Emotan of Benin | She saved the GREATEST Oba of Benin
THE WOMAN CALLED EMOTAN…
Emotan who was born between 1380 and 1400, hailed from Eyaen
village, close to the present day Aduwawa cattle market
area, along the Benin-Auchi Road.
The name her parents gave to her was Uwaraye.
As a young woman she married Chief Azama of Ihogbe district,
as his second wife.
Uwaraye was considered indolent by her husband because she
could not cook. She could not get pregnant either.
Azama´s first wife, Arabe, handled the domestic chores and
gave birth to all the children of the household. Azama soon
nicknamed Uwaraye, Emitan, corrupted to Emotan, meaning lazy
She had a redeeming feature, though. She was good at helping
to nurse and take care of the brood of the household.
Emotan who could make evbarie´ (a soup seasoning condiment
made from fermented melon seeds), and spin threads from
cotton balls, began taking these plus some herbal products
to sell at a stall opposite the city market (present day Oba
When her husband died, she could not return to her parents
home because they too had died of old age earlier on.
She set up a hut to live in at her trading post opposite the
Her hut soon became a popular make-shift nursery for the
children of families patronizing the market.
She attended to the children’s health and other needs
selflessly without charging fees and the kids’ parents soon
could not have enough of her services.
Some Historians are of the view that Emotan was a market
woman who took care of little children, whilst their mothers
were away buying and selling their wares in oba market. They
refer to her as the woman who began the first “DAY-CARE
CENTRE” in Benin City.
At that period, Prince Uwaifiokun usurped the throne of the
Benin kingdom, thereby denying his elder brother, Prince
Ogun (Oba Ewuare I)
his legitimate position as king.
Prince Ogun in those times of travail, paid secret and
nocturnal visits to Benin from his place of exile.
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