Edo people

The Edo or Benin people are an Edoid ethnic group, primarily found in Edo State, Southern part of 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, the Isoko, and the Urhobo.[2]

Edo people
An Edo children's cultural assembly
Total population
3.8+ million[1]
Regions with significant populations
Niger Delta
Edo language
Predominantly Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Afemai, Esan, Isoko, Urhobo and Akpes

The name "Benin" (and "Bini") is a Portuguese corruption, ultimately from the word "Ubini", which came into use during the reign of Oba (ruler) Ewuare, c. 1440. "Ubini", a word meaning Vexation, used by Prince Oranmiyan, son of the wealthy ruler of Uhe (Ife) to describe the frustration he encountered after he was invited to rule benin. Ubini was later corrupted to Bini by the mixed ethnicities living together at the centre; and further corrupted to Benin around 1485, when the Portuguese began trade relations with Oba Ewuare giving them coral beads.[3]


Location of the Edo homeland (dark green)

in Nigeria (green)

Administrative region

Edo people can be found in Nigeria's Edo State, which got its name from the primary inhabitants of the region's most notable historical conglomeration, Benin City, which is also the central capital homeland of the Edo people. Edo people also have many related groups in their immediate surroundings also encompassed by the political and administrative borders of Edo state.[4] Most of these groups have traced their history back to the historical city center off the Benin people, Benin City. Examples of such adjacent groups include various Afemai sub-groups, the Esan people of Edo state and the Akoko Edo people situated on the state's northern borders.[5]

Edo state was formerly part of the old Bendel state of early post-colonial Nigeria, also known as the Mid-Western Region, Nigeria. This region's influence and culture reflects that of the Edo, Urhobo, Esan and other Edo related peoples.[6]

Location of Edo state and Benin City in Nigeria
Edo cultural dressing with beaded crowns and outfits


Edo people have fashion accessories typically includes red beads, anklets, raffia work and so on.[7]

Traditional beliefs

In the traditional religion of the Edo, there exists, besides the human world, an invisible world of supernatural beings acting as interceders for the human world. Offerings are made to them in their respective shrines. Osanobua is the creator and Supreme God. His son/daughter Olokun is ruler of all bodies of water and is responsible for the prosperity and fertility of his/her human followers. Another son Ogun, is the patron god of metalworkers. The epithet Osanobua Noghodua mean God Almighty. The word Osanobua encompasses a large number of divine principles - including the divine state of being merciful, timeless, goodness, justice, sublimity, and supreme. In the Edo belief system, Osanobua has the divine attributes of omnipresence (orhiole), omniscience (ajoana), and omnipotence (udazi). The Supreme Deity is believed to be present everywhere and at all times.[8][9]

16th century ivory portrait of Queen Mother Idia

Art and architecture

Figure of Oba Oguola, an Edo king

Traditional Edo art consists of widely identifiable sculptures, plaques and masks which reflect various spiritual and historical aspects of their cultural traditions. Some of the notable Edo art pieces include the mask of the Queen Mother Idia and a vast collection of historical Edo art pieces called the Benin Bronzes which can be found not only in Nigeria but further dispersed around the world, including in museums such as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.[10]

Notable Benins in Nigeria

  • Ewuare II,[11][12] the 40th Oba of Benin Kingdom from 2016–present.
  • Esther Erediauwa, the first wife of the 39th Oba of Benin kingdom, Oba Erediauwa.
  • Victor Uwaifo, musician,[13][14] writer, sculptor, and musical instrument inventor.
  • Peter Odemwingie,[15] professional footballer.
  • Charles Novia, film director,[16] producer, screenwriter, actor and social commentator.african l
  • Osayuki Godwin Oshodin,[17][18] former Vice-chancellor of University of Benin.
  • Benson Idahosa,[19][20] evangelist, and founder of the Church of God Mission International.
  • Samuel Ogbemudia,[21][22] politician and former military Governor of the Mid-West State
  • John Odigie Oyegun,[23] politician and first national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria
  • Victor Ikpeba,[24][25] professional footballer.
  • Godwin Obaseki,[26] governor of Edo state (2015 to 2019 under APC, and from 2019 under PDP) and business man
  • Gabriel Igbinedion,[27] Nigeria business man and esama of Benin kingdom.
  • Erhabor Emokpae,[28] artists, director
  • Mercy Aigbe,[29] is a Nigerian actress and filmmaker
  • Guosa Alex Guosa Igbineweka, Guosa Language Evolutionist, Creator: a Nigerian and ECOWAS indigenous zonal lingua-franca
  • Abel Guobadia,[30] former Chairman of Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission
  • Jane Igharo,[31] Nigerian-Canadian writer
  • Professor Osasere Orumwense,[32] Vice-Chancellor of University of Benin
  • Suyi Davies Okungbowa,[33] African fantasy and speculative fiction author
  • Archbishop John Edokpolo, Honourable Minister of Trade and Founder of Edokpolor Grammar School
  • Chief Jacob U. Egharevba,[34][35] a Bini historian and traditional chief
  • Rema, music artist
  • Kamaru Usman, Nigerian mixed martial artist
  • Gbadamasi Agbonjor Jonathan (MC Edo Pikin),[36] Nigerian comedian


  • Ewuare II

See also


  1. Shoup III, John A. (2011). Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 130. ISBN 9781598843637.
  2. "Bini – esd30plus". Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  3. "Yoruba leaders disagree over origin, meaning of their name". Vanguard News. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  4. "Edo | people". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  5. Koutonin, Mawuna (18 March 2016). "Story of cities #5: Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  6. "Edo | state, Nigeria". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  7. Okpokunu, Edoja; Agbontaen‐Eghafona, Kokunre A.; Ojo, Pat O. (2005). "Benin dressing in contemporary Nigeria: social change and the crisis of cultural identity". African Identities. 3 (2): 155–170. doi:10.1080/14725840500235506. S2CID 143668454.
  8. Peavy, Daryl, Kings, Magic, and Medicine, p. 5, ISBN 9780557183708
  9. Paula Ben-Amos, Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan: Edo Religion. In: Lindsay Jones: Encyclopedia of Religion. Thomson-Gale, 2005. ISBN 002865997X
  10. "Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba". www.metmuseum.org. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  11. "Oba Ewuare II: A quintessential monarch at 66". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  12. "No going back on return of artefacts to the palace — Oba Ewuare II". Vanguard News. 10 July 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  13. "Sir Victor Uwaifo... My journey to stardom, greatness". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 13 March 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  14. "I almost died of electrocution on stage in 1969 – Sir Victor Uwaifo". Punch Newspapers. 4 April 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  15. "Peter Odemwingie Profile, News & Stats | Premier League". www.premierleague.com. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  16. "Nigerian filmmaker, Charles Novia, floats Teen TV channel". 21 November 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  17. "Oshodin formally hands over to new Uniben VC". Vanguard News. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  18. "OSHODIN: A Study In University Administration". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  19. "Archbishop Idahosa told me about his death – Oyakhilome". Vanguard News. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  20. "Amazon.com". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  21. "Pinnick describes Samuel Ogbemudia stadium as 'world class'". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 2 November 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  22. "TRIBUTE: Samuel Ogbemudia: The man who gave his people swagger | Premium Times Nigeria". 26 March 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  23. "APC leaders appoint Oyegun chairman South-south 'reconciliation team'". 16 December 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  24. "Ikpeba: Where does the Prince of Monaco belong among Nigeria's greats? | Goal.com". www.goal.com. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  25. "Happy Birthday, Victor Ikpeba!". AS Monaco. 12 June 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  26. "Godwin Obaseki, State of Edo Nigeria: Profile and Biography". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  27. "Chief Gabriel Igbinedion Archives". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  28. "Erhabor Ogieva Emokpae; Unforgettable master of African art". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  29. "I have no problem with Mercy Aigbe, says estranged husband". Punch Newspapers. 21 June 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  30. "The 2014 National Conference: Looking back, looking forward". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  31. "Nigerian Canadian author Jane Igharo heads back home for her latest novel, about a family and a funeral". thestar.com. 14 November 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  32. "Prof Osasere Orumwense Archives". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  33. "Suyi Davies Okungbowa". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  34. Eisenhofer, Stefan (January 1995). "The Origins of the Benin Kingship in the Works of Jacob Egharevba". History in Africa. 22: 141–163. doi:10.2307/3171912. ISSN 0361-5413. JSTOR 3171912. S2CID 161445279.
  35. "Book Serial: Ile-Ife: City of 201 gods (2)". Vanguard News. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  36. "MC Edo Pikin Recounts Successes and Achievements as He Plans into the other Half of the Year – THISDAYLIVE". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
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