History: Arhuan-The Giant Warrior Prince Of Benin Kingdom

History: Arhuan-The Giant Warrior Prince Of Benin Kingdom

Oba Ewuare the great, reigned from 1440 to 1473, he made his first son Prince Kuoboyuwa, the Edaiken, and appointed his second son Prince Ezuwarha, the Duke (Enogie) of Iyowa. Ezuwarha was not happy about not being allowed to aspire to rule after his senior brother’s turn. After all, that was how his father became king, he reasoned. In a quarrel over the issue, the two brothers died on the same day. After a prolonged mourning period, accompanied with elaborate rites for the two dead sons were called off, Oba Ewuare consulted the oracle and was advised to blend the bloodlines of the Obas with that of the Ogisos, to ensure stability in the succession issue.

The search for a maiden of marriageable age and descending directly from the last Ogiso, produced Omuwa from Udo town in Ovia. She gave Oba Ewuare, two sons, Ezoti and Okpame. Oba Ewuare had another son, Olua, by a different mother from Omuwa´s children. Oba Ewuare asked his chiefs to do a personality assessment of who would make the best Oba from among his three sons. The chiefs could not recommend any of the children for the throne. They described Ezoti, the oldest of the three sons, as stingy and likely to plunge the kingdom into prolonged hunger if he became Oba. Olua, the second in line, was described as a spend thrift (okpetu kporozo), who would take less than three lunar months to squander the Oba´s wealth, built up over a number of centuries, on silly and irrelevant programmed just to look good in the eye of the public. As for Okpame, they believed he would plunge the kingdom into endless warfare because his only passion, and things that gave him happiness, had to do with the sword. Oba Ewuare perplexed that none of his sons would make a good Oba, decided to stop bothering with innovations and return the kingdom to the “equality of siblings” process, which would guarantee the three sons, ruling in turn.

Oba Ezoti (1473 CE), succeeded his father to the throne in 1473 and reigned for only 14 days when he died from injuries inflicted on him in attempted regicide on coronation day.

Oba Olua (1473-1481CE), ascended the throne after the assassination of his brother, Oba Ezoti, who had a son, Prince Owere, claiming legitimacy to the throne at the time. Prince Okpame quietly murdered his nephew, Prince Owere, in defence of Oba Ewuare´s injunction that first generation princes had first claim to the throne. Okpame escaped into northern Edo territories as a fugitive on the run, to avoid punishment when the murder was discovered. There in the wilds, he acquired a knight’s amour of Byzantine origin from North Africa, thus making himself look fearsome and unassailable. His bizarre adventure led him to some battles in the jungle. He fathered the Ora people of today.

The death of Prince Owere, coupled with the continuing war like antics of Prince Okpame, obviously influenced Oba Olua to keep his son, Prince Iginua, out of possible harms´ way. Oba Olua arranged for his son, Prince Iginua, to travel south to the riverine area, bedecked in the appurtenance of kingly power and authority, with a large retinue of officers and servants at his beck and call. Iginua became the Olu of the Itsekiris.

Oba Ozolua (1481-1504 CE). After the death of Oba Olua, Okpame was invited to ascend the throne and he took the title of Oba Ozolua. Two of Ozolua´s sons were kidnapped (oduomomu, meaning thieves of children) during that period of the slave trade. Oba Ozolua reintroduced the process of first son succeeding to the throne, with Dukedoms carved out for the other princes. The older of his two remaining sons, after he had lost two sons to the slave trade, was Osawe, who was named the Edaiken (Oba-in-waiting). Idubor, the junior to Osawe, was appointed the Duke of Udo, the home town of Oba Ozolua´s mother, and the second largest and most important town in the kingdom at the time. Idubor, known as Arhuanran n´Udo (the giant of Udo), was not happy about playing second fiddle to his senior brother, Prince Osawe.

Oba Esigie (1504-1550 CE). Oba Ozolua´s first son, Prince Osawe succeeded him to the throne and took the title of Oba Esigie. The feud between Oba Esigie and his brother, the Duke of Udo had been building up from the day of their birth. They were products of two of the wives of Oba Ozolua. Idia, the subject of the famous FESTAC mask, was the mother of Osawe, while Ohonmin was Idubors´s mother. Ohonmin gave birth to Idubor, a few hours before Osawe arrived, but because Idubor did not immediately cry at birth, Osawe who did, was reported first to the king, according to tradition. By the time Idubor cried, to enable the mother report his birth, the king had performed the proclamation rites of Osawe as first son.

Idubor, while growing up was very bitter about his treatment. He more than on one occasion asked his mother if his father was his true father to be so callous as to take away his birthright in such a mean fashion. As the Duke (Enogie) of Udo, Idubor refused to accept subordinate role to his brother, Oba Esigie, and at first tried to make Udo the capital of Benin kingdom with himself as king. It didn´t take too long before the two brothers went to war. The war was difficult, bitter, and long drawn out. Arhuanran had two sons Kpamabira and Onioni. They were ruling along with their father and before the war, Kpamabira died. Before Arhuanran moved from home for the last battle with his brother Esigie, he told his son Onioni to stay at home and wait for him to return and told his household that when they hear the sound of the magical bell that he placed at home, they will know that his brother had conquered him.

As he was in the war front, he saw someone fighting like the way he himself is fighting. He used a powerful word that the sword should immediately kill that war lord (A GBE VBE NI ME GBE NE UMOZO GBEE RIE YOEWE). At that moment, the warrior died and at last, he found out that the man was his son Onioni. He continued the fight until there was no winner between his brother and himself. As he was returning home, he was running to get home on time and because of his movement, the magical bell at home was sounding and they all believed that his brother had conquered him. The wife moved to a river closed to the lake (Odighi). As soon as Arhuanran got home, he found out that his wife had jumped into rive and he also jumped into the lake (Odighi). Some of the people of Udo then moved to found Ondo town deep in Yoruba territory.

Before jumping into the lake, he left his ´Ivie necklace´ the precious bead necklace symbol of authority in Benin lands, dangling from a tree branch were it could be easily found. Only the Oba could inherit such trophies of dead or conquered leaders and nobles, so, out of excitement, he tried on his neck for size, his brother’s humble surrender necklace symbol. He became mentally disoriented immediately he put the necklace on his neck. Removing the necklace from his neck did not make any difference, so he was rushed back to Benin City in that hopeless state.

His mother, Idia, immediately located a Yoruba Babalawo (mystic) at Ugbo/Ilaje, in the riverine area, and brought him to Benin to work on the king’s spiritual ailment. He cured the Oba of his ailment, and the Queen after rewarding him generously, prevailed on him, (the Yoruba Awo), to settle permanently in Benin to continue to render his services. He set up home at Ogbelaka quarters where his descendants have thrived until this day.

Finally, Arhuanran did not die inside the lake (Odighi) for he was still coming out in the night to parade the town of Udo for protection. Every night that Arhuanran used to come out of the water, all the children in Udo town always cried and the people of Udo decided to make an appeal to Arhuanran spiritually. Since that time, he stopped coming out of the lake (Odighi). The river that the wife entered was in the opposite direction of the lake (Odighi) and a road separated the river from the lake. Once in a year, the river where the wife jumped in always crossed the road to meet the lake (Odighi) where Arhuanran leaved. Up to these days, it is forbidden to touch or drink the water from the lake (Odighi). It is also forbidden to kill or eat any animal from or around the lake (Odighi).

It was told that around 1955, a group of Udo people were returning from their farm when they saw a young boy shooting birds closed to the lake (Odighi) and the stone dropped into the lake (Odighi), immediately, there was a loud voice that sounded like a thunder from the lake (Odighi) and many trees around the place were shaking as if heavy wind had blow. At that moment, the boy became sick and he was rushed home for treatment. Therefore, Udo use this opportunity to tell the public that Arhuanran did not die but still is living in the lake (Odighi).as there is no prove or evidence of his death.