Benin is known as the heart beat of Nigeria and the city itself during the ancient era was ruled by the Ogosis who were also called the “Kings Of The Sky”. Lots of foreign merchants explored the rich culture of the bronze city, taking away many valuable artifacts with them to foreign lands,which are gradually being restore back to their National Museum.
Benin inhabitants are very known for their very beautiful Bronze sculptures, the arts and crafts. The city is known to be one of the largest host of their numerous esoteric festivals which is usually held annually to celebrate various cultural occasions. Which is a numerous attraction to tourist and curious foreigner who are fascinated by the distinct art and culture.
The major attractions in Benin City includes the National Museum of Benin, the Igun street which is famous for their metal works and beautiful bronze casting known to be centuries old,and also the historical Oba’s Palace.Benin is also known to have one of the oldest Monarchy in the world.
The most popular festival celebrated in Benin out of other numerous festival , is the distinct Igue festival. This festival fully involves the Oba of Benin and celebrates the cultural heritage of the people. This festival is usually celebrated between Christmas and New Year.
The People who mostly inhabit Benin are predominantly Edo speaking people. Their cultural and traditional pattern are basically identical as most of the people trace their roots to the ancient Benin Kingdom. The major tribes of Benin are the Binis other minority tribes are the Ishan, the Estakos, the Owans and the Akoko Edos.
The entire tribes combined their creative ability during historic times to create marvellous historical artefacts; Terracotta, brass, bronze and valuable Ivory works which were curiously explored by the British and Portuguese expedition in the late 1890’s.
Arts And Crafts
Guilds of Bronze and Wood Casters still maintain their ancient traditional heritage and are still fully in operation at Igun Street, Igbesanawan Benin city. These bronze casters are officially known as the igun bronze casters.
Their work is extremely secretive and foreigners have found it very difficult to penetrate the mysteries surrounding this guild. The Bronze casters are all related by a common ancestry descendant of Ine Nigun but the actual origin of Bronze casting itself is still a subject of debate and very difficult to establish.
The Benin Moat
This is an important attraction and a pride heritage of the Benin people which is feared to be going extinct due to the constant operation of human activities around the Moat.
The Moat is believed to be as old as the 16th century which the Benin people used as a protective barricade, to hinder invasions during times of war ,therefore protecting them and preventing the city neighbours from gaining access.
The Oba’s Palace
The Oba’s palace is surrounded by ancient marvelous work of arts which is believed to be dated back to the 10th century. It is located centrally at the King’s Square popularly known as Ring road. The first palace was built by Oba Ewedo at about 1255 AD.
The Oba’s palace is regarded as Benin’s greatest heritage due to its timeless and priceless collection of arts, ivory shrines, and scriptural pieces dating back to many centuries.
Christianity, Islam and the Benin traditional religion are practised by the Binis and other minority tribes. The traditional religion is slowly giving way to the orthodox Christian religion which was introduced by the Portuguese missionaries who established churches in the Kingdom.
The monarchy of Benin leads the church in the Kingdom. The priests are called the Ohen-Osa and answer to the Monarch. This type of worship practised is a mixture of traditional beliefs and Roman Catholic Principles.
Resources in Benin
Benin is blessed with important resources that are of abundant commercial value to its inhabitants. The major natural resources are : ivory, rubber and palm oil. These resources were highly enjoyed by the British and largely under colonial control until Nigeria gained her independence automatically giving control of the natural resources to the Benin people.
Agriculture is obviously the major occupation of the local inhabitants. The main crops produced are usually of commercial quantity which are :Yam, rice, cassava, plantain, guinea corn, with lots of fruits and vegetables.
The predominant mineral resources that are explored and mined in this rich geographical zone are marbles, limestone, natural gas , crude oil, chalk, and clay. All these mineral resources are produced in reasonable commercial quantity which are invested back into the Benin people for self development.