When it comes to upholding culture and tradition in Nigeria, there are very few kingdoms that uphold them. One of such exceptions is the great Benin Kingdom where cultural practices are still revered.
The coronation of a new Oba is ongoing in Benin and people from all works of life will gather at the place of the Oba which has stood for over 900 years.
There are restricted areas within the palace and as such visitors are often advised to seek a guide when paying a visit to the hallowed palace that has housed the greatest of Kings not just in Nigeria, but indeed in African history.
Below are 9 things that an individual must never do in the palace of the Oba of Benin, they are sacrilegious and often may cost one dearly.
1. Don't occupy two chairs at the same time
It is seen as a great sign of disrespect to the throne, if one get to occupy two seats. It is believed that the Oba alone should be seated on the most elevated seat which is the throne of his fathers. In sitting on two seats, one would be seen as contesting the throne with the oba.
2. Do not raise an umbrella in the courts
When the Oba is out on festive periods, you must ensure that you do not put up your umbrella, it is a sign of disrespect, and that is for all types of weather conditions.
3. Carrying palm fruits (Banga) around the palace is not acceptable
There is no room for carrying palm fruit around the palace, even vehicles that ply the route around the palace must never carry palm fruits, it is a taboo. According to the myth, blood will flow in the land if the palm fruit is brought within certain radius of the palace.
4. No dog zone
There is no place for dogs in the palace of the Oba, any dog found within the palace either dies a natural death or is killed.
5. Pointing of fingers
Pointing fingers in the palace is a taboo, especially if directed to the Oba or his chiefs. This injunction is not only for the subjects of the kingdom alone, even the monarch does not point fingers because at anytime his finger is pointed, it is either to bless or to condemn even to death.
It is forbidden to point fingers at either the Oba or his chiefs in the palace. It is said that the Oba does not point fingers at anyone as well, except in a bid to bless or curse an individual.
6. Don't play referee in the courts
Beyond what many believe, whistling is a communication medium and this medium is taken very seriously in Benin. Deeper insights into whistling, is the fact that it is believed that the living and the dead interact through this medium and a person whistling within the palace may rouse a deity that is unforgiving.
7. No color black
You cannot enter through the gates of the Oba's palace if you are wearing black. Any visitor wearing black will automatically be turned back, because it is sacrilege. On no account must the Oba see black clothes, as it signals mourning and he must never mourn.
8. The Ehengbuda Shrine is out of bounds to all women
According to legends, any woman who goes close to the Ehengbuda shrine, automatically becomes barren. This is due to the fact that the Oba Ehemugba was born a haemophrodyte and after powerful witch doctors worked on him, the female parts were removed, and then the Oba was later paraded naked around the community. Hence, any female who comes close to the sacred shrine, would know nothing of true motherhood in her lifetime
9. The royal women's quarters is out of bounds to male visitors
There are no rooms for male visitors in the royal women's quarters where the Oba’s wives stay. Even relatives of the king are not to be seen within the harem and they are not to even extend hands of fellowship to the women.
It is forbidden to take sand from the palace, it is also a taboo for women to urinate at certain places. There are other dos and don't , however, the there are people whose duties it is to see to it that people do not trespass.