Historical accounts are vague as to when and if the Bini (Edo), migrated from the Nile valley. What is not in doubt is that the earliest rulers of Benin were called Ogisos.
Thirty-one Ogisos in all ruled the kingdom of Benin between 900 – 1200 AD, which is the earliest period so far accounted for in Benin history.
The Bini monarchy demonstrates a strong affinity with ancient Egyptian gods and Pharaohs, with which it shares identical authority, grandeur, and a great deal of reverence from their subjects.
In fact, the hairstyle of Bini chiefs is similar to Pharaoh Ramses II’s famous helmet, while the small circles on the helmet also appear on many Bini bronzes. Bini Queens wear identical hairstyles to that of Pharaoh Mycerinus (Fourth-Dynasty) and Pharaoh Sesostris I (Twelfth Dynasty). The kings (Ogies) of Benin (Bini) also adopt grand Osirian titles of the ‘Open Eye,’ signifying omniscience and omnipotence.
The Bini cosmological account of the universe draws significantly from the Egyptian one. The Egyptian version, which later formed the basis of genesis in the Bible, is that the universe was created from chaos and primeval (or ancient) ocean. After a hill (called tatjenen) arose from the bottom of the ocean, a son-god (God’s child or baby god) called Atom (which is the Sun without which life on earth is impossible), appeared on the land created by the hill. The son-god or Atom then created eight other gods which together with himself made nine gods. These nine gods are presumed by modern science to be symbolized by the nine major planets of the universe.
The Bini version is that, in the beginning, there was no land but only water everywhere. In the middle of the water stood a tree, on top of which lived (Owonwon) the toucan. Osanobua (The Creator) decided to populate the world, so The Creator sent three sons, each with a choice of peculiar gift.
One of the three sons chose to have wealth, and the next chose magical skills. As the youngest was about to make his choice known, Owonwon cried out to him to settle for a snail shell, which he did. When the canoe the three children were traveling in reached the middle of the waters, the youngest son turned his snail shell upside down to release an endless stream of sand, resulting in the emergence of land from the waters.
The three sons, at first, were afraid to step on the land from the canoe. To test the firmness of the land, they sent the Chameleon, and the Chameleons walk with hesitation.
Osanobua then came down on a chain, from the sky, to demarcate the earth and allocate responsibilities. Osanobua appointed the youngest son as ruler of the earth. The son called the earth (Agbon) and promptly set up his headquarters at Igodomigodo.
The oldest son was given control of the waters by Osanobua. The Bini call this son, Olokun (meaning the god of the river). The other son was allowed the freedom to use his magical powers to balance out the negative and positive forces of nature. He apparently represents evil, and the Bini called him Ogiuwu (or Esu sometimes), meaning the harbinger of death. Ogiuwu is supposed to own the blood of all living things. In other words, no living thing can live forever.
Osanobua then settled in the realm of the spirit world across the waters where the sky and the earth meet.
While Osanobua and Olokun represent aspects of life, such as good health, long life, good luck, prosperity, and happiness to which man may appeal through ritual purity, Ogiuwu represents mourning, evil omens, and diseases.
The youngest son, the ruler of the earth represents innocence and so is susceptible to the powers of the other deities. These same good and evil influences form the basic elements of all modern religions, with man endowed with the power to make choices.
The importance of the emergence of the tree before man on Earth is not lost in modern science, which recognizes that without the tree manufacturing oxygen, life on Earth would have been impossible. Modern science has also confirmed the Bini cosmology that birds, insects, etc. preceded man to Earth. The Bini myth of creation was earth-based in scope.
The Ogisos (meaning rulers of the sky), because of their direct lineage to the youngest son of Osanobua (God) from the sky, were, of course, accorded divine qualities by the Bini. These, the Ogisos naturally tried to strengthen 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 not mortal but god-kings with celestial mystique attached to them.
Because the kings (Ogisos) of Bini are considered divine, they are worshipped by their subjects who speak to them always with great reverence, at a distance and on bended knees. Great ceremonies surround every action of the Bini king.
Bini kings have immense political powers, as ultimate judges in court matters, the deliverers of the death penalty, the receivers of taxes and tributes, the regulators of trade, the nominal owners of the land of the kingdom, chief executives and lawmakers, and principal custodians of customs and traditions.
However, their immense powers are hedged with checks and balances to prevent excesses. The king’s powers are held in trust for the entire community and cannot be exercised without consultation with other levels of authority, such as the kingmakers, known as Edionisen.
The first Ogiso king was called Ogiso Igodo, and his kingdom, Igodomigodo, was at Ugbekun. Ogiso Igodo’s successor, Ogiso Ere, transferred the capital from Ugbekun to Uhudumwunrun.
This detailed history of Bini is being provided to illustrate the formidable authority and influence wielded by monarchs in African kingdoms and demonstrate how ancient people tried to breathe life into myths. Whether it is the son-god of the Bini, Egypt, or the Christian religion, ancient people translated myths into reality. There is, therefore, nothing special about Jesus Christ. The idea of the Son of God or Son-God is as old as the ancient man in Africa.
Ogiso Ere was a very resourceful king. He introduced the guild system of carpenters and wood carvers, which eventually developed into the world celebrated woodworks and bronze casting of Gun Street in Benin City. Ogiso Ere also built the first-ever Igodomigodo market known then as Ogiso market and in modern times as Agbado market. Ogiso Ere, a lover of peace, invented the famous African kingship paraphernalia, which includes the Ada (a sword of honor), Eben (a sword for dancing), Ekete (a royal stool), Agba (a rectangular stool), and Epoki (a leather box).
Ogiso Ere was succeeded by Ogiso Orire, maintaining the primogeniture (son succeeding his father) principle. The fourth dynasty, on the death of Orire, introduced the system of gerontocracy (the oldest person in the community rules) until the death of the twenty-second Ogiso when the primogeniture system was restored. The twenty-third Ogiso extended the primogeniture rule to all his frontline chiefs, known collectively as the Edion (Elders). The Edion included Chief Oliha, Edohen, Ero, Ezomo, and Eholo-Nire. Ogiso Ibioye, another resourceful king, introduced the use of cowries as currency to Igodomigodo.
Benin Kingdom Obas (About 1200AD-Present) Source: Edoworld.net
- Oromiya was the First Recognized Oba
- Eweka I
- Uwakhuanhen (About 1235AD-1243AD)
- Ehenmihen (About 1243AD-1255AD)
- Ewedo (About 1255AD-1280AD)
- Oguola (About 1280AD-1295AD)
- Edoni (About 1295AD-1299AD)
- Udagbedo (About 1299AD-1334AD)
- Ohen (About 1334AD-1370AD)
- Ogbeka (About 1370AD- 1400AD)
- Orobiru (About 1400AD- 1430AD)
- Uwaifiokun (About 1430AD-1440AD)
- Ewuare the Great (About 1440AD-1473AD)
- Ezoti (About 1473AD1473AD)
- Olua (About 1473AD-1480AD)
- Ozolua (About 1481AD-1504AD)
- Esigie (About 1504-1550AD)
- Orhogbua (About 1550AD-1578AD)
- Ehengbuda (About 1578AD-1606AD)
- Ohuan (About 1606AD-1641AD)
- Ahenzae (About 1641AD-1661AD)
- Akenzae (About 1661AD-1669AD)
- Akengboi (About 1669AD-1675AD)
- Akenkpaye (Abou1675AD-1684AD)
- Akengbodo (About 1684AD-1689AD)
- Oroghene (About 1689AD-1700AD)
- Ewuakpe (About 1700AD-1712AD)
- Ozuere (About 1712AD-1713AD)
- Akenzua I (About 1713AD- 1735AD)
- Eresoyen (About 1735 AD-1750AD)
- Akengbuda (About 1750AD-1804AD)
- Obanosa (About 1804AD-1816AD)
- Ogbebo (About 1816AD-1816AD)
- Osemwende (About 1816AD-1848)
- Adolo (About 1848AD-1888AD)
- Ovoranmwen (1888AD-1914AD)
- Eweka II (1914AD-1932AD)
- Akenzua II (1932AD-1978AD)
- Erediauwa (1978AD-2016AD)
- Ewuare 11 (2016AD-Present)