GBO 2018 WORLD CONFERENCE BEAM SUCCESS IN DIASPORA – BELGIUM!
With chants and echoes of “Unity, Strength & Love of Igodomigodo Decendants” as ‘motto’ for the ‘Great Benin Organisation: GBO’ World Conference, the culturally charged, colourful atmosphere; in the presence of about one hundred and sixty five internationally gathered people in Antwerp, Belgium on Saturday 9th June, 2018, it was truly a reflection of one global conference, too many.
Anchored on unity of Edolites in diaspora, cultural promotion and participation in the state government’s development drive, the President: Engr. Isaac Igbinosun assembled his executive and GBO Cultural troupe to give a rousing welcome to the special guests of honour His Royal Majesty Omon’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolor Ewuare ‘Ogidigan II and the state Executive Governor, His Excellency Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki ably represented by the state Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero.
On the Commissioner’s entourage were his designated Culture Ambassadors: Mr Joseph Ehigiamusoe, UK, Barr. Efosa Ogieriakhi, Germany and Bose Fagbemi, France. There was attendant supports from Elder Osahon Osemwegie-Ero (Canada) friends Osas Igbinosun (24Bits), Ireland, Manchester based duo: Messrs Efosa Odiase & Iredia both flew in that morning from the Czech Republic, Osaretin Jake Edosomwan (Amsterdam), Abieyuwa (Stuttgart), Noma Itaman (Germany) and others from Spain, Holland, Sweden et al.
The event was blessed with Royal presence of Elder Prince Ike Akenzua (son of Oba Akenzua N’Iso Norho), King Khytouka of the Republic of Congo, Dr Steve Ogbonmwan, President: Edo Global Organisation Worldwide amongst others.
Culturally according to tradition, there was opening prayer and breaking of kola nuts blessed by Prince Akenzua and performed by Dr Ogbonmwan.
In his welcome address, Engr. Igbinosun thanked everyone especially the Oba of Benin, Gov. Obaseki and Hon Commissioner Ero; stressing that it’s GBO’s desire to amongst other things collaborate with the government, embark on humanitarian projects such as healthcare, water and education. Dr Ogbonmwan in his speech, encouraged Edo diasporas to return home and invest.
In similar but broader perspective, Hon Commissioner Osazee Ero in a 3in1 message to everyone, brought greetings from His Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II, His Excellency Gov. Godwin Obaseki; proudly noting how delighted we should be to have an Oba and Governor who both believe in and working on revamping our value systems, bringing sanity to the society, institutionalising our spoken languages in school curriculum, developing our Tourism spaces to world standards, the massive government industrialisation drive, transforming Edo State to an investment hub in Nigeria amongst others.
Also, the Commissioner and Barr. Ogieriakhi highlighted opportunities to key into the Diaspora Smart City project which affords diasporas first hand opportunity to acquire landed property(ies) and build own homes. He further expressed appreciation to Engr Igbinosun, all GBO members for organising a successful conference.
He used the occasion, based on popular support to appoint Mr Friday Obasuyi as the Culture Ambassador to Belgium who happily accepted and promised his loyalty and zeal to work. For the commissioner and his lieutenant Ambassadors, the work continues.
The event culminated in the award of certificates of office to GBO members as well as excellence awards to the Oba of Benin, Edo State Governor, Hon. Commissioners Osaze Ero, MACTDA, Saturday Idehen Uwuilekhue, NDDC respectively and the face of Oba Ewuare foundation: Ms Ifueko Aideyan.
In the words of GBO President Engr Isaac Igbinosun, next year promises to be bigger and better.
THE Benin Empire as described by Prof. Philip Igbafe in his Benin Under British administration represented “the unwieldy but fluid empire which was made up of a loose conglomeration of various people’s covering from most of present-day Delta and Edo States to Lagos and beyond. In fact, on a Dutch map drawn in 1705, titled A New and Exact map of Guinea and reprinted in 1907 in English by Sir Alfred Jones KCMG- the founder of the Bank of British West Africa – the name BENIN is shown to designate what may today be called Nigeria South of the Niger and Benue. Other contemporary states on the said map-which now stands for West Africa – from the farthest West, are Melli, Grain Coast, Ivory Coast, Gold Coast, and Slave Coast, and immediately to the West of the Niger, only Great Benin, as a large territory, and Awyi (Warri) are marked.
It should be expected that for a vast community as that, diverse peoples, today’s accounts of its trade dynastic relations, migrations and other bric-a-brac would be different from area to area. However, it remains amazing that certain areas of cultural influence within the old empire remain so strong till today as various ethnic nationalities still talk about them with nostalgic pride: for example, an independent Republic of Dahomey in 1975 decided to change its name to the Republic of Benin; the Itsekiri of Warri , the Igbo of Onitsha and others trace their own highly venerated royal lineages to the Bini link is claimed even as far as the Kalabari Ijaw of Degema in Rivers State.
At the heart of this expansive empire was the old Benin Kingdom. What is remarkable about the Old Benin Kingdom is that it was purely an African state whose growth was not stimulated by either Islam or contact with Europe. Like Oyo, Benin was at its greatest before any contact with Europe was ever made. Under Oba Ewuare, the Great, 1440-1473, the Kingdom of Benin through conquests from Idah to the North, Owo and Akure to Igboland, West of the Niger, had become an Empire. The Oba gave Benin a strong central government that weakened political factions and intrigues of the chiefs. His constitutional reforms strengthened the Oba against the Uzama and the Palace chiefs. A great and shrewd magician, regarded as a semi-divine monarch, Oba Ewuare gave Benin City the look and status of an imperial metropolis. It was during the time of Ewuare’s reign that the first European, Ruy de Sequeira reportedly visited Benin in 1472, although Michael Crowder argues that it is more likely that the first European, Joao Affonso d’ Aviero’, came to Benin in 1486.
It can be said here that Benin attained her greatest glory and splendor under Oba Esigie (1504 -1550) , when her progress in the fields of culture, politics, arts and crafts was immeasurably outstanding. The Oba, according to some English visitors could field twenty thousand warriors in one day, and up to 100,000 men if necessary”. In 1702, a Dutchman, David Van Nyendal described the richness of the Bini people’s diet (beef, mutton or chickens.) And their neat and ornamental mode of dress. Their craftsmen included metal workers, weavers, wood-carvers and brass-smiths. Edo State, the surviving core of the Old Benin Empire, today, arguably though, claims to be the Heart-Beat of modern Nigeria. Outside the Ogiso dynasty, thirty-eight Obas (Kings) have ruled the Kingdom to date.
The legendary fame of the old Benin Empire was widespread and the peoples of Europe heard about, and desired to visit it. Also, it was known before the 15th century that somewhere in the hinterland of the Maghreb, gold was obtained by the Arabs from the Negroes for sale on the European markets.
Thus naturally, Europeans wanted to gain direct access to the source of supply and sideline the Arab middlemen. Also, Portugal and Spain were interested in finding a sea-route to India in order to avoid trading for Indian goods through Arab intermediaries. These economic motives, plus a desire to extend geographical knowledge and, then possibly, find a Christian king in tropical Africa as an ally in the struggles against Islam led Prince Henry of Portugal, the navigator, to launch expeditions to sail beyond the West Coast of Africa to discover a new route to India. Aided by the Papal Bulls of the 1450s, which had secured their rights to the African Coasts, the Portuguese had by 1480, completed their exploration of the West Coast and were able to settle down to its fruits “mainly in gold from Mina and peppers from Benin.
As mentioned above, the real motive for the missionary work in tropical Africa was the desire to find a Christian king to become all ally in the struggle against Islam. The crusades (1096 -1453) were undertaken in Europe in order to recapture the Holy Land of Jerusalem from the infield Turks who had occupied it from 7th century. These expedition having failed, most parts of Europe were traumatised, and quite naturally, the Christian nations needed allies outside Europe. Then came the reports about the fame, size and power of the Benin Empire. And if the Portuguese were to make any headway in West Africa, Benin City, the centre of the empire, was to be the take-off point.
Thus Benin became the centre-piece of the missionary strategy of the Portuguese. Unfortunately, their priests rather than settle amongst the Benin people and learn their language and customs were instructed to convert the Oba and make him decree the Catholic Faith as the religion of his realm as Emperor Constantine did in the Fourth Century Roman Empire. But the Oba’s position as head of the cultic life of his people, and one they regarded as divine guaranteed the failure of the Portuguese missionary strategy.
However, Oba Esigie in an effort to spread Christianity in his realm sent Ohen -Okun, the Olokun priest at Ughoton, as an ambassador to the king of Portugal to ask him to send priests to Benin to teach him and his people about the Christian Faith. He also allowed churches to be built in the city at Ogbelaka, Idumwerie and Akpakpava.. The last-named being the Holy Cross Cathedral” site. The Oba and the King of Portugal exchanged valuable gifts and a Portuguese Ambassador was accredited to Benin. The Aruosa church in Benin City remains a survivor from this era.
Michael Crowder in his The Story of Nigeria tells about the Portuguese who in the second half of the fifteenth century built a factory at Ughoton, the port of Benin to handle pepper trade and purchase of slaves. The Oba had a royal monopoly on trade and it was the duty of his high chiefs like Uwangue and the Eribo to transact business on his behalf. Other items trade included Leopard skins, ivory, Benin cloths, wood works, brass works and in exchange for them Portuguese goods like firearms, dresses, glasses, beads and umbrellas were obtained. The introduction of firearms in Benin at this time positively increased its military strength and played a remarkable role in its imperial expansion in the 16th century.
It is not disputed that most nationalities in both Edo and Delta States (except perhaps the Izon) have direct or indirect links with Benin origin. The Esan are said to have migrated from Benin, some during the Ogisos and others after. Their first enijies were mostly princes from Benin. So, too are the Oras. The Etsako are Benin migrants.
The Ika (Agbor people) came from Benin in several waves. Other Western Igbo and Onitsha trace their roots to Benin. The Ihoho (Urhobo) were migrants from Benin and Their language is clearly a dialect of Edo language. The Benin monarchy extended its influence to Eko (Lagos – where it set up its dynasty; the first Eleko of Eko), to Itsekiri land (where prince Ginuwa became the first Olu the Itsekiri ) and to Badagry and beyond.
Now, we may first try to describe the Itsekiri people whose kingdom is Warri. As already pointed out, the Dutch map of 1705 referred to above, marks their homeland as Awyri which over time had variously been spelt Iwere, Ouere, Oere, Warree, Wari. and now Warri. The Edo and the Yoruba call them Iwere. The people who constitute the Itsekiri tribe have diverse origins: early settlers from Ijebu, some from Igala and Aboh came to settle in various communities such as Omadino, Ureju, Ugborodo , Inroin, etc at various times out of human memory . Then a party from the Benin Royal family about the end of the 15th century set up a monarchy which constituted these erstwhile autonomous mini-communities into a nationality which it is today.
Prof. P. C Lloyd says that “in the English literature they are known as Warri or Jekri, though in the 19th century they were often referred to as Benin since contacts with them were first made on the banks of the Benin River”. Here was a Kingdom founded by the royal party from Benin, but by the early sixteenth century through the seventeenth, it had done so much overseas trade to match or exceed that of the mother – kingdom; the reason being its advantageous position within the empire on the rim of the Atlantic. The Itsekiri speak a Yoruba dialect whose vocabulary has been widened by the infusion of a large number of Portuguese, Bini and English words.
As an introduction of the influence of the Bini culture in Itsekiri land, it is pertinent to recall part of the address presented to Prince Solomon I.A Akenzua, then Edaiken of Uselu (now His majesty the Oba of Benin by the Itsekiri community in Benin) by the Itsekiri community in Benin on the occasion of his retirement from public service and return home in 1973.
We would like to recall the special historical relationships that bind your people and ours. Both Bini and Itsekiri histories agree that Ginuwa, a prince, as your goodself, left this great city to found the Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom about 1480. In the 15th and 16th centuries, these two kingdoms emerged as a civilizing force in this part of the world and provided great splendour which attracted European adventurers, missionaries and merchants alike. The visit of D’ Aviero of Portugal of Benin City in 1485 and the establishment of a Catholic Mission in Benin about 1515 AD were great historical developments that have had their parallels only in Iwerreland. At the beginning of the 17th century, a son of a reigning Olu went to Portugal for ten years (as the Oba’s ambassador went to Portugal between 1481 and 1495 to be educated in the best schools and returned with a Portuguese lady of a high birth as his wife, their son , Antonio Domingo was Olu of Warri in the 1640s. The site of the Catholic Cathedral (St. Anthony) built in Ode-Itsekiri.. is still called (Satoni)… we have proud similar chieftaincy titles-Iyatsere as Iyase; Ologbotsere as Ologhosere; Uwangue as Uwanguel Otsodi as oshodin and many other… Even your present esteemed title of Edaiken compares with “Daniken”, the last ceremonial stage of the Olu-Elect before coronation. And, our Itselu means “sacred quarters” of the Olu’s mother as Uselu in Benin. Aslo, our war songs, lyrics and burial songs have common roots with Bini ceremonial songs.
Truly, these cultural bonds span the vast areas of royalty, chieftnancy, language, music and dancing, rituals to dynastic ties.
The Warri throne, being a direct off-shoot of the Benin monarchy, bears all its attributes. Historically, the Olu of Warri, like the Oba, is the personal focus of the people’s loyalty and affection. The crown, highly glamorised, is the symbol of supreme authority in both kingdoms. The Olu, like the Oba (aiguobasinwin) does no wrong and can not be queried or challenged (Afo massin; Afo were tse were); he is the keeper of the corporate conscience of his people. The Oba is titled Uku-Akpolokpolo, which literally means high and extremely very large. In essence, it means next to God, divine and infinite. He is also addressed: Ogie N’Ogbomwan be edge uwuikomwam; i.e king who can confer life and death. A similar title of the Olu of Warri is Ogie-uwu i.e , king over death. The Oba is also addressed: Ekpen N’uwa i.e the tiger at home. In spite of the contemporary societal forces which have constrained the practical meanings of these titles, in the nitty-gritty of the norms of Benin and Warri societies, these mind-bending titles, theoretical as they are, still do provide the pillars and sign-posts that guide most traditional activities. These titles remain stilted and honorific.
Examining some royal titles in Benin and Warri, one would be amazed at the striking oneness of their roots. Even in some cases, Warri tended religiously to follow Benin titles every sixty years on the average. The fourth Olu of Warri, Ojoluwa who ascended the throne in 1550 assumed the title of the fifteenth Oba of Benin Ozolua who reigned in 1483; the fifth Olu Esigie who became king in 1570 bore the title Esigie, the sixteenth Oba of Benin who came to the throne in 1504. And the thirteenth Olu Akengboye (1710) took the title of the twenty-second Oba Akengboi (1669). Others who followed were the fortheeenth Olu Atogbwua (1735) who bore the title Orhogbua, the seventeenth Oba (1550). And the sixteenth Olu Akengbuwa (1807) took the title of the thirtieth Oba Akengbuda (1750). Even Erejuwa in Warri and erediauwa in Benin sound alike. In both cultures, part from the crown, and other high-profile symbols of royalty are swords and scarlet cloth. The Itsekiri have derived the names of these items from Bini.
The main Itsekiri chieftaincy titles are derivatives of Bini titles. Some are Iyatsere (Iyase), Ologbotsere (Ologbosere), Uwangue (Uwangue), Olisan (Oliha), Otsodi (Oshodin), Osula (Osula), Ojomo (Ezomo) and Ero (Ero). In both kingdoms, chiefs perform palace rituals and, in the olden days, assisted their monarchs to rule in-council.
According to Igbafe the custom was for the Oba’s eldest son, on reaching maturity to be shown round to the people and installed as the Edaiken, or heir to the throne. He was then sent to live in Uselu, a village which was outside the walls of the town but is now incorporated in Benin City , to be trained in the dignity and responsibilities of kingship” Today, the Edaiken is one of the seven Uzama chiefs (Uzama nihairon) – a distinct branch of the Bini traditional government. In Warri, Daniken is the three lunar- month period of restriction imposed on an Olu-Elect during which, as in Benin he gets trained in the dignity and responsibilities of kingship. The title in Warri, as shown, refers not to a person but to a period. Meaning hold with care, Daniken in Warri could not have related to a person (Olu’s eldest son), because Igiuna left Benin with no son to take from him. However, he married and had children during his long journey to Warri. Rather, it would seem that at the time of his demise in Ijala (Warri), his retinue, while installing his son Ijijen a the Olu, cautioned him to hold with care his new responsibilities.
As soon as the Edaiken leaves Uselu to ascend the throne, his mother becomes known as Iyoba, and goes to live in Uselu. As head of the village, she has her court, like the other Uzamas, and confers titles. Thus in Benin, the Iyoba has some political functions, to perform. In Warri, Omoneukarin says, “tradition is somewhat silent as regards the political activities of any previous Iyolu.. (Olu’s mother), the first Olu did not come from Benin with his mother.. (and) and the custom of investing the Oba’s mother at Benin with the title of the Iye-Oba (Queen mother) did not exist at Benin before Prince Iginua left about 1480 and until the reign of Oba Esigie about 1504”. However, in Warri kingdom, Itselu (Uselu) is regarded as the quarters of the Olu’s mother and is beyond any attacks by the Olu himself. There is this saying in Itsekiri: “Aja te je oba jija reje Itselu” meaning the town that the Olu can never attack is Itselu (Uselu).
In royalty and chieftaincy areas vast numbers of Itsekiri words as already shown above are coined or borrowed from Bini. Other words such as Ugbo (forest) Idimi (quarters), Ighele (adult man), Odibo (steward) have Bini roots. Others are Ugha (compound), ekete (throne) and Igedu (timber).
Music and Dancing
All Ibiogbe dance songs are in Bini language. Ibiogbe is a kind of military dance generally performed at all Itsekiri funerals, and come after Ukpukpe, another military funeral dance. During Ibiogbe dance, seven songs are generally rendered.
Benin and Warri developed vast overseas trade, which made them prosperous and famous. Both experienced slave trade, welcomed overseas missionary workers, dealt with foreign kings and their ambassadors, exchanged correspondences with them, but at the end of the nineteenth century, suffered unwarranted humiliating defeats in the hands of British Imperialism. These events in both Benin and Warri had their appropriate ripple effects in the neighbouring communities.
It will not be out of place to refer to a British merchant, George William Neville, who seemed not to see justice on the side of his own Government in the way the Old Benin Kingdom was sacked in 1879.
He was the first Lagos manager of the Bank of British West Africa and a good friend of Nanna, whose own deposition he had also condemned. Believing that Consul Phillips was high-handed in his treatment of Oba Ovonramwen and his kingdom, Nevilla wrote.
“I contend that we have no more right to ride roughshod over the susceptibilities of subject races than we have to storm the tabernacles and tear down the banners of the Salvation Army”.
And on the exaggerated tales of human sacrifices in Benin circulating in Europe: he opined:.
“The motive ( of wholesale human sacrifice) is not blood lust but a deep – seated belief in the principle of propitiation, for which authority is not wanting in the Old Testament”.
“In judging the African”, Neville wrote, let us not forget that, almost within living memory, we Englishmen hanged men for sheep-stealing and exhibited heads on Temple Bar, and I question whether any atrocities in Africa – now things of the past – have ever approached in magnitude the massacres under Cross and Crescent in modern times”. Neville died in 1929. Being excerpts of paper titled March of Edo civilisation and its effects on the neighboring communities.
Departed ancestors and “the Head” are worshipped in Benin Kingdom, just as the Benin people believe in the concept of the guardian spirit. The departed ancestors may be parents, heroes, heroines, chiefs or Obas.
The belief within the Benin cosmos is that the departed ancestors are still living members of the extended family. An art/cultural historian, High Priest Osemwegie
Ebohon, in his article entitled “1400 Years of Benin Kingdom: From the Ogisos
to Oba Erediauwa”, noted that death only physically separates the dead from the
living. The belief in life in the hereafter or life after death is not just
widespread among the people but is engraved in the deepest part of their
thought. This may partly be the reason Ebohon noted that even after physical
death the people still maintain links with the departed. “Spiritually, they are
still communing with members of their families here on earth,” he wrote.
According to Ebohon, these ancestors live in the spirit world, Eguae Osanobua-Eguaosa, with God and have God’s ears. “Therefore, it is wise to pray through them to
God for assistance in the arduous journey through life. In fact, these
ancestors are even deified. They are consulted daily, routinely or during
important occasions and sacrifices are offered to them for such life-making
assistance,” he added. Whether it is daily, routinely or on special occasions,
the traditional diviner is said to be always at hand to find out the wishes,
orders, pleas, moods and emotional feelings of ancestors on request. “No Bini
ignores these because the ancestors by fiat can cause pain, illness, poverty,
impotence, insanity, infertility, childlessness, accidents, poor crop yields
and even death for any transgression against them.
“The power, influence and authority of the ancestors are never ridiculed, questioned or challenged by the Binis in secret or in public,” Ebohon stated. To the
traditional Benin, it is considered a sacrilege to go contrary to this deeply
held belief. How then does the traditional Benin commune with their ancestors?
“Homage is paid to the ancestors at meal or drinking times by descendants through
the ritual practice of throwing food pieces and pouring libation to them before
the first bite or drink is taken. It is a rule that the ancestors must eat and,
or drink first before living descendant,” Ebohon explained. Homage-paying is
not an all-male affair. The females, too, are involved. The art/cultural
historian said: “Females that have lost their parents or any of their parents
could give libation to their immediate ancestors.”
There are three platforms for the worship of ancestors in Benin Kingdom. Ebohon identified these platforms as the family altar, the palace altar and the
communal altar. The family altar is where the eldest surviving male child, as
chief priest, prays and intercedes on behalf of the family members to his
departed father. The palace altar (or altars) is where a reigning Oba worships
his departed Obas. A communal altar, as the name suggests, belongs to the
community and it is where departed great elders in the community are
collectively worshipped during certain festivals. At the community level, the
Odionwere (eldest male) leads the worship. Similarly, Benin people regard the
human head as more than a biological entity. To them, as Ebohon puts it, the
human head is an altar through which God can be worshipped for conferring success
on a person in life or for approaching God to get His blessings. “Success in
life, among the Binis, is interpreted to mean that one has a good steering
compass in the head. So, the Binis say you have a good head (Uhunnoma).”
The annual Ugie festival, usually celebrated every December, is said to incorporate head worship for the Oba, the royal family, palace chiefs and all sons and daughters
of Benin Kingdom. It is also said that ancestral worship has a segment that is
devoted to head worship. Ebohon further explained that to celebrate head
worship as a religious practice, Benin people had a special commemorative head
carving called “Uhunmwan Elao” kept in ancestral altars. Besides, he said there
was an ancestral wooden staff of authority known as “Ukhurhe” with a carved
human head on it, which is equally placed on the altars. Sometimes, according
to him, there are rectangular bells (Eroro) with metallic human head found on
Belief in the existence of a guardian spirit among the Benin people is very common. They call the guardian spirit Ehi. Ebohon stated: “It is Ehi’s responsibility to
help one’s head pilot a person through life. In other words, Ehi or the
guardian spirit is a form of helper. Its mandate is to give support to a person
so as to enable him achieve his destiny on earth, already chosen in the spirit
world with God and the guardian spirit in attendance. Invariably, the Benins
believe that the person in the spirit world chooses a person’s station in life.
“Therefore, on earth, he cannot rewrite his destiny, part of which determines
the day, week and month on or in which he is born; or the family and
geographical location into which or within which he is born. To explain this
fact, the Benins have a saying: “Aise Agbon ri Oba, erinmwin a ke rioe re”. It
means one cannot just become a king on earth unless one is ordained from the
spirit world.” The guardian spirit, Ebohon continued, is propitiated through
the medium of head worship while an Oba of Benin normally appointed a chief to
be in charge of his Ehi (Ehi Oba). The duty of the chief, it is said, is to
undertake the worship of the Oba’s Ehi the Oba’s behalf. The Benin names, which
are said to celebrate this factor of Ehi, include Ehiosuomwan, Ehimwenma,
Ehigiamusoe, Obehi, Ehigbokan, Ehimua, Ehiogie (Ehigie), Ehigiegba,Ehizogie and
Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state government has completed the training of 253 teachers, who will be deployed to teach Benin culture, language and history in secondary schools and selected primary schools across the state.
Obaseki disclosed this at the weekend during the presentation of a book titled: “Ogiamien And The Illusion of Kingship,” written by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
He said the deployment of the teachers to the schools is in line with the state government’s policy to preserve Benin’s rich history and culture, noting, “We are emphasising the study of Benin language, culture and history to preserve it for the present and the future generations. This is to ensure that we preserve our identity.”
The governor said a major focus of his administration is to reform basic education in the state, adding, “In few years to come, children who complete basic education in the state would have obtained quality education, similar to the quality of education obtained by the author of the book.”
According to him, “During the last book presentation by Chief Edebiri, I made a commitment to restore the teaching of history in our school curriculum. We have not only achieved the promise but happy that the Federal Government is following suit by reintroducing the teaching of history in the national curriculum.”
He commended the author of the book, whose generation, he said, has helped build local communities, the state and country.
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, also commended Chief Edebiri, noting that the book has revealed more historical facts about the Benin monarchy by dispelling the wrong perception relating to the defeat of Ogiamien by the Oba of Benin in the 13th Century.
The Benin monarch, who was represented by the Oliha of Benin, Chief Edionwe Oliha, noted that the book is significant in presenting the real issue about Ogiamien, adding, “I commend the author in going the extra mile to present such a book. I have confidence that the book will serve as valuable research material for researchers and all those interested in Benin history.”
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, said the heritage of Benin Kingdom is significant to the social development of Nigeria, noting, “When I visited the Benin Museum and Igun Street, where the great Benin art works are made, I was marvelled by the resourcefulness put into creating such works. The Federal Government will review how such resources can be used in deepening the development of science and technology in the country.”
The author of the book, Chief David Edebiri, expressed appreciation to dignitaries who were at the event, noting, “The book is the 8th in the Benin historical essay series. I realised that if I fail to document these aspects of our history, it would mean denying the present and future generations the knowledge of these facts in our historical development.
The great Benin Origins was also represented in this event.