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Monday, 3 February 2014

The position of Iyoba of Uselu


In Uselu which is the official residence of Edaiken who is the eldest son of the reigning Oba and the heir apparent to the throne, there is Egua-Iyoba {Iyoba Palace}, where the reigning Oba’s mother officially residence. As is customary in Benin kingdom, reigning monarch normally confers the Iyoba title on his mother. When this title is confirmed by the oba, the Iyoba moves to her residence at lower Uselu where Eguae-lyoba is established.

Oba Esigie started this tradition probably to forestall the conflict that would have arisen between his mother and himself over the exercise of political power. An almost independent domain of the Queen mother was therefore carved out for her.

Thus it has become strongly -established in Benin tradition that a year or two after the coronation of every Oba, he invests his mother with the title, lyoba (Queen mother) and sends her to reside at lower Uselu in Eguae-lyoba (Palace of the Queen mother). If it happens that the mother dies before the coronation of the son, the body is preserved for a year or two after the coronation to enable the Oba confer the title lyoba on her and later bury her at Eguae-lyoba.

More often than not, the oba’s mother {or Queen mother} moves to her residence at uselu before the title is conferred and confirmed on her. In this are of uselu, there are various residence occupied at one time or the other by various Iyobas. What really happens is that each Oba builds a residence for his mother within the area of Uselu generally referred as Eguae-Iyoba.

To assist the Iyoba to officiate in her Eguae {or palace}, the Oba grants her a privilege of recommending to the oba people who she wishes to be conferred with specific titles peculiar to her palace. When approved these titles are then conferred on the incumbents. At the demise of an Oba’s mother {queen mother}, the Iyoba palace becomes her last resting place hence all over the area called Egua-Iyoba there are sepulchers which have been more or less converted to shrines in memory of the various Iyoba who have so far been buried at Uselu.....

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