The Empire of Benin or the Edo Empire (1440-1897) was a large pre-colonial African state of modern Nigeria. There is still an Obo, or a king, although his role is currently essentially symbolic. OBO was the first Eweka me who died in 1246. The Benin Empire was one of the earliest and most developed in the coastal part of West Africa until its annexation by the British Empire in 1897 The Imperial European Power of the United Kingdom the Empire ended as a policy at the end of the 19th century. The Obo opposed the colonialists and burned their capital. However, after the death of the 35th Obo Exile, who stubbornly resisted them, they allowed him to return to Nigeria on the 36th. Along with other traditional leaders of the postcolonial state of Nigeria, the Benin Obo is today identified as a member of the House of Chiefs. He is the head of the Edo society of some 5,000,000 people.

Within its community, the Obo is the symbol of a long cultural and historical heritage still famous for its bronze, ivory and iron objects. Unfortunately, in 1897, when the British burned the capital of the Empire, Benin City, they also burned many valuable works of art. Colonists were so sure of their moral right to govern others that they often did not notice, or did not hesitate to destroy, evidence that those whom they considered “primitive” possessed many skills and technologies.


According to a traditional version, the original people and founders of the Benin Empire, the Bini (or Edo), were initially ruled by the Ogisos (Kings of Heaven). Ibinu Ibinu (later called Benin City) was established in 1180 C.E.

About 36 known Ogiso are considered leaders of the union. On the loss of the last Ogiso, his apparent son and heir, Ekaladerhan, was banished from Benin following the change of message from the oracle to Ogiso. Ekaladerhan was a powerful warrior and a beloved prince. Leaving Benin, he traveled west of present-day Nigeria to the Yoruba country. At that time, the Yoruba oracle declared that his king would leave the forest and when Ekaladerhan arrived at Ife, he was received as king.

He changed his name to Imadoduwa, which means “I did not lose my rights” and was made the Great Oduduwa of the Yoruba Land. On the loss of his father, the last Ogiso, a group of Beninese chiefs led by Chief Oliha came to Ife, begging him to return to Benin to ascend the throne. Oduduwa’s answer was that a king could not leave his kingdom, but he had seven children and would ask one of them to return to Benin to lead the next king.

Oranmiyan, Ekaladerhan’s son, aka Oduduwa, agreed to go to Benin. He spent a few years in Benin and returned to Ife after his wife delivered a son named Eweka. Eweka was made the first Oba of Benin.

Golden age

The Oba had become the supreme power in the region. Oba Ewuare (who ruled from 1440 to 1473), the first Oba of the Golden Age, is credited with turning the city of Benin into a military fortress protected by pits and walls. It is from this bastion that he launches his military campaigns and begins to extend the kingdom of the heart of Edo language. The lands of Idaho, Owo, and Akure were all under the central authority of the Edo Empire.

In all its extent, the Edo claims that the empire spread from Onitsha in the east, through the forest region of southwestern Nigeria to the present-day nation of Ghana. The Ghanaian people originated in the ancient kingdom of Benin.


The state has developed an advanced artistic culture, notably in its famous bronze, iron and ivory objects. These include bronze plaques on the wall and life-size bronze heads of the Obin in Benin. The most popular artifact is based on Queen Idia, commonly known as the FESTAC mask. Most works of art have been commissioned or created for the palace, often for ceremonial purposes. Many works of art represented the Obo in various costumes. The guild of craftsmen enjoyed royal patronage and occupied a designated district of the capital. When Europeans saw this art for the first time, they took a non-African origin because they did not think that Africans were capable of doing such a sophisticated job. The “Portuguese, the old Egyptians, even the lost tribe of Israel” were credited in place of Edo


The empire was ruled by a regent named Oba. Today, the Oba of Benin is still highly respected in Nigeria. He is Nigeria’s most revered traditional ruler, although his powers are essentially ceremonial and religious. Edo was the Capital of Benin Empire, now known as the city of Benin in present-day southwestern Nigeria.


The Benin Empire took its name from the Bini people who dominated the region. The etnónimo can be derived from groups in western Nigeria, where the term “ibinu” means “anger” that reflects the conflicting nature of Binis or central Nigeria and north-central, where the term Birnin means “fenced “Or” fortified area.” The city and its inhabitants are more appropriately called Edo. Today, this population is mainly around the modern city of Benin. It is of Portuguese explorers who have received the name of the Empire of Benin. However, the name Benin for the land and even the capital was Edo.

Tags : Benin EmpireBritishBritish colonialCalabar KingdomEdo EmpireEwekaIle-IfeObaOduduwaOgisopre-colonialYoruba

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