Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Akenzua II was born in 1899. Before being crowned, he was known as Prince Godfrey Akoro Eweka Akenzua. He was the Oba of Benin from 1933 until his death in 1978.
Oba Akenzua II in his youth was place under the Tutelage of his father’s friend Chief Ajayi, the Ovienrioba of Benin. Here he was groomed in the deposition and comportment of an Oba.
While still with the Chief he was sent to the Benin Government School under the headmastership of late Mr. Okai a Ghanaian in 1907. He passed the then Standard Six in 1915. In 1918 he proceeded to King’s College, Lagos, where he studied and passed the then Junior Cambridge examination in 1921 which was the highest class attainable then in the college. Among his classmates at king’s College were the late Bishop A.W. Howells, Justice R. Ade Doherty and Dr Samuel Manuwa. His tutors included Mr. Earnest Ikoli and Mr. Charles James Smart who became a popular letter writer in Benin City before his death in 1966.
Oba Akenzua II distinguished himself as a brilliant scholar. He was a very keen sportsman; he was very good at cricket and football. After his accession to the throne, he took great delight at playing billiard. He had billiard table in his palace which he played most of the evenings with some Chiefs.
Apart from his Western Education, he was very vast in the knowledge of Benin tradition, customs and culture. He was trained in Royalty obligations art of administration and component of an Oba. All these contributed immensely to his qualities, wisdom, virtue and forthrightness in his rule in the years of his reign.
On his return from the college, he was appointed a transport clerk in the Benin Native Administration, and later transferred to his father’s palace as the Oba’s confidential secretary, in these posts; he acquired more knowledge of administration and human relationship.
In 1925, he was sent to Abeokuta to study Native Administration system under Sir Ademola II, the late Alake of Abeokuta. To put the knowledge so gained into practice and on his return to Benin, he was appointed the District Head of Eguaedaiken, although he had not been initiated into the Palace Society or installed the Ediaken. He was virtually in change of the area of Iyeke-Uselu. That is the whole of the area after and beyond Uselu up to Benin Divisional boundary with Ondo State, in matter of jurisdiction and administration. He performed his duty creditably and judiciously without blemish and earned praise of the Colonial Administration Officers and the admiration of all. He depicted the genuity of a born ruler. He was, in fact, well prepared to assume the Obaship of his people at the time he was called upon to put on the mantle of his forefathers as a great ruler. Akenzua II was enthroned as Oba of Benin in April 1933 following the death of his father, Eweka II in February that year.
- In 1934, there was the great Forest Reserve dispute between the colonial Administrator and the Benin people. There followed a long dialogue which resulted in the establishment of the Benin Native Authority Forest Department under a British Forest Officer with the late Ranger Adams Obasogie Ekuawe as the head of the field staff.
- In 1936, Oba Akenzua II began the movement to return to Nigeria the Benin Bronzes looted from the royal compounds and ancestral altars in the punitive Benin Expedition of 1897. During his reign, only two of the 3,000 royal court bronzes were returned. However, two coral crowns and coral bead garment, thought to have belonged to Ovonramwen, were returned to him in 1937 by G.M. Miller a son of a member of the Benin expedition, who had loaned the pieces to the British Museum in 1935.
- The Oba’s interest in education and for the progress of his people to measure up with other Nigerians, he sponsored the establishment of Edo College, Benin City in 1935 under the proprietorship of the Benin Native Authority. He gave land freely towards this program. The College was open in 1936 under the principal-ship of Mr. B.D. Coker, a Ghanaian and former headmaster of the Benin Government School, The original site is now occupied by the Idia College while the Edo College moved to a new and larger site along Murtala Muhammed Way, Benin City. His love for education and the great premium he placed on Western Education he saw to it that he gladly gave the Roman Catholic missionaries land for the establishment of a secondary school- Immaculate Conception College which was established and opened in 1943.
- The Roman Catholic Mission also was granted land permission to establish and run Saint Philomena Catholic Hospital for the welfare of mothers and humanity in general in 1944.
- To preserve the history, culture and heritage of the Benin kingdom, the Oba initiated the establishment of the Benin Museum under Chief Jacob U.Egharevba as the curator. To the Museum, he contributed generously and in no small measure several antiquities. Many people of goodwill also donated to growth of the Museum. The Federal Government has taken over the management of the museum under trained curators and under the Department of Antiquities. A befitting building in the heart of the City has been created to house the museum, officially opened to the public on August 10, 1973.
- He was awarded Companion of the order of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G) by the Queen of England, conferred with the Doctorate Degree LL.D (Causa) on the 19th May 1966 by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was also after the Nigeria independence awarded the commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R.N) and he was appointed Justice of Peace (J.P).
Oba Akenzua II died in 1978 and was succeeded by his son, then Prince Solomon, who took on the title of Oba Erediauwa and duties as the traditional leader of the Edo people in Benin City, Nigeria.