The Oba, or ruler, was considered to be divine. According to oral tradition, the first Oba came from the east in Ife, where the world itself originated. The geographical location of Ife to the north-west of Benin raises questions about the reliability of oral tradition.
Only the Oba could confer titles and display the ceremonial symbols of power. He had the power of life and death over his subjects and, for this reason, the Oba was identified with Olokun, the source of all life and the god of the sea. He was the channel through which the spiritual world permeated the physical world, and was often symbolized by the mudfish, a creature which was able to live on land for lengthy periods and which could deliver a strong electric charge. The Oba could not be seen eating in public nor could he appear ill. Unlike mortal men, inhabitants believes that the Oba did not need to sleep.http://www.faculty.de.gcsu.edu/~dvess/ids/fap/benin.htm
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