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In Emotan, sacrifice, greed take centre stage


A scene from the play. PHOTO: Eniola Daniel

Benin City, popularly known for its rich cultural heritage, has produced brave women of history. Emotan, the highly revered Bini woman, is one of them.Emotan was a strong market woman who traded in foodstuffs around the 15th century at the Oba Market in the ancient Benin Kingdom during the reign of Oba Uwaifiokun and Prince Ogun, who later took the name Oba Ewuare, the Great, after becoming the Oba of Benin. She helped Oba Ewuare to reclaim the throne.

The historical play, written and directed by William Benson, produced by Joseph Edgar and narrated by Elvina Ibru, explores the theme of greed, lust for power, sacrifice, dislocation of the social system, royalty, pride and the rich tradition and culture of the Bini.

The play takes the audience through the turbulent years of Benin Kingdom.After the death of Oba of Benin, Uwaifiokun becomes the king in place of his brother, Ogun, who he claimed, was killed by lion. At his coronation, he declares war against his neighbours, including the people of Agbor. However, his kingdom is cursed and is told that his brother Ogun will succeed him. This leads him to send his brother, Ogun, on exile. Ogun leaves the land to avoid being killed.

Few years later, Ogun wanders back home and meets Emotan, who helps in the shaping of the drama. Emotan dies after the king was installed, and Ogun, who adopted the title of Oba Ewuare, in his declaration, renames the town after Edo, in honour one of the men who helped him to ascend the throne.

Speaking on the play and his consistency, Edgar said, “Poverty is what kept me going. The stories are many and I wish I had money to be doing plays every weekend. We are doing Aremu this year in Abeokuta, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja; we are doing Joromi in December with Sir Victor Uwaifor.”

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