Oba Akenzua II and the socio-political development of Benin

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This dissertation examines Oba Akenzua II and the socio-political development of Benin. It examines the role played by Oba Akenzua II in the socio-political development of Benin Kingdom.
The period of Oba Akenzua II is unique in the history of Benin Kingdom due to the fact that it ushered in an era of development and advancement, intellectually, culturally, socially, morally and economically.
The coming to the throne of Oba Akenzua II signified the end of an era of disintegration as a result of forceful occupation in 1897 with his sprit and dogmatic struggle for the creation of the Mid-West State in 1963 which lay the foundation for the socio-political development of Benin.
The Baseline of this study is the examination of pre 1935 development of Benin Kingdom, social political development of Benin. It considers the existing social political order of Benin before 1935. It looks at the emergence of Oba Akenzua II and how this prepared him for the socio-political and economic development of Benin, the importance of the era of Oba Akenzua II to the present day Edo State (Benin).
Title Page i
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv
Abstract vi
Table of Contents vii
Background of the Study 1
Aims and Objectives 3
Scope 4
Methodology 6
Literature Review 7
Chapterization 13
Pre 1935 Development in Benin Up to 1935 18
Origin of Benin 20
The Ogiso Period 23
The Second Dynasty (Obas) 32
The Emergence of Oba Akenzua II 47
The Beginning of Oba Akenzua II Era 54
Oba Akenzua II and Socio-Political Development of Benin 59
Oba Akenzua II and Economic Development of Benin 74
Oba Akenzua II and His Economic Development 78
Conclusion 86
References 89

Background of the Study
Benin is one of the earliest and most re-owned forest states of Africa, one that maintained centuries-old interactions with her neighbor and Europeans. The socio-political organization of Benin before 1935 was dominated by the special position occupied the Oba, who was the centre around which everything revolved, the supreme religion as well as the civil authority in the land.2 The special position of the Oba found expression in the separation of his palace and those dependent on him by special ties from other towns.
By tradition, law and custom the Oba is the centre of honour and giver of titles, his position being surrounded by an aura of importance on account of his priestly functions and as a representative of the long line or ancestors who held the throne over the land before him.
Oba Akenzua II kept a great state and was greatly supported by attendants, wives and titled chiefs and priests who were part in the state rituals. The popular saying in Benin that the “instruction of the Oba can never be over-ruled” (Enobakhare Orode) is meant to signify his supreme position in the political system.
3Benin central system of Administration is vital in explaining the nature of her economy in the sense that the Oba of Benin was regarded as a sacred being. He dictated the pattern of economic activities as well as the nature of economic relationship.
This work is to examine the socio-political and economic development of Benin in the period of Oba Akenzua II and how it has shaped a great rediscovery of what was lost in the humidate pre Oba Akenzua reign.
Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of this study include:
To study the baseline, the socio-political development of Benin and the way it addresses the people’s needs before the reign of Oba Akenzua II.
To study the various ideas put in place by Oba Akenzua II in Benin between 1935 and 1979.
To examine the success of these ideas and the level to which it greatly enhance socio-political and economic development of Benin.
To examine how Oba Akenzua II ensured the restoration of monarchical system that had faced serious challenges through the British occupation.
To identify the role played by Oba Akenzua II and his personality as a role model for leadership in present day Nigeria.
The scope of this work gives a thematic and theoretical analysis of the socio-political and economic development of Benin in the era of Oba Akenzua II. Although, Oba Akenzua II was born in 1899, but our study is centred on the year 1935 which marks the beginning of his ascension to the throne as the King and end of his reign in 1979 which marks the end of his reign as Oba of Benin.
The study covers the socio-political development of Benin in the period that transcend colonial era to independence that is Benin division down to the Midwest region created in 1963.
The work will also cover all aspects of economic life of the people that is agriculture, trade, commerce and industry. To place the work in proper historical understanding, we will commence with pre-1935 economic order of Benin. The role of the various Obas in the economic life of the people will also be examined. This will enable us give detailed analysis of the role of Oba Akenzua II in the economic development of Benin.
Finally, it will enable us draw a conclusion on the strategic role Oba Akenzua II had played in the socio-political and economic development of Benin and its society at large.

In the course of research for this work, relevant data and information were obtained from two main sources. These were primary and secondary sources.
Primary Source
Primary sources which were utilized in the course of the research for this study were of two categories:
Archival research and oral interviews: Materials were consulted at the Benin Traditional Council, Oba Palace and Institute for Benin Studies, Benin city, they include intelligence reports, correspondence and other documents relating to Benin Kingdom.
Oral interviews were conducted with experienced individuals, some of whom are adults and played vital role in the development of Benin during the period under study. These interviews include traditional ruler, chiefs, odionwere, retired civil servants they provided eye-witness account of their experience in the period under study.
Secondary Source
Secondary sources which were consulted in some universities and public libraries across the country include textbooks, journals, periodicals. Information obtained from these sources helped to guide and supplement the materials collected from primary sources. This helps to provide data for a historical analysis of Oba Akenzua II and socio-political development of Benin.
Literature Review
There is as yet not much academic study on Oba Akenzua II and the socio-political development of Benin. This however, cannot be said of Benin Kingdom where there are a number of works which deal on the socio-political and economic development of the Benin people. There are however, certain literature that deals on aspect of Oba Akenzua II history and achievement in the period under study.
Some of the literatures in this group include: Jacob Egharevba’s book titled, A Short History of Benin5, Hon. O. Edomwonyi’s book titled, A Short Biography of Oba Akenzua II,6 N.O. Omozusi‘s book The Benin Kingdom: A century after British Invasion.7 E. Aisien’s book The Benin City, Edo State capital, E.B. Eweka’s book titled, The Benin monarchy origin and development8.
Egharevba examines the significant role Oba Akenzua II played in the development of Benin division. In his development, idea, the Oba went through Benin division, the other division of Benin province and Urhobo preaching the need for the creation of a Midwest state. As the work deals basically on Oba Akenzua II reign and achievement, it will be useful in the examination of the socio-political and economic development.
Omozusi’s book examines the economic activities of the Benin Kingdom in chapter seven. It critically examines or analyzes that the Binis from the dawn of their history have agriculture and the location of their kingdom makes her a commercial centre.
Edomwonyi’s book examines the biography, birth and achievement of Oba Akenzua II, it would however assist in the analysis of the development depictly emphasizes on the importance of the Oba in the economic life of the people.
Although, the work is based on monarchy, it would however assist in the analysis of the Oba Akenzua and socio-political development of Benin.
The other categories of work to be examined are those of Benin history. The first to be examined is P.A. Igbafe “Benin under British Administration”: The impact of colonial rule on African kingdom. 10The book examines the socio-political organization of Benin during the pre-colonial years of its history that was dominated by the special position occupied by the Oba.
The role of Uzama Nihiron (the seven king makers), the palace societies, the Eghavbo title holders, the guild system and the state council. This work will provide historical understanding of the role of Oba Akenzua II before 1935. Dmitrim Bondorenko11, pre-imperial Benin work on formation and evolution of the socio-political institution system.
The work is divided into four period, the pre-dynastic ancient times till the 10th century Ad, the period of the Ogiso dynasty the 10th to 12th century, the period of interregnum through early stage of 15th century. His work shows a clear transition from one period to another was straightly connected with transformations of the socio-political organization of the Benin.
Another book is that of Usuanlele12, the Pre-colonial Benin: A political economy perspective. It examines the evolution of society, state and economy before Benin imperial expansion, it went further to analyze the Benin imperialism. European trade and economy from 1255 – 2800 and finally the organization and relations of production on the era of colonial conquest. Another work is that of I.A. Akinjogan and Segun Osoba,13 topic on Nigerian economic and social history. It examines the pre-colonial economic foundations of the Benin Kingdom which shows evidently the economy is revolved around the Oba and traditional institution.
From the above, it is clear that none of the existing literature has carried out any substantial analysis of the subject of our study, as the primary focus was not Oba Akenzua II and socio-political development.
To be able to carry out a detailed study of this work, it is useful to source for material of Benin history, thus apart from the primary purpose of contributing to our knowledge of the history of Oba Akenzua II, this study would also serve as a source material for the history of Benin Kingdom.
In order to understand the literature of our study it is proper to look at the work of P.A. Igbafe’s book titled, The Nemesis of Power; Agho Obaseki and Benin politics, 1897 – 1956 and the book of Prince Ena Basimi Eweka, The Evolution of Benin chieftaincy. Igbafe’s book The Nemesis of Power critically explains an era in Benin history when kingship institution was threatened. His work explains the rise of prominent Chief Agho Obaseki to point that would have change the cause of history in Benin political institution. His work further explained the politics of leadership struggle between Royal and classes under colonial era while the work of E.B. Eweka examines the origin of Benin chieftaincy and its early rulers. His work further examines the historical linkage between Edo and Ife which continues to attack a lot of discourse in Benin history of origin.
The dissertation is divided into six chapters as follows:
Chapter one: The origin of Benin and geographical location of Benin. This chapter provides a brief historical background of Benin people.
Chapter Two: The pre-1935 development in Benin up to 1935. This chapter examines the historical development of political social and economy of Benin
Chapter Three: The emergence of Oba Akenzua. This chapter examines the Birth, struggle and the coronation of Oba Akenzua II.
Chapter Four: Akenzua and socio-political development of Benin. This chapter examines the role of Oba Akenzua in resolving the socio-political institution of Benin after the 1897 epoch and lay foundation for great Benin within Nigeria state.
Chapter Five: Oba Akenzua and economic development of Benin. This chapter examines the economy policies and ideas initiated for the development of Benin.
Chapter Six: Conclusion

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