BRIEF HISTORY OF EDO STATE

Edo, a state located in the south-south part of Nigeria or the Deltan region, has a long history of civilization. It is partly what remains of the once powerful and famous imperial Benin kingdom one of the most powerful Africa Empires during 15th and 16th century. The Benin Empire authority and influence spreading to the coast of Benin republic, the Niger delta, the north west of Niger River and Onisha in the east. Benin City now serving as the headquarters of Oredo Local Government Area and the capital of Edo state was the power-house, seat of government and the capital of the ancient Empire. It’s also the origin and ancestral home of all the descendants of ancient Benin kingdom.

The Edo people pride themselves on their wealth of history and civilization. The arts of Benin Kingdom are global brand. Benin artefacts are among the most exquisite and coveted in world’s history which represents the earliest civilization among black specifically Africans.

OGBA ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN

Ogba Zoo (also known as Ogba Zoo & Nature Park) is a state-owned zoological park in Benin City, capital of Edo State, Nigeria. The nature park was established in 1965 in a forest reserve in the Ogba District, four kilometers from the town center. The area covers 750 acres of land and water, and is home to local and other wild species, including primates, lions, giant tortoises, rock pythons, equine and antelope species. Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed described the zoo as one of Nigeria’s top tourist destinations. The zoological gardens were established in 1915 and it was the first to have a legal statute backing in Nigeria.

The garden is located in a forest reserve area near Ogba village about six kilometers from Benin City and covers a land area of about 20 hectares, which exhibits trees for their scientific and educational interest and value.

Ogba zoological gardens has an appreciable stock of local and foreign species of wildlife. Over the years the gardens have served as a functional recreational park with very strong educational impact. Ogba zoo and nature park is an extensive multi-purpose recreational centre in 750 Acres of Urban Park with Biological Garden and tourist resort development that leaves such a surreal impression on you even before doing anything at the park.

There are so many attractions at the zoo that makes you not want to leave. Some of the animals found in the ogba zoo that leaves you in awe include; Majestic Lions, Chimpanzees, Giant Tortoises, Rock Python, Pea fowls and so much more. The zoo is an ideal location for biological research as well as social events.

OKOMU NATIONAL PARK

The Okomu National Park, formerly the Okomu Wildlife Sanctuary, is a forest block within the 1,082 km2 (418 sq mi) Okomu Forest Reserve in the Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State in Nigeria. The park is about 60 km (37 mi) north west of Benin City. The park holds a small fragment of the rich forest that once covered the region, and is the last habitat for many endangered species.

It continues to shrink as villages encroach on it and is now less than one third of its original size. Powerful corporations are involved in plantation development and logging concessions around the park, which also pose a threat. The park has diverse fauna, with 33 species of mammals including the African buffalo and the endangered African forest elephant. Elephant sightings are rare, although in 2007 a one-year-old elephant carcass was found, unlikely to have died from natural causes. Park officials claim that elephant poaching no longer occurs, despite the high prices commanded for ivory in Lagos.

There is a population of the vulnerable white-throated guenon, a primate. Although no thorough study of the primate population has been done since 1982, chimpanzees were reported to be present in the region in 2009. The number of chimpanzees estimated to live in the Okomu Forest reserve was guessed to be 25–50 in 2003, and some may use the national park at times.

Other animals found in the park include dwarf crocodiles, red river hog, sitatunga, warthog, civet cat, Maxwell’s duiker, grass cutter, mona monkey, Thomas’s galago and tree pangolin.

About 150 species of birds have been identified. These include Angolan pitta, grey parrot, wrinkled hornbill, fish eagle, hawks, woodpeckers, great owl, grey hornbill, cattle egret, black-casqued hornbill, yellow-casqued hornbill, Sabine’s spinetail, Cassin’s spinetail, black spinetail, white-breasted negrofinch, chestnut-breasted negrofinch, pale-fronted negrofinch and yellow-throated cuckoo. Terrestrial mollusks seem exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, and low diversity may indicate subtle environmental problems.

A survey of land mollusks in a small area of the forest found 46 species in 11 molluscan families, of which Streptaxidae snails accounted for over a third. This is much lower diversity than has been found in Cameroon and Sabah. However, it may be due to the very limited sample in just one area. Perhaps of greater interest to most visitors, the park has over 700 species of colourful butterflies.

BENIN MOAT

The Benin moat, also known traditionally as Iya, is the largest man-made earthworks in the world. One of the wonders of the world. It predates the use of modern earth-moving equipment or technology in these parts. The moat encircles the old perimeter precinct of the City constructed, as a defensive barrier in times of war during the reign of {5th} Oba Oguola in the 13th century. An extension of the moat was constructed in the15th century during the reign of {12th} Oba Ewuare the great. The Benin moat is over 3200 kilometers long. It was built as a defensive fortification around Benin City in the great Kingdom during the time it was at its height and when the kingdom engaged in many wars. Considered one of the great wonders of the world, the walls were built of a ditch and dike structure.

The ditch was dug to form an inner moat and the excavated earth from this was used to construct the external rampart. Its construction method predates the use of modern earth-moving equipment or technology. Oba Oguola (1280 – 1295) completed the 1st and the 2nd moats. He decreed construction of 20 smaller moats around other important towns and villages to protect them against invaders.

In the 15th century during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great (1440 -1473) an extension of the moat which was about 3200km was constructed. This fortified bastion allowed entry to the city from nine gates to be controlled. At night the gates were locked.

THE OBA’S PALACE

No visit to Edo State is complete without a visit to this edifice which itself is a personification of the proud and rich cultural heritage of Benin kingdom. The Oba’s vast palace complex is the administrative and religious heart of the Benin Kingdom.

It has stood in the same location in Benin City for at least 700 years, though its size has expanded and contracted over time. As the home of a long succession of divine rulers, it is a sacred place. From here the oba oversees the kingdom’s affairs with the assistance of chiefs, religious specialists, court officials, and attendants.

The Dutch geographer Olfert Dapper’s description of the Oba’s palace, based on 17th-century Dutch travelers reports, is the earliest known account of the impressive complex. Dapper wrote, “It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers, and comprises beautiful and long square galleries…resting on wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper, on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles.”

As Dapper observed, thousands of elaborate brass bas-relief plaques embellished the palace buildings. Today these plaques are an invaluable source for reconstructing and interpreting the kingdom’s hierarchy, history, and rituals.

SOMORIKA HILLS

This is located in Akoko Edo Local Government Area. Somorika hills consist of an extended expanse of hills crowned by massive boulders perched precariously on the summits of hills and alongside seemingly inadequate locations on the sides. Somorika is about five kilometres north east of lgarra and 165 kilometres from Benin city.

The hills are a part of the rolling landscape of the Kukuruku range. The beauty of the scenery is the huge, hanging rocks that rest on one another

EMOTAN STATUE

The statue of the stately woman, clad in the traditional wrapper and a headgear associated with the Benin royalty stands opposite the Oba market in Benin City. The statue was erected in honor of Emotan a patriotic woman who traded in foodstuffs at the very spot where the statue stands in the 15th century. At that period, {11th} Oba Uwaifiokun {1430AD-1440AD} usurped the throne of the Benin kingdom in place of his senior brother, Prince Ogun who was the heir apparent.

Ogun in those times of travail, paid secret and nocturnal visits to Benin from his exile. On many occasions, this market woman called Emotan warmed Ogun of impending dangers and advised him against interacting with some treacherous chiefs who may reveal his presence. On one occasion Emotan actually hid prince ogun from his adversary. When Prince Ogun eventually regained the throne and was subsequently crowned as the real Oba of Benin, he took the name {12th} Oba Ewuare the great {1440AD-1473AD}. He did not forget the pivotal role played by this simple market woman, Emotan who saved him from glaring dangers during his exile years.

When Emotan died, Oba Ewuare ordered that the sacred Uruhe tree be planted at the very spot where Emotan used to display her goods in Oba market and decreed that thereafter, every person in Benin who is performing any ceremony of whatever must pay homepage to Emotan. Thus, to this day every citizen, including the Oba himself pays homage to Emotan.

During the reign of {33rd} Oba Osemwende {1816AD-1848AD} the commemorative tree fell and he replanted another Uruhe tree on the same spot. In 1951, the British colonial administration officials injected the tree with poisonous chemicals and uprooted it. This action almost led to a violent mass reaction. After which the {37th} Oba Akenzua II {1933AD-1978AD} vehemently protested the destruction of the Emotan shrine. This had been there since the 15th century. Consequently, the colonialists acceded to the request for a replacement. A life-size statue was cast by Mr. J.A.Danfor in London from a clay Marquette modeled by Enomayo, professional brass caster from the Igun-Eronmwon. The new Emotan statue was unveiled amidst pomp and pageantry by the Oba Benin, Akenzua ll on March 20, 1954.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, BENIN CITY

The National Museum, Benin City contains artworks, artifacts and relics of the rich cultural history of the Bini people. Tourists can take a visual excursion through the varied collections and relish and re-live the artistic culture of the bini people.

The Museum is a repository of the ancient, modern and contemporary artistic ingenuity, not only of the people of Edo state, but also of the major cultures of Nigeria. It is situated on king’s Square, Ring Road, Benin City.

IGUN STREET

The guild of Benin bronze casters’ world heritage site. The street has the largest collection of bronze casters imaginable. Many of them are in family units who have been in the business for generations.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here