*Some words about the more visible ceremonies of the coronation of an Oba of Benin
Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa being the eldest son of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa, is the custodian of the Benin kingship mantle.
The preparation for ascending the exalted throne of Benin actually begins at birth, for a Crown Prince is born king. The people also hold dearly to the idea that the Crown Prince is made before birth!
But as part of the rites relative to ascending the throne of his forefathers, (building on his earlier investiture as the Edaiken of Uselu) and in deference to the principle of primogeniture, the Crown Prince began the coronation initiation rites by visiting the historic town of Ughoton in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo State.
There, he was formally initiated into the Edion rank of Ughoton community, in accordance with the established customs and traditions. Ughoton occupies a special place in the history of Edo people. Apart from it being referred to as the port of Benin with links to the Gelegele River, it was once a place of refuge for Prince Ekaladerhan (Oduduwa) who fathered Oronmiyan, the first Oba of Benin.
The initiation rites at Ekaladerhan shrine and elder’s court completed, the Edaiken was ushered into Ughoton community Ogua-Edion, (Elder’s chamber) where other initiation rites took place.
The Odionwere and other officiating functionaries who presided, prayed to the Almighty God and the Ancestors to grant the Edaiken radiant health, good fortune and longevity. The Edaiken then makes a stop-over at the Aro-Iden shrine in Ughoton and seven days after this, the Odionwere of Ughoton led his group to the abode of the Edaiken to perform the ceremony of Iguohun (propitiation of his destiny) in solicitude of divine grace as well as special ordination.
With melodious voices at the background, the people enthused and uttered the words: “sanctify the path, here cometh the promise of ancestral fertility” among others.
The symbolic initiation into the Iwebo palace society and chamber took place Wednesday, 30th September, 2015. Significantly, the crown prince was by this act made Uko N’iwebo. It was done under the supervision of Chief Eribo, the functioning Head of Iwebo, in the absence of the Uwangue, the substantive head of the group.
These ceremonies pertaining to the palace initiations for the Edaiken were held at the Iwebo royal Chamber, Ugha-Erhoba, ancestral hall and Ugha Ozolua among others.
The Uko N’iwebo conferment, the lowest rung in title hierarchy is a demonstration of the good old saying-the last shall become the first!
Prior to the Iwebo initiation, the Edaiken makes it a point of duty to visit the shrine of his ancestors, Erhinmwin-Idu at the Ugha-Erhoba to pray to the Almighty God and his ancestors for divine guidance. He was accompanied in this instance by the Ihogbe group under the headship of Ihama, the Oka Ihogbe who was represented by the Letema.
At the completion of the seven-day intensive initiation ceremonies, the Edaiken as celebrant was joined by some Palace chiefs, and functionaries in an excursion of honour to his Uselu residence.
The Edaiken also had a procession, in another activity to a number of designated traditional sites, which included the altar of Oba Ozolua; (Ugha Ozolua) Aro-Edion Edo; Ekpenede shrine; Aro-Emotan; Aruosa-N’Ogbelaka and the Elabe-Esigie shrines.
In each of these locations, special prayers were said for him and his household after which he duly payed homage with the Eben, ceremonial sword. There were instantaneous joyful raptures by the massive crowd, the Edaiken stoped intermittently as the procession progressed to display some royal dance steps amid shouts of Iyare! Iyare!! Iyare!!! (Victory)
Among the reasons for the numerous prayers and royal rituals were the fortification of the personage of the Heir-Apparent to the Benin throne.
As a high point of the rites of his conferment, a prodigious feast was called, with special choral renditions by the Isekhuian Royal Palace women group and other traditional ululation which helped to frame the special moment.