Sunday, 18 March 2012

On Duty



What a busy busy day we had at the palace today. For me and my fellow Palace Council of Chiefs, it just seemed like one of those days, when the whole country seems to be quarrelling and falling out with each other over one thing or the other and insisting they want their case heard at the palace. It sometimes seems a complete disregard for our judicial system when people would not take the decisions of their family elders as final and request their day at the palace court. People sometimes forget we (His Majesty and the Council) have other things to do, worms to catch and all that (early birds catch the biggest worms).

Take for instance one of the cases before the council today, the young man who would not accept the verdict of members of his family to apologise to his dad for constant rudeness.  

Chief Iredia one of my fellow Palace chiefs, has three wives, the insolent young man in question Idu, is the first son of his first wife, he is however not the chief’s first son by Edo custom, his third wife had borne him a son whilst still his mistress and this child is older than him and therefore claims first son birthright.

It seems the possibility of losing a chieftaincy title to his sibling, quite upsets Idu and as such, he is frequently at loggerheads with his dad, showing utter disrespect and outright rudeness on most occasions. On several occasions, Chief Iredia had brought the matter before his own family members and local elders with a view to settling Idu’s gripes and talking some sense into him but all to no avail so far.  On this occasion, he had apparently slammed the door in his dad’s face. As a chief this could not go unpunished, Chief Iredia had therefore reported the matter to His Majesty. His Majesty had sent for Idu to present himself before the council before the sun came up the next morning.  

As it happened, Idu came before the Council with quite an attitude and a chip on his shoulders. The case presented therefore as  a straight forward one  on account of his demeanour  in the presence of the council; he had shown no remorse and seemed to fancy himself as not at fault; such contempt is frowned upon. On this occasion, we did not have to retire to deliberate on the matter; instead, a verdict was reached very quickly.  On account of his scornful behaviour in our presence, he was issued with a behaviour order. He is to call a meeting of his family elders, bring them a plate of kola nuts and publicly apologise to his dad for any distress he has caused him up till now. Any subsequent complaints from his dad would lead to harsher sanctions.  All penalty levied by the palace must be adhered to; there are no choices in the matter though one may appeal for the matter to be heard again in the light of any new evidence.   

You might be wondering if the above punishment is severe enough for Idu’s offense. Very much so; the reputation of a young unmarried man is at stake here, if he becomes known as a rude young man, very few families would allow their daughters to marry him and worse still he would never be given a position of responsibility in the city not to mention shuns from his mates, who would start to avoid him like the plague. No young man in their right mind aspires to such reputation. In Edo culture, it is better to be respected than rejected by all. 

We hope that Idu will now realise the danger of allowing his unhelpful behaviour to continue to get in the way of his relationship with his dad and that all hurt can be forgiven and laid to rest, now that his matter has escalated to the palace. A young man’s reputation is more important than any pride. If however, problems continue to occur, both parties are free at any time to put in a claim and all the evidence will be considered afresh.   

More cases later.

Oba Gha’to; Okpere!


Long Live the King!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

His Majesty First Council meeting



His Majesty asked for a council briefing meeting today to hear our views of issues facing the kingdom and him as a the new king. We were asked to come prepared with a list of pressing issues in priority order.

One matter dominated that meeting; that of the British and their activities around the coast and elsewhere, stripping natives of their cultural identity and in most cases denying them their human dignity.

During the meeting, we the chiefs, made no bones about our concerns about the British presence continuing to cause a source of intimidation to our people and culture on account of their trying to convert us to their own way of life; a way of life which demeans others and their  cultures when they refer to other human beings as savages, though they themselves are no better in any shape or form.

During the reign of our late king Omo n’Oba n'Edo (His Majesty Adolo), the council received news from the Oba of Abeokuta concerning receiving many copies of the book they call the bible in different languages with a personal message from the queen of England that she hopes that the books will show him just how much she values the word of her God, a strange god to the Yoruba people. This same queen had sent another King a finely bounded copy of the same book (her bible) with the message that the so called bible is the secret of her country’s Greatness. As a discerning people, we the Edo and the royal council in particular, agreed to treat this queen of England and her bible with caution as we do not need another god, we already have an effective one of our own.

What was most peculiar to us then was why grown up adults on account of receiving a finely bounded copy of a book with words of a strange god give up their way of life and adopt a hierarchical one; one which this new god sanctions, why is it okay in this new god’s eye for some people to be superior to others but only so long as they believe his own words. This story of the British just did not add up and was very unimpressive indeed.

His Majestywondered how the British were receiving news of his succession to the throne and what their next move might be; we needed to be prepared.

 Chief Omonzuci, one of the Uzama chiefs suggested sending word to our boys with the British for an audience with the council. Reliable and fast messengers will be dispatched in the morning with this directive, His Majesty and the council will meet with them in one moon's time (one month) here at the palace.

So who are these boys? Our boys are some of our people who work for the British. Some of them have done well by being sent to England to be educated so that they can interpret for the consuls when dealing with the local chiefs. However as the British treat them badly particularly by referring to grown up men as 'boy’; their loyalty leans more heavily towards a culture that respect their human dignity as such their loyalty to the crown and our people is never in question. More about them later.

 The meeting ended on a very positive note, His Majesty Omo n’Oba n'Edo seems much geared up to taking up this British challenge; with our full backing of course!

Oba gha'to



Long Live the King!
Chief Irriah

His Majesty - First Weeks



 Busy, busy time at the palace, I am enjoying it much though.

We have had the most tremendous time here at the palace since His Majesty’s coronation four weeks (7 market days) ago. All the chiefs have this confidence in him that is difficult to describe; we just know somehow that he will be no pushover, he is the one to watch, he has this aura about him that suggest to you that he is not to be messed with. We, all of us palace chiefs,  are quietly pleased about this as we had feared that as a man of the world before his coronation, he may have been influenced by outside factors and lost sight of the job in hand.

I have been carefully studying His Majesty’s demeanour, he comes across as a careful listener not given to rash decisions, deliberately with the council on every account.

From all the gifts and presents arriving at the palace from far and near in the past weeks, it seems we are not the only ones to hold His Majesty in such high esteem. Countless cows, goats, chickens, bush meat, bundles of yam, kegs of palm wine, the finest Kola nuts around, fabric of all sorts, beads, name it, it has all been passing through the palace gates to welcome His Majesty.

I am particularly delighted to see the countless gifts from our boys on the fields with the British in their outposts; it gladdens one’s heart to no small measure to see how very much they want the king to know about them and their work for the kingdom, where would we be without the intelligence they provide the king?  More about these boys later; right now, they are ensuring that their undying pledge of loyalty and support for the King is noted.

I am quite looking forward to working with His Majesty on maintaining this kingdom’s reputation across the world.

More later!

Oba gha'to


Long Live the King!

Chief Irriah

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Welcome to our new Oba



I am Chief Irriah one of the Iwebo palace chiefs, I am delighted to be blogging about this great kingdom; I will reveal untold secrets about the palace through my upcoming blogs, keep reading.

Right now, we are delighted to be coronating our new King, His Majesty, Omon n'Oba n'Edo  Ovonramwen; the 35th King of our great kingdom. See Oba timeline here:

Words are not enough to recount this great event which is of course, an immense privilege to be part of. However, as we the Edo people meticulously preserve our culture over generations, you can glean a test of the coronation here: fast forward 91 years and same coronation practices are still observed in every fine point:


 Chief Irriah

Kingdom of Benin Blogs background

These series of blogs have been created to show everyday life for the old Kingdom of Benin children, women and ordinary people and to give some idea of their experiences other than that of the Oba and his courtiers. The blogs are in response to comments from some historical scholars that the Edo plaques which document history of the Benin Kings do not show life for other people in the kingdom.

Princess Iyomon and the events accounted are real and based on historical accounts by some of the Kingdom's present custodians of Edo culture and history (existing chiefs and elders). All other individuals' names in the events blogged have been changed due to recollection of exact names at the time but are common names used at the time.

Oral historical accounts provided by Princess Iyomon's grandsons:

Chief Sunday Aigbogun (Late) Chief Ebenzer of Igueben
Chief Irriah Aigbogun
Chief Odigie Aigbogun
Pastor Clement Aigbogun
Hon. Barrister Patrick Aigbogun :