Edo State came into being on August 27, 1991 when what was known as Bendel State split into two in a state creation exercise that also led to the birth of Delta State by the then regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Situated in the mid south west of the country, Edo State covers 17,802 square kilometers and shares boundaries with three other states of the federation. It is bounded on the north and the east by Kogi State, on the west by Ondo State and on the south by Delta State. Generally, it is a low-lying area except in the north where it is marked by undulating hills. The main town in the state is Benin City, capital of the ancient Benin kingdom, which is also the state capital, Ubiaja, Auchi, Ekpoma and Uromi.
The Edo or Bini people are an ethnic group primarily found in Edo State, And Spread Across Delta state, Ondo State, Rivers state Nigeria. They speak the Edo language and are the descendants of the founders of the Benin Empire. They are closely related to other ethnic groups that speak Edoid languages, such as the Esan, the Afemai and the Owan. The main ethnic groups in Edo State are: Edos, Afemais, Esans, Owans and Akoko Edos.
Local Government Areas
The state has 18 local government: akodo edo, egor, esan central, esan west, esan north east, esan south east, etsako east, etsako west, orhiomwon, ovia morth east, ovia south west, owan west, owan east, uhumwonde, igueben, ikpoba okha and oredo.
Tourism is one of the growing sectors of the Edo economy. The main thrust of Government policy on tourism is to generate foreign exchange earnings, create employment opportunities, promote rural enterprises and national integration, among other things. The best-known Nigerian artworks are the Benin Antiquities. Legend recounts how the Benin people learned the art of bronze casting from Ile-Ife around 1400 A.D. Oba Ogunta, the sixth King of Benin, is credited with having encouraged this art in Benin.
Edo State also has a very rich tradition of festivals and masquerades through which the people either appease the various gods and goddesses initiate men and women into age-grades or as a traditional get-together. They include: The Igue Festival, Ekaba, Ukpe, Irua, Agiele, Ebomisi, Eho, Ukpako, Itikiri, Oriminyam, Owere, Egbere, Uba, and Amekpe.
Attraction and Historical Sites
Queen Mother Head
Queen Idia Pendant Mask has become an iconic image of Benin art, and the British Museum version in particular was featured on Nigerian one Naira banknotes in 1973, and was chosen as the official emblem of the pan-africanist FESTAC 77 cultural festival in 1977, by late Chief Anthony Enahoro. The Mask has its deep roots in the ancient city of Benin in Edo State of Nigeria, and can be traced to the expansive conquest of Queen Idia, who during her reign, extended the frontier of what is known as Ancient Benin Empire to unbelievable heights and wide geographical reach. Queen Idia’s son Oba King of Benin, is said to have commissioned the mask in honor of his mother and her contribution to the success of his reign. This design is often known in modern Nigeria as the FESTAC Mask. A 150 kg bronze reproduction was also donated to UNESCO in 2005 designed by Edo artist, Felix Idubo. Recently, it was used in the Black Panther movie in a heist scene played by Michael B. Jordan.
Queen Idia Pendant Mask
FACE Nigeria Project advocates for the renewed calls to return artefacts looted from Benin Empire by the British in the late 18th century, in what became known as the “punitive expedition.” When Oba Ovonramwen, then ruler of Benin, imposed customs duties on goods leaving the territory, Britain sent 1,200 soldiers to destroy the kingdom as a form of reparations for the colonial power. The city was set on fire and hundreds of trinkets, bronze sculptures, and valuables were stolen and later handed to the British government. Through trade and art dealership, these artifacts have mostly ended up in Germany, France, and the United States.
Artefacts such as Queen idia pendant mask, sculptures of head of the Queen and Oba, including artefacts from other indigenous tribes in Edo State, Nigeria can also, be found at museums in Britain, France, Germany, and United States. EdoFACE promotes cultural appreciation, history, tourism, hospitality, preservation of arts and historical sites through cultural awareness.
Edo State offers a remarkable range of physical beauty in her land and hospitality of her people, ready to be enjoyed by the tourist fortunate enough to choose this land of ancient empires as their travel destination, such as Ogba zoological garden, somorika hills, ososo hills, emotan statue, the tomb of Asoro, edegbake/oghodhoghodo caves, igun street, egedede nokaro, the Benin moat. Tourists visiting the sites will gain insights to a glorious past as well as a promising future, set amid the natural beauty of this diverse state.
The Oba Akenzua ll Cultural centre, Benin City is the hub of cultural activities in the state, a fine architectural masterpiece with beautiful murals of Edo traditional motifs, the centre is complemented by Urhokpota hall which is close by on Ring Road. These two theatres have hosted performances symposia and exhibitions. Edo film makers are coming out with a more dynamic and interesting home movies both in English and Edo language.
Pottery, basket making cane furniture, cloth-weaving, mat-making and gold-smiting trades thrive in Edo state with quality and standard comparing favorably with others anywhere in the world. A craft shop, with wares such as caring, hand woven clothes, ebony ring, bowls, ash-trays, flower pots and bronze objects, was opened by the state Government in July 1968 in Benin City. The art of basket making is popular among the Esan ethnic group the ready availability of palm fronds has engendered the prevalence of practitioners in the trade in five local government areas that are Esan-speaking. Their products, which are veritable work of art, include shopping baskets waste paper and farmer’s wicker baskets.
The Uneme-Nekhue and the south uneme people in Akoko-Edo and Etsako west Local Government Area are renewed for their dexterity and skills in traditional blacksmithing and ceremonial sword. Gold and silver smiths are found in all the major towns in the state. They specialize in the fabrication of ornamental adornments like trinkets, bracelet, bangles, chins and earrings favoured by fashion-conscious men and women. Somorika, Auchi Igarra, and Ubiaja take pre-eminence as major area of traditional cloth weaving. The colourful, artistic motifs of the Igarra people have won national and international acclaim. Moulded statues statuettes and figurines of Olokun the goddess of the sea is a major feature of the traditional worship in the core Bini speaking area of the state.
The womenfolk who specialize in the production of earthenware kike cooking pots bowls mugs water pots pipes etc largely do pottery making. Ojah in Akoko-Edo Local Government of Edo state is known nationally for its fine pottery. Other trailblazers in the area of traditional pottery are the people of Udo, Uhonmora, Okpekpe and Imiegba all north of the state. Edo State offers a wide variety of tourist attractions such as extended and roomy river, ideal for swimming and other water sports, unique wildlife, vast tracts of unspoiled nature ranging from tropical forests, magnificent waterfalls, some new rapidly growing cities and climatic conditions in some parts particularly conducive to holidaying, such as the Ososo Rock.
Other attractions include traditional ways of life preserved in local customs; rich and varied handicrafts and other colourful products depicting or illustrative of native arts and lifestyle, and the authentic unsophisticated but friendly attitude of many in the Edo population. However, many of these attractions are still largely untapped and even at their raw, undeveloped state, although they are still being enjoyed by few outsiders, either very rich visitors in quest of exoticism or adventurous people in search of new challenges and experiences. These are impediments to tourism, which the new administration has been tackling since assumption of office and committed to building a world class museum to house its stolen artefact, upon return. Investors, both foreign and local public and private sectors, organizations, such as UNESCO, are therefore called upon to invest and/or partner in the abundant tourism development and potentials.