Tale Of Emotan
The most spectacular thing about the history of Benin is how it was meticulously planned to be an ever present memory through collections of bronze sculptures telling very important tales of what transpired in the ancient Benin Kingdom.
Oba Ovonramwen Square, Ring Road, Benin City, displays the largest collection of sculptures with amazing tales. Also, it is the busiest roundabout I have ever seen.
Out of all the incredible sculptures and there tales, the life size statue of Emotan and her tale was my favourite (gender bias?girl power!?)
The history of Benin will be incomplete without mentioning Emotan, the petty trader who helped to save the monarchy of ancient Benin City in the 13th century.
Emotan who’s actual name was Uwaraye got nicknamed “Emotan” meaning lazy bones cos she couldn’t cook and give birth as a second wife of Chief Azama. She traded foodstuffs at the Oba’s market and later built a hut close to her trading spot after the death of her husband.
Since her hut was in the market, people kept their kids and she took care of them for free, becoming the first person to begin a day-care center in Benin.
At about 1440 A.D. oral history has it that Prince Uwaifiokun and Prince Ogun were on exile due to chaos that occurred after the death of their father. Their brother was the Oba but after his death, Prince Uwaifiokun returned and was made Oba. However, for him to secure his place as the Oba of the land, he had to first kill the rightful heir, Prince Ogun later named Ewuare the Great.
Emotan got wind of the plot to kill Ewuare when he returns from exile and she took the risk to tell him and also hid him in her hut until he succeeded in killing the usurper and becoming the Oba.
For her kindness Oba Ewuare made her the Iyeki tasked with security matters in the market and with enforcing market rules. However, she died soon after that, then Oba Ewuare ordered that she should be buried in her hut by the market (now known today as the Oba Market), he also deified her by planting the sacred uruhe tree by her graveside. She is the deity for justice and peace, people still pay homage at her graveside.
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