Following the death of the 38th Oba of Benin His Royal Majesty Omo n’ Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I, otherwise referred to as Oba Erediauwa, there has been many speculations as to the burial rites of the late Oba.
Brief Biography of Oba Erediauwa
Oba Erediauwa was born Prince Solomon Aiseokhuoba Igbinoghodua Akenzua on the 22nd of June, 1923 to the 37th Oba of Benin, Oba Akenzua from who he inherited the throne on the 23rd Of March, 1979. He schooled at Government College Ibadan, Yaba College and the King’s College, Cambridge where he studied law and administration. He was once a district officer for the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service, A Permanent Secretary for the Federal Civil Service and a Commissioner for Finance in former Bendel State.
Expected burial rites!
The burial rites of the Benin people are quite unique to them. For the ordinary Benin man, there’s a 7 day burial ceremony and for the Chiefs or Important people in the kingdom, there’s a 14 day burial ceremony. But with the Oba, the case is different. Oba of Benin’s funeral rights are expected to take about 3 months.
So how is it done?
According to the tradition of Benin, the Oba never dies. He simply passes on to join his ancestors. And so is the case of Oba Erediauwa who transited to join his ancestors. His transition is announced with a cry.
Also Read The Naming Ceremony Process in Edo
The “Evbo Osorgue Bunrun” is the cry that is heard in Benin on the fateful day when the Iyase or the Esongban of Benin breaks the white chalk into bits in the presence of the royal family and chiefs at the Ughe Ozolua palace ground. Evbo Osorgue Bunrun means “the chalk of the Oba has been broken”, referring to the fact that the Oba has gone to join his ancestors.
After the chalk has been broken, the earth is taken from the feet of the people and a formal announcement is made by the Esongban with the chalk in hand, to inform the people of the Oba’s transition.
Shortly after the announcement, the royal funeral rites “emwin n’ekhua” meaning “the big things” kick off. Part of the funeral ceremony are done in secret and in the open at the palace ground of the Edaiken N’Uselu (the heir to the throne) and that of the Oba. The Edaiken communicates the do’s and don’ts of the ceremony to the people.
As a mark of respect, the following are observed…
- All markets in Benin are closed and buying and selling is done on a low key.
- All dancing and drumming associated with any other burial are stopped.
- The dresses and some songs used during the funeral ceremony aren’t to be used by anyone after the period of the ceremony.
- On one of the days of the ceremony, there is no cooking with open fire.
- Also on another day, all the males throughout the length and breadth of Benin Kingdom are to shave off all the hairs on their head, including the princes and the princesses. On that day, no cap is to be worn and women aren’t allowed to cover their heads.
The Oba’s grave is then prepared for his corpse which is buried in a sitting position.
It is pertinent to note that reports have it that in the olden days, the Oba of Benin was always buried with human sacrifices. But all that has changed now as animals like sheep and goats are used instead.
May Oba Erediauwa’s soul rest in peace.
This post is based on a research of the burial of past Oba’s of Benin.