Benin Social Structure
Though debateable, some literature term Benin as the cradle of civilization and that every other kingdom in its vicinity emerged from it. They also points to the origin of the benin’s being immigrants from multiple regions.
These immigrants who came in from Nupe, Sudan and Egypt and settled in the Benin kingdom where directed by different leaders for about a century, before the first dynasty.
The rulers in Benin kingdom during the first dynasty were called “Ogiso”. The first ever “Ogiso” was “Igodo”. He named the kingdom “Igodomigodo”. This name stood as the name of Benin kingdom from the era of “Ogiso Igodo” to the time of “Ogiso Ere”. There after, the name was changed to “Ile” which spanned
through the periods of the other Ogisos.
The Kings of the second Dynasty where known as “Oba”. The first “Oba” of the second dynasty “Oba Oranmiyan” called Benin “Ile-Ibinu” then “Oba Ewedo who reigned from 1255 AD to 1280AD changed it to “Ubini”which is the authenticated origin of “Benin”. From “Ubini” it was changed to “Edo” by “Oba Ewuare” as a mark to immortalize the name of his friend “Edo” who saved him from sudden death when he was to be arrested by the chiefs.
In Benin Kingdom, they have some important personalities who joins the Oba in the day to day running of the kingdoms affairs.
Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo (the King, the supreme) Uzama Nihiron (the king makers as well as the elders of the state) are seven in number, “Oliha, Edohen, Ezomo, Ero, Oloton, Eholo Nire and the Edaiken” Eghaevbo N’ Ore (They function as the state councillors) this group comprises of four senior chiefs, “Iyase (Leader), Esogban,Eson and Osuma”. They are the political leaders, this group was instituted by “Oba Ewuare”.
Eghaevbo N’ Ogbe (These chiefs are made up of officials from the council of state of the monarch and they are selected from the three special palace societies, “Iwebo, Iwegbuae and Ibiwe). This group includes among others, the title “Edogun”(the leader), “Oza”, “Arak”, “Edaze” and “Edamaza”.
The “Iwebo” society has “Uwangue” as its leader. They are the makers and caretakers of the Oba’s regalia, wardrobe and paraphernalia. The “Iwebo” ranks as the foremost of the three royal societies in the palace.
The “Iweguae” has “Esere” as their leader, they specifically run errands for the Oba.
The “Ibiwe” society is headed by “Osodin”. This group is the one responsible for the kings harem. Other positions whithin the Benin kingdom are:
The “Efa” (The sanctifiers of the palace) headed by “Ogiefa”.
The “Ihogbe” (Worshippers and recorders of the departed Obas of Benin ) headed by “Ihama”
The “Igun-eronmwom” (Makers of the royal Brass) headed by “Inenigun”
The “Igun-ematon” (The royal blacksmiths) headed by
The “Ikpema” (The royal drummers) headed by “Omuemu”
The “Iwoki” (Royal astrologers) headed by “odinwere-iwoki”
The “Ukhegie” (the medical doctors and surgeons) headed by “Imogun”
The “Emezi” (the caretakers of the Oba”s children) headed by “Iyase”
The “Iwaranmwen” (the butchers, who kill the sacrificial victims) headed by “Ehondo”
The “Ewa” (the royal cocks who wake the Oba from sleep) headed by “Ohuoba”
The overall political and social structure of the Benin kingdom makes it a well organised ancient african kingdom.