When rain falls, trees and the soil are watered to yield and bring forth abundant harvest. That was the case on October 20, 2018 when the second coronation anniversary to mark the ascension to the throne of the ancient Benin Kingdom by His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin was held at the Oba Palace ground in Benin City. The celebration left lasting impressions and legacies behind, as it witnessed the formal launch and public presentation of a historic book, “The Red Book: The Benin Monarchy: An Anthology of Benin History”. During the celebration, His Royal Majesty, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin also performed the ground breaking ceremony of the Oba Ewuare II Satellite Town in Ugomoson in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State. These two events have been variously described as epoch and historic in Benin Kingdom.
The Red Book was meant to put in proper perspective, the history of Benin Kingdom right from the Ogiso Dynasty to the present Obaship. The book runs into over 550 pages, with 18 chapters and 27 contributing editors and it contains over 400 pictures of various Obas, artefacts, relics and historical symbols associated with Benin Kingdom. The book which is a much cherished material weighs 7 kilograms and it is one of the richest book of history on one of the most important race and Kingdom in the world. It is a compendium of the work of various historians, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, writers and analysts and the forward to the book was written by His Royal Majesty himself, which makes it the most authentic book of history on Benin Kingdom. His Royal Majesty, Ewuare II says the unveiling of the Red Book was very dear to his heart, pointing out that the book is of outstanding quality and in a class of its own. The Benin Monarch described it as a great tribute to a great culture and a great history of a great people.
Before now, various books have been written by different writers and scholars on Benin history, however the Red Book was written to correct some of the misconceptions in those earlier books. For example, some authors do refer to the Crown Prince as the Duke of Uselu. Speaking during the public presentation of the Red Book, Oba Ewuare II clarified that the Crown Prince is not a duke but the Edaiken N’Uselu who derives his authority from the Oba of Benin. His Royal Majesty, Ewuare II also clarifies that there are no king makers in Benin Kingdom, pointing out that in Benin tradition a King is born and not made or chosen by any individual or group of individuals. Furthermore, people used to believe that issues or matter starts and end in the Oba Palace. According to the Omo N’Oba, that is quite erroneous, because there is a saying in Benin that, “Equae-Emwense” meaning, all matters ends at the Palace, because of the authority vested in the Oba over the Kingdom. His resolution is final and never subject to further review. The Oba of Benin explained the historical background to these claims which of course are contained in the Red Book.
Again, before now, it was believed that Oba Ewuare II would be the 39th Oba of Benin. However, on his coronation day, this was corrected, when the Oba publicly announce that he is the 40th Oba of Benin. The implication of this is that recognition have been accorded Ekaladerhan, the exiled Prince of Benin Kingdom as the 1st Oba of Benin. All the books that had been written on Benin history did not recognise Ekaladerhan as an Oba. So, there are a lot to learn from the Red Book, which explains why various speakers, at the book launch including former Nigeria Head of State, Retired General Yakubu Gowon and the book reviewer, Prof. Abednego Ekoko recommended the book for the academia, historians, students and indeed the general public, and went further to describe Oba Ewuare II as a quintessential leader and philosopher king of our time.
General Gowon who was chairman on the occasion described Benin Kingdom as unique and also described Oba Ewuare II as a distinguished diplomat. He said the Benin Monarch has been in the fore front of making Nigeria peaceful and united. The former Head of state commended Oba Ewuare II intelligence in producing the magnificent book of history of Benin Kingdom, which according to General Gowon will have far reaching effect on the people and society. He noted that the “Red Book” was published to put the history of Benin Kingdom in perspective, saying that it is a master piece.
In a remark, President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha says the history of Nigeria will not be complete without the contributions of Benin Kingdom, and congratulated the Oba of Benin for preserving the rich culture and tradition of Benin Kingdom. He pointed out that Benin Kingdom is a role model for other cultures in the world to emulate.
President Buhari said the Red Book no doubt will showcase the rich cultural heritage of Benin people and the Kingdom, assuring that his administration will continue to encourage traditional rulers, and called on them to build bridges of unity, love and mutual respect. He explained that the teaching of our history, culture and tradition must not be compromised in order to promote it.
President Buhari called on traditional rulers to teach their people to eschew hate speech, ethnicity, religious bigotry and violence, especially as the 2019 general election draws near. He also advised Nigerians to resist money politics, with a promise to continue to deliver on his change agenda of providing security, development and fighting corruption. He concluded by saying that the traditional institutions are key to ensuring peace, unity and progress in Nigeria.
On his part Captain Hosa Okunbo said Oba Ewuare II means well for his people and Benin Kingdom, and called on everyone to support the vision of the Omo N’Oba and the success of the Red Book.
Another feature of the second anniversary was the ground breaking ceremony of the Oba Ewuare II Satellite Town located at Ugomoson along Benin-Agbor-Onisha Express Way in Uhunmwode Local Government Area. According to His Royal Majesty, the motive behind the establishment of the Satellite Town are many. First, it is meant to decongest Benin City which has been over populated and its facilitates over stretched.
Secondly, it is to open the rural areas and bring development nearer the people at the grassroots. Furthermore, the Satellite Town will promote economic activities, and create jobs for the unemployed. The Satellite Town is expected to be a model with modern facilities, such as motorable road, water, electricity, market, security, schools and recreational facilities that will make life more meaningful for its inhabitants.
Since Oba Ewuare II ascended the throne on 20th October, 2016 the Palace of the Oba of Benin has been transformed from its ancient form to a modern Palace. The latest of such transformations is the construction of Ultra-Modern and befitting gate in the Palace. The gate reflects royalty as well as the rich culture and tradition of Benin Kingdom. The gate has the symbol of the head of Queen Idia N’Iyesigie (The Festac Bronze Head), an Eagle which signify strength, an Elephant, and the bronze head of an Oba who once reigned in Benin Kingdom. The gate is a beauty to behold.
On the establishment of a Satellite Town, the Oba of Benin said the concept of a satellite town or a model, self-contained city was one of the key projects he muted during his coronation as the 40th Oba of Benin on October 20, 2016, and it is aimed at boosting youth empowerment, economic development and the general welfare of his people. The Benin Monarch expresses hope that the satellite town would attract a cluster of industries that would create job opportunities for the teeming youths, and stem the tide of rural-urban migration.
Architect Eddy Eguavoen who designed the Satellite Town said it is the vision of Oba Ewuare II, who is concerned with the uncontrollable urban development in Benin City without water, drainages, electricity, roads that poses a problem. He said the Satellite Town will have all modern amenities and it will be executed to meet international standard.
On his part the chairman of Uhunmwode Local Government Area Hon. Napoleon Agbama eulogised Oba Ewuare II for his foresight and zeal to establish the satellite town in the locality, which according to Agbama will help to transform the status of Uhunmwode from that of least developed local government area in the state to an enviable status of economic hub and social development. He expressed gratitude on behalf of the good people of Uhunmwode to the revered Benin Monarch for helping to remove them from the shackles of poverty and lack.

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