Oba Ewuare Ogidigan
Oba Ewuare Ogidigan
Ruler of benin
Ewuare the Great. Known as Oba (king) Ewuare the Great, Ewuare Ogidigan, who was originally named Ogun, ruled the kingdom of Benin from 1440 until his death in 1473. Ewuare had a reputation for being a brave and wise man. During his reign he expanded the territory of Benin to include 201 towns and villages. According to legend, Ewuare, who was the heir to the throne, and his brother, Uwaifiokun, were banished from Benin. After several years in exile, Ewuare sent his brother home to see if they would be recalled. Uwaifiokun was well received and ascended the throne. Ewuare then marched into Benin, killed the usurper, and set fire to Benin as punishment for his banishment. He subsequently took the name Ewuare (Owo ru are), which means “the trouble has ceased.”
Ruler of Benin. Under Ewuare, the capital city of Benin was well organized and supported a large population. He built many roads and constructed nine gateways to Benin. Oral traditions extol Ewuare as a clever magician, doctor, and warrior who helped to make Benin one of the largest and best-known empires of ancient West Africa. Engaging in intense rivalry, Ewuare’s two sons poisoned one another and died. After their death, the angry Ewuare banned sexual intercourse throughout the kingdom—an edict that resulted in mass migration.
Patron of the Arts. Ewuare encouraged artistic expression, particularly ivory and wood carving. He is credited as the inventor of the Eziken, a wind instrument, and is reputed to have established the Benin royal band, Ema-Ode. During his reign, the Portuguese made their earliest voyages to the West African coast and developed trade relationships with the people of Benin.
Ade Obayemi, “The Yoruba and Edo-speaking peoples and their neighbors before 1600,” in The History of West Africa, edited by J. F. A. Ajayi and Michael Crowder, second edition, 2 volumes (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976, 1987), I: 196-263.