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Compiled by Imasuen Amowie Izoduwa {Last Update June 10, 2023}

After the success of the coup d’etat staged by Ezomo Erebor against the usurper, Prince Ogbebor, Erebors nephew, Prince Erediauwa returned from exile in Ewohimi in Ishan, and assumed his rightful office as Osemwende, the Oba of Benin.

As was customary, whenever a new Oba of Benin ascended the throne of his father, the Chalk of Good Tidings was sent to all the vassal potentates in the Benin Empire, informing them that a new Oba was on the throne in Benin City.

One of the ranking chiefs in the Iwebo Chancellery of the Palace, the Osague of Benin, was the Emissary entrusted with this Chalk of Good Tidings to the Akure monarch, the Deji of Akure. The name of the Deji was Arakale.

The day that the Osague presented the royal chalk at the palace of the Deji in Akure was suitably dressed as the benin chief of rank that he was, adorned with the ceremonial neck beads of the ikele, bead arm-lets and anklets, and the bead neck-choke of the odigba. He was thus regally resplendent, and his host, the Deji was filled with covetousness for these chiefly items of adornment.

Arakale accepted the Chalk of Good Tidings with joy, and prayed for the good health and longevity of the new Oba of Benin, and for peace and fruitfulness all over the Empire.

Later, in the Osague’s place of domicile, there at Akure, a little misunderstanding broke out between one of his wives he had travelled with to Akure, and a local tobacco seller, as narrated by J.U Egharevba in his “Short History of Benin”. It was suspected that Arakale himself had instigated the misunderstanding. The quarrel led to a fight, and the Osague came out from inside the house to lend some help to his wife. He was attacked and murdered in the fracas.

The Deji of Akure thereupon seized all the Osagues chiefly coral beads adornment.

News of the happenings in Akure reached Benin, that the Oba’s Emmisary had been murdered. The year was 1818.

War was thereupon declared upon Akure by Osemwende, and a punitive Expedition assembled for the task.

According to the fairly detailed account of the episode by J.U Egharevba three Benin war commanders, led by Erebor the Ezomo, were in charge of the Akure Expedition. The other two commanders were the Ologbosere and Imaran.

Let us quote Egharevba: “The Ezomo went by way of the Okearo approach to Akure. The Ologbosere by Okelisa, and the Imaran by Isikan and Isinkin. At Oke-Elegbin, a muile from Akure, Omonoyan, the captain of Artillery of the Ezomo’s troops, fired a canoon which ruined the house of the Deji, and the town was taken by assault”.

Compare the similar episode when the British Expeditionary Force, led by Admiral Harry Rawson, captured Benin City seventy nine years later, in February 1897. The cause of these two wars was similar: the killing of an Officer of the Government. This time around, it was the murder of James phillips, Head of the British Colonial Niger Coast Protectorate Government, by the Benin soldiery in Ugbine village on January 4, 1897, which was the immediate cause of the hostilities between Britain and Benin.

The cannon fired into Akure town by Omonoyan, a mile from Akure,
Helped in the capture of the town by the Benin troops, through the
demoralization of the Akure defenders – J. U. Egharevba.
Akure town was taken by assault. The ruler, Deji Arakale, successfully fled the fallen town. He sought refuge in Ado Ekiti, but was refused succor by the Ewi, the monarch of the town. So he went to Uju, and from there he went on to Uhen. The Uhen ruler, the Arinjale took him prisoner and returned him to the victorious Ezomo in Akure.

Of the three Commanders of the Benin army who undertook this campaign, only one, the Imaran, returned to Benin alive. The Ologbosere, on his return journey to Benin, died of natural causes, and was buried in Okemuen village, by the head-waters of the Orhionmwon river, near Ehor town. This was the same village where his descendant, Irabor, the Ologbosere of the “Benin Massacre” fame of 1897, successfully resisted the British occupation of the Benin territories for two and a half years after Benin fell, until he was wounded and captured there, in june 1899, by a full-fledged British Military Expedition named the “Benin Territories Expedition”, only a little less sophisticated in armament than the Expeditionary Force which had captured Benin City in February 1897.

Erebor the Ezomo, on the other hand, contracted Small Pox soon after he had achieved victory in the Akure war, and died before setting out to return to Benin City. J. U. Egharevba narrates that the Ezomo was then buried near Akure by his fellow War Chief, the Imaran, helped by Ezabayo, the Ezomo’s senior lieutenant. Ezabayo Street in Benin is named after this lieutenant.

But there is a famous Dirge, sung in the Ezomo’s palace by the Harem-women of Uzebu. The Dirge, or Ballad, tells the story of this 1818 Akure War led by Ezomo Erebor. The Ballad, sings about the War, and narrates that the remains of the Ezomo were returned to Benin for burial. Probably it was only an important part of the corpse, like the Head, which was returned to Benin for Burial.

“The head of the leopard is never left abandoned in the jungle!”
Excerpt from “EREDIAUWA: Prince of Benin” by Aisien Ekhaguosa

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