Culture on display as Oba of Benin mounts the throne today
From Beifoh Osewele, Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The rich culture, splendour and beauty of the Benin royalty would attain its Olympian height today as the Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, the Edaiken ‘N Uselu is formally proclaimed the Oba of Benin at a colourful ceremony in the famous Urhopota Hall, at the King’s Square, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The coronation follows the successful completion of the mandatory traditional rites, which began many months ago. The ceremony marks the beginning of a new era for the Benin Kingdom. The new king succeeds his father, who passed on some months ago.
Already, the people of Benin, residents and others, are upbeat and excited about the coronation ceremony. Colour, splendour, awe and frenzy have taken the centre stage in the capital of the state fondly known as the Heart beat of Nigeria.
The crowning of Oba of Benin was last held in 1979 when Prince Solomon Akenzua took the stool as Oba Erediauwa. The coronation process peaked on Tuesday, with the crown price visit to Use, where he played the Akhue game to choose the name he will answer as an Oba. The name would be unveiled during the presentation of Staff of office and coronation ceremony today.
Interestingly, the crowing of the Oba is the most unique part of the cultural heritage of the Benin people. This is the soul of the Benin Nation on which everything revolves around. Indeed, the resilience and survival of all aspects of Benin tradition and customs, flow from the organised nature of the monarchy or Obaship stool.
For instance, the Benin art, including bronze casting and carvings were produced under the Guild system strictly controlled by the Oba, who gave permission before artworks could be produced and solely for the benefit of the Palace then.
Such system ensured standard, control and survival of the Benin art through the ages to the modern day.
That probably explains why the Obaship is unique and dear to the heart of every Benin person, because the Oba of Benin institution, apart from moderating cultural heritage of the people, also exists to mobilise the Benin Nation for causes that help to advance the progress and development of the Nation.
That is why many regard the coronation of a new Oba of Benin as a big phenomenon and once in a lifetime event that people yearn to witness and be part of.
The journey to today’s event started on October 8, 2016, when the Crown Prince was escorted on foot procession from the Edaiken Palace in Uselu by chiefs and the people of Uselu to the boundary between Egor and Oredo local government areas, from where chiefs and people from Oredo took over and escorted the Edaiken to Benin.
Since then, other activities lined up for the coronation process had continued.
Ahead of today’s coronation of the Oba, Urho-Okpota, the venue of the event, at the heart of the City centre (Ring Road), is set, with beautiful decorations, to host the array of guests, both local and international, who are expected to attend the historic ceremony.
Beside Urho-Okpota, all roads leading to the City centre have been beautifully decorated, with the portrait of the Crown Prince adorning everywhere.
The Oba’s palace, just a few metres from Urho-Okpota, where the Edaiken will move to shortly after his coronation, is not left out in the decoration frenzy. The palace, which had been undergoing renovation ahead of today’s event, is wearing a new look.