Oba of Benin

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An Oba on horseback with attendants from 16th century
An Oba of Benin from the late 17th century

The Oba of Benin is the traditional ruler and the custodian of the culture of the Edo people and all Edoid people. The ancient Benin homeland (not to be confused with the modern-day and unrelated Republic of Benin, which was then known as Dahomey) has been and continues to be mostly populated by the Edo (also known as Benin ethnic group).[1]

In 1897, a British military force under the command of Sir Harry Rawson mounted the Benin Expedition of 1897 against the Kingdom of Benin. The expedition captured the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, sacking and burning the city while forcing the Oba of Benin, Ovonramwen, into a six-month exile, and was mounted due to the ambush of a British party by a group of Benin soldiers acting without orders from the Oba that had led to the deaths of all but two of the party.[2] The expeditionary force consisted of both indigenous soldiers and British officers based in colonial-era Nigeria. Numerous artworks (collectively known as the Benin Bronzes) looted from the city palace were sold off to defray the costs of the expedition.[3][4] Ovonramwen died in 1914, his throne never having been restored to him. His son, grandson and now his great-grandson, however, all preserved their title and status as traditional rulers in modern-day Nigeria.[5]


List of Obas of the Benin Empire[edit]

Pre-Imperial Obas of Benin (pre-1280–1440)[6][edit]

  • Oranmiyan, grandson of Oduduwa of Ife
  • Eweka I
  • Uwuakhuahen
  • Henmihen
  • Ewedo
  • Oguola
  • Edoni
  • Udagbedo
  • Ohen
  • Egbeka
  • Orobiru
  • Uwaifiokun

Obas of the Benin Empire (1440–1897)[edit]


There is some uncertainty in the dates of the reigns of some of the earlier warrior kings[7]

  • Ewuare I (1440–1473)
  • Ezoti (1473–1474)
  • Olua (1475–1480)
  • Ozolua (1480–1504)
  • Esigie (1504–1547)
  • Orhogbua (1547–1580)
  • Ehengbuda (1580–1602)
  • Ohuan (1602–1656)
  • Ohenzae (1656-1675)
  • Akenkpaye (1675–1684)
  • Akengbedo (1684–1689)
  • Ore-Oghene (1689–1701)
  • Ewuakpe (1701–1712)
  • Ozuere (1712–1713)
  • Akenzua I (1713–1740)
  • Eresoyen (1740–1750)
  • Akengbuda (1750–1804)
  • Obanosa (1804–1816)
  • Ogbebo (1816)
  • Osemwende (1816–1848)
  • Adolo (1848–1888)
  • Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888–1914) (exiled to Calabar by the British in 1897)

Post-Imperial Obas of Benin (1914–present)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "See Nigerians mixed reactions on twitter over suspected plans to remove Oba of Benin. - Opera News". ng.opera.news. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  2. ^ "Kingdom of Benin", Wikipedia, 2020-02-18, retrieved 2020-02-27
  3. ^ "The kingdom of Benin was obliterated by the British, who still have the evidence on display". www.abc.net.au. 2020-11-29. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  4. ^ "Benin Bronzes: Germany to return looted artefacts to Nigeria". BBC News. 2021-04-30. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  5. ^ "Leopard's Head Ornament". The Hunt Museum. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  6. ^ Ben-Amos, Paula Girshick (1995). The Art of Benin Revised Edition. British Museum Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-7141-2520-2.
  7. ^ Ben-Amos (1995). The Art of Benin Revised Edition. p. 32.

External links[edit]