The simple meaning of “Oba”
Oba means king in the Yoruba language of contemporary West Africa. Kings in Yorubaland, a region which is in the modern republics of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, make use of it as a pre-nominal honourific. Post-colonial examples of bearers include the late Oba Sijuade of Ile Ife, Oba Aromoralan of Ijeshaland and Oba Adeyemi of Oyo.
Aristocratic titles among the Yoruba
The Yoruba chieftaincy system can be divided into four separate ranks: royal chiefs, noble chiefs, religious chiefs and common chiefs. The royals are led by the Obas, who sit at the apex of the hierarchy and serve as the fons honorum of the entire system. They are joined in the class of royal chiefs by the titled cadets of their royal families. The three other ranks, who traditionally provide the membership of a series of privy councils, sects and guilds, oversee the day-to-day administration of the Yoruba traditional states and are led by the Ogbonis, the Babalawos and the titled elders of the kingdoms’ constituent families.
Oba of Benin
The Oba of Benin, or Omo N’Oba, Emini mini mini is the traditional ruler of the Edo people and head of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Great Benin Empire – a West African empire centered on Benin City, in modern-day Nigeria. The ancient Benin homeland (not to be confused with the modern-day and unrelated Republic of Benin, which was then known as Dahomey) has been and continues to be mostly populated by the Edo (also known as the Bini or Benin ethnic group).
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