Several centuries of unalloyed tradition and custom of the ancient Benin Kingdom came to the fore to widespread accolade as the kingdom literally stood still for several hours on Saturday when Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa was installed the Edaiken N’Uselu.
The installation comes a few weeks after the crown prince was initiated into the Royal Palace Chamber of Iwebo in conformity with the Benin custom.
It is expected that more initiations and ceremonies involving the crown prince would take place in the next few weeks.Before the installation which involved a long trek of about four kilometres from the palace, the prince visited some shrines inside the palace before taking his seat at a prepared space after some ceremonies where his wives and siblings came to pay obeisance.
The moderator of the ceremony announced in Benin dialect that the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolopolor, Oba Erediauwa had directed that the people of the kingdom be informed that his son and heir apparent was proceeding to Uselu to become the Edaiken N’Uselu.
The Guardian gathered that he would be in the traditional ground in Uselu for at least 90 days where he is expected to preside over activities with support from Uselu chiefs.
The traditional trek attracted eminent personalities across the state and the kingdom including palace chiefs, the state Governor Adams Oshiomhole, his deputy, Pius Odubu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Godwin Obaseki, business mogul, Hosa Okunbor and several other personalities.
There were different traditional groups who escorted the prince to Uselu.The trek started from the palace to the Oba Market, Lagos Street to connect Iyaro and Urubi streets and then to Uselu and the Edaiken traditional ground where a mammoth crowd and dignitaries were already waiting.
Before the procession took off from the palace, Oshiomhole paid homage to the crown prince.There were hundreds of women and youth groups from across the kingdom who in their thousands escorted the crown prince to Uselu traditional grounds.
According to tradition, the procession heralds the beginning of a new dawn in the history of the ancient Benin Kingdom, the Edo State capital.
There was a large crowd of supporters who thronged the ancient palace to participate in the colourful ceremony, while shops, markets and other businesses were temporarily shut in honour for the crown prince.
All adjoining streets and major roads linking traditional shines and worship centres were cordoned off by security operatives deployed to ensure the peaceful exercise while men of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were on ground to control traffic.
Titled chiefs dressed in-red-and- white over flowing and half Ebuluku traditional attire added colour to the procession which ended at five junctions within the city.
Women groups adorned in Benin traditional attire, drummers and entertainers, youths, politicians and government officials led by Oshiomhole had defied the scorching sun to await the prince who arrived clad in a white and red traditional regalia.
He had on a pair of dark glasses which did not hide his smiles as he arrived in the company of first class Benin palace chiefs.
They first drove in a convoy alongside a team of security officials from his private residence in the Government Reserved Area (GRA) to the palace around 2:00 p.m. and had a brief consultation with palace chiefs before the trek began.
At the Iyaro moat before Five Junction where the Benin chiefs handed him over to chiefs from Uselu, some sacrifices were made before the crown prince continued his journey to the traditional ground.
In a brief interview with The Guardian, Okunbor said: “This is one kingdom that holds its original values till today. We are following the Edaiken of Uselu to his home in Uselu. It is a procession that all the sons and daughters of this town are proud of.
We are very proud to escort him to his residence at Uselu today. It is a beginning of what you will soon see unfold, I cannot go into details but we are escorting our crown prince to his Uselu residence.
“We will trek there and we will be proud to trek there and be with him. This is a heritage that I belong to and it is a heritage I am very proud of and most of us are very proud of this heritage that has retained its original values for over 700 years and it has not been adulterated. How I wish this country still had the same values we had when we were growing up that we would be so proud of.
Sadly, those values around which we were raised are no longer there and that is why we have problems. For me, I belong to an age-long heritage that has its original values and we are very proud to be part of it.”