By AGENE AKHERE, Benin
For many it was no longer shocking news. Many had heard of the demise of the revered monarch since last year but were only waiting for a formal announcement. But it eventually came at the weekend, it still surprised some unwary. It was a solemn moment for the ancient Benin kingdom and residents of Benin generally as top hierarchy of palace chiefs finally announced the death of Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty Omo N’Oba UKU Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa.
The passage of Oba Erediauwa was broken by the chiefs led by the Iyase of Benin Kingdom Chief Sam Igbe and Chief David Edebiri (The Esogban of the Kingdom) to the hire apparent, His Royal Highness Eheneden Erediauwa and Edaiken N’Uselu, children. It was also broken to other members of the royal family, the Enigies and a large crowd of sympathizers who thronged the ancient palace.
There were traditional rites that heralded the solemn announcement done amid wailings and reflections on the death of the sage and monarch of the kingdom. The chiefs in a procession-like manner, accompanied by a man carrying the traditional Akpoki (a round sacred stool-like box with cover at both ends said to be containing some traditional items of high spiritual powers) trooped to the center of the main entrance gate where the Iyase of Benin made some traditional incantations and broke a big white chalk. He then announced the transition of Oba Erediauwa to the hearing of all that the monarch had allegedly since last year been reunited with his ancestors.
An official statement by Chief Sam Igbe, which was made available to newsmen, later stated that the HRM Oba Erediauwa had joined his ancestors after the traditional while chalk was broken at the main entrance gate and within the ancient palace after some rites laced with spiritual invocations and rites were also performed by the Iyase of the Kingdom. Iyase was accompanied by an army of top chiefs to carry out the all-important ceremony.
The Iyase of Benin Kingdom, who described the late Oba of Benin as ‘the Prince of Peace” also prayed God to grant his soul external peace. According to the statement, “As announced by the Iyase of Benin kingdom, Osorhue Bunrun, Oba Erediauwa of Benin Kingdom, the Prince of Peace, Ebo, Ayenmwirhe (CMINI, MINI, MNI) has reunited with his ancestors. May he find perfect peace with God, Amen.”
The core chiefs of the inner chamber of the palace had before the public announcement of the death of the monarch held hours of closed-door meeting with the HRH Eheneden Erediauwa, the Enigies and other elders of the royal family before they came out to break the news of the exit of the nation’s highly revered traditional ruler and a former Federal Permanent Secretary.