Males in the Benin metropolis in Edo State have begun the shaving of their heads in honour of the late Oba of Benin, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa,
The demise of the monarch was announced on Friday with the breaking of a native chalk by the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe.
Part of the mourning rites to be observed by Benin sons include the shaving of heads and the closure of markets in the seven local government areas that make up the Benin Kingdom.
Our correspondent, who visited some of the barber shops, observed a substantial compliance by many male residents, who hail from the affected areas.
A barber on Owina Street, who gave his name as Akhere, said that he recorded a 50 per cent increase in the number of customers at his shop.
He also said that he had less difficulty attending to them, since it was a complete shave, rather than the usual choice of hairstyle by his customers.
Akhere said, “Not many people came to have their heads shaved on Friday, when the palace made the announcement. But Saturday was different because a lot people came to do so; many of them were elderly men.”
A resident, Mr. John Ehanire, described the act as a ‘privilege’ for all Benin sons.
“I shaved my head to show respect for my late king. It is a rare privilege for us because it happens once in a long time,” he said.
Besides, major markets were shut. Many traders were seen selling their wares on walkways at the Oba and New Benin markets.
A market woman, who did not want her name in print, told SUNDAY PUNCH that activities could resume in the markets on Monday.
Also, a visit to the Oba’s Palace showed that a condolence register had yet to be opened.
Meanwhile, the Alake of Egbaland, and the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and Oba Kehinde Olugbenle respectively on Saturday, mourned the death of the monarch and commiserated with the people of Benin and the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
They both described the departed monarch as an enigma and icon of the traditional institution in his lifetime.
In his tribute, Oba Adedotun described the demise of Oba of Benin, as a great loss to the Benin Kingdom, the Yoruba race in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
He said, “He was a promoter, maintainer and sustainer of Benin rich culture and tradition.”
On his part, Oba Olugbenle described the late monarch as a symbol of the rich Benin culture and tradition.
He said, ‘‘His time witnessed tremendous transformation of the Benin Kingdom. He will no doubt be greatly missed by his people.”
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