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Anatomy Of Benin Traditional Elements

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By EDAIWE IGINUA OSEMWENKHA 25-09-2017

IN Benin esoteric mythology, the four basic elements driving the universe are traceable to water, light, fire and air. In order to unravel some aspect of these elemental beings shrouded in mysteries, let us systematically examine them individually and collectively.

No human, no matter the status or spirituality can exist without the conducive type of air which scientist referred to as oxygen as human beings inhale oxygen and expel carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The oxygen we inhale is a product from living plants and conversely plants also utilize carbon dioxide expelled by man as a major raw materials for the production of food in its green leaves called photosynthesis.

These elemental forces in the air which is driven by small goddesses are invisible to the eye of the ordinary man on the street. But these elements have been very submissive to the spiritual head of Benin Kingdom who is the custodian and owner of the land. This became possible through daily intercession between the Oba and the elemental beings. There are also spiritual intervention in churches, mosques and other traditional place of worship in order to ensure a peaceful co-existence.

In retrospect, ‘Eziza’, a tornado wind could carry a man several meters high above the sea level and thrown into the forest. The victim become lost and it will take several days or months before such individuals could find his way out of the menace.

As regards traditional elements, Chief Obas has this to say. “At Ugboko, there was a man who was relaxing in the cool evening breeze after a hard day’s job. A tornado wind called ‘Eziza’ was blowing across the land, the old man was lifted high and thrown into an unknown destination in the forest. This man had two wives, the senior one had one female child and the younger one had no issue. He had to wonder in the forest for two weeks before he could trace his way back.

The element of Eziza taught this man how to heal the sick spiritually. He actually became a traditional doctor of inestimable value and a legendary ‘Ogiobo’ the king of traditional doctors. The junior wife who wept uncontrollably for not having any issue for her husband before the incidence became blessed with a male child, so it was jubilation galore for the junior wife as she now became the landlord of her husband heritage according to Benin traditional law and customs’.

The elemental beings which is easier for the human beings to quickly comprehend are those elementals in the universe. They are associated with diverse groups that labour entirely in isolation from spirits and which is led from above, actively working with the continuous improvement of new celestial bodies. They further their maintenance as well as their course and likewise their disintegration where ever this becomes necessary due to their over-ripeness, in order that they may come into existence again in a new form in accordance with primordial laws of creation.

Very often, we have heard of nixies, elves salamanders and grimes, these are associated with the gross matters of the universe which we can see with necked eyes, also comparatively on all other gross materials in the universe. They contain enormous population of people, plants and animals and these are visible to the naked eyes.

We have lived with these elements, but we do not know their individual functions in real life. Somehow we imagine that we already know what they occupy themselves with, but absolutely oblivious of the patterns in which they function and consummate efficiently the role assigned to them by God to accomplish here on earth – so that their activities are accomplished according to the law of creation.

The activities of elements of fire as associated with thunder storm. Thunder lightning, one of nature most powerful elements has been known to do some very peculiar things.

An in-law who came to Benin some couple of weeks back has this to say. “The day a Deeper Life Pastor was killed at Okene, there seemed to be protest from the sky as thunder storm killed so many livestock, cattle and farm land set ablaze.

In the U.K., the Archbishop of Duran publicly told worshippers that he do not believe in the story of Virgin Mary. The following day, Thunder struck his church that had been there for over one hundred years. When interviewed by the press about his controversial statement leading to Thunder struck, he simply said “It is just a mere coincidence”.

In the era of Oba Ewuare, the Great, he usually wage war and capture his victims with their goddess and brought to Benin city. That is why you hear the worshippers hailing these elements thus. Kawo-kabiesi, ‘Ekeji Orisa’. The one next to god, ‘Alewulese’, the one that can do and undo. So, when a retailer of ‘soda soap’ display her wares in the public place, she does not bother about theft, the consumers buy and drop the exact amount in the basket and nobody is bold enough to steal the money or soap until the legitimate owner comes to collect his money and the left over soap.

The water elements sometimes stipulate very strict regime through it’s prophets and prophetess and violators of such spiritual laws bring untold hardship and danger to the host communities. So when Ikpoba River was dredged without recourse to the river elemental beings, a scenario of daily occurrence of motor accident that led to the death of so many people became inevitable.

The Benin Monarch had to personally intervene in order to put paid to the carnage at Ikpoba Bridge in Benin City.

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