Osaretin Ighodaro

To say the much esteemed Benin palace has been in a joyous mood in the past few days would be an understatement. And for a number of reasons. Delectable Queen Iyagota put to bed a bouncing baby boy, thus making Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, dad again.

The good news was broken by the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe.

Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, perhaps best captured the popular mood across Benin kingdom with his gushing words following the announcement:

“It is with a delighted heart that I congratulate His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, and the Royal Palace of the Benin Kingdom on the new addition to the Benin Royal family.

“His arrival has expanded the splendor of the Royal Palace of the Benin Kingdom, and we pray that the greatness of the Kingdom of His Royal Majesty would continue to grow without bounds in the fruitful years ahead.

“I extend the greetings of the government and the good people of Edo State to the Oba and pray for more blessings, long life and prosperity in the Royal family.

“Oba Gha To Kpere, Ise!!!”

But for the raging COVID-19 with its restrictive protocols, observers believe the adoring great sons and daughters of Benin kingdom would most likely have taken it upon themselves to celebrate the arrival in a big way, with pomp and panoply unique to the “cradle of black civilization”.

In a manner quite befitting the taste of the monarch who the millennials and the young-at-heart prefer to describe as “swaggerlicious” – a form of homage to his style and panache.

Of course, reports had it that, since Queen Iyagota put to bed, she has been smoldered with love and support by fellow queens. In an uncommon sisterhood, they all came together.

With this, Oba Ewuare II can’t be prouder. One, his reign has brought not only development in his domain but also fostered peace and harmony in the homefront, with the generality of Benin people appreciative of the progress in the kingdom regarded as one of the oldest black civilizations.

If nothing at all, this happy story puts a lie to a wild speculation in the recent times that one of the queens had become estranged from the king, so much that she was alleged to have packed out of the palace.

But those versed in the traditional practices of Benin kingdom were quick to laugh off the story as insane as no queen already inducted into the Oba’s harem can afford to walk away, much less indulge in unwholesome behavior without inviting grave cultural consequences on herself and her collaborators.

Keen watchers of cultural politics in Benin kingdom believe the malicious story could only be the handiwork of some disgruntled elements at the receiving ends of the sweeping reforms being championed by the Benin monarch which have now curbed the nefarious activities of land speculators in the kingdom with those involved in real estate business heaving a sigh of relief. For ages, such buccaneers often operated under the insidious camouflage of “CDA” (Community Development Association).

Again, before the ascension of Oba Ewuare II in 2016, Edo State was often perceived as the hotspot of human trafficking to Europe, particularly Italy.

But in an unprecedented move, the Benin monarch soon not only pronounced a royal fatwa on those engaged in the illicit trade of “sponsoring” sometimes unwary young girls and ladies abroad to engage in the trade of the flesh, he capped it by staging a ritual ceremony at the palace grounds invoking the wrath of Benin ancestors against those who would not comply.

According to testimonies by European monitors, Oba Ewuare II’s tactics are yielding fruits as the traffic is now on the decline. At least, the practice is no longer as glamorized in the local communities as was the case in the past.

With the arrival of the prince, the rumour of a matrimonial tempest in the palace has disappeared. Obviously, the “swaggerlicious” monarch is now having the last laugh.

  • Mr. Ighodaro, a public commentator, wrote from Benin.

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