THE heir-apparent to the Benin throne, His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, was on Tuesday, October 6, formally initiated into the Royal Palace Chamber of Iwebo in conformity with the Bini custom.
The colourful event which lasted for seven days took place in the Royal Chambers of the Iwebo group.
The event was officiated by the Iwebo chiefs, led by their functioning head, Chief Eribo, in the absence of Chief Uwangue, Head of the Iwebo group.
At the end of the seven-day event, the Crown Prince, in the company of many chiefs, prominent Edos and other well-wishers, moved from the Palace of the Oba to the Royal Palace of Edaiken N’Uselu, to formally assume his position as the Edaiken of Uselu.
This is a precursor to assuming the title of the Oba of Benin. It was a moment of historical reality and royal grandeur with traditional songs, and a complimentary outpouring of affections and solidarity from the people for His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Ehenede, Edaiken N’Uselu.
Societies in Oba’s Palace
There are three main societies in the Oba’s Palace namely Iwebo, Iweguae and Ibiwe. Each society occupies its own section of the palace and entry into it is by special initiation usually lasting seven days. They were established during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great in the 15th Century. In the 16th Century, two Obas, namely Esigie (1504 A.D.) and Ehengbuda (1550 A.D.) carried out reforms in Iwebo and Iweguae societies respectively.
Iwebo, the most senior society, takes charge of the royal ward-robe and regalia, making and repairing the coral bead garments and ornaments used by the Oba on ceremonial occasions. In the past, this society used to oversee financial matters, trade and commerce.
With the exception of Oloton, all the other six members of the Uzama have to be initiated into lwebo society as nominal members before they can assume their titles.
The Oba’s eldest son, on being initiated into it, has to attain the rank of Uko N’Iwebo (like every other member aspiring to a chieftaincy title) before he is formally conferred with the title of Edaiken of Uselu.
Iweguae is the centre of all the Palace activities and is next to Iwebo in seniority. Occupying the central position, this section of the Palace is the residence of the Oba and, therefore, its members provide him with his personal and domestic services. It is only after his coronation that the Oba can enter into lweguae and stay.
Chief Oloton is the only other Uzama who is a nominal member of this society. Ibiwe is the third society in the Palace and its duty is to look after the Oba’s harem; the welfare of his wives and children.
As in the case of lweguae, the Oba can only enter this section after his coronation when he has to inherit all the assets and liabilities.