The man Isekhure: His job as chief priest of Benin Kingdom
The title of Isekhure of Benin Kingdom according to Benin oral history was created in 1255A A.D. As the Chief Priest, the Isekhure’s residence accommodates a shrine, which bears the relics and adornments of the Bini ancestral worship.
The shrine, according to oral tradition provides an avenue for the Bini people to maintain spiritual authority and discipline within the kingdom. My major role as the Chief Priest is to hold the fort for the Oba of Benin on spiritual matters.”
The Isekhure performs all royal rites on behalf of the Oba, as the Oba cannot perform those royal rites all by himself. The Oba therefore delegates this authority to the Isekhure by issuing him with a staff of office known as Urhototo, which means, the scarlet staff that no ordinary man can hold. As a member of the Bini royalty, it is the prerogative of the Isekhure to offer prayers for the Oba of Benin and for all the Princess and Princesses of the kingdom, the chiefs and other titled holders, alongside the ordinary man who deserves to be prayed for at any point in time.
The Isekhure of Benin Kingdom presides over all spiritual matters during the coronation of any Oba. This right, before now was exclusive to him. It was Isekure’s father, who passed on in 1980 that performed the coronation rites for the immediate past Oba of Benin, when he was the Edaiken of Uselu, preparatory to his final crowning.
Since Oba does not pray for individuals, every newly installed Benin Chief is mandated to visit the Isekhure for prayers and traditional anointing. It is the Isekure that personally anoints the Oba of Benin, while he delegates his fellow members of the Irhuogbe Royal Family to attend to other classes of Chiefs. There are other functions of the Isekure that are not made public. These functions are shrouded in secrecy. The Oba’s prayer is believed to pass through the Isekhure to the ordinary man on the street in Benin Kingdom.
The present Isekhure of Benin Kingdom, Nosakhare Monday Isekhure, was born in the year 1950 into the family of Ugho Eguavoen Isekhure, who was the 30th Isekhure of Benin Kingdom. His late father was the 31st Isekhure. The suspended Isekhure is 32nd in the line of succession since 1255A A.D. He was made Isekhure of Benin Kingdom in the year 1982, when he was just 32 years and has remained the Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom for 34 unbroken years until the present crisis.
He attended St. Mathew’s Anglican Primary School in Benin and Benin Divisional Primary School, Benin City. He had his Secondary education at St. Patrick’s Secondary Modern School, Benin. Tertiary education in several institutions outside the country, including Franklin College, Lugano,
Switzerland; British Institute, Naardeen Bussum, the Netherlands; Concordia University, Montreal, Canada and Century University, Beverly Hills, California USA. He holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees.
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