Queen Idia, the face of FESTAC 77 was the mother of Esigie, the Oba of Benin who ruled from 1504 to 1550. She played a very significant role in the rise and reign of her son. She has been described as a great warrior, who fought relentlessly before and during her son’s reign as the Oba (king) of the Edo people. To keep people in touch with history, INFORMATION NIGERIA has put together these 8 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Queen Idia…
1. First Woman to earn a title from the Benin Empire as “IYOBA” which means “The Queen mother”.
2. First Woman commander [mother of the king] to have led soldiers/warrior to fight and win a war in defense of her Nation.
3. First Woman to have produced an enlightened prince (Son) who was able to relate with the Europeans in their early encounter.
4. First woman to have witnessed the early formation of churches and missionary school in Nigeria. THE HOLY ARUOSA
5. First woman to have taken up the mantle of leadership in terms of socio – economic development of the Old Benin Empire, that was later invaded and burnt down by the British military on the Benin punitive expedition in 1897 to finally exile Oba Ovonramen to Calabar. A time when some of the finest bronze of Benin were made and exported to Europe.
6. First black African woman to have earned such world recognition, respect and dignity in the West African sub region.