What is today known as Edo or Benin City was originally known as Idu. It started out with one man who sired the human race. His family initially grew into groups of small farm settlements linked with footpaths. Over time, the settlements grew bigger, turning into villages and towns hundreds and perhaps thousands of years later. As each settlement got bigger and farms moved further away, new settlements sprang up around the newfarms until the Idu family spread all over the earth. The immediate Idu family that could trace their ancestry to Pa Idu, grew after hundreds and thousands of years, into large communities and towns such as Udo, Abudu, Iguobazuwa, Urhonigbe and so on. Each of the Pa Idu’s immediate extended family communities, villages and towns, had its own Edionwere. The Idus initially, naturally, married each other from within close family ties, then across their communities, villages and towns.
They had quality family get-togethers; skirmishes, of course, particularly over farm land boundaries; and fought some wars with distant neighbours together. At some point, deep in the BCE era, all the Edionweres of Idu communities, villages and towns, decided to come together andset up a Council of Edionweres, to take decisions on their behalf and settle differences between communities. The first inter community Council they set up was called Ik’edionwere and it broughttogether the Edionweres of all the different communities, towns and villages of Idu people who recognized themselves as coming from the one original Pa Idu ancestry and speaking the same Idu language. They were related to one another as brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts etc, who happened to have set up settlements near or far from one another.The Ik’edionwere members selected one from among their members, usually the oldest in age, to lead them. Often he was very old, so he nominated a much younger member of the councilas his Oka’iko, a helping hand. This was how whatbecame known as the Edo kingdom evolved. It was by no means a perfect arrangement from dayone, but it worked for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, solving some problems, creating others, with occasional damaging fights for supremacy among the council members.Ogiso Obagodo or Oba Igodo(40 BCE – 16 CE).In 40 BCE,‘Igodo,’ an ambitious, young, smart, Edionwere, from Idunmwun Ivbioto district, emerged as the Oka’iko. Igodo staged a coup, by abolishing the Ik’edionwere and declaring himself the Ogiso. He set up the Odibo-Ogiso group to help him consolidate his authority.
Ogiso, literarily refers to ‘king of the sky’ but its connotion or significance deeply means “the ordained rulers or leaders by God” or ‘God ordained, supreme leaders/rulers, king of kings, kings maker, main directors or managers. By calling himself Ogiso, he was implying direct lineage to Pa Idu. He named his combined territories or sprawling nation state, Igodomigodo, and set up his capital at Ugbekun. The people of Igodomigodo enthusiastically accepted him as their ruler. They saw him as the reincarnation of Pa Idu and accorded him divine qualities. They transferred to him, all the myths associated with Pa Idu, including the God-son creation myth. All Ogisos and Obas of Benin naturally try to strengthen these myths in a variety of ways, including not allowing themselves to be seen eating in public and so suggesting that they can live without food.
They are in myth, not mortal but god-kings, with celestial mystique attached to them.Ogiso Igodo, after consolidating his hold on power, set up a Royal Council which included members of the disbanded Ik’edionwere Council and the Odibo-Ogiso group. He toyed with the idea of his succession by heredity and recommended in the alternative, succession by a close relative, who is mature, wise, and acceptable to the Royal Council. Ogiso Igodo died in 16 CE. None of his sons was able to succeed him to the throne.Ogiso Ere(16 – 66 CE). Ogiso Ere, who was Ogiso Igodo’s kinsman, succeeded Igodo to the throne in16 CE. Ogiso Ere transferred the capital of Igodomigodo from Ugbekun to Uhudumwunrun. This implies that Igodomigodo was a sprawling kingdom with more than a few largegathering points rather than a series of small hamlets. It was a very sophisticated kingdom too from that far back in history. Ogiso Ere, a lover of peace, was also a very resourceful king. He brought his kingdom several innovations. He was the first to wear a Cowry Crown. He introduced the guild system of carpenters and wood carvers, which eventually developed into the world’s celebrated wood works and bronze casting factories of today’s Igun Street in Benin City. Ogiso Ere built the first ever Igodomigodo market, known then as Ogiso market and in modern times as Agbado market. Ogiso Ere, invented the famous African kingship paraphernalia which includes the Ada (a sword of honour), Eben (a sword for dancing), Ekete (a royal stool), Agba (a rectangular stool), and Epoki (a leather box).
These still serve today as the symbols of Obaship authority in many West African countries that experienced Bini control and or influence.The Ada with one cutting edge is sometimes described as the senior sword of state, and the Ebe, with its double cutting edge, is the thrusting sword, (or the sword for dancing), trilled four times in thanksgiving and in self-identification, tothe spirits of the ancestors. It must not fall whenbeing trilled. While the Ada is believed to link theEdo with Egypt where a similar sword was used inbattles, the Eben is linked with the Bronze Age, which the Bini may have used to fight their way through the desert and bush path to reach their present location.
All Benin chiefs have the authority to use the Eben but only a few among them are allowed to possess the Ada. The Ada chiefs include, Enogies, the Ovies in Urhobo land, who can pronounce death sentence on citizens, and the Uzama nobles (Oliha, Edohen, Ero, Eholorn’ire etc), during the Ogiso era. None of these chiefs is allowed, however, to carry the Adainto palace grounds. Only their Eben can go in with them.Ogiso Orire(66 – 100 CE).