The installation of a Benin Monarch: Rite de passage in the expression of ethnic identity in Nigeria

Eboreime, Joseph (2003) The installation of a Benin Monarch: Rite de passage in the expression of ethnic identity in Nigeria. In: 14th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Place, memory, meaning: preserving intangible values in monuments and sites’, 27 – 31 oct 2003, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

The Benin Kingdom in Nigeria is one of the most ancient Kingdoms in Africa, dating back to the 9th Century AD. It reached its height in the 15th and 16th Centuries. However, it was humiliated in 1897 by the British Army of occupation, which saw to the massive looting of Benin antiquities as well as the burning of the extensive palace. Benin City is now the capital of Edo State, one of such 36 territorial-administrative regions, which were progressively created by successive military administrations. Oftentimes these states were created along existing broad ethnic configurations. Within the context of competition for the so-called "National Cake" of Nigeria, ethnic solidarity has become strategic for the expression of identity and elite rivalry in the competition for centrally-controlled resources (i.e. oil). The installation of a Benin Monarch provides an arena for the consolidation of Benin ethnic identity. It entails rituals and rites of passage, involving important shrines, deities, and pilgrimage routes where the heroic deeds of monarchical ancestors are re-enacted and their powers incorporated into the "ethnic ethos". This paper builds on the field material collected by the author in the course of the coronation of the present monarch in 1979 in order to elucidate the relationship between place-memory and meaning in the continuity of Benin Kingship, the transformation of tradition and the manufacture of ethnic identity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Eboreime, Joseph
Languages: English
Keywords: ceremonies; rituals; intangible heritage; ethnic identity
Subjects: O.INTANGIBLE HERITAGE > 01. Generalities
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 17. Intangible cultural heritage
O.INTANGIBLE HERITAGE > 04. Social practices, rituals and festive events
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Benin Monarch
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2003, 14th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2010 09:38
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2011 19:16

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