Benin Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa, completes all rites as Edaeiken of Uselu and finally moves into the Edaeiken Palace, Uselu preparatory to being enthroned as New Oba of Benin
By Walid Ogunseri /Benin City
Saturday March 13, 2015, was historic in Benin City as Benin Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa, on completion of all rites as Edaeiken of Uselu moved into the Edaeiken Palace, Uselu, Benin City where he will begin the journey to be crowned as the Oba of Benin, in spite of the fact that official and traditional announcement has not been made over the speculated demise of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo U ku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa, the monarch of Benin Kingdom.
Since the alleged death of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty Oba Erediauwa has been shielded in utmost secrecy ever since February 2015, the people of Edo State, and the entire Nigerians have remain in the dark over the indisposition of the Oba of Benin. Residents of the ancient kingdom of Benin have being wondering whether the most revered Benin Monarch had actually gone to join his ancestors. Aside this, the people have also been when will the news of his alleged demise would be traditionally made public and also when the burial rites would be done thereby paving way for the formal coronation of the crown Prince, Prince Eheneden, the Edainken as the next king of Kingdom.
The royal family has not still disclosed the present health status of the Oba who after several speculations, was said to be indisposed and as such would not engage in any public engagement for the time being. The Oba of Benin, since rumours of his passing, has not been seen in any public engagement
On March 16, 2015, the Benin Traditional Council issued a statement titled: “The Leopard is ill in the Savannah Bush.” The statement signed by its secretary, Frank Irabor said the Monarch’s public engagements in the palace including disputes, were suspended till further notice.
The statement read: “It is hereby announced for the information of the general public that, in the palace parlance, ‘Uhunmwun ve Ekpen vb’ Ato,’ meaning the Leopard is still in the Savannah bush. The explanation is that Omo N’oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Eredirauwa, CFR, Oba of Benin is indisposed. Public engagements including courtesy visits, hearing of complaints from individuals, families and communities, and particular, complaints over inheritance and land disputes are therefore suspended until further notice.”
But as a precursor to assuming the title of the Oba of Benin, the Benin Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa, in conformity with the Benin custom, was recently formally enthroned as the Edaiken of Uselu after the successful completion of the mandatory traditional rites. As the Edaiken of Uselu, the heir apparent to the Benin traditional stool is expected to be in Uselu, which will become his temporal place for 90 days.
This magazine gathered that the relocation of the crown prince to his traditional domain the Egua Edaiken is a pre-requisite to his enthronement to the throne of the Obaship of Benin which discretions is that of his father or of the appropriate palace chiefs if circumstances (like ill health) does not permit his father to decide. This is to allow him go through all the traditional processes before his coronation on the demise of his father.
The event attracted a large crowd of people women groups adorned in Benin traditional attire, drummers, entertainers, youths, visitors, traditionalists and palace chiefs., who thronged the palace. Politicians and top government officials, led by Governor Adams Oshiomhole, defied the scorching sun to grace the occasion.
Shops and other business outlets were also shut as a mark of honour and solidarity with the crown prince. The popular Oba Market and some streets as well as roads housing some traditional shrines were cordon-off by security personnel and manned by colourfully-dressed palace chiefs.
During the one-day colourful event, the convoy of the crowned prince, in company of many chiefs, prominent indigenes of the state, other well-wishers and combined security team moved from his residence at the Government Reservation Area to the Palace of the Oba from where they in turn moved to the Royal Palace of Edaiken N’Uselu where he formally assume his position as the Edaiken of Uselu.
The Crown Prince was dressed in white attire and red traditional regalia, immediately after his arrival at the Oba palace, had a brief consultation with the palace chiefs. This was followed by the performance of traditional rites at the palace. At about 4pm, Erediauwa rode on a long convoy with Oshiomhole, his deputy, Pius Odubu and other top government officials and palace chiefs to Edaiken palace.
The installation ceremonies of the started with the Crown prince’s formal initiation into the Benin Royal Palace where he becomes the Uko n’ Iwebo, being the lowest rung in the chieftaincy title hierarchy. The heir-apparent to the Benin throne, had on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, formally initiated into the Royal Palace Chamber of Iwebo in conformity with the Bini custom. This was done before the alleged demise of his father.The second step was Prince investiture with the title of Edaiken (crown prince). This took place at the mini palace in Ogbe Quarters Meanwhile, the crown prince goes ahead to perform all the four stages of the chieftaincy ceremonies. He then confers some titles on some selected Uselu indigenes that will perform some functions in the palace. The third step was the performance of Iyan-hiene rituals in which the Prince’s royal status was consolidated thus integrating him into the seven – man Benin Elders Council of State. This involved lavish and public provision of feasts for all the Benin chiefs at the crown Prince’s Palace at Uselu Quarters. The fourth stage was the performance of the burial rites of late Oba at the Crown princes’ palace in Uselu Quarters. When the Oba finally joins his ancestors, the crown prince and his brothers and sisters are taken to Ugha-Ozolua site located within the Oba’s palace where the demise of the Oba is formally announced to the Benin people by the Iyase of Benin in the palace language, the “Orhue Oghe Oba Brurun “which means “the chalk of the Oba is broken”The royal funeral rites known as emwin n’ ekhua, meaning “the big things” will start off.The royal funeral rites last sometimes (at times three months) because of modern living while in the early days, the crown prince, being the eldest son of the demise Oba takes the responsibilities of the elaborate ceremony, which are performed partly in secret and the open; part of the ceremony is performed at the traditional palace ground of the Edaiken N’ Uselu, and other in the Oba palace as custom demands.It is after the interment of the demise Oba had been concluded that processes for the coronation of the Oba are initiated; but not without undergoing some coaching or training about the functions of the Oba of Benin. This training ends in the Usama palace which precedes the return of the Edaiken to the traditional stool of the Oba of Benin. There are many stages that the Edaiken goes through before he takes his seat as the Oba of Benin, which activities are of elaborate rituals. They include; Installation as the Edaiken, visit Usama, Evbiekoi,: Ego: Iyanhien title: Use and Oba’s palaceAccording to the Benin tradition, when the coronation of the new Oba begins proper, “They will begin from Egua-Edaiken, the traditional residence of the heir-apparent to the Benin Throne. On a day fixed by the Edaiken, he is escorted by his Uselu people on his journey back to Benin City. On the way he stops at an historical palm tree named “Udin ama-mieson aimiuwa” (translated to mean “work before pleasure”) which the Edaiken “climbs” symbolically”. “This little ceremony dates its origin to the time of Oba Ewuare the Great whose life as heir a pparent to the throne was characterised by long suffering which included periods when he personally had to climb palm trees on this spot to cut the fruits for a living”. ”This act of suffering by the father of the first Edaiken has ever since been re-enacted in a symbolic way by every Edaiken. From the palm tree the Edaiken continues his journey to Benin City; but at the first moat called (lya-akpan) in the vicinity of where the firm of defunct Mid-Motors (Nigeria) Limited now stands, the Uselu chief in the procession take leave of the Edaiken and return to Uselu while the Edaiken is thereafter escorted into the City by Benin town.