Edo is a state that is situated in the south-south part of Nigeria. In the precolonial days, Edo state was referring to as the Benin kingdom, one of the oldest, strongest, and most influential kingdoms. Their original name before the pre-colonial days is Igodomigodo with Ogiso (King of the Sky) as the ruler. The kingdom had developed systems and well self-sustained until it was annexed by the British Empire in 1987. The British force, razed and burned the city, destroyed it and carted away it treasured artifacts.
The Oba of Benin Palace: It is the most sacred and prestigious place in Benin, home of the Oba of Benin and other royal rulers. The palace is built by Oba Ewedo (1255AD – 1280AD), rebuilt by Oba Eweka II (1914 – 1932) after the 1897 war. The palace was declared a UNESCO Listed Heritage Site in 1999.
Today, if you happened to visit Benin City and want to go see this historic landmark, know that you are heading to King Square, Oredo, Benin. And before you go there and make a fool of yourself or get into trouble, arm yourself with enough information, know the dos and don’ts. There exist restricted areas and forbidden things.
Here are Seven Things You Don’t Do at the Oba of Benin Palace.
No whistling: In the Oba, Palace exists about 3000 deities (seen and unseen), and whistling is believed to be a wake up the spirits uncontrollable. If such happens and woken deities find not ready-made sacrifice to appease them, the whistler becomes a victim of death. So, do not whistle at the palace. It is an unacceptable act.
No umbrellas: Umbrellas are prohibited during the Igue festival for the chiefs and every other person. The only legitimate umbrella is the Oba’s. No other umbrella must content with his. So every other person drops off their umbrellas at the palace gate.
No black apparel: In African culture, it is believed that an Oba does not die nor “see death.” Upon passing away, they only go up the sky to dialogue with the ancestor. Since black symbolizes death and sorrow in Africa, an Oba is not expected to see it. No one on black enters the palace, especially if the possibility to come across the Oba is high.
Women are forbidden from the Alaka area: The Alaka is a section of the palace known to harbor Oba Ehemgbuba shrine. History says the oba removed his haemophrodyte child female organ, who was the only heir to the throne to satisfy the people’s quest of wanting a male ruler after him. So to date, any female who crosses that part of the palace becomes barren for life. To avoid this, stay clear.
No carrying of palm fruits in or around the palace: It is forbidden to carry red palm fruit around or in the palace. A truck carrying such should not even roam around the streets/road around the Oba Palace. This is because the color of the fruit symbolizes blood, meaning the land is requesting for blood. This may lead to the untimely death of someone around the palace. Hence, don’t attempt to carry such to the palace. It is a bad omen for the land.
No dog enters the palace: Dogs are sacrificial objects used to replace human sacrifice in the Benin kingdom. So no dog dare strays into the palace or roam around. If a dog enters the palace, no one can deliver it from the wrath of death.
No male visitors in the royal harem: Male visitors are not allowed to visit the royal harem, a place designated to the queens, and concubines of the Oba. Only males with blue blood, from the royal family, are allowed to approach the harem.