In our last article we pointed out interesting fact about Abeokuta, and today we dive into Benin City known as the heartbeat of the Nation. How true is this?
The ancient kingdom of Benin, officially the Republic of Benin and formerly Dahomey, is a country in West. Considered as one of the richest and most powerful kingdoms in the history of Nigeria. The Great Benin kingdom has been described as the center of Nigeria’s development and with good reasons too. Benin is named after the body of water on which it lays – the ‘Bight of Benin’. Benin became independent from France on August 1, 1960.
Benin was a pre-colonial kingdom in what is now southern Nigeria. Its capital was Edo, now known as Benin City in Edo state. Benin which is often confused with the modern-day Republic of Benin, it is one of the oldest and most highly developed areas in Nigeria. Being one of the most talked about places in Nigeria, it comes as no surprise that a lot of things which have gained prominence in the country and the world today, first started or was witnessed in the Benin kingdom.
Why are they referred to “The heartbeat of the Nation”
The reason behind Edo State being referred to as the ‘Heartbeat of the Nation’, is because it is a home of the Bini people. A people well known for their ancient civilization, tradition and advanced political administration.
It would be important to state here that the Benin Kingdom was the first to welcome Europeans in 1472 and to get exposed to their form of civilization. Edo State was also the first kingdom in what is now known as modern Nigeria to have established a diplomatic relationship with a European superpower (the Portuguese).
Enticing hints to know….
- The Royal Oba’s Palace: Really, what’s more interesting than a palace? In truth, no vacation or visit to Benin City is complete without a visit to this cultural and historical splendor. The Royal Oba’s Palace is at the heart of the city and a repository of Benin crafts. It’s really a cultural and historic ‘goldmine’ with interesting ancient adornments and ornaments that are sincerely a delight to explore. Also, no female king has ever ruled Benin kingdom across the two dynasties; the purported female Ogiso Emose who at his coronation, took the mother’s name ‘Emose,’ and so earned the reputation of being regarded as a woman Ogiso which means a person who has the potential to attain spiritual enlightenment. Ogiso Orroro was blacksmith and a philosopher who ruled for 18 years and died at the age of 98 years holding an iron in his hand.
- The Benin Moat: You’ve probably heard this name once or twice and wondered what exactly it was. The Benin Moat also known as ‘Iya’ is one of the largest man made earthwork in the world. The Benin Moat was actually used as a defensive fortification for the Ancient Benin City and its archaeology is recognized as something that is indeed admirable. However, the monument has in recent times been described as a ‘neglected monument in search of a rescuer’. Nevertheless, it’s still a truly interesting feature of the city and a testament to the ingenuity and engineering acumen of the old Benin Kingdom.
- Internet Spreads in Benin: SwiftTalk Limited is an Internet Service Provider in Benin using Fibre, WAN etc.
A total of 55 languages are spoken in Benin, with 50 being indigenous. Of those, French is the official language, and all the indigenous languages are considered national languages. Of the Beninese languages, Fon (a Gbe language) and Yoruba are the most important in the south of the country.
- The Benin people are the best bronze casters in the world. This is believed to be one of the greatest defining characteristics of the historic Kingdom of Benin. Established in the 14th century by Oba Oguola, the tradition of the casting profession remains a very preserved tradition only practiced by the Igun clan of casters by the official approval of the Oba.
- Igue Festival: This is the most popular festival in the city and is where the Oba celebrates the history and culture of his people as he blesses the land and the people. The festival is typically celebrated at a time between Christmas and New year and it involves traditional dances, a mock battle and a procession to the palace to reaffirm loyalty to and respect for the Oba. The festival is typically an annual cycle of rituals and rites, and is used as a platform by the Edo people to display their rich culture and tradition.
- Revelation Tourist Palazzo: A place with an interesting name indeed; the palazzo has been described as a place the history of Nigeria comes alive and for cultural enthusiasts is ‘the heartbeat of culture in Nigeria’. It’s a privately owned museum and tourist center put together by music maestro Prof. Victor Uwaifo. There are different exhibition points at this palazzo and each one extensively treats a specific subject, from music to culture, telling different sides of the Binis. It’s an educative and culturally enriching site to explore.
- White persons visiting the country are referred to as “yovo”: Do not be surprised to find people and kids shouting this word behind you if you happen to visit. The people, however, are very friendly and lively.
- A total of 55 languages are spoken in Benin, with 50 being indigenous. Of those, French is the official language, and all the indigenous languages are considered national languages. Of the Beninese languages, Fon (a Gbe language) and Yoruba are the most important in the south of the country.
- By about 1750, the Kingdom of Dahomey (a part of Benin) was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling Africans to the European slave-traders.
The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war and more, if need be. This is due to the fact that he has great influences among all the surrounding peoples. His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages.