By Orobosa Omo-Ojo JP
Our recently published Heritage feature on the legal reprieve given to Arisco Osemwingie by Edo State Government, is generating interest amongst cultural enthusiasts. This again, has demonstrated the undiluted value of Benin culture and traditions.
The reactions revealed a high degree of commonality in history, but with varied emotionalised perspectives.
All our responders agreed that, Mr. Arisco Osemwingie is not a paternal scion of Ogiamien family and as such, Benin native laws and tradition forbids him from transmutating to Chief Ogiamien of Benin.
Moreso, they explained that the position is not vacant, because Ogiamien Osarobo Okuonghae is the recognized holder of the title.
Another responder who is vast in Benin traditional history wrote: “With reference to Arisco, he was never approved by the Oba as an Ogiamien designate, nor did the Oba send coral beads through a chief.
“Arisco is not a son of Ogiamien. It is his mother who is a daughter of Ogiamien.
“Above all, Chief Osarobo the Ogiamien is still alive. The family never performed a rite of passage for him nor was the palace informed of his demise.
“Arisco and who ever installed him as the Ogiamien broke the ‘Western Nigeria Chieftaincy Law of 1952.’
“Furthermore, Utantan is a street, not a quarter in the Benin metropolis.
“The Ogiamien quarter is known as Orhoghosodin – an area from the present day 1st. East Circular Road to 3rd. Junction of Sokponba Road.
“It is mischievous to refer to Arisco as Chief Ogiamien of Utantan. As far I am concerned, Arisco is a usurper.
“Ogiamien is a title in Uzama n’Ibie, a group that was created by Omon’Oba Esigie c. 1504 – 1550 when the Edion’Uzama revolted in 1515.
“Ogiamien is a commoner not a Royal. In Benin, there are three categories of the Oba’s subjects – Ovbi’Oba, Ovien’Oba and Okhian’Oba. Arisco is an Okhian’Oba.”
And from historical records, “…the crisis between the Oba of Benin and Ogiamien ended with the defeat of the Ogiamien army at Ekiokpagha in 1255 by Oba Ewedor.
“A treaty was signed. Since then, till 1979 the event is reenacted as a part of coronation rites of every new Oba.”
Orobosa Omo-Ojo JP, former Special Adviser to Edo State Government on Arts, Culture & Tourism is a Journalist, Artist, founder – Tribal Heritage Centre and Museum House in Benin City.