THE FAMOUS IDAH WAR OF BENIN… How it all started

During the reign of Oba Ẹsigie around 1504, there was a prominent Chief called Oliha.

Chief Oliha had an addiction…
It was the woman at the centre of his world.

Many understood why he loved and adored his wife to a dangerous level; she was easy on the eyes.

Her name was Imaguero. She was very famous for her beauty and Chief Oliha felt very lucky to own such a breathtaking female.

Whenever he showed up at the palace, he would brag to anyone who cared to listen about the faithfulness of his precious Imaguero. According to Chief Oliha, this rare beauty was the kindest, most faithful woman in Benin.

His fellow elites were more impressed than amused. Some secretly envied him and wished they had a woman that could compete with Oliha’s jewel of inestimable value.

As time went by, Oba Ẹsigie had some scores to settle with Chief Oliha. The king decided to hit his Chief where it mattered most.

Conniving with palace staff and some mischievous members of his cabinet, Oba Esigie set out to investigate Imaguero’s major weakness.

In no time, he discovered that she was just as vain as the next pretty woman. She loved “things”. Imaguero particularly loved expensive coral beads. She couldn’t get enough of them.Those close to her knew it was her worst distraction.

Oba Esigie didn’t waste much time. He summoned one of his porters, an elderly lowlife commoner, a cripple for that matter, called Uke, for the errand.

The king gave him a few coral beads and agate, with strict orders to tempt Imaguero.

The porter set about his task.

The servant was able to seduce and win Imaguero, the perceived faithful wife of the proud Chief Oliha. She fell quickly, after accepting expensive, royal coral beads and agate.

The handicapped servant ravished her beautiful body to maximum satisfaction.

Having successfully carried out the mission, he returned to the king, who appreciated Uke’s effort.

In the meantime, Ọba Ẹsigie patiently waited for a dramatic moment to finish with the plot.

One day when all the chiefs were assembled and conversing, as usual, Chief Oliha began to boast about his wife again.

Fascinated by Oliha’s ignorance, the king summoned his disabled porter.

In front of the entire assembly of Chiefs, he instructed the porter to tell the tale of Imaguero’s successful seduction for the sake of a few coral beads and agate stones.

Everyone was shocked! Of course, they mocked Oliha for trusting a beautiful woman too much.

Humiliated that Imaguero slept with a cripple, Chief Oliha returned home in pain, shame and anger.

When he entered his matrimonial home, his emotions got the better of him. In that mood, he presented to her a symbolic pot of death. The pot of sword and poison. Consequently, he slew the love of his life.
Imaguero died a brutal death by strangulation.

Embittered by the shame, Chief Oliha decided to get even with Oba Esigie. His plan was to dethrone the king.

He knew he wouldn’t get support from the king’s subjects and so he instigated the Attah of Idah against the Oba, by turning both leaders against each other through disinformation

Chief Oliha informed the Attah that the Oba was preparing to wage war on Idah. In the same vein, Oba Esigie was told that the Attah was gearing up for an offensive on Edo kingdom.

The Idah war was fierce…

The war ended in the defeat of the Idahs.

The use of guns purchased from the Portuguese may have aided the crushing defeat inflicted on the Idahs. It was during the reign of Esigie that guns were introduced for the first time into the kingdom. It was to avoid a future incursion into Edo land, that
led to the establishment of garrison towns.

I know what you are thinking.
Why is history kind to Imaguero if she was an unfaithful wife?
Why was a Teacher Training College named after her?

Well, her end may as well be a reminder to us not to trust anyone totally. A reminder that there’s always a price tag. A reminder of the need to stay humble and not brag about what you have just to torture others emotionally. A reminder that there are consequences for unfaithfulness.

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