Benin City, Nigeria
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By Dr. Patricia Fadaka-Igbinovia (Last update March 14, 2022)

Benin City was the center of the Great Benin Kingdom; particularly during the last decade of the 13th Century in the reign of Oba Ewedo. Benin City was the center of the Benin Divisional Council before Nigeria Independence on October 1, 1960. Midwest Region was split from the Western Region of Nigeria in 1963 and Benin City was the capital. When the region was retitled Bendel State in 1976, Benin City was the capital and when Bendel State was split into Edo and Delta States in 1991, Benin City has been the capital of Edo State.

Benin City occupies a land area of about 1,204 km2 (465 mi2) with a population of 1.5 million and it is the largest city in Edo State. Benin City can be located on Latitude 6.20 degrees North and Longitude 5.37 degrees E. It is slightly outside the Equatorial Climatic Belt by 1.20 degrees and within the 1st Time Zone (0-15 degrees E i.e., the same Time Zone with Greenwich. Rainfall is intense and temperatures are high all round the year. The topography is an undulating plain, virtually even level without prominent hills/knolls. The soil is well-aerated lateritic type. Rainwater percolates easily, thereby preventing prolonged flooding unlike clayey soil. Since the land is virtually flat, efforts should continue to be aimed at providing drainage system with appropriate gradient to suck the rainwater towards the few existing rivers.

Benin City has remained the center of culture and beauty despite the dastardly British Punitive Expedition of February 17, 1897 that razed down the city, killing armless thousands and claiming they were human sacrifices; and plundering the treasures and artifacts for their own profit as a reprisal for the two white men who were killed in a skirmish at Ughoton when they were about to pay an un-welcome visit to Oba Ovonramwen during the Igue Festival (Annual Thanksgiving). The well-planned city with mounds of earth and moats could not stop the heavy artillery of the British Expeditors. Let sleeping dog lie!!!

Stories abound on how Benin City and Benin Kingdom flourished from the 13th to the 19th Century, fighting wars and creating kingdoms/camps e.g., Eko, the story of Ogiso Dynasty, Igodomigodo, Ekaladerhan, Izoduwa (Ododuwa of Yoruba Land), Oronmiyan, Oni of Ife, Eweka Dynasty marks the beginning of Obaship, Eweka (Owomika), Ihogbe Royal Family as Oba’s family who accompanied Oronmiyan from Ife (Ivbie Oba Uhe- the children of the Oni of Ife), the Portuguese visits and interactions with the Binis, and the European visits and interactions. Edo is the language and Binis are the people. Rubber survives as cash crop and food crops include yam, plantain, maize, cassava, and tropical fruits. Craftsmen and bronze casters operate in guilds and are patronized by indigenes and foreigners.

Benin City is a radial town with concentric road network from the inner city to the new areas that have developed around it. The city is accessible to all parts of Nigeria through New Lagos Road to Ijebu Ode, Lagos, Ghana and beyond, Ibadan, Ogbomosho, etc.; Sapele Road to Koko, Sapele, Warri, Burutu, Calabar, etc.; Akpakpava Street to Ikpoba Road to Agbor/Asaba/Onitsha Road/ Enugu/Port Harcourt, etc.; and through Akpakpava Street through Ikpoba Road to Auchi Road to Abuja and the Northern States; off Akpakpava Street to New Lagos Road to Oluku Junction, veer right to Ifon, Akure, Ilesha, Ile-Ife, Ibadan; veer left to Ore, Ijebu-Ode, Shagamu, Ikorodu, Lagos and beyond to other West African countries; and Sokponba Road to Ugo, Urhonigbe, Abraka, Niger Delta States, etc.

Fig 1: Benin City with the Museum in the Circle. Aerial view of Benin, Nigeria, 2014

Photo by Ewinosa (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fig 2: A British Officer’s Drawing of Benin City in 1897

Streets/Roads of Benin City in a Narrative Form (From my memory)
INNER CIRCLE RADIATING STREETS/ROADS FROM THE RING ROAD with important features such as the Oba’s Palace at the center of the city

AKPAKPAVA STREET (PAPA VIA is Portuguese meaning the Pope came through here because he was through (via) Aruosa Church) has Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Tele Communications (NITEL), Nigeria Post office, Diamond Bank, Mobile Station, Forestry Lane, Obomwan Lane, Uyiekpen Lane, Ehondor Lane with Safeway Chemists, Ologbose’s Irowa’s Ighodaro’s Oviasu’s Igbinigie’s, Idehen’s, Obasohan’s, and Olowu’s residences; Igbesanmwan Street with Pa Odiase Sule Fadaka’s residence, Holy Aruosa Church, Karo Stores, Olowu Cinemas, Esther Ogiugo’s residence, Iwegie Street with Iyekemosa, Isirhihe, Iriemila Lanes; Agbado Lane with Igun Street with Fadaka residences, and Erie Street; Cook Road Isirhihe, Iriemila Lanes; St. James Church with Agbado Primary School, Agbado Market, Agbado Lane, James Watts Street, Eguadase Street, Dawson Road, 1st East Circular Road, New Lagos Road, 2nd East Circular Road, 3rd East Circular Road, the Moat; Ewah Road with Victory Street, Abattoir Lane, Ikpoba River and thereafter the Road branches into two from Ramat Park: Agbor/Asaba Road and the eastern states (Right) and Auchi Road; (Left) to Aganebode, Ubiaja, Okene, Abuja, and all the northern states

-New Lagos Road right from Akpakpava Street leads to New Benin Market, Iheya Road with Samuel Ogbemudia’s residence, Cemetery Road, Teaching Service Board, Eghosa Grammar School, Okhoro Road, Medical Stores Road, Uselu Psychiatric Hospital; Uselu Junction, Uselu Lagos Road
-Dawson Road from Mission Road to Lagos Street Junction, the Moat, Lawani Street, Idia College, Triangle Avenue to Uselu Lagos Road all the way to Lagos past the Moat, Iyaro, Urubi, Iheya Road, the Moat; West Circular/TV Road, Emotan College on Wire Road (5 Junctions), the Moat; Textile Mill Road, Uselu Junction, Uselu Lagos Road, Uselu Market, Benin Technical Road, Federal Government Girls’ College/Federal Staff School Road, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, University of Benin (Ugbowo Campus), Palm Royal Hotel, Ekiadolor Junction, Okada Junction, Ugbogiobo, Ore, Ijebu-Ode, Shagamu, Ikorodu, Lagos (about 320 km/200 miles)
Between Akpakpava and Forestry Road on Ring Road is First Bank and there are more than 8 banks on Akpakpava Street alone.

FORESTRY ROAD has Bata Shop, Forestry Lane, Butcher Lane, Obomwan Lane with Oghobaase’s residence, Ugbague Street with Amadasu’s residence, Ehondor Lane with Safeway Chemist, Neville Street, Iwegie Street/Ogiefa Street, Obamedo Lane, James Watts Street, Cook Road, Dawson Road, New Lagos Road, Aburimen Lane, and the Moat; Costain Road (Ewedo (Benin Prisons) used to be from the beginning of Forestry (Ewaise) to Iwegie Street (Bradbury 1973.).

MISSION ROAD has Butcher Street, Ugbague Street with Idahosa Street (behind Benin Baptist Church and Holy Cross Cathedral; Cook Road, Unity Bank (New Nigeria Bank), James Watts, John Holts, the Moat, Dawson Street, Owoseni Street, New Lagos Road, New Benin Market, Costain Road, the Moat; Ewah Road, before Ikpoba River.

OBA MARKET ROAD has four branches:

a) Lagos Street with Mosalasi (Mosque) adjourning Butcher Street all strewned with street traders up Ugbague Street and Okeimole Mosque 3 Junctions with Bello- Osagie residence linking Iguisi Nuvun with Wire Road/Iwehen Road, Oreghene; Oliha Market

b) Ibiwe Street with CMS Bookshop, S. Thomopolus Stores, Eboh Street, Wire Road/ Iwehen Road, Isekhere, Oreghene, Oliha Market,

c) Continue on Oba Market Road past Ibiwe, past Eboh Street, past Yanga Market, and before Plymouth Road, the road forks into two: Siloku Road to the right with Ehaekpen Street, Oliha Market, TV Road/West Circular Road with Baptist High School, Uwa Market, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), the Moat, and off this road is IHOGBE Quarters and ICE Road with Ihogbe College, Oba Ewuare College, and Institute OF Continuing Education (ICE); after Oliha Market is Artillery Road, Eghosa Street from which Express Avenue is accessed, the Moat; Textile Mill Road with Uwelu Road off Textile Mill Road; after Textile Mill Road, Mobile Police HQS, Teachers House, there are other side roads but Siluko Road leads to Siluko town with Siluko River at the end

d) Ekenwan Road to the right with a road leading to the Stadium, Eghobamien’s residence, Plymouth, Ehaekpen Street opposite Uloko Ezemo and off Ehaekpen is Erhumwunse Street with offshoot of Express Avenue, Garrick Grammar School, Aerodrome Drive with Ero Street, University of Benin Ekenwan Campus, Erediauwa Drive, Agho Street, a branch off of the road leads to Evbiotubu Village, Asoro Grammar School, Ekewan Army Barracks, Ughoton Road, and through to Ekewan.

Within the Round-about is the Benin Museum
a) New Nigeria Bank,
b) Adesogbe Adesogbe Road through to Plymouth Road, Ekpenede Street by the Moat, Akenzua Street from where shoots Stadium Road, Wood Industry, Uloko Ezomo to join Ekewan’s Road.
c) Oba Palace sidewall,
d) Benin Cultural Center,
e) Ezoti Street,
f] the Moat
g) Observer Newspaper Office,
h) Vegetable Market,
i) St Paul’s Church,
j) Asemota Lane,
k) Akenzua Street wit adjourning Akenzua Lanes (1st and 2nd), Akenzua Close (Patricia’s Residence and Phencos International Secondary School/Group of Schools), Stadium Road ending on Ekewan Road; Golf Course Road leading to the Government Reserved Area (GRA);
l) Boundary Road leading to GRA and Etete Road,
m) Ihama Road leading to GRA with Gapiona Avenue off it;
n) Benin Airport,
o) Nigeria Military Base Hospital,
p) Golf Course with Nigeria Air Force Quarters,
q) Church of God Mission HQS, NNPC, Ogba Village, Ogba Zoo, Ogba River
Before SAPELE ROAD is the State House of Assembly and Police Residential Quarters (when I was young, this used to be the site of cemetery for white people with tomb stones painted sparkling white).
SAPELE ROAD has Central Hospital, Nigeria Prisons HQS, Central Road leading various avenues in GRA, Federal and Supreme Courts, Hotel Benin Plaza, Aruosa Street with Awo Lane with Oredo Girls School off it to join Omoruyi Street and Ist Circular Road, Mr. BIGS, with, Omoruyi Street, Imaguero College, Emotan (Protea) Hotels, Police HQS, 2nd East Circular Road, the Moat, Meat Cottage, Aiguobasinmwin Road, 3rd East Circular Road, Furniture Company, Dumez Road, Okada Dry, Itohan Girls’ Grammar School, Federal High Courts, Etete Residential Layout, Ekai Amusement Park, Ologbo Wood Industry. This road leads to Sapele, Warri, Calabar, Bayelsa, etc.

SOKPONBA ROAD has Igun Street with Bronze casting industry, Chief Isekhure’s residence, St Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral, Aruosa Street, Erie Street with the oldest storey building, Omoruyi Street, Ogiamen Palace, 1ST East Circular Road, Edo Development Planning Authority (EDPA), 2nd East Circular Road with Osa Market, 3rd East Circular Road with Edo College, Immaculate Conception College (ICC), Igbinedion Secondary School, ... Hotel, the Moat, St. Savior’s Road, Niger College Road, Maria Gorretti Road, and many other side roads before getting to Ugo Niyekerhionmwon (45 minutes drive from the city). The road leads to Ugo, Urhonigbe, Abraka, etc.

Benin City is a beautiful city with well-cultured and peace-loving people guided by family ethos and the fear of God. The infrastructural and economic developments are great and fast growing and blessed with educational institutions namely, three great universities: University of Benin, Arc-Bishop Idahosa University, and Igbinedion University; Technical colleges, secondary grammar schools, primary school, and kindergarten schools. Benin City is a tourist attraction with all her 5-Star Hotels and cultural centers. It’s just my attempt to remember things!!!

Have a Good Memory Day. Stay Safe, and enjoy a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Dr. Patricia Fadaka-Igbinovia, NY
December 22, 2020

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Benin kingdom copy right