Iyase Ode
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Last Update May 9, 2021

Ode became the Iyase (Premier) of Benin about the year 1701A.D. during the reign of Oba Ewuakpe. He was a great warrior very powerful and renowned through his victories and other exploits. He was the guardian of Oba Akenzua I and Ehennua who became Ezomo (Ojomo) of Uzebu afterwards.
On one occasion when his only son died and he was in the state of mourning a titled chief happened to pass through his gate with drums in his joyous dance throughout the City. Ode indignantly seat his servant out, to arrest the newly titled chief and his party who ventured to dance when he was mourning the death of his son, and had them all drowned in a pond in his yard. Ever since it is forbidden to beat drums through his square which bears his name Ada Node (or Ode’s Square) to this day.

After many splendid victories in his various campaigns he formally resided at Ugha in Ehor District. {Uhunmwode Local Government Area}.There the Bini elder secretly sent to solicit his approval to place Ozuere the second son of Oba Ewuakpe, on the throne of Benin after the death of the Oba which he promptly approved through the ill feeling he had towards Akenzua I, the eldest son and heir to the throne, according to a new law by Oba Ewuakpe, for having had illicit intercourse with one of his wives, but Akenzua I who was not a prince to be beaten cunningly cleared his way to the throne afterwards after his abortive intercession before Ode, his master, About a year after the accession of Akenzua I to the throne, Ode seat fifty yams which he called “Akonnedo” through ten of his servant to the Oba of Benin City as a present in parabolic terms. In response to this, Akenzua I sent him five pieces of white seed yams which he also called “Abiode“ meaning in parable that Ode was pushed off or rejected. Ode was very wrath by the name of the yams sent him by Akenzua I, and was about to declare war on him when he was advised by his people not to take offence upon a mere name of yams and to this agreed.

Shortly after this, Ode was made to understand that Akenzua I had had a certain man, Ogbonmwan by name created with the title “Iyase” in an informal way and contrary to customs. This strongly stirred the anger of the powerful Ode who at once declared war and marched from Ugha to Benin City to know of the truth of the title from the Oba Akenzua I, fearing the gigantic power of Ode, denied the fact of the title and told Ode that he only created the man with a new title “Ologbose” or “Ologbo’ lyase” meaning Iyase’s cat through his skill and daring attitude in warfare and not the Iyase at all as was ‘supposed. Through these soothing word and the denial of the Oba Ode yielded and returned to his station with many presents from Akenzua I and with the entreating remarks that he should renounce all signs of indignation.

A day after the departure of the anarchical Ode, Ogbonmwan went to the palace to address the Oba as follows: - “Your highness if you had called me your man you would not have created me with the title Ologbos or Ologbo Iyase the Premier’s cat.” In reply Akenzua I kindly comforted him by making the title Ologbose to be hereditary in his family for ever with the necessary and special rights for the equipments of the title.

In conclusion Akenzua I said, “Everybody must fear and submit to the gigantic and anarchical power of Ode who with great determination came to destroy this ancient City of Benin”. He therefore issued an order that every quarter in the City and the various villages on Benin-Eho road should be watching the coming of the Ode with war on Benin City at anytime and report at once as it was supposed that he could transform himself to another form. This watch is since commonly known as Ode’s watch in Benin land till this day. He was at last vanquished by Ehennua.

The appellations of Iyase have become numerous since the day of the influential Ode, for his terrific and gigantic appearance any many exploits. He was known as Uzi Node, Okhuorkhuarha Omunomuno , Ogbenomarode, Akha imua, Okaevien Oba or Olotu Edo

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