Abavo Kingsley, Benin



Oba Ewuare 11 at the shrine of Emotan

Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II on Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 re – activated the spirit of Emotan; a woman in Benin history who is said to occupy a place of honour and relevance because of her heroic deed  which helped to restore the throne of Oba Ewuare I during his adversity.

The Monarch led a large crowd of Chiefs, Enigie (Dukes), Priest of different deities, and divinities, market women, members of the royal family and other of his subjects to the Emotan Shrine where traditional rites were performed.

He was also accompanied by the IIoi (his Queens).

The Monarch visit to Emotan Shrine also was re – enactment of honour to one of three great women in the history of Benin Kingdom, as commanded by Oba Ewuare I, it was said in a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Monarch, Desmond Agbama.



Crowd following the Oba’s wives to the shrine of Emotan

At the Shrine which has been given modern aesthetic look by Oba Ewuare N’ Ogidigan II, prayers were offered for peace, the wellbeing of the Kingdom, good health, and longevity of life for members of the royal family.

History of Emotan:

Emotan lived and came into reckoning in the reign of Oba Ohen and his children, including Prince Ogun who later became Oba Ewuare the Great in about 1440 AD – 1473AD.

She is described as a woman  amongst women who has done great exploit in Benin Kingdom.

She hailed from Eyaen in modern day Uhunmwode Local Government Council Area of the Kingdom.

Emotan was said to have been married to Chief Aragua, who does measuring of the volume of annual rainfall in the Kingdom. Hence he was nick – named, ‘Aragua N’ Dame’ (Aragua who measures the rainfall).

Emotan is said to be sluggish at domestic chores which made the husband to nick – name her Emitan and was corrupted to Emotan by the people.

After the death of her husband, Emotan relocated to where her statue is erected and now shrine, directly opposite the Oba market; at that spot she used to display her wares for sale.

Also she had a hut there and because she was childless, she asked other women who came for trading to keep their children with her while they go do their business.

So invariably the first day care centre in Benin Kingdom was established and operated by Emotan.



Oba’s workers ready for the ceremony

So people thought she was miserable and did not regard her hence Prince Ogun who later became Oba Ewuare I targeted her place appropriate for hiding when his enemies were after his life.

When he came to Benin City, Ogiefa N’ Muekpo (Ogiefa the bag carrier) tricked him into a well in pretence that he was hiding him from his antagonist; Uwafiokun who usurped the throne. Only for Ogiefa to go bring him to kill Prince Ogun as he then was.

But Ogiefa’s slave boy by name Edo had sympathy for Prince Ogun because he knew the throne rightfully belonged to him and decided to aid his escape before arrival of the enemies.

When Uwafiokun’s forces came, Prince Ogun was nowhere to be found. But Edo owned up that he helped him escape. Consequently, he was executed.

Remarkably, the two persons that helped Oba Ewuare I in his travails lost their lives before he ascended the throne.



Priests and priestesses of variou deities in Benin going to the Emotan shrine for the ceremony

So, upon becoming the King he made the proclamation that the name of the Kingdom then known as ‘Ibinu’ or ‘Ibini’ be changed to Edo, in honour of the slave boy who helped him escape death in the hands of his enemies.

Also, Emotan lost her life protecting Prince Ogun. Hence he made the second proclamation now as Oba Ewuare I that Emotan should be immortalized for all times.

Therefore as part of traditional burial ceremony in Benin, a procession must be made to go pay homage to Emotan at her Shrine.

Same with any person picking a Chieftaincy title as mark of respect and honour to her heroic deeds which helped restored the Monarchy of Benin.

Another great woman in the history of Benin Kingdom is Queen Ideh. She was said to have sacrificed her life also for the restoration of the Monarchy during the reign of Oba Ewakpe.

History has it that the whole Benin Kingdom rebelled against Oba Ewakpe and divination reveled that human sacrifice was required to restore the throne and enthrone  peace in the Kingdom.

Queen Ideh who was the only wife and person still loyal to the King offered herself to be sacrificed.

But she made a request that her grave must be kept sacred; that nobody should step on it.

In those days it was said that anyone who violated the request and stepped on Ideh’s grave was summarily executed as mark of honour to her.

The greatest amongst the three women is Queen Idia, the mother of Oba Esigie who became the first Queen mother  in Benin Kingdom having her quarters at Uselu.

Investigation reveals that Oba Ewuare II visit to Emotan Shrine was significant as culture and tradition were been exhumed, and resurrected especially against the back drop that Oba Ewuare I brought the Kingdom to height of greatness.

Also it was an affirmation that in Benin Kingdom women with heroic deeds are respected, and given pride of place.