Oba Ewuare the great had five sons namely, Prince Kuoboyuwa the first born,Prince Ezuwarha the second born,Prince Ezoti the third born,Prince Olua the fourth born and Prince Okpame the fifth born. Prince Kuoboyuwa and Prince Ezuwarha have the same mother. Olua has a different mother but Ezoti and Okpame share the same mother too.
Of the lot,Prince Kuoboyuwa was the most favored by their father not only because he is the firstborn and heir apparent to the throne but more for his military prowess and diplomatic deftness. He is also a consummate hunter,killer of Lions,tigers,elephants,leopards and Buffalos.
His gift of diplomacy is said to be as potent as his imposing physical strength both of which (together with his father generals) he used in acquiring new territories for his father. That Ewuare was regarded as the greatest warrior king ever to rule Benin had a lot to do with the valuable assistance from the strategic Prince Kuoboyuwa.
His father acknowledge his contributions and to reward him,he gave him the rich and enviable dukedom of Iken after the latter’s death. Because of Kuoboyuwa,Ewuare decreed that,from henceforth, successors to the throne of Benin must first be enthroned and quartered at Iken headquarters at Uselu to learn the full art,tradition and ethics of governance and administration.
Kuoboyuwa was firmly established as the Edaiken of Uselu( crown prince to the throne) when he met with untimely demise. It is from here his story became hazy. Historians tend to stop talking or writing about him. In fact,he was relegated to the archives of innocuous royal personages.
Even the account of his death was mired in controversies. One account posited he died on the same day with his uterus sibling-Prince Ezewarha. Both were instigated to kill themselves by a jealous step mother. The other account stated that,he died on a military campaign at Aku’e( Akure). Yours sincerely prefer the latter version of his death.
Prince Kuoboyuwa was a noted hunter,warrior and diplomat. He is not one to fall for domestic mischief as to be instigated against his mother’s younger son. He is a proved warrior and Prince Ezewarha is not. He could not have equaled Kuoboyuwa in single combat.
AFTER HIS DEMISE.
Crown Prince Kuoboyuwa had children before he transited. His first son was Prince Imaa ( Ihaman) and 2nd son is Prince Obazuaye. The grief stricken Ewuare without hesitation made his son Imaa the new Edaiken of Uselu( Crown Prince).
This move did not bode well with Imaa’s uncles,particularly Princes Ezoti and Olua who cannot stand the reality that their young nephew is first in line to the throne before them. Twice Imaa survived assassination by poisoning and through a local priest,he was told he had to leave and find his destiny elsewhere or he will definitely be killed by his uncles.
With the Blessings of his Grandfather,he abdicated the Edaiken stool and left towards Edo north where he took up abode with the descendants of an earlier migrant Benin Prince called Odion. Prince Obazuaye did not leave with him immediately but stayed behind in Benin city. Odion’s settlement is called Uokha.
Imaa settled here with his siblings and other members of Prince Kuboyuwa’s household. His first son called Uzuamvbi founded the Emai Kingdom ( which has over 10 villages and towns including Afuze the traditional headquarters of the entire Owanland) and his second son founded the Ihievbe Kingdom( which has over 10 villages and towns)Both are in Owan east Local Government Today.
Later,Prince Okpame made several visits to see how his nephew is doing and even had to have children by women of the area. These Okpame Children founded Ora,Ozalla and Iruekpen. Ora and Ozalla are in today’s Owan West but Iruekpen is in Esanland but shares immediate boundary with her siblings in Owan.
Why am I taking so much time to write about this? Of course,my primary reason is obvious. I am from Emai,a direct scion of Prince Kuoboyuwa. If historians see to talk about him in passive terms,His Royal Children like Prince Ojealaro Friday will talk about him in detailed and active terms. Some most times try to refer to Emai and Ihievbe people as Ivbi Ozolua.
Wrong!Ozolua( Okpame) is our uncle not our Father. We are children of Prince Kuoboyuwa the first Edaiken of Uselu. I will not forget this fact,my children will not forget this fact and my children’s children will never forget this fact.
Prince Friday Ojealaro(An Edo Prince from Emai) writer and a Lawyer from Abuja