All Hail The New Oba Of BeninToday marks the dawn of a new era in Benin, Edo State as the crown prince, His Royal Highness, Eheneden Erediauwa, ascends the revered throne to become the 39th Oba of Benin, succeeding his late father, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolopkolo, Oba Erediauwa.
Born on October 20, 1953, Prince Eheneden attended Edo College in Benin from 1965 to 1967. He later went to Immaculate Conception College between 1968 and 1970 before moving to England, where he obtained his Advanced Level General Certificate of Education from South Thames College, South-West London. The heir apparent holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Wales, UK. He also has a Master of Public Administration degree from Rutger University graduate school in New Jersey, USA. He was a graduate intern at the United Nations between 1981 and 1982 and is a member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
Like his father, the crown prince is a seasoned administrator and a diplomat in the Scandinavian region, Europe and Africa. He is well-travelled. He has served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden, with concurrent accreditation to Norway, Denmark and the Republic of Finland. On July 21, 2008, he was appointed and sworn in as Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of Nigeria to Italy. While serving as the Nigerian ambassador to Angola and characteristic of the meaning of his first name, Eheneden (Peace), he was instrumental to the reconciliation meeting between the then President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other officers of the late rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi.
The crown prince has enviable business acumen, with several interests in the petroleum, agro-allied and construction industries. He is the founder of South Point Royal School, Benin, and the non-governmental organisation, Benin Royal Dynasty Trust. He is married with children. Although, the ancient Benin had been ruled by Ogisos from 40 BC to 1100 AD, the Oba dynasty began in 1200 AD with Oba Eweka I. The ascendancy to the throne is hereditary. Prince Eheneden started the process to his coronation with several traditional rites considered imperative in the Bini tradition.
It began with his procession on foot for about 10 kilometres from the Edaiken palace in Uselu, Egor Local Government Area of the state to Eko-Ohae (bachelor’s camp) in Oredo Local Government Area. He was accompanied by Benin chiefs and cultural societies. The crown prince made a stopover at a sacred palm tree, Udin Amamieson-aimiuwa, where a brief ceremony was held. The palm tree is said to be about 500 years old. On October 11, the heir apparent left Eko-Ohae for Usama palace on Siluko, amidst jubilation by thousands of residents.
At the palace, various coronation rituals and customary rites, including the Ekassa (spiritual dance), were performed. After spending seven days at the palace, he went to Use community in Egor Local Government Area on Tuesday to perform the ceremony of choosing the name he would bear as the new Oba. Prior to choosing a name which would be announced today, Prince Eheneden played the ancient Akhue (game of pebbles) with the Edigin N’Use, His Royal Highness, Ekpen Kelvin Edigin, as his father did in 1979.
According to Bini history, the pebbles were sent by Prince Oranmiyan to his son, Oba Eweka I, who was known to be the first Oba to play the game. The crown prince’s father was formerly known as Prince Solomon Akenzua before he played the customary game and chose the name, Erediauwa, 37 years ago. The crown prince spent three months in Uselu, where he reigned as the Edaiken N’Uselu. It was during his stay at the palace that he conferred chieftaincy titles on his three wives, also known as Oloi N’Erie, in March, 2016. His first wife, Princess Iroghama was named Obazuaye N’Erie; his second wife, Princess Iyayiota, received the title, Obazuwa N’Erie; while his third wife, Princess Ikpakpa was named Ohe N’Erie.