Benin Kingdom Heroines

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Queen Iden
Queen Iden (Wife of Oba Ewuakpe)
Love they say is blind for the love of a woman to sustain the unity of a whole nation is not an issue to be pushed aside. Very few women in our contemporary, period could lay Full story

In trying to review the contributions of women to the ancient kingdom of Benin, the story will be grossly understated without reference to Queen Iden the beloved Full story

Queen Iden was the faithful wife of Oba Ewuakpe who remained married to him, made herself the sacrifice, offered herself to be buried alive to the gods for a handsome Full story

BETWEEN 1440-1473AD, Oba Ewuare prophesied that there would be a time when Benin Kingdom would experience bad times if Prince Idoca wore the crow. Prince Idova’s Full Story

When Ewebonoya the mother of Oba Ewuakpe (1700 ? 1712 CE), died at her Uselu palace, soon into his reign.To provide her with the level of comfort she had become Full Story

Iden of Oka was a loving wife of Oba Ewuakpe and she remained very faithful to him while her comrades deserted the harem when the Oba was suffering from the Full story

Emotan (She lived during the reign of Oba Ohen and his sons)
Although women are generally regarded as weaker vessels, some are gifted with excellent wisdom and bravery. Emotan, the most honoured Bini woman that ever lived can be Full Story

SITUATED AT THE ORE-NOKHUA side of the Oba Market Road, near its junction with Ibiwe Street, is the EMOTAN Shrine. The Shrine is about five and a half centuries old, erected by Oba EWUARE the Great. It was erected in honour of, and over the grave of another female. Her Full Story

EMOTAN is one of the most prominent statues in Benin City. Apart from the pride it enjoys in the City, it even enjoys greater pride of place in the history of the Benin Kingdom This is because of the engineering role she played in the suppression of the evil intrigues of some Full Story

The statue of the stately woman, clad in the traditional wrapper and a head-gear associated with the Benin royalty stands opposite the Oba market in Benin City. It was erected in honour of Emotan a a patriotic woman who traded in foodstuffs at the very spot where her Full Story

The old Agbado Market was founded by one of the Ogisos.Both the Oba and Okpagha Markets were founded by Oba Ewedo, but it was Ewuare the Great who planted an Okpagha tree at Okpagha Market which bears its name “Eki-Okpagha” in the place of the Ogheghe or Okhikhan Full story
Queen Idia
Queen Idia (wife of Oba Ozulua mother of Oba Esigie)
The kingdom of Benin has indeed experienced so many reforms and development at different periods of its history. These reforms were not solely carried out by men but these were some outstanding women who made great impact in Benin. These great women who made immense contributions to the rich cultural heritage of the land of Benin cannot be over looked in the study of the kingdom; most prominent among them was Queen Idia the first female warrior that ever lived ¡n Benin kingdom. Idia was said to have been a very beautiful and strong willed woman who had unusual super natural powers. She is described as an extraordinarily- power personality who continues to loom large..
Full Story

Over time in history, women have been in either at the forefront or at the back of the scene of most major historical events. They are like the painter with the oil and brush behind every masterpiece, we don’t see them at work so they are less appreciated or respected for feats they have achieved.

Yet, history books, have over the years, deliberately left out some remarkable achievements carried out by these females because of their gender. But women don’t just charge into the fight against societal injustice or any other fights without proper cause. An important catalyst that has always
Princess Adesuwa
Princess Adasuwa
Princess Adasuwa (Daughter of Chief Odia the Ezomo of Uzebu)
Beauty can be a blessing and the same time a curse. The beauty of Adesuwa cannot be expressed in words, she was called the queen of beauty, and some claimed she was a spirit while others said she belonged to the gods. From different descriptions of Adesuwa, it is obvious that she was the most beautiful woman that ever lived in Benin. She was described as the beauty queen of Benin kingdom in the 17 century. The word ‘beautiful’ was an understatement to describe the look of Adesuwa the daughter of Ezomo ne Uzebu She glows like like mourning star. As a child she was desired by all who beheld her and as a young maiden no young man could escape her charms and carriage. Adesuwa had everything she wanted, her father chief Ezomo Odia, was the richest man in the kingdom. Knowing her beauty, she had little regards for anyone, she was full of herself, and pride and arrogance were her close companion. Her fate was tied to her beauty, the same beauty that brought her so much fame and honour also led her to her early grave.

There are so many accounts concerning the vent that transpired in the short life time of Princess Adesuwa (Adesu). However, this study critically examines the various available records in order to write a clear history. Her story is quite stimulating and fascinating as earlier stated, she was the loved

Imaguero Of Benin Kingdom
Imaguero (Wife of Chief Oliha)

Imaguero was the beautiful and faithful wife of Chief Oliha. She was a beauty to behold and the pride of her husband. Her integrity and steadfastness made her husband to boast firmly about her in public and even at the council of elders. Imaguero also lived in the 15th ceutury Benin and this was during the reign of Oba Esigie, it was her beauty that almost cost the kingdom its peace and unity.

According to oral tradition and written records, Chief Oliha had many wives including princess Arnighen, who was Oba Esigie’s daughter and the most senior wife of OIiha but Oliha loved Imaguero more although she had no child for him. He did not mind that he was married to the Oba‘s daughter. He went to the palace in the mind of elders and continually boasts of his wife, Imaguero. He claimed she was the most faithful woman in the kingdom despite her beauty and intelligence This, however became insulting to the Oba, who for two major reasons did not like OIiha’s boast, One Oba Esigie had a mother he valued so much and felt she should be the most honoured and regarded as the most faithful woman of the Kingdom and not one wife of a chief. Secondly, it would have also been acceptable if the woman Oliha boasted of was the Princess, his daughter. But this was not so and Esigie was provoked to prove him wrong by all means. He eventually did, oral traditions and written records has two versions of the story on how he humiliated Oliha.
Princess Isiuwa
Princess Isiuwa (The Eldest Daughter Of Oba Ehengbuda)

The story of princess Isiuwa and Iyase Ekpenede is quite intriguing and interesting. It was a tragic experience of another princess who became victim of the customs of the land. This event again proves the relevance or importance of women in pre-coronial Benin. As had been earlier asserted there was a tradition that most Obas give out their first daughters to their reigning Iyase or Oliha depending on who was most powerful or close to the Oba at that period. There was also the tradition of the Oba giving his daughter to anyone who was a potential threat to his authority in the kingdom. This was in order to bring such person under total submission of his authority or send his daughter as a spy to discover his weakness and at the end become a source of his death or downfall, most time the princess might lose her Life in the process of defending her father’s land. In the case of Princess Isiuwa, she was compensation to Iyase in order to reduce his wrath toward the Monarch; she eventually became a source of greater wrath.

Iyase Ekpenede was the Prime Minister of Oba Ehengbuda who reigned in about 1578-1606, while Princess Isiuwa was also the Oba daughter at that period. Oba Ehengbuda was the last Warrior king of Benin, In the earlier part of his life, during a campaign in Akure territories, the Oba had sustained some burns consistently he stopped leading campaign by himself and his warrior responsibilities was
Queen Ohonmi
Queen Ohonmi
Queen Ohonmi (wife of Oba Oba Ozoula)
The life of a Benin woman was determined by the traditions and custom of the land, she struggles for survival from the firm grips of religious laws and the men who have continued to ‘lord’ it over her. While the men were allowed to marry so many wives, a good woman is supposed to stay with her husband till the end, no matter the situation. To survive with so many other women in the harem of one man and with the contest for superiority or importance, most women had to seek for supernatural powers. At the harem of the Oba, the tussle for power was indeed very fierce and serious; as most royal wives struggle to promote the candidacy of their son by eliminating potential! Competitors it was in such scenario that Queens Ohonmi and Idia found themselves at the erie of Oba Ozoula. For these two women it was the survival of the fattest. Both women were spiritually endowed and their place in Benin historiography cannot be undermined.

Queen Ohonmi was another powerful woman that lived in the late 15 and early 16 century Benin; she was also one of the Iiloi (wives) of Oba Ozuola, Very little work has been done on her, making it very tasking to put together her history. Her story was quite tragic due to the struggle she went through in the harem of Oba Ozuola, Ohonmi was another brave and beautiful woman that stood and fought for

Queen Ewere
Queen Ewere
Ubi, Ewere, Oyoyo (The wives of Oba Ewuare I)
The reign of Oba Ewuare marked the beginning of the celebration of one of the most historical and most colourful festival in Benin kingdom. No concrete analysis can be made on this great event without mentioning the reign of three Queen Sisters (Ubi, Ewere, Oyoyo) who were wives of Oba Ewuare and their lives affected the kingdom so much.

They also brought about new developments to the Igue festival, which has become very important to the People. Oba Ewuare the great is considered as one of the most successful Obas that ever ruled the Benin kingdom because at every point in time there were some women who always influenced and affected his life, both positively and negatively. From his relationship with them, he gained wisdom on how to handle issues that came his way. He i also the Oba that has immortalized the mimes or personality of’ some women during his reign.

The story of Ubi, Ewere and Oyoyo is that of good triumphing over evil. These names are very significant to the Benin People as they all represent different things to the Benin Nation. According to traditions, Ubi, Ewere, Oyoyo, were the daughters of .chief Ogieka of Benin-Ughoton road these maidens were said to have been very beautiful and the news of their beauty got to Oba Ewuare ne
Princess Adeleyo
Princess Edeleyo
Princess Edeleyo (The eldest daughter Of Oba Ewuare)

Princess Edeleyo was the eldest daughter of Oba Ewuare and eldest sister to prince Oduwa who later became Oba Olua. Edeleyo was the most famous Princcss in Benin kingdom: she was very wealth and popular among the people. The decision taken by the Uzama Nobles in 1473 A.D to crown her as Oba was unusual. This was because no woman has ever been chosen for the crown of Benin kingdom. She became the first woman to be chosen for the position of  Oba in Benin history. Although some historians have claimed that women had ruled as Ogiso during the first period of Benin Kingdom, it has already been stated that this assertion was a mistaken identity. Edeleyo was the closest woman to the throne of ancient Benin; she is the first and last woman to be made Ediaken (heir apparent) and was also prepared for coronation. However, this plan or arrangement was truncated by the nature of a woman .

It is cogent to comprehend that unusual things happen to unusual people. Princess Edeleyo was an extra-ordinary woman, she was not the first princess to ever live in Benin, but she stood out in her activities and influence in the empire. She was very brave and industrious that she was almost as powerful as an Oba. Thus, her personality was what gave the Nobles the impression that she would be a good ruler. Like the saying goes, ‘what a man can do a woman can do better’. Edeleyo’s early life
Benin Kingdom
Princess Ehendia
Princess Ehendia (The eldest daughter Of Oba Adolor)
The matter concerned the honour and the right of choice of a lady, high-profile lady in the Benin society of Oba Ovonramwen. She was Princess EHENDIA, the Uvbi-Nokhua of the realm, the eldest daughter of Oba Adolor and a half-sister Ovonramwen.

Ehendia, when she came of marriageable age had, according to the usages of the land been given in marriage  by her father Oba Adolor to the incumbent Iyase of Benin, Chief EDO, the IYASE- N’ ODUHOBO at Owina Street, off Sokponba Road. The IYASE N’ ODUHOBO was already an elderly man when princess became his wife and the marriage remained childless until the Iyase died while this marriage subsisted the next generational Uvbi-Nokhua, princess EVBAKHAVBOKUN, Oba Ovoramwen’s daughter, had come of marriageable age. But her aunt Ehendia was already in the harem of the Iyase of Benin Evbakhavbokun therefore went into the harem of Chief IRABOR, the OLOGBOSERE of Benin. Prince UYIEKPEN was the product of that marriage.

When the Iyase N’Oduhobo died Ehendia moved into IVBIZUA quarters Lagos Street, the traditional quarters of the widowed princess of the kingdom, or those princesses no longer under the care or protection of a husband. In the old Benin EVBIEMWEN Street was the quarter where those princes of the realm who were not created Enigie and given their own dukedoms lived out the rest of their lives. IWEHEN Street was the quarter inhabited by the grandsons of the Oba, the children of the princesses a
Emokpolo (The wife of Emokpaogbe Aghoghidi-Enogie of Ugo)
Emokpolo, the faithful wife of Emokpaogbe, the Aghoghidi-Enogie of Ugo was one of the famous Benin women, who championed affairs of her husband, she was a sorceress, a seer who helped her husband greatly, at leisure, in administration and in battles.

She always approached her husband in a cheerful manner to tell her tales in songs, and while at the courtyard-Agba, she entertained the audience and spoke of prevailing situations. At the harem, she educated the women, maids and servants on decency, thus “Irrie Owee, Irrie Ikhu, I we re Irinmwun, eigha son vbe Erie mwan-I took broom, I took cutlass, there shall be no grass growing in my domain”.

Emokpolo accompanied her husband Emokpaegbe, the Aghghidi-Enogie of Ugo on various war campaigns, and helped him, through her Ewuwu-agba songs to strengthened him. She could sense powers of various herbs, trees and plants which on several occasions were directed for useful purposes.

Ugo from time immemorial holds in esteemed custody all medicinal plants. During the annual isosun festival the medicines are further strengthened. The festival also commemorates the services of the
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