THE GENESIS OF OBALAND AWARDS| Africa Grammy Awards:
Obaland Awards, also known as Obaland Royal Awards, Obaland Music Awards, Africa Grammy,Oba Grammy Awards or Ewuare Grammy Awards that was established in Benin City Edo State in 17th December 1993, was inspired by the American Grammy Awards and the Oscar Academy Awards (which was first presented in 1992, at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel), it has an historical underpinning that is linked with the origin of the Benin Kingdom.
The historical link between the Obaland Awards and the Benin Kingdom had been provided by the High Chief Priest of the Benin Kingdom, Osemwengie Ebohon. According to him, each Obaland Award antique plaque, which had been evaluated to be worth 34 million dollars, by palace chiefs, anthropologies and Art critic, was though designed by the renowned Igun vory of Benin Empire for King Ewuare II, the materials used for each award plaque were collected from “Udo village” to recall the importance of Aruan n’udo, the son of Idia. Some were recycled from Igun community, notable for ancient bronze work, and the blessed earth from Ekèndo, as well as “Uselu”.
The members of Obaland Academy are mainly indigenes or families related to the Igodomigodo (or ovbi-edo, which means “child(ren) of Edo”). The High Chief Priest of the Benin Kingdom, Osemwengie Ebohon further revealed the link between Igodomigodo and the present Benin City. According to him, since its creation, sometime in the first millennium CE, the Benin Kingdom was known as Igodomigodo and the ruler of the Kingdom was called Ogiso. Nearly 36 known Ogisos have ruled the Benin Kingdom before the initial incarnation of the state.
During the reign of the last Ogiso, his son and heir apparent, Ekaladerhan, was sentenced to death because his mother who happened to be one of the Queens deliberately changed an oracle message intended for the Ogiso. When ordered to carry out the orders of the palace, the palace messengers tactically set him free, on the ground that he was innocent.
After the death of the last Ogiso, a group of Igodomigodo Chiefs led by Chief Oliha mounted a search for Prince Ekaladerhan. He was later found in Ile-Ife. While in Ile-Ife, he was called Oduduwa and had got sons. They pleaded for Oduduwa’s return to Igodomigodo but in place of himself, the Chiefs were given one of his sons to take to Igodomigodo as king. Centuries later, in 1440 Oba Ewuare, also known as Ewuare the Great, came to power and expanded the borders of the former Igodomigodo. It was only at this time that the administrative centre of the kingdom began to be referred to as Ubinu. The Portuguese who arrived in an expedition led by Joao Afonso de Aveiro in 1485 referred to it as Benin and the administrative centre became known as Benin Kingdom. The Benin Kingdom eventually gained political strength and ascendancy over much of what was later mid-western Nigeria.
The Obaland Awards is therefore established by the monarch order in conjunction with the Benin indigenous people in The United States and Europe to encourage patriotic indigenes of Edo State in Nigeria and in Diaspora. The idea is to encourage hand work and eradicate crimes. The essence is to use the awards as a means to celebrate Benin history and to show the world that Benin people are goal getters. As part of its opening formalities, the Obaland Awards had been used to honour internationally, nationally and locally as well as African personalities that has impacted their nation positively and musicians whose songs are loaded with messages for the people. The recognition made young craft workers, entertainers,public officials.gold miners, and students feel relevant and that their handwork and fields of specialization can fetch them something.
The Governing committee members were nominated according to age. Each member of the committee was of 70 years old and above and had been a professional in his chosen career. The Trustees were persons who have relocated to their various hometowns in the various Local Government Areas of Edo State. The Trustees were also elected by age. The Trustees included a traditional ruler from Edo state, “Odionwere” meaning elder in Benin language, “Enogie” meaning the sender or the Village Head. These personalities would work with the reigning Oba of Benin.
In 2000, The Obaland Award honorees spread all over Edo state, Nigeria and other parts of Africa, even though a few recognitions were given to some foreigners. In late 2000, the policies for the Awards were reformed. A memorandum and an act were written under Traditional Rulers National Act (article 4), which was similar to Nigerian first Republic National Honours Act No. 5 of 1964, “Monarch’s National order” (MNO) to recognize personalities with indisputable hard work in the Government, the society, the private establishments or in the entertainment industry. The process operated as an in-house procedure and the Awards to be given anytime of the year only by Obaland Academy Committee, without nominations or public votes.
In 2017, the criteria for being eligible for its governance changed from what it used to be in the previous ages due to the need to be up to date with innovations and new technologies: The traditional rulers needed to be technologically educated to perform most duties. His royal majesty “Oba n’èdo” King Ewuare II of Benin was nominated as the Patron of the annual event , to be endorsed by the Edo State Honorable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osaze Osemwegie Ero.
Obaland Awards is first of its kind and the most important monarch award in the history of Africa. “Oba” which means King in Benin language (the traditional language of the Edo people) and the “land” represents “Otò” which means the number one custodian of the values and cultural heritage of the Benin Kingdom. The awards has different formats, to be determined by the Obaland Awards Committee annually.
The Obaland Academy is also a major partner of Edo Reggae Festival Inc., an entertainment company established in 2017, Independence Television (ITV), Observer, Leadership Newspaper and over 200 international NGOs and music professionals.
While the major presenters remains his majesty Oba Ewuare II of Benin Kingdom, several sub-presenters were elected in the likes of Hon Osaze Osemwegie Ero, also the Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs , Daddy Fresh, Eedris AbdulKareem, Adesuwa Queen Obatta , Evi Edna Ogholi, High Chief Priest of the Benin Kingdom, Osemwengie Ebohon and Maleke Idowu.
In 2017 the elected members resumed their places and subsequently it took fortune to launch it officially in 2018. With over 79 thousand records of honour given to both foreigners and Nigerian citizens, the Obaland Awards has come to stay.
Obaland Royal Awards 2018:
The Obaland awards was presented in 2018 by Edo Reggae Festival Inc’s CEO, Empress Adesuwa Omoyeme Obatta a.k.a Dqueen. Dqueen is a theater artist, known as one of the constituent members of Nigeria renowned Nollywood film industry. She is a one time interim vice president of PMAN. She graduated from the University of California (UCLA) USA and holds a degree in cinematography of the same university. She is also a graduate of business management and marketing training from Boston State University (USA). A mother to her three biological children, she has worked with the likes of Queen Latifah, Tupac umaru Shakur to name but a few. She is also an On Air Presenter (OAP), who is popularly known for International Reggae events as well as an artist management guru with a class. Back in Nigeria. She has also worked and managed mainstream reggae artistes like Majek Fashek, Winning Jah, The Mandators, King Wadada, Africa Meets
Reggae Festival, Roaring Thunder Sound System of Nigeria. Dqueen is also the organizer of the Edo State International Reggae Festival.
The academy was relaunched on the 7th of February 2018, strictly based on invitation. with over 8,000 attendants worldwide. The Obaland Academy strictly promotes the Oba’s palace and Otèdo patrimony, recognition are strictly for any person or group of persons without pending court cases, or criminal acts. Anyone found abusing this antique recognition (Obaland Awards) would have his or her recognition revoked by the Edo State High Court of Justice,with the participation of important personalities like the Edo State Director of Arts and Culture, who represented the Ministry Arts and Culture, and other non-Governmental bodies such as, Mr Godwin Egbe of the National Edo State Broadcasting Service, different Nigerian veteran artistes, who have produced different national hit songs, personalities such as Oligbese, Daddy Fresh, Dyckoy, Naxis DG, S.K.O, Eedris Abdulkareem, Dj Oscar B and many other celebrities from the Nigeria entertainment industry.
Members of the Obaland:
Academy include: Video makers, Singers, Songwriters, Engineers, Producers, Managers,
Individuals Humanitarians and wide range of professionals working in the music and Film industry, and over 42 traditional rulers from Edo state.
The Obaland Award Committee:
Obaland also known as “otònèdo” is a collective idea of various companies, renowned non- Governmental organizations, Edo State Government, entrepreneurs, and entertainment professionals. Its awards are divided into three: “Obaland Royal Awards” and “Obaland Music Awards”.(OMA) Obaland Royal Awards (ORA) (International) is the highest honour for extraordinary achievements. They are meant to honour individuals , Government, religious persons, private and organisations that has made marks in the areas of music and humanitarian services, for developers of projects and technological inventions and “interventions” which has helped better the lives of the Edo people anywhere in the world, this award could be given anytime of the year by in house members of Obaland academy. Monarch National Order (MON) is the main order, given only to Kings,traditional rulers and celebrities of certain ranks
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