The Benin Kingdom

Obas of Benin (Past - Present)

Eweka I & the begining of Oba Era (About 1200AD - 1235AD)

Oba Eweka I started the reign of the Obas. Hitherto, the kings were known as Ogiso but when Eweka I came as a king, he was referred to as Oba. Some people said that the word oba is a yoruba word which means king. Others said the word Obaa meant 'it is hard or difficult' or probably from an abbreviation of the original name of the first Ogiso (Obagodo {Oba godo}-Oba king; godo-high : High King}. Wherever the word is derived from, one can only say that it really came into use as connoting kingship during Oba Eweka I reign in 1200 AD.

Eweka I reigned for 35 years. Oba Eweka´s reign was not particularly eventful. He was succeeded by his two sons, Oba Uwakhuahen and Oba Ehenmihen in quick succession. Neither of them made any impact on Ile-Ibinu as well.

2nd Uwakhuanhen (About 1235AD - 1243AD)

When Eweka I died, his son Oba Uwakhuahen ascended the throne. His reign was uneventful.

3rd Ehenmihen (About 1243AD - 1255AD)

When Uwakhuhen died, his brother Ehenmihen ascended the throne. There were no events of importance during his reign.

4th Ewedo (About 1255AD - 1280AD)

Prince Efabo ascended the throne after the death of his father with the title Oba Ewedo. He was seen by historians as the second greatest monarch to reign in Benin Kingdom.

It must be observed that the three first Obas - Eweka I, Uwakhuanhen and Ehenmihen had their political suport from the elders {Edion who later became known as Uzama}, Oba Ewedo discontented with the rudely behaviors of the Edionisen {five Elders}, he called them 'Emwanneizamaomwan' meaning 'people who don't show respect to their Oba', this was later corrupted into Uzama. This is not surprising because they brought Oromiyan from Uhe [IIe Ife]. These Edion more or less treated the monarchy as primus inter pares, which made Oba Ewedo embark on the risky job of suppressing the Uzamas and he succeeded miraculously. He did not only succeed in doing so but eventually suppressed Ogiamien who was virtually in control of the City State.

The final settlement came at the battle of "Ekiokpagha" which the Oba fought against Ogiamien and defeated him.

After the victory, Oba Ewedo received the royal stool from Ogiamen and built the present royal palace.

The pantomimic re-enactment of this battle is now a part of the coronation ritual usually performed on the seventh day after a new Oba is crowned. It is in this light that one may venture to say that Ewedo really consolidated the position of Benin monarchy.

To bring law and order into the Kingdom he built the first prison called Ewedo named after him, in which criminals were confined. The prison was kept under the control of chief Eribo.

He changed the name of the Kingdom from IIe –Ibinu to Ubini.

5th Oguola (About 1280AD - 1295AD)

He succeeded Oba Ewedo as the fifth Oba of Ubini. He dug the protective moat around Ubini during his reign. The city of Benin, like ancient Egyptian cities walled against predators, has a giant protective moat dug around it without using mechanical equipment. The engineering feat still marvels in modern times. The Benin moat is described in the Guinness Book of Records as second in magnitude only to the Great China wall. Another Edo marvel is that giant foot-prints on stones have been found in Uhen, Ovia North East Local Government Area. Oba Oguola was succeeded in turn by his three sons.

6th Oba Edoni (About 1295AD - 1299AD)

Oba Oguola was succeeded by Edoni whose reign made no impact on Ubini.

7th Oba Udagbedo (About 1299AD - 1334AD)

Udagbedo ascended the throne after the death of his brother Edoni. Udagbedo was industrious, brave and kind-hearted, encouraged agriculture. During his reign, Benin Kingdom extended its colonial rule to the present day Ghana.

The ethnic group known as GA in Ghana were the early Edos who settled in that part of the world.

8th Oba Ohen (About 1334AD - 1370AD)

Ohen ascended the throne after the death of his brother, Oba Udagbedo. He was Paralyzed 25 years after ascending throne. He was stoned to death by his chiefs for ordering the murder of his Iyase for spying on his deformity.

9th Oba Ogbeka (About 1370AD - 1400AD),

It was during his reign the Urhobos migrated from Benin Kingdom.

10th Oba Orobiru (About 1400AD- 1430AD),

There were no events of importance during his reign.

11th Uwaifiokun (About 1430AD - 1440AD),

He usurped the throne of Benin Kingdom in place of his senior brother, Prince Ogun, who was the heir apparent. His exiled senior brother, Prince Ogun, paid many secret and nocturnal visits to Benin through the Oba’s market. On many occasions, Emotan warned Ogun of impending dangers and advised him against interacting with some treacherous chiefs who may reveal his presence. Prince Ogun succeeded in murdering Uwaifiokun during the night ceremonial performance at the Oba’s market.

12th Ewuare the Great (About 1440AD - 1473AD)

He was seen by historians as the greatest, the most revered, dynamic, innovative and successful monarch to have reigned in Benin kingdom. He completely transformed the Benin Kingdom politically, socially, and religiously.

Under his reign, Benin Kingdom witnessed its highest prosperity. He changed the kingdom's name from Ibinu land to Edo land as a reward to a young man called Edo who saved his life.

He also honoured Emotan for her pivotal role played in saving his live from glaring dangers during his exile years. When Emotan died, he ordered that the sacred uruhe tree be planted at the spot where Emotan used to display her goods in Oba market.

Oba Ewuare is remembered for many things. First contact with any European was made by Oba Ewuare when Ruy De Sequeira visited Benin City in 1472. In his time ivory carving was encouraged. A name like Eghoghomagha can still be remembered as one of the greatest carvers in Benin kingdom.

Ewuare is remembered for his famous flute called Eziken and the royal band called Ema-Edo. He introduced the royal beads and scarlet cloth (Ododo) which remains the Benin Royal colour. The ugie Ewere started in his reign.

Ewuare's administration was specifically marked by the creation of the state council made up of EghaevboN'Ore whose original members were Iyase, Esogban,Eson and Osuma. Ewuare elevated his eldest son to the position of Uzama when he made him Edaiken. He created the Eriyo title. He started Eko-Ohae (Bachelor's camp) which is now a part of the coronation stations of any Oba of Benin.

He was a great mystic, physician, traveler and warrior. He restored the primogeniture law. He was reputed to have travelled extensively to very many parts of the present day Nigeria, Dahomey (now called Republic of Benin), Ghana, Guinea and Congo. It is on record that he fought and captured not less than 201 towns and villages and expand Benin Kingdom to the west Ekiti, Ikare, to the north, Kukuruku, Eka (Ika) and Ibo land west of the Niger.

He re-built the kingdom on a massive scale, public houses, royal palaces. He made good roads, some of which can now be remembered as Akpakpava and Utantan. It was at the peak of his reign that Benin gained the name City. He completely re-organized the governmental mechanism of the kingdom. He also introduced a lot of annual ceremonies and re-organized the exciting ones.

The innermost and greatest of the Benin moats (generally referred to as third moat) was dug in his time.

At Usela, the outskirt of Benin City, was a very powerful chief called Iken, rich and war-like, feared by all even the Oba [monarch]. When there was a revolt at Owo, columns of royal troops headed by Iken were sent to Owo to bring down the revolt. On the request of Iken, the Oba sent his eldest son Crown Prince Kuoboyuwa to deputize for Iken (Edayi n'iken) until he returned from the war. Although Iken and his army successfully brought down the revolt, Iken lost his life in the process. Without a surviving child, Kuoboyuwa became his heir apparent. It has since that period become traditional that the first son of every Oba of Benin is conferred with the title of Edaiken and on coming of age, leaves his residence in the centre of the town for the Palace of Edaiken (Eguae-Edaiken) at Uselu where he remains until he is called upon to ascend the throne as Oba.

Ewuare also vigorously promoted Benin art particularly the brass casting.

To talk of Oba Eware is like talking about Alexander the Great. The fame of Ewuare was known in other lands. Thus Chief Egharevba the traditional Benin historian recorded that the Ekiti referred to him as Oba Ado ngbogun lobo ile, Ogbomudu ngbeli orun, meaning "The Oba Benin wages war on the earth below and Ogbomudu (or the monster Osogan) wages war in heaven". Chief Egharevba did not mince words when he said that the Ibo spoke of Idu Ala Eze Ika meaning "Benin, land of the powerful Oba".

13th Ezoti (About 1473AD - 1473AD)

He reigned for only fourteen days having passed away as a result of the injury he sustained from a poisoned arrow fired by a boy assassin during his coronation. After his death, Prince Okpame his younger brother was sent to Esi, a town outside Benin City to bring Owere the heir apparent to be crowned the Oba. On their way to Benin City, Okpame murdered Owere and his mother, then lied to the Benin elders that they both died of natural causes. When the truth became open, Okpame was banished. He fled to a place call Ora (north of Benin City).

14th Olua (About 1473AD - 1480AD)

Olua was the second son of Oba Ewuare, who at first refused the crown for fear of his banished brother, Prince Okpame who fled to Ora.

His sister Princess Edeloyo was then asked to ascend the throne. She received the title of Edaiken, a title given to all heir apparent before their ascension to the throne.She fell sick and as a result of this, the Uzamas (king makers) and Eghaevbo (executive council) enacted a law permanently prohibiting women form becoming king in Ancient Benin Kingdom.

Olua was eventually crowned the Oba of Benin after much persuasion from the Benin elders. He sent one of his sons to Eho (a town outside Benin City) to keep an eye on the movement of Prince Okpame. Olua’s son eventually became the Ogia of Eho.

Historical account says Oba Olua was kind and generous. Concerned about his unpopular son, Iginua, among the Benin Elders and the prospects of being prevented from ascending the throne after his death, decided to create another Kingdom for him near the coast. It is this Kingdom which is popularly called Warri today. Iginua gladly took the offer knowing that the possibility of him succeeding his father as the Oba of Benin Kingdom was very slim. Iginua left Benin City with many columns of subjects to the newly created Kingdom just by the coast of Benin Kingdom with the title Odili n’ ame.

He became known to his Itsekiri subjects and those who accompanied him from Benin City as the Olu of Itsekiri. He eventually became the Founder of Itsekiri Kingdom, the first Olu of Itsekiri or Olu of Warri.

15th Ozolua (About 1481AD - 1504AD)

After the death of Olua, without a clear successor, Prince Okpame who would have succeeded to the throne was in exile at Ora. There was struggles for control among the powerful chiefs for three agonising years. They set up a republican administration. Without a formidable leader at the herm of the affair to maintain law and order, those placed in various levels of authority were weak and incapable. Benin Kingdom became totally disorganized and vulnerable to enemy attack. This compelled the Benin elders to call on Prince Okpame in Ora to come back to Benin and ascends to his ancestral throne and save his fatherland. He rejected the offer. The Benin Elders were able to convince him to accept the crown. He finally ascended the throne, with the title Oba Ozolua.

With the City in serious disarray, he therefore embarked on consolidation of the City State. His first task was to launch a full-scale war to subdue the secessionist. He conquered many towns and village; Owo, Ijebu-Land, and Ondo. It is to his credit that he won not less than 200 battles which earned him the appellation Ozolua n’ ibaromi meaning Ozolua the Conqueror.

It was Ozolua who introduced a musical instrument called Emaba now used for the royal dance. He seized this instrument from Origbo who was a powerful Chief at Ogidi near Siluko. The conquest of Ijebu Ode, Owo and its environs are records which no one has surpassed. In 1503, it became necessary for him to march on Uromi to re-establish his suzerainty over the area where Enogie Agba rebelled.

Ozolua was the father of Alani of Idoani, Olokpe of Okpe in Akoko Edo Area (north of Benin city), Uguan of Ora, Owa of Owo, Awojale of Ijebu-Ode and Eze of Aboh. He established the settlement of sobo (Uhobe), Ijagba, Ifon and Uhie.

During his reign, a portuguese explorer John Affonso d'Aveiro visited Benin (1485-1486).

16th Esigie (About 1504AD - 1550AD)

Prince Osawe ascended the throne with the title Oba Esigie. After the power struggle between him and his brother Arhuanran (Goliath type stature), the powerful ruler of Udo town, some kilometers outside Benin City.

Concerned about the transgression by his brother Arhuanran against his monarchial authority, he launched a full-scale war on Udo, one of the bloodiest war in Benin history. The battle was fought and won by Oba Esigie. Arhuanran drowned himself in Lake Odighi N’Udo.

Chief Osemwughe, the Iyase of Udo, took arm again against the monarchial authority to avenge the defeat and the death of Arhuanran. Oba Esigie launched a war on Udo once again. Udo was destroyed. Chief Osemwughe and his rebel armies fled to the West of Benin Kingdom, now part of the Yoruba land. Oba Esigie determined to put an end to Udo rebellion once and for all, sent royal troops under the command of Odobo and Aile to pursue them. In the process, the Benin royal army built military camps {Eko} along the way. Some of these camps {Eko} are now towns in Yoruba land. Some of the Camps are Camp Odobo {Eko-Odobo} named after General Odobo, converted into Akotogbo and Camp Ikalo {Eko-Aile}named after General Aile, was converted to Ikale.

The title of Iyoba{Queen Mother} was created by Oba Esigie and was conferred for the first time on his mother Idia. He also built a palace for her, Eguae-Iyoba (Palace of the Queen mother) which is located at the lower part of Uselu {Benin City suburban}. The Queen warrior also exercised a lot of political influence in the administration of the Kingdom. Oba Esigie started this tradition probably to forestall the conflict that would have arisen between his mother and himself over the exercise of political power. An almost independent domain of the Queen mother was therefore carved out for her.The Oba granted her a priviledge of recommending to him people who she wishes to be conferred with specific title perculiar to her palace.

Thus, it has become strongly established in Benin tradition that a year or two after the coronation of every Oba, he invests his mother with the title, lyoba (Queen mother) and sends her to reside at lower Uselu in Eguae-lyoba (Palace of the Queen mother). If it happens that the mother dies before the coronation of the son, the body is preserved for a year or two after the coronation to enable the Oba confer the title lyoba on her and later bury her at Eguae-lyoba.

It was at the peak of Oba Esigie's international diplomacy that the portuguese explorer John Affonso d'Aveiro visited the City a second time. The Oba could read and write Portuguese fluently.

17th Orhogbua (About 1550AD - 1578AD)

Before he ascended the throne, he was educated under the Portuguese educational system. The reign of Oba Orhogbua was marked with the expansion of the Empire westwards, thus, Eko {Lagos} and Badagry were founded. He established the monarchial rule in those places and placed his own representatives to rule them. He established the first Oba of Lagos. It is said that during the Oba's long surjourn in Lagos and Badagry, some parts of the Easter Empire were in a rebellious state which were quickly surpressed by the War General, Ezomo Agban who was dispatched to Agbor in 1577.

The appearance of British explorers like Windham (1553) in this part of the world took place during Orhogbua's period.

He introduced the European type cooking salt to the Benin Kingdom.

18th Ehengbuda (About 1578AD - 1606AD)

Oba Ehengbuda was the first Oba to be visited by English explorers while on the throne. During his reign, he nurtured the martial growth of Chief Ezomo Agban a celebrated warrior, who led Benin army to conquer Agbor. In his days, the chief reportedly thought a troublesome man lived overhead in the sky who disturbed the peace of Benin Kingdom each time the rainy clouds rumbled. Because of this belief, the no-nonsense Benin War General was said to have embarked on building a ladder up to the sky to take on the “troublesome man” in a bloody contest before he passed on.

The boundary of Benin Empire and Oyo Empire was set at Otun Ekiti during his reign after many wars were fought between the two Empires.

19th Ohuan (About 1606AD - 1641AD)

He was Oba Ehengbuda´s son. He ended the Eweka dynastic lineage. Powerful rebel chiefs established private power bases and selected Obas from among themselves.
Prince Odogbo ascended the throne with the title Oba Ohuan. He died childless.

20th Ahenzae (About 1641AD - 1661AD)

Since Ohuan died childless and without a successor, Eweka I lineage ended. Benin kingdom was in a renewed turmoil and nightmare once again there was struggle for power and control. Among various factional chiefs, they crowned someone from their camp as monarch under rotation system among the different branch of the royal family. For six reigns, this practice produced series of weak monarchs whose legitimacy were questionable and left the kingdom once again vulnerable.

Akenzae was sixteen years when he ascends the throne under this system. During his reign, many of the kingdom's treasures were wasted and gambled away.

21st Akenzae (About 1661AD - 1669AD)

There were no events of importance during his reign.

22nd Akengboi (About 1669AD - 1675AD)

There were no events of importance during his reign.

23rd Akenkpaye (About 1675AD - 1684AD)

His rebellious chiefs, for abuse of power, corruption,and selfishness, dethroned him.

24th Akengbodo (About 1684AD - 1689AD)

There were no events of importance during his reign.

25th Oroghene (About 1689AD - 1700AD)

He received a message from Pope Innocent XII encouraging him and his subjects to continue to keep to the Christian faith.

26th Ewuakpe (About 1700AD - 1712AD)

Prince Idova ascended the throne with the title Oba Ewuakpe in about 1700 A.D. and was the 26th monarch of the hereditary title of Benin dynasty. He reigned for about 12 years which was characterized with series of setbacks during the early period to the extent that all subjects in the kingdom revolted against him.

The subjects protested against the monarch's high handedness and his flagrant disrespect of human lives, which culminated in the mass killing of his subjects at Uselu during the funeral of his demised mother Queen Ewebonoza in about 17.15 A.D. when it became apparent that the elders and the citizens of the Kingdom could no longer accommodate the excesses of the King they were compelled to sever their disreputable connections. This uprising also affected all his wives (Iloi) the royal slaves (ovien) and other palace attendants.

The fundamental cause of grouse was to protest against the monarch's high handedness and his flagrant disrespect of human lives which culminated in the mass killing of his subjects at Uselu during the funeral of his demised mother Queen Ewebonoza in about 1715 A.D. When it became apparent that the elders and the citizens of the Kingdom could no longer accommodate the excesses of the King, they were compelled to sever their disreputable connections. This uprising also affected all his wives (Iloi), the royal slaves (ovien) and other palace attendants.

In-view of this misdemeanor, it would beholve on queen Iden to single handedly take the bull by the horns. Queen Iden became the only friend of Oba Ewuakpe in that time of need, as she made herself present as the king's only hope in time of great calamity. When it became apparent that there was no solution to his predicaments, the king decided to seek refuge amongst his mothers relations at Ikoka village but the monarch was also rejected in his maternal abode.

In his sad state of mind, he came back to Benin City. On the arrival of the Oba, Queen Iden observed his hopelessness and decided to do something about it by consulting the oraclist on behalf of her husband Oba Ewuakpe, to seek the oracle's instruction on what should be done to ward off the calamity bedeviling the ancient kingdom and its monarch. After a thorough divination by the oraclist, he concluded that all that was needed for the peace of the kingdom and the restoration of its throne was a human sacrifice.

Immediately after finding a solution to the problem from the oraclist, she headed for the palace to give the message of the god to his majesty, the King, in their empty harem. The message from the diviner seemed to aggravate matters for Oba Ewuakpe because there was no other human being in his palace, free or bonded beside his dear wife Queen Iden who incidentally was the conveyor of this report. Consequently, the possibility of getting somebody else for the human sacrifice became remote for the royal couple.

In the absence of any other person, Queen Iden, in a gesture similar to the Jewish Jesus Christ, volunteered to be used as a sacrificial lamb needed by the god for the restoration of the kingdom and his royalty. As soon as Queen Iden suggested to her husband that she submit herself for the supreme price determined by the ancestors, Oba Ewuakpe became nervously embittered as he could not comprehend the possibility of himself killing his dear wife, who had stood with him in times of calamity of this magnitude in order to atone for the sins she had not committed. But the determined Queen encouraged the royal hands to shed her blood. If only that will appease the ancestral spirits of the land of Benin, so as to put aside the upheaval in the kingdom.

And as it became glaring on Oba Ewakpe that there was no other way out of the predicament, he conceded reluctantly to the pressure mounted by his real lover the Queen and atoned the gods with the precious blood of Queen Iden, as he buried her alive on the spot near the Oba market in the heart of Benin metropolis.

Before Queen Iden voluntarily offered herself as an atonement to the gods, she requested for one favour from the king that he should make sure her graveside is kept clean at all times. In addition, she cautioned against the reality of any person treading on her grave or else such trespasser should be killed on the spot as a mark of respect for her blessed remembrance.

Consequently her desire was strictly adhered to till the invasion of the British forces in 1897. This Queen had paid the ultimate price requested for by the ancestors but she did not know the outcome of her cherished kingdom and the reign of her beloved husband.

As soon as Oba Ewakpe finished the sacrificial rituals, some of the prominent chiefs in the kingdom called for a truce between the throne and its aggrieved subjects. Other Benin Chiefs started paying homage to the Benin monarch again and pledge their loyalty to the bereaved Oba Ewakpe. Then all other Benin's came in the same spirit to pledge their allegiance to his authority over them as their king. Consequently, the entire kingdom was reconciled back to the king and remained loyal to the royal majesty till the end of his reign.

Since it was necessary to celebrate such re-union, the Benins came together at the palace and rolled out drums to give such occasion a memorable one. During his happy mood the people were taken back to see their own king weeping profusely in the midst of merriment instead of being happy for the reunion of his subjects with him. This made his subjects to find out from the Oba why he was weeping at the time of celebration like this, the Oba replied that the motive behind his tears was because of his desire to mourn the sacrificial demise of his dear wife queen Iden.

He went further to narrate all the ordeal in the palace at the time the kingdom fell apart which resulted in the untimely exit of his best friend and beloved Queen who because of her unfeigned love for the unity of her fatherland, offered herself as a scrape goat to the gods of her pedigree. For the redemption of their intergenetional equity and socio-cultural heritage.

27th Ozuere (About 1712AD - 1712AD)

Ozuere was the second son of Oba Ewuakpe. He usurped the throne with the help of some chiefs in place of his senior brother, Akenzua I, in violation of the law made by Oba Ewuakpe and approved and passed by Eghaevbo (executive council) and Uzama Nihinron (the seven kingmakers) that says only the eldest son of the Oba should ascend the throne.

On the other hand, some very powerful chiefs were prepared to uphold and defend the laws of the land at all cost, questioning Ozuere legitimacy to the throne.

A civil war broke out in Benin kingdom, it lasted for many weeks; Ozuere was eventually defeated and dethroned. His reign lasted for just a year.

28th Akenzua I (About 1713AD - 1735AD)

Akenzua's ascension to the throne followed the defeat and dethronement of Oba Ozuere, his younger brother. This was widely viewed as the beginning of the second Obaship periods.

Historical record says he was one of the richest monarchs who reigned in history of the Benin kingdom. He was nicknamed Akenzua Nisonorho (Akenzua the rainy sky)

He was the father of Ogie of Avbiama and Obi of Isele-Uku. During his reign, Benin Kingdom witnessed a period of peace and prosperity.

29th Eresoyen (About 1735 AD - 1750AD)

Benin Kingdom continue to grow in prosperity during his reign. He introduced the banking system called Owigho [House of money].

Eresoyen also introduced the Ododua masquerade and the ivory flutes [Akahen].

30th Akengbuda (About 1750AD - 1804AD)

During his reign, the royal army launched a war against Oboro-uku, a Kingdom within the Benin Empire, as a revenge for the murder of Adesuwa, the daughter of Chief Ezomo by its Obi. He murdered Adesuwa for refusing to marry him. When the news of her murder reached the Oba, he quickly sent royal troops. Under the commands of Imaran, Adiagbon, and Emokpaogbe Agboghidi Enogie of Ugo, Oboro-uku was captured, its Obi who murdered Adesuwa was on trial and beheaded.

The Oba, for their braveness rewarded the troops and their generals. Emokpaogbe the Aboghidi of Ugo dissatisfied with his rewards engaged in a rebellious act toward the royal authority. The Oba at first ignored him due to the part he played during the war with Oboro-Uku. As if that was not enough, Emokpaogbe turned his war machine against the royal authority.

When Emokpaogbe rebellious acts continue to transgress the monarchical establishment, the Oba sent royal troops lead by Ologbose and Imaran to Ugo to quash the rebellion. Ugo was captured, Aboghidi drowned himself in Igbaghon River before he could be arrested by the royal troop.

31st Obanosa (About 1804AD - 1816AD)

There were no events of importance during his reign.

32nd Ogbebo (About 1816AD - 1816AD)

He usurped the throne of the Benin Empire in place of his senior brother Eredia-uwa after defeating the army of Eredia-uwa in the civil war, with the help of his mother and some powerful Chiefs. To avoid being killed, Eredia-uwa fled to Evbokhimmwi in Ishan, a town north of the Kingdom. Eredia-uwa eventually regained his right place to the throne of Benin with the backing of Enigie of Ishan, Erebo the Ezomo of Uzebu and the people of Uselu who fought and won the battle against Ogbebo and his backers, Eyan and Eboide.

His reign lasted for just 8 months.

33rd Osemwende (About 1816AD - 1848AD)

Prince Eredia-uwa was crowned the Oba of Benin Kingdom with the title Oba Osemwende after the defeat of Oba Ogbebo.

He ordered the Akure punitive expedition of 1818AD to revenge the murder of Osague, the Benin empire goodwill ambassador to Akure, who was murdered with the order of Arakale, the Udezi of Akure. When the news of his killing reached Benin city, battalions of royal troops under the general command of Ezomo Erebo, assisted by ologboshere and Imaran, were sent.

Akure was captured but Arakale managed to escape to Ado for help. He was expelled by Ewi of Ado for fear of the Benin royal troop invasion. Arakale fled from Ado to Uju, from Uju to Uhen, there he was finally handed over by Arinjale of Uhen to Ezomo.

Arakale was later put on trial and executed. Osemwende also conquered the Ekiti Kingdom.

In 1840, Osodin(Okunbo) accompanied by Ehennua and Arhunmwunde were despatched to Lagos to demand from Eleko of Eko, the customary annual tribute to the king of Benin but the emissaries found Lagos in a state of war of succession between Akintoye and Kosoko.

By the close of Oba Osemwende's reign, John King in 1815, James Fawknar in 1825 and Moffat and Smith in 1838 visited Benin.

34th Adolo (About 1848AD - 1888AD)

Historical records says he was kind-hearted, generous, rich, industrious, and respected by his subjects.

35th Ovoranmwen (About 1888AD - 1914AD)

The Benin Empire fell to the British forces as a result of the Benin punitive expedition of 1897 during his reign.

Captain Phillip and his party started a trade mission to Benin City in January 1897, when the Oba and his subjects were celebrating the annual Igue festival, a period when outsiders/ visitors were not welcome. They were encouraged to postpone their visit for two months but they refused. Consequently they were massacred but some of them managed to escape. This event is referred to generally as the Benin massacre.

In February 1897, the British forces launched an attack on Benin City. It was finally captured after 8 days of fighting.

The kingdom was destroyed and looted of its many valuable artefacts. Ologbohere, the alleged mastermind of the massacre of Captain Phillip and his party, was tried and hanged. Oba Ovoranmwen was dethroned, and deported to Calabar where he lived and died in January 1914, after sixteen years of British captivity. He was buried at old Calabar by officials of colonial authority in the absence of his Benin royal family.

The truth is that Oba Ovoranmwen had nothing to do with the massacre of Captain Phillip and his party. The fall of Benin Empire was an event the British colonial power always hoped for, as it gave them the opportunity to stretch their Empire into the West African hinterland.

36th Eweka II (About 1914AD - 1932AD)

The advent of the British was a disaster to the throne of Benin and hope was almost lost as to whether Benin would ever have its Obaship again. The British conquered Benin and exiled its monarch to Calabar. During this traumatic period, Chief Obaseki worked with the British to rule Benin. Benin lost its grandeur and the monarchy almost became extinct. In 1914, at the demise of the exiled king Ovonramwen, the monarchy was restored when Prince Aiguobasimwin Ovoranmwen was crowned Oba of Benin with the title Eweka II on 24th July, 1914. The colonial rule with its indirect rule by Lord Lugard altered a lot of things.

Eweka II was the first post-imperial Benin Monarch. He took the oath of allegiance to the British imperial king, the first time in Benin history a Benin monarch took an oath of allegiance to another king.

Before his ascension to the throne, Oba Eweka II was a skillful brass smith and an expert in ivory and woodcarving.

He rebuilt the Oba palace, which was destroyed by the British force during the expedition of 1987.

His enemies often accused him of human sacrifice, every such accusation was vigorously investigated by the British who searched the whole Oba palace and other secrets places but nothing incriminating was ever found. Any act or festivals that involved anything incriminating were dropped or reorganized. Many secret ceremonies were scrapped.

37th Akenzua II (About 1932AD - 1978AD)

He was born in 1899 in Benin City, as Crown Prince Godfrey Edokparhogbuyunmwun Basimi. He ascended the Benin throne on April 5th, 1933 with the title Oba Akenzua II. Before his ascension to the throne, he attended King's College, Lagos.

Oba Akenzua struck a balance of stability and progress tradition and modernity. He was a father-figure to all. For his dimensional contributions to the development of his people and Nigeria, Oba Akenzua II received such honours as Justice of Peace, Knight of the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a honourary doctorate degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

He was equally a notable royal monarch of Benin Kingdom. He initiated the campaign for the creation of Mid-West Region which materialized in 1962. In 1947, he opened the Benin Divisional council Museum that is now known as the National Museums and Monuments, Benin City. Because of his vast influence, power, authority and acknowledged traditional mystique, he was allowed to hold the first Obas' conference in 1941. The establishment of Edo College in 1937 is largely through his hardwork. His reign witnessed peace, love and progress in the whole of Edo land not just the Benin Kingdom.

38th Erediauwa (About 1978AD - Present)

Crown Prince Solomon Akenzua ascended the throne with the title Oba Erediauwa. He was born on June 22, 1923 in Benin City as Solomon Igbinoghodua Aisiokuoba Akenzua. Before his ascension to the throne, he attended many schools and the Cambridge University, London. He also held many governmental posts at State and Federal levels.

He modernized the palace courtyard and created many Enigie to help administer various parts of the Kingdom.

He was one of the most respected African monarch, an author, writer, advocate of peace and co-existence. His high educational background helped bring to light the correct history of the Edo people and the ancient Benin Empire, one of Africa's oldest Kingdoms.