The Oba of Benin Palace, which is home to the revered ruler of the Benin kingdom (Benin Empire), is a popular attraction and destination for tourists globally and like every heritage site/tourist centers it has it's do(s) and don't(s).
[Photos are used for illustrative purposes only]
The Oba Palace as a place of resident and administration of the Benin kingdom, has been synonymous with the existence of the kingdom, since it's inception in the 11th Century. The Benin kingdom happens to be one of the most advanced civilizations in the hinterland of West Africa.
The Benin monarch is referred to as the Oba of Benin, and the current ruler is the 40th Oba of Benin, popularly known as Oba Ewarue II who ascended the throne of his forefathers in 2016.
Folklore has it that the subjects of the Oba of Benin - the Edo people migrated from Egypt down to the Niger area, owing their roots to the famous Egyptians and subsequently sired the royal lineage of the famous Yoruba tribe of Nigeria.
According to the famous Royal Benin historian chief Jacob U. Egharevba, the primitive Yoruba people had no king but waited on a prophecy which foretold the arrival of a King - which would be seen sleeping on a tree, with an eagle hovering over the tree.
Photo: Entrance of the Oba Palace opposite Oba market, King square in Benin city.Later, that prophecy was fulfilled when a hunter spotted an exiled Benin prince called Ekaladerhan, who then changed his name to Izoduwa(i have chosen the path of prosperity) as he entered the Yoruba land.
He was then addressed as Oduduwa by the Yorubas who couldn't pronounce his name "Izoduwa". Subsequently he became King of Ife and his progeny the first Oba of Benin - ending the line of rulers called Ogiso(sky lords).
Photo: the walls of Benin kingdom as depicted by the dutch
Besides, the beauty of the Oba Palace, there is also the awesomeness of the walls surrounding Benin.The findings of the earthen walls of the Benin kingdom was reported by Duarte Pacheco Pereria in his expedition to Benin in 1500.
The Oba Palace has been built twice. The first was built by Oba Ewedo and the other after the British invasion of Benin in 1897, by Oba Eweka II.
It is highly considered a sacred place and certain things are forbidden to be done by visitors, some of which may attract punishment.
Photo: premises of the Oba palace from the main entrance
Photo: Royal rolls royce of the Oba of Benin
Photo: interior of the palace
1. No Whistling
In Benin tradition whistling helps awake the spirit of the dead. In the Oba Palace, all previous Obas are believed to be alive in the spirit realm, and due to the numerous deities in the palace, whistling is considered a rude act and must be avoided.
Pointing in Benin kingdom is highly symbolic. For an elder to bless or lay curses on someone, one way to accomplish that is by pointing at the person. It is forbidden to point fingers at elders, let alone the Oba chiefs or the Oba himself. It is a punishable offence.
3. Dogs are prohibited
After the practice of human sacrifice was abolished, dogs became substitutes for appeasing the gods. So no dog should be seen in the palace. And in a situation where one is found in the Palace, then such a dog must be put to death - no matter the owner of the dog.
4. No male visitor visits the Queen
One of the most reiterated laws of the palace is that no male visitor is allowed to look at the Queen(s). It is the equivalence of adultery, and in time past it's rumored that the punishment is death. Only those related to the Oba or of royal blood is permitted to see the Queen.
5. Red colour is prohibited from the palace
The colour red is considered to be a bad omen and is unlawful for anyone to bring such coloration to the palace. For this singular reason, palm fruits in it's natural state are forbidden from entering the palace.
6. No black attire
Wearing black attires in Benin kingdom is done only to mourn an untimely demise of a person. And as such, black apparels are prohibited from entering the palace - making it an abomination for the oba to set his eyes on it.
The use of an umbrella by any individual in the palace during festivals like Igue festival(new yam) is prohibited. Only the Oba can use a umbrella no matter the weather at such times.
Credit source: A short history of Benin by chief J.U.Egharevba.
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