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Ewuare the Great (About 1440AD-1473AD)

Seen by historians as the greatest, the most revered, dynamic, innovative and successful monarch to have reign in Benin kingdom. He completely transformed the Benin kingdom, politically, socially, and religiously.

Under his reign Benin kingdom witnesses its highest prosperity. He changed the kingdom’s name from Ibinu land to Edo land as a reward to a young man called Edo who served his life.

He also honoured Emoton for her pivotal role played in serving his live from glaring dangers during his exile years. When Emotan died he ordered that the sacred uruhe tree be planted at the spot where Emotan used to display her goods in Oba market.

Oba Ewuare is remembered for many things. First contact with any European was made by Oba Ewuare when Ruy De Sequeira visited Benin City in 1472. In his time ivory carving was encouraged. A name like Eghoghomagha can still be remembered as one of the greatest carvers in Benin kingdom.

Of music, Ewuare is remembered for his famous flute called Eziken and the royal band called Ema-Edo.He introduced the royal beads and scarlet cloth (Ododo) which remains the Benin Royal colour. The ugie Ewere started in his reign.

Ewuare’s administration was specifically marked by the creation of the state council made up of Eghaevbo N’0re whose original members were Iyase, Esogban,Eson and Osuma. Ewuare elevated his eldest son to the position of Uzama when he created him Edaiken. He created the Eriyo title. He started Eko-Ohae (Bachelor’s camp) which is now a part of the coronation stations of any Oba of Benin.

He was a great mystic, physician, traveler and warrior.

Restored the primogeniture law. He was reputed to have travelled extensively to very many parts of the present day Nigeria , Dahomey (now called Republic of Benin) Ghana Guinea and Congo. It is on record that he fought and captured not less than 201 towns and villages. Expand Benin kingdom to the west Ekiti, Ikare, to the north, kukuruku.Eka (Ika)and Ibo land west of the Niger.

Re-builds the kingdom on a massive scale, public houses, royal palaces. Made good roads some of which can now be remembered as Akpakpava and Utantan. It was at the peak of his reign that Benin gained the name City.

The innermost and greatest of the Benin moats (generally referred to as third moat) was dug in his time.

He completely Re-organized the governmental mechanism of the kingdom.

Introduced a lot of annual ceremonies and re-organized the exciting ones.

At Usela, the outskirt of Benin City was a very powerful chief called Iken, rich and war-like fear by all even the Oba [monarch]. When there was a revolt at Owo; columns of royal troops headed by Iken were sent to Owo to bring down the revolt.

On the request of Iken the Oba sent his eldest son crown prince kuoboyuwa to deputized for Iken [Edayi n’iken] until he return from the war although Iken and his army successfully bring down the revolt , Iken lost is life in the process .without surviving child.Kuoboyuwa became his heir apparent. It has since that period become traditional that the first son of every Oba of Benin, is conferred with the title of Edaiken and on coming of age, leaves his residence in the centre of the town for the Palace of Edaiken (Eguae-Edaiken) at Uselu where he remains until when he is called upon to ascend the throne as Oba.

Ewuare also vigorously promotion Benin art particularly the brass casting.

To talk of Oba Eware is like talking about Alexander the Great. The fame of Ewuare is known in other lands. Thus Chief Egharevba the traditional Benin historian recorded that the Ekiti refer to him as Oba Ado ngbogun lobo ile, Ogbomudu ngbeli orun, meaning “The Oba Benin wages war on the earth below and Ogbomudu (or the monster Osogan) wages war in heaven” Chief Egharevba did not mince words when he said that” The Ibo spoke of Idu Ala Eze Ika meaning Benin, land of the powerful Oba”