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Edo State

Brief History

Edo State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria, located in the southern region of the country. As of 2006 National population census, the state was ranked as the 24th populated state in Nigeria. The state’s capital and city, Benin City, is the fourth largest city in Nigeria, and the centre of the country’s rubber industry. Created in 1991 from the former Bendel State, Edo State borders Kogi State to the northeast, Anambra State to the east, Delta State to the southeast, and Ondo State to the west.
The modern borders of Edo State encompass regions that were formerly the site of various empires and kingdoms formed in the 11th century AD, the Benin Empire. The ancient city of Edo, the site of modern day Benin City, was home to some of the largest earthworks in the world. In 1897, the British Empire conducted a punitive expedition of the region, destroying most of the ancient city of Edo and incorporating the territory into what would become the Southern Nigeria Protectorate.

Edo State is a diverse state that is predominantly inhabited by the Edoid peoples, including the Edo (or Bini), Esan, Owan and Afemai people. The most common Edoid language spoken is the Edo language, which is commonly spoken in Benin City. First introduced to the region by Portuguese missionaries during the 15th century, Christianity is the dominant religion in Edo State with also a sizable number of
Muslims though traditional religions are also practiced.

Festivals and Traditions

  • Igue and Ewere Festivals (Benins Clan): Igue and Ewere festivals which are perhaps the most colourful and crowd- pulling festivals in among the Benins are combination of various festivals. They are reminiscent of the past events in Benin history. Each of the events is connected with past Obas around whom Benin customs and traditions are woven. The Igue festival is celebrated annually by every reigning Oba and all Benin citizens at home and abroad to mark the end of the Bini year and to usher in a new one with renewed hope for peace and prosperity. The ancient Igue festival is akin to the white man’s New Year ceremony.


  • Eho Festival (Benins Clan): Eho is one of the popularly cherished festivals celebrated in Edo land. it is an annual festival celebrated in mid-September. It dates back to pre-historical period and is occasions for paying homage to ancestors in every family unit; a period for cementing the unity of all brethren in the family fold and an occasion in which gifts are sent to fathers-in law. Besides paying homage, the Binis believe that all who die hold meeting and appoint a time for answering prayer and soliciting for their children on earth before a more Supreme Being who they call Osa.
    This is why Eho festival is celebrated at various homes within a given period which lasts from nine days to two weeks. On the advent of new moon in September, Chief Iyase, the leader of Eghaeybo None (state ministers) tells the Oba that it is time for Eho festival. On the Oba’s consents, he goes to prepare, Chief Iyase is always the first among the state ministers to celebrate it while Chief Ihaza is the first to celebrate it among the Eghaevbo-nogbe (palace ministers) it is after these two that other chiefs and commoners can celebrate.

  • Ebomisi Festival (Benins Clan): Ebomisi a contracted form of Obo- imwen-isi (the herbalist has no permanent station) Is celebrated annually between February and March in commemoration of a famous herbalist and magician. The festival is celebrated for five days at various dates in the villages forming Ugo clan in Akugbe District of Benin. These are Ugoneki, Ugonoba, Ugo-Emoson, OkuekpenOkogo and Ugbayon. Ebomisi hailed from Uwan on the Benin /Ifon road and was farming at a place later named after him .The town is today called Ugbogiobo (the chief
    herbalist‘s farm). The date for the commencement of the festivals is fixed at a meeting of the elders including the high priest of Ebomisi after consulting oracle and necessary preparations made. Most of the festival is celebrated at the shrine and masquerades, usually seven in number, visit the village occasionally to dance and pray for peace, good health and prosperity among the entire sons and daughters of Ugo at home and abroad. It is only during these visits to town that women dance and take part in the ceremony.


  • Ohonomoimen Festival Of Iuleha (Owans/Oras clan): Ohonmoimen in the local language means ‘it is all well for me’. As the name implies Ohonmoimen festival is celebrated annually between January and March by Iuleha clan in Owan to mark the end of a fruitful year and the beginning of another. It offers opportunity for expressing gratitude to God, through ancestral gods and the gods of harvest for all the good things of the past. Prayers are also offer for protection and fruitful harvest in the coming year. The rituals associated with Ohomoimen festival are carried out it three place know as sacred forests in the clan. These are OSEZE forest
    near okhijo village where the elders meet and appoint a time for the festival; OHIOJO forest and OSI forest where the images, drums and other appurtenances of the masqueraders are kept. The forest is out of bounds both for women and males not yet initiated. A curfew is imposed in the clan on the eve of the festival to allow the celebrants to convey materials to the sacred forests. That also stands as the last time people in the clan are allowed to climb palm tree and sing song other than festival songs. No light is to be seen outside during the curfew except when a pregnant woman is under labour when this does happen the family pays a fine of a she-goat.

  • AduIkukun Festival (Afemais/ Ivbiosakon Clan): In Etsako there are several traditional festival which the people celebrate annually or biennially to commemorate certain historical events of cultural importance. Some of them are celebrated to mark the beginning and the end of the local seasons. The Adu-Ikukun festival is celebrated by the people of Avianwu clan of Etsako. The clan consists of Fugar. Irakhor, Ogbona, Iviarun and Ivinone villages and to them the festival is of great significance. It is celebrated during the months of February and March to signify the start of the year. As soon as the festival occasion draws near the various villages in Avianwu begin to
    organize ‘clean up campaigns’. The English translation of Adu-Ikukua is to (throw away dirty) hence a clean- up campaign of all the surrounding in the area is organized.

  • Ukpe Festival (Esan/Ishan Clan): As the name implies Ukpe (year) is celebrated in June by all the villages comprising Ewohiwi to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another. Homage is paid to ancestors to express gratitude to them for protecting the people throughout the year. The festival is for a four day duration and held separately by the various village-firstly by Idumuagbor and lastly by Ikeken. The celebration features entertainment, service at the ancestral shrines, exchange of gift and traditional dancing. The festival ends on a market day when everybody appears gorgeously and dances to the market- place in Ewohimi.

Tourists Attractions and Locations

  • Ogba Zoological Zoo
  •  Okomu National Park
  • The Benin Moat
  • The Oba of Benin Palace
  • Somorika Hills
  • Ughoton Village

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