Princess Adesuwa

Princess Adesuwa And Ogie Obo

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Last Update May 16, 2021

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 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 daughter of Chief Ezomo Odia, and the second Ezomo after the title became hereditary in the days of Ezomo Ehenna, his father. The news of her beauty got to the palace of Oba Akengbuda who wasted no time in making his love intention know to her. She had several noble suitors but was not in haste to get married to anyone. She eventually gave in to the love proposal of Oba Akenbuda. The news of Adesuwa’s beauty and romance with the king had gone far and wide, plan and preparation for marriage was going on. Adesuwa is said to have been a very industrious young lady who was very good at what she did, she sold goat at the market. Her beauty and father’s wealth did not make her lazy, this was the reason she gained lots of respect from people in the kingdom.

On a particular day in Benin City about the year 1752 A.D, the Enogie (Duke) of Oboro kingdom paid a visit to the Ezomo who was the defence minister of Benin, This was during his Investiture as the new Eze or Obi (king or duke) of Oboro kingdom, which is located at the eastern part of the present day Delta State in Nigeria. In those days, it was the Oba of Benin that had the authority to invest such leaders as the kingdom was, under his political jurisdiction. It is strongly believed that one of the children of the Oba of Benin founded the Kingdom. Ezomo and Ogie Obo as he was fondly called, were very good friends, they have fought along each other during several war expenditures in the defence and expansion of the kingdom When they met again at the palace of the Oba, Ezomo invited him to his palace at Uzebu in order to celebrate his new position with him.

This visit of Ogie Oboro to Ezomo‘s palace changed the story of Princess Adesuwa and turned her life around. The Ezomo in his joy to welcome his old friend quickly called his wife to bring kola nut for his bosom friend, Ogie Obo. His first wife Idía, who was the mother of Adesuwa asked Adesuwa to present the kola nut before Ogie Oboro. The moment he set his eyes on Adesuwa; the king got stunned at the beauty that was before him, he was carried away by the charming beauty and seductive elegance of Adesuwa, Ezomo’s daughter. It is recorded that for some minutes he was confused and lacked word to express his feeling. He immediately fell in love with her.

An account of the story said he professed his love or her right there and asked for her consent in marriage. But Adesuwa who was very proud and rude refused his love with great contempt and insolence. She claimed it was forbidden for her to marry a bush ruler as the Obi who does not attain the equal rank with the least of her father’s slaves. The Obi was very infuriated and annoyed by this reply and heap on him by Adesuwa: But he hid his anger, as a stratagem, he bought many goats from Adesuwa, on credit and promised to pay the money, but after a long period he refused to pay back his debt. Instead, he started using charm to call her to Oboro kingdom in order for him to woo her to become his wife.

In another account of the story, the Ogie Oboro did not immediately propose to her, be asked chief Ezomo who the beauty damsel was; the Ezomo told him she was one of his daughters, Ogie Oboro quickly acknowledged that he had never seen a beauty like that in all his life. He told the Ezomo that he knew that Adesuwa with a rich father like him will be a spoilt girl having no use in domestic activities; The Ezomo told him that he was wrong in his assumption, that Adesuwa, his daughter was a very hardworking and independent young lady that she even sells goat t the market. immediately Ogie Obo heard that, he quickly hatched a subtle plot to woo and subsequently marry her, come what may, He quickly demanded to buy a goat from Adesuwa He claimed that, he perceives she sells better goat due to her beauty., he bought the goat on credit and promised to send the money the next day through his servant from Oboro. This was his plan to bring Adesuwa to Oboro in order to make know to her, his plan and intentions, along the line, the centre refuse to hold and things fell apart.

At this junction, it is important to understand that Ogie Obo was not an ordinary man he was a sorcerer, warrior of great skills and supernatural ability and he is well known for the use of his magic sword that could defy any charm or magic. But this great and powerful king fell into the web of love, immediately he got home lo his palace at Oboro, he quickly called for his personal diviner to come and consult for him. He told him of his encounter with the beautiful daughter of Ezomo Adesuwa. He said he has set traps on how to bring her to Oboro and marry her. He told the diviner that he bought goat from Adesuwa on credit and promise to pay her by the next day His plan is to use the debt to bring Adesuwa to Oboro, he said he knows that his friend, the Ezomo, will like to pay for him on the account of his failure to pay but that he waits the diviner to make Adesuwa refuse to accept payment of anyone who want to pay on his behalf. Let her insist on collecting back her money from the one who bought the goat from her, He should call her spirit and bring her to Oboro to come and collect her debt; nothing should by any means stop her from coming to Oboro.

The native doctor said there was no problem, but he needed to consult the gods first and find out what they had to say concerning the issue. After consulting the gods, he warned that Ogie Obo should forget about Adesuwa; he said the gods have revealed that if she comes to Oboro the end will be very tragic this will lead to great disaster and many lives will be lost including the king’s life which was in danger. The king refused to listen to the advice of his diviner; he said he was ready to lose his life as far as he could see Adesuwa again and make her his wife To him, his life is worth nothing anymore as far as he can make Adesuwa his wife, He was engrossed in the fairytale of marrying the most beautiful woman that ever lived in Benin. He said he was ready to go to any length to make her his wife. He was a born warrior and was not afraid of any war or anything that will come after it. He made the diviner to start working on her immediately or he will face the wrath of the king.

At the palace of the Ezomo Adesuwa had become very angry and restless, she told her father of how she waited for his friend throughout the day at the market and he has refused to send her money as he promised She threatened that by noon the next day if Ogie Obo doesn’t return her money, she will go and meet him at his palace in Oboro to pay her what he owned her. The Ezomo said there was no need for that and that he was ready to pay her the money for the goat Adesuwa immediately refused, she said it was not her father that bought goat from her and he cannot pay her, that it was the stupid Ogie Obo that must pay her back the money. The Ezomo was surprised at the sudden change in Adesuwa attitude, he called her mother to speak to her, but she refused to listen to anyone, even when the mother offered to pay her the debt she refused to accept the money insisting that Ogie Obo must pay the debt himself. With the new change of attitude, the parents realized that something had gone wrong.

Early in the morning, the next day, Adesuwa was already preparing her Journey to Oboro, her father at this point knew that Ogie Obo was using charm to call his daughter and there was nothing he could do about it because the spirit of Adesuwa had already answered the diviner at Oboro. They quickly called their own native doctor to consult the gods and find out if there was still any solution to the case of Adesuwa. They were told that nothing can be done to stop her as Ogio Obo had already called her soul and she will die if not allowed to answer the call at Oboro. The other problem was that he might not come back alive if allowed to go to Oboro, The only thing they could do was to allow her go and use divination to make her miss her way on the road to Oboro, and then she can now return home after trying to answer the call of her soul. They also decided to protect her with some charms that will prevent cut last and gunpowder from penetrating her body. Her maid servant was made to travel with her in the spirit and make it impossible for Adesuwa to find her way to Oboro kingdom.

Princess Adesuwa started the journey that will alter the relationship between Oboro kingdom and Benin Kingdom. When she got to the path that leads to Oboro, the road became seven, this mystery was done by her hand maid who was with her, but was no visible due to the eave the diviner at the Ezomo palace gave her to place in her mouth, After getting confused on what path to take she later decided to return home, At this point., the diviner at Oboro noticed she was turning back home, be quic.kly added more things to make sure she found her way to Oboro, because his own life was on the line. At last, through the manipulations of Ogie Obo and his diviner, she found her way to Oboro kingdom. At her entrance to the town, everyone who saw her was amazed at her beauty, as they had never seen anyone as beautiful as Adesuwa. Some felt she was a spirit.

Adesuwa finally located the palace of Ogie Obo, the diviner pack his property and quickly left the palace, but he too was also amazed at the beauty of this damsel, no wonder his master was ready to bear any consequences just to get her love and attention. I think at this point that Ogie Obo should have also made charm to make the young girl love him; because Adesuwa hated every bit of him, she was rouging in anger when she got there and immediately demanded for her money, Ogie Obo tried to use every soothing words to calm the angry Princess down, all was to no avail as site kept raining insults on the king in his throne. The king did not mind her insult, he pleaded with her, that he planned to send the money the next day because the servant that was to bring the money to her fell ill, He, however promised to make up for the pains and stress he had made her go through on the journey to Oboro kingdom.

Adesuwa was not interested in his apologies; she called him a poor debtor that could not pay for a mere goat planning to make up for her pains. All she need now was her money and nothing from a king that was less than a Benin slave. Ogie Obo was getting angry now at her continuous insults, but he swallowed all the insults in the name of love. He told her she was the only one that could rain such insults on him like that, He drew closer and tried to profess his love for her and she refused his love warning him not to touch her. She keeps calling him names; she called him a crab and a wretch.
The one that broke the camel’s back was when she called him an “uncircumcised slave” at this word; Ogie Obo lost his temper and ran inside his room, took his magic sword and tried to cut Adesuwa with it. At this, the leave fell from Adesuwa’s maid mouth as she screamed and she became visible. At first, the sword could not penetrate Adesuwa, but after Ogie Obo made some incantations on his sword and with it he removed the head of Adesuwa. Her maid picks back the leave and became invisible again and began to cry home that Ogie Obo has killed Adesuwa. Another version of the story claimed it was not Ogie Obo that killed Adesuwa but his servants who became uncomfortable with the way and manner Adesuwa was insulting and humiliating their master; they got angry and slaughtered Adesuwa before the king could stop them.

The cogent point is Adesuwa died in the hand of Ogie Obo, Whether he did the killing himself or his savants did It is of no importance, the key point is she was called to Oboro by Ogie Obo’s charms and was later murdered by him or his servant. The beauty Queen of Benin kingdom and the sweetheart of Oba Akengbuda died in the hand of a mere provincial head who was not even equalled to a Benin chief, his will produce nothing but trouble This will result to big trouble for Ogie Obo and his entire kingdom. It was an insult to the Benin kingdom and the Oba, It should be noted at this point that the Benin people believed they were superior to any other ethnic group, they were very proud and that was what gave birth to the lwu body markings they had on in order to differentiate them from all other ethnic groups.

Adesuwa’s maid got back to Benin and reported to her master what transpired at Ogie Obo‘s palace. This brought sudden wailing and tears to the whole of Benin. The Ezomo ran to the Oba palace and explained to Oba Akengbuda how Ogie Obo used charm to call his daughter unto sudden death. It is the debtor that new killed the creditor, a meeting of the elders was immediately called and all the elders who heard the story mourned, they wept for the beauty that was suddenly taking away from Benin. All of them came to a conclusion that Ogie Obo killed Adesuwa in rebellion to Benin and must be duly punished. The Oba said he did not only desire that Oboro be conquered, he specifically demanded for the head of 0gie Obo. With these conclusions the stage was already set for another war, This time around, it was not just a mere war; it was a war against the most powerful warrior at that age. Even the chiefs acknowledged that Ogie Obo was not just an ordinary warrior to be captured with ease; they knew they had to prepare both physically and spiritually in order to be able to remove his head from his neck.

At Oboro, the Ogie knowing what he had put his hands was also preparing for war against Benin, He deplored soldier to the Benin Oboro boundary, and his soldiers were harassing Benin women and men going about their business outside the territory. This incident fired up zeal within the Benin army led by four war lords, The Oliha, Iyase, Ologbosere, and the Esogban led different troops to the North, West, East and Southern part of Oboro kingdom. In quick succession, they defeated all the Oboro soldiers in all the areas apart from the eastern region. Ogie Obo was in charge of the east himself, the battle between Oboro and the Iyase was very fierce. The Ogie Obo made use of his magic sword and inflicted great defeat on the Benin soldiers. According to traditions he was almost defeating the Iyase and his foot soldiers; they claimed he changed into all manners of beast at different occasions. At another period, be changed into seven people fighting and killing soldiers with his magic sword at the same time, The saving grace of the Iyase and his few remaining soldiers was that, some other Benin soldiers went down to his palace and set it at ablaze. With the news of his burning palace; he left the battle-front to save his burning palace.

The Benin soldiers quickly used the absence of Ogie Obo to crush his remaining soldier at the east they moved to the palace in order to remove his head as commanded by the Oba but they were unable to penetrate into his palace. Again, the Benin army, were defeated by Ogie Obo and they returned to Benin. On consulting the oracle, the Oba was told that the only one who could subdue Qgie Obo was Emokpogbe the Enogie of Ugo who was also known as “Agbogidi”. This is because Agbogidi once studied as a student of magical art and science under Ogie Obo. He alone knew or had the secret to his defeat. The murder of Adesuwa has now become national issue that is demanding the efforts of everyone in the country in order to bring back glory of Benin by the defeat of Ogie Obo

It is important to understand who Emokpagbe was; he the Enogie of Ugo in Iyekorhionwon with the title of Agboghidi. He had a daring and indomitable spirit but he was very ugly looking. He was a hunter by profession and as very keen in the killing of leopards, elephants and other fierce animals. It was customary for every Enogie of Ugo to hunt they are all born warriors. But Emokpaogbe had been specially warned in his youth by his parents through the oracle that he should not hunt at the bank of the river Igbaghon especially on Eken day (a native Sunday) just to avoid an ill-fate circumstances against him. A few years after his parent’s advice Emokpogbe wilfully went hunting in Eken day, and his hunting expedition through the forest the unfortunately found himself on the bank of the river, where to is great surprise he unexpectedly met a Nymph or spirit of Igbaghon. At the sight of her, he become utterly speechless and returned home down cast.

His mother who was filled with horror and great distress at the sight of his son instantly invited so many native doctors to treat her son, none of them were able to cure him it was at this point the oracle hinted that Obi of Oboro, a skilful physician of his time could effect cure with all ease. Emokpaogbe was taken to Oboro by his favourite wife, Emokpolor, before the Qgie Obo who accordingly effected the cure after two month. Such speedy recovery induced Emokpaogbe, to remain under the Obi at Oboro as an occult student studying higher knowledge in medical science for a whole year. Having graduated and was about to return to Ugo, his town, the Ogie Obo predicted and told Emokpaogbe that he would kill him in the future, but the same fate would surely befall him afterward. As it was a crime for the student to take away the life of his tutor, Emokpaogbe replied him that he could not pay back his kindness towards him with evil that he shall forever remain grateful and loyal to his friendship and made vow with his life never to betray their friendship.

Now, there arose a need that might break the covenant Agbogidi made with his master and tutor. Oba Akengbuda, however, wasted no time send for Agbogidi to come and answer the clarion call of his nation by helping the Benin soldiers to defeat this over mighty warrior that has defiled all odd. Special messengers were, therefore, sent repeatedly by the Oba to invite Emokpaobe to Benin City in order to undertake the campaign. At first, Emokpaobe refused the undertaking because he recollected the prediction of Ogie Obo while he was a patient and occult student under him at Oboro. He pleaded with the Oba that the Obi was his benefactor; therefore, he could not hurt him. Also, they have made a vow with his life not to betray him in the course of their life. The Oba promised to reward him greatly, his favourite wife, Emokpolor, was used to manipulate him to agree to this arrangement.

After much pressure, however, he agreed and was eventually placed in command of a large army and marched against the Oboro. After terrible fighting by him and his wife, Emokpolor, who acted as his source of supernatural strength the town was captured and serious warfare, the head of the Ogie Obo was sent to the Oba in Benin City According to Egharevba, Emokpaogbe was very indignant at the rough words used against him by the Imaran (Jghama) as a result of the altercation regarding the accounts of the Punitive expedition and he was also dissatisfied with the reward given him by the Oba. Consequently he returned to Ugo in a bad humour. The Oba tried to persuade him to come back and not take offence, but no response

This disagreement resulted to another war between Ugo and Benin. Emokpaogbe declared war against Benin he Started with an outright rebellion by killing Benin traders who came to Ugo for business transaction, The Oba at first refused to challenge him due to the way he distinguished himself in the Benin- Oboro conflict, He offered him pardon, but Emokpaogbe would not desist from his rebellion and even began to harass Benin. In 1775, the Oba was, therefore compelled to dispatch three companies of warriors Obakina, Ighizamete and Agodo all dressed on red uniform under the command of the Ologbose. They ought many battles and during the battle Agbogidi lost his mother, he massacred countless number of royal soldiers for her funeral. The royal troop then marched against Ugo and a fierce battle was fought about a mile from the town and Agbogidi was defeated, But be escaped alive and being frustrated and hopeless of further success, he went and drowned himself in the river lgbaghon before he could be overtaken. Thus, the predictions of Ogie Obo against Emokpaogbe were fulfilled.

The short life of Adesuwa resulted to double war for the Benin Empire, this again goes a long way to prove the relevance and place of women in pre-colonial Benin, According to Adodoh, because of the events that culminated in the murder of Princess Adesuwa, females are since then forbidden from presenting Kola-nut to any guest in Benin City.

At this point it is cogent to comprehend that these women, Queen Iden and Princess Adesuwa had trade their mark in Pre colonial Benin. Queen Iden who gave her life as a sacrifice for the unification of the Benin monarchy which was already in a state of disintegration was a woman who made her mark in kingdom. Through her, the principle of primogeniture which has become the most stabilizing factor of the Benin monarchy was established. The sacrifice of Iden cannot be overemphasized in the reconstruction of Benin historiography. That the murder of Princess Adesuwa resulted to two major wars that shook Benin kingdom proved the power and relevant place of women in the kingdom. These wars repositioned Benin kingdom as a powerful kingdom and increased her influence, in these areas., It appropriate at this juncture to note that the complementary role Of women in pre-colonial Benin cannot be overemphasized, men and women worked together to make Benin what it became and is today.

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