The Nine  Stations of the Journey of the Home Leopard by Nosa Ekpenede Idubor

The Nine Stations of the Journey of the Home Leopard by Nosa Ekpenede Idubor

The Nine  Stations of the Journey of the Home Leopard by Nosa Ekpenede Idubor

"The leopard is the symbol of the Great Benin Monarchy, one of the King’s praise names being Ekpen N’Owa or the Home Leopard , and I have used the footprints of the leopard in illustrating all the nine stations the heir apparent to the throne must visit before being crowned Oba of Benin, from Eguae Edaiken, his palace as Crown Prince at Uselu, at the bottom of the image, to his choosing of the name he will bear as Oba, at Use, in the middle, to his crowning at Urho-Okpota, the Gate of Okpota, near the top and his symbolic battle with Ogiamien at Ekiopagha at the top, a battle representing the Oba of Benin gaining total control over the territory eventually known as Benin.

In ancient times Great Benin had nine entrance gates and, to date, a heir to the throne goes through nine stations to get crowned. The number nine, in Edo thought, represents something that is pregnant or that is about to reveal something new to the world.

The stations move from the bottom to the top, beginning with Eguae Edaiken where the journey of the heir apparent starts. On a fixed date he is escorted from there by the people of Uselu on his way back to Benin, where he stops at an historic palm tree called Udin Ama-Mieson-Aimiuwa which translates to "work before pleasure".

He will climb the tree symbolically, a ceremony that goes back to the time of Oba Ewuare N’Ogidigan, Oba Ewuare the Awesome, whose life as heir apparent to the throne was characterized by long suffering which included periods when he had to climb palm trees on this spot to cut the fruits for a living.

At Iya Akpan the Uselu nobles take leave of the Edaiken, the Crown Prince, while Oredo nobles would then escort him into the city. He spends three days at Eko Ohae or Bachelor’s Camp. He proceeds from Eko Ohae to Usama which is the venue of the coronation, where he will stay for seven days. From there he visits Use where he chooses a name before the end of his seven day stay at Usama and he then returns to Usama where he is crowned Oba of Benin. He does not know beforehand which name he will be crowned with.

He stops at Isekhere to perform the ceremonial crossing of a bridge. A reminder of the day Oba Ewedo [crossed] a river on Isekhere territory. He proceeds to Urho-Okpota, the Gate of Okpota, which dates to the 15th century. Okpota was a great traditional doctor who prepared charms that brought prosperity to Benin kingdom. From Urho-Okpota he then heads to the Palace . He engages in a mock battle with Ogiamien at Ekiopagha, a reminder of the 13th century battle between Oba Ewedo and Ogiamien".

Image and verbal text by Nosa Ekpenede Idubor. Text quoted by Idubor from handouts given to guests at the 1979 Coronation of Oba Erediauwa 1. Slightly modified and with the addition of Idubor’s explanation of the symbolism of the number nine in Benin thought. Image and text from Idubor’s Facebook account post of 15/10/2015. Accessed 21/11/2016.

Posted by tokem3000 on 2017-02-01 20:36:03


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