the relationship between issele-uku and benin kingdom Essay

The Relationship Between Issele Uku And Benin Kingdom Term paper

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INTRODUCTION Benin City and Issele-Uku are historical places in the old Bendel State of Nigeria. While Benin is now the capital of Edo state, Issele-Uku is the headquarters of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. On the 27th of August 1991, Edo state was carved out from the northern portion of Bendel state and the southern portion becoming Delta state.1 The state was created following the agitation for the creation of separate distinct states by the Urhobos and Anioma regions. The then Military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd) created the state using the name \"Delta\" advanced by Niger Delta region and \"Asaba\" another name advanced by the people of Anioma for the capital of the proposed \"Anioma state.2 Right from the 13th Century, Issele-Uku has had connections with the Benin Empire and the distance between the two is about 90 kilometers, 54 miles. It is said that as far back as the 13th Century, the Oba of Benin, Oba Eweka 1 appointed the first Ogie “king” of Issele-Uku kingdom to take charge of the eastern extremities of former Benin Empire to ward off any surprise attack and check foreign invasion from across the Niger River and also establish his rule over the land.3 BRIEF HISTORY OF ISSELE-UKU KINGDOM Issele-Uku was founded by the Binis, in about 1230 AD by Oba Eweka 1 of Benin Empire. His main objective for creating this new kingdom were not only to expand the Benin Empire but also to check and stop the influx of the movement of people from East of the Niger River and people of Igala land into the Edo land West of the Niger River, from farming and fishing operations. Issele-Uku was also created for the foundation of large farmland to cater for the people of Benin and a war camp that would defensively provide security for the Benin Empire against perceived external aggression.4 With the establishment of this new Benin kingdom, Oba Eweka 1 crowned his second son Prince Uwadiaie Ogie “king” of the new founded land, in company of a group of warriors, administrators, chiefs and other princes of the royal family of Benin. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BENIN EMPIRE AND ISSELE-UKU KINGDOM According to the traditional history, Issele-Uku was created by Oba Eweka 1of the Benin Empire and regarded it as a provincial kingdom, belonging to the Oba of Benin who was referred to as Uku Akpolokpolo. Issele-Uku is said to be the first kingdom created by the Oba, outside the Benin Empire.5 The Kings of Issele-Uku kingdom paid tributes to the Obas of Benin and the Obas in return made the regalias and relics for the kings of Issele-Uku. The payment of tributes shows evidence of a strong relationship between Issele-Uku and Benin. The relationship is so strong that when a man dies in Issele-Uku, he is buried in such a way that the legs face Benin direction. It is believed that by so doing, the person would return to his ancestral home which is Benin.6 LANGUAGE SIMILARITIES Another area in which similarities exists between Benin and Issele-Uku is language. In the olden days before Ibo language penetrated deep into Issele-Uku, the language spoken then was the Benin language, but gradually due to frequent contacts with the Ibos from the east who settled with them through adventures and instincts predominated over their original Benin language. Also, due to intermarriages between the Issele people and their Ibo neighbours. The fusion of both languages is evident today in some names of Issele-Uku sons and daughters RELIGIOUS SIMILARITIES The people of Benin and Issele-Uku worship many gods. This is evident in the numerous names which is found in both Issele-Uku and Benin, namely Osanobua-the supreme God, Oloku- god of the sea, Oba or Ogie or Obi-lord of the land, Ogun or Idigwu-god of iron, Esango-god of thunder, Oganigwe- god of the air, Otoe-earth goddess, Osun-god of medicine and magic. All this are to mention but a few are the deities in Benin and Issele-Uku.7 The Obi of Issele-Uku is a deity as in the ancient days just like Oba is in Benin. ARTS AND CRAFTS The various arts and crafts found in Issele-Uku are blacksmithing, woodcarving, bronze sculpture, weaving of white cloth (akwa ocha) which were in those days mainly done for the Obi and those others who can afford it. It is also worn for worship and utilitarian purpose. In both Benin and Issele-Uku, the arts and crafts are similar and perform the same function. Most of the arts works done in both places are sculptural pieces produced either in wood or iron and bronze. These works are produced by artists and commercialized and used for decorations presently. Mostly these art works were mostly done for the glorification of Obas power. Oral tradition has it that the art in Issele-Uku was brought by the early ancient people from Benin when Issele-Uku was founded.8 Furthermore in the olden days mud houses and walls had some relief designs embellished on them. Animals were designed on houses. In order to strengthen the ties and to re-emphasis that Issele-Uku originated from Benin, Oba Esigie of Benin son of Queen Idia presented the royal effigy (festac mask “queen Idia mask”) to Obi Oligbo of Issele-Uku during his enthronement in Benin in the year 1505. The bronze mask was prepared in the the court art of Benin which represents a festival symbol and authority. The bronze mask is a symbol of spiritual and temporal authority and is usually worn as a pendant, around the left hip waist during the festival of ihu onicha deity, which is the festival of the souls of the departed kings of the Issele-Uku kingdom.9 Oral tradition has it that when the bronze mask of Oba Esigie was produced at his request, that of his mother Queen Idia was also produced in ivory to commemorate her, but because by the Benin tradition, the Queen mother and the king could not live together in the same house, Oba Esigie decided to transfer give it out together with other effigies to another Benin kingdom. He gave the bronze mask to Obi Oligbo ‘Oligbo Ototo’ of Issele-Uku, who was then enthroned in Benin for permanent keeps and the Oba retained the ivory mask of the Queen mother. This Queen Idia mask was the royal art pieces that were looted in Benin royal palace by the British soldiers in 1897, during the reign of Oba Ovaranwen when Benin was defeated. During the FESTAC 77, the queen Idia mask was requested for, from the British Museum in London, but the British authorities demanded a cash deposit of thirty-million pounds £30,000,000.00 guarantee that the mask will be returned to Britain after the FESTAC. But since the Nigerian government could not meet up with the request of the British authorities, a substitute effigy was requested from Benin.10 Again all the materials for the festival have the Queen Idia mask printed on them and could only be located at Issele-Uku palace. So the then Obi of Issele-Uku, Obi Osemene III and the palace guild council decided to invite the FESTAC 77 Committee in Lagos to see the second royal effigy of Oba Esigie in Issele-Uku royal palace.11 SOCIAL-POLITICAL ORGANIZATION According to R.E. Bradbury in his book titled THE BENIN KINGDOM AND THE EDO SPEAKING PEOPLE OF SOUTH WESTERN NIGERIA.“Whatever the origin of the Benin type of political structure, however, it is clear that it has served as a continuing model for the Ishan chiefdoms and for the few well organized Urhobo chiefdoms as well as the western Ibo”. The socio-political organization of Issele-Uku closely mirrors that of Benin. In the socio-political grouping of both places, there is the political hierarchy which is the traditional government, followed by the social grouping , made up of Age Grade Organization
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