In 13th century, Oranmiyan, a prince from Ile-Ife, emerged the ruler of the Kingdom of Edo. It is acknowledged that his appearance in the Kingdom marked the beginning of a new era and, of course, a dynasty.
His ruling house from Eweka could be said, without a fear of contradiction, to have been producing Oba of Benin to date.
Oranmiyan was one of the children of Oduduwa, the founder or the great grandfather of Yoruba people. History said that Oduduwa came to Ile-Ife in the 12th century.
Account of his itinerary with his followers revealed that he lost what could rightly be called a religious war against Prophet Muhammed in Mecca. Hence he fled from the city of Mecca to Africa and crossed the Sabara Desert.
He had seven children in Ile-Ife. Oranmiyan was one of them.
Oranmiyan was a fiery warrior. He was credited to be an adept war strategist, who was good in tactical manoeuvring in the war front that usually befuddled enemies.
At the time Oranmiyan rose to prominence as a warrior, an adventure took him to the Kingdom of Edo. Edo was an empire founded and ruled by Ogisos, who were known to be kings of the sky. Obasogie was reputed to be the first king of Ogiso people. He was a blacksmith and versed in production of farm implements such as cutlas and hoes. Also within his competence was the turning of iron and steel into weapons.
These, he employed in wars. Mass production of such weapons made Obasogie a King held in awe by his neighbouring contemporaries. He brought a large expanse of land under his control. The rainforest vegetation, River Benin, a navigable river, gave Ogiso people the boat-making skill which was utilised to the hilt. This boosted the economy of Edo people, providing them with varied economic opportunities. All these created an expansion state in the empire.
In the 12th century, the empire suffered a rupture, owing to intrigue and conspiracy in the palace. Centrifugal forces took over the peace in the palace. The crisis quickly crippled Ekaladerhan, the only son of the last Ogiso. He was indicted and ordered to be executed. The palace messengers, who were to execute him, allowed him to escape. they freed him at Ughoton. Later, the death of ailing Ogiso brought an end to the ruling of the kings of sky in the kingdom. It was at this point that Oranmiyan emerged.
He brought an end to the crisis and equally initiated what was the beginning of a new dynasty.
The stay of Orannmiyan in Edo that was later called Benin could be said to be brief. It was however, not too short as the Prince of Ile-Ife had an amorous relationship with an Edo woman, Erinmwinde, who gave him a son named Eweka. Shortly after the birth of Eweka, Oranmiyan left the kingdom of Edo to his father’s town, Ile-Ife.
Before Oranmiyan left Edo that he described as a town of anger, Ile Ibinu, he told the people that only a child born, bred in the Kingdom of Edo and had undergone the tutelage of the rudimentary philosophy and culture of the people could rule the Kingdom. Eweka grew with a telling mysterious health challenge that appeared to defy the available traditional medical solution. His father, Oranmiyan, was contacted and he provided the cure of dumb and deaf affliction to the relief of Eweka and his mother.
Eweka grew to become the Oba of the Kingdom of Edo. When he eventually died, his corpse was taken to Ile-Ife for burial. This was in recognition of the source of Eweka’s father and the Yoruba tradition which states that when a man dies his corpse is taken to the home town of the dead for burial. Oke Okuloku nre, ile baba omo ni won gbomo lo literally means a corpse is bound to be buried in its home town as the dead person must be returned to where he cames from.
From Eweka the 1st, who came to power in the 13th century, down the line to the 20th century about 1926, when the practice was halted, all dead Oba of Benin were burled in Ile-Ife. They were all descendants of Oranmiyan, the great.
At this point, it should be stressed that the Oranmiyan’s description of Kingdom of Edo Ile Ibinu, a town of anger, where most people were always angry when he was leaving the kingdom eventually change the name of the empire and by implication the name of its capital, Edo. The Ile Ibinu tag given to the kingdom by Oranmiyan was later corrupted by the Portuguese sailors who came on exploration to the kingdom in 1485. They called the kingdom Ibini. The kingdom of Bini, which later became Benin, while the capital was called Benin city. This has nothing to do with the Republic of Benin that was earlier known as the Republic of Dahomey that shares a Western border with Nigeria.
– Tajudeen Adigun