was not properly coordinated.
Benin Kingdom Vs Yoruba Race: Why Oba of Benin Is Number One, By Odia Ofeimun
The new empire grew with amazing rapidity throughout West Africa and was like the Ghana or Shonghai Empire of the medieval history in the south of Sahara.
Oyo Empire started slave trade to weaken opposition. An administration like the British Oranmiyan's administration was the best in Africa and could be likened to the British system of Administration during the colonial government. The empire expanded up to the present Benin republic. Those who escaped the control of Alafin are the Yorubas living in Benin Republic, which was formerly Dahomey, On the East side, Oranmiyan never bothered Benin Kingdom because of his son, and his son never looked for him.
At least there was no record of history of any transaction between father and son. Benin Kingdom continued to progress and Oyo Empire continued to expand to the west coast. In Lagos, there could not be a clash, it was a place of reunion for Edo's and Yoruba it was said Eko, which is Lagos, and in our local dialect is a Benin word. Oyo Empire later suffered from over expansion and some local hero started to emerge to challenge the authority of the Oyo kingdom or that of the Alafin of Oyo.
Lisabi was never a king. In fact, he was murdered by the Alake of Egbaland because of his popularity. The collapse of the Oyo Empire led to the Yoruba Wars.
Yoruba people - Wikipedia
The present Oyo town has nothing to do with Old Oyo town, it was just a new creation to symbolise the memory of the Old. The Egbas and Ijebus took over the control of southwest towards the Atlantics because of lucrative slave trade and closeness to the white man.
The emergence of western civilisation further weakened the Old Oyo empire, the empire collapsed and the ruminants of it can still be found at the old site.