Tag - Oba of Benin’s Palace

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Oniovo: Red sand

Oniovo: Red sand

The ancient kingdom of Benin was where we did most of our growing up. Smack in the centre of the city was where our house stood. Its proximity to everywhere –  a major market, the post office, a government hospital, the airport, the seat of government, a string of pharmacies, our place of worship, ring road (the mother of all bus stops) – gave us a certain privileged status. The centrality of its location was made more glaring by its position right behind the traditional ruler of the Benin Kingdom – the Oba of Benin’s palace. Omo n’Oba n’Edo  Uku Akpolokpolo. It took several rehearsals to effortlessly reel off that name in one breath. Not an easy feat back then considering some of our Bini friends couldn’t twist their tongues around their king’s appellation. Oba gha to kpe e. Ise! So, one of our brother’s friends tagged our house the Oba of Benin’s boys’ quarters. A part of the stretch of impenetrable red brick wall, that served as a fence, took up an entire side of our street. While others awoke to the golden view of the rising sun, ours was a mixture of seemingly endless concrete stronghold and yellow rays; a sight we beheld every morning. One we grew accustomed to. Looked forward to seeing, even. When we got over the myths surrounding the palace wall, it also provided succor from the elements and a much-elevated side- walk. Living behind the Oba’s palace meant we were bordered on the left and right sides by chiefs of the palace; some of whom were quite friendly with our parents.We had front row seats to the customs and culture of the Bini people. The language was front, back and centre in our conscious and subconscious life; it began with the break of day. Where two or three Bini people are gathered, a poultry is speedily formed. Kor. Kor. Kor. The ceremonial dress of the chiefs wasn’t a strange sight, and we always knew in what direction they were headed once that attire was donned on. Sacrifices in clay pots or calabashes at the beginning/end of”more

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