August 12, 2015

1813 NIGERIA - Edo dancers at the palace of Omo N'Oba

Edo is an ethnic group living in a territory located west of the Niger River, between a hilly region in the north and the swamps of the Niger Delta, who speaks a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Edo are also referred to as "Bini" or as the "Benin ethnic group", though currently the people themselves prefer to be simply called "Edo". They are the descendants of the people who founded the Benin Empire (1180-1897). The traditional ruler of the Edo people and head of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Benin Empire is the Oba of Benin, or Omo N'Oba.

This title was created by Oba Eweka I, who is said to have ascended to power at some time between 1180 and 1300. The Oba of Benin was the ruler of the Benin Empire until its annexation by the British, in 1897. The British launched a Punitive Expedition, sacked Benin City and exiled then Oba Ovonramwen, taking control of the area in order to establish the British colony of Nigeria. Ovonramwen died in 1914, his throne never having been restored to him. However, his descendants have preserved their titles and statuses as traditional rulers in modern-day Nigeria. The present Oba, Erediauwa I (born 1923), is the 38th Oba of the dynasty, and, as such, reigns as the traditional ruler of the Edo people in Benin City.

A rich tradition and festivals of Masquerades is one of the compulsory practices of the Edo tradition. The people use this to appease the various gods and goddesses, initiate men and women into age-grades, or as a traditional get-together. The most prominent is the Igue Festival celebrated in December by the Oba to usher into the new year as a thanksgiving for the outgoing one. It is a period of merriment, rituals and dancing. From the festive attire of the Edo women aren't lacking ever the coral beads (Ivie and Ekan). The use of Ivie and Ekan is controlled by the Oba of Benin, and there are some shapes that can't be worn without being chief.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series issued to celebrate 131st Year of Postage Stamps in Nigeria, about which I wrote here.

Edo - Encyclopaedia Brittanica
Oba, Bini mark end of year Igue festival - Edo Folks
Ivie and Ekan - Edo Folks
Bini Culture and Lifestyle, Edo State - Nigerian Bulletine

Sender: Ahmed Abbas Maswood
Sent from Lagos (Lagos / Nigeria), on 30.08.2014

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