The Edo Government has declared Oct. 20 as public holiday in celebration of the coronation of the new Oba of Benin, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, the Secretary to the State Government, said in a statement on Tuesday in Benin that the public holiday is in honour of Erediauwa, who will be crowned the 39th Oba of Benin.
According to the statement, the public holiday would ensure a hitch-free coronation and give Edo people the opportunity to partake in the historic installation of the new Oba of Benin.
The events leading to the coronation ceremony commenced on Nov. 8 and the state capital had been agog with preparations and activities for the coronation. History has it that the title of Oba in Benin Empire was created by Oba Eweka I, the Benin Empire’s first ‘Oba’, said to have ascended power between 1180 and 1300.
The Oba of Benin, then, was the Head of State (Emperor) of the Benin Empire until the British annexed the Empire in 1897.
Prince Ehenede Erediauwa on Tuesday chose his coronation name after defeating Edigin N’Use in the traditional Akhue game( marble seeds).
Erediauwa, will however, officially announce his name during his coronation on Thursday at Urho-Okpota in Benin.
The crown prince entered the shrine at the Edigin’s Palace, after playing the game of Akhue with HRH Kelvin Ekpe Edigin, the Edigin N’ Use and thereafter chose his coronation name.
Abieyuwa Edigin, a highly placed family member in the Edigin Palace told NAN that the Akhue game was the climax of all the coronation ceremonies. He said the Akhue game was cultural and traditional requirements that must be fufilled by the crown prince before he could be crowned as Oba.
Abieyuwa explained that the former Oba also played the Akhue game with Kelvin’s father, Robert Edigin, before choosing the name “Erediauwa’’( I have come to strengthen and prosper my people) .
He said the tradition started in 1200 AD during the period of Oba Eweka, whose maternal grand-father, Ogie-Egor, lived in the nearby village of Egor, in the present Egor Local Government Area of Edo.
According to him, when Prince Oromiyan left Benin, he left his pregnant wife in the care of her father the Ogie (Duke) of Egor.
He said Oromiyan’s wife delivered a male child who was dumb from birth and was sent to the maternal grand-father at ‘Use’ for treatment.
“But as the child could still not talk after, words were sent to his father at Uhe, who then sent seven magical Akhue with which the dumb prince participated in the popular village game known as Akhue.
“And with only one seed remaining on the ground after every other player had failed to strike it, the young prince used the magical Akhue from his father and struck the last seed. “In his excitement, he spoke for the first time and exclaimed the word `Owomika’ (my hand has struck it) later corrupted to Eweka,’’ he said