Idia of the Benin Kingdom

A picture book by Ekiuwa Aire.

Ekiuwa Aire, illustrated by Alina Shabelnyk

Idia of the Benin Kingdom introduces young readers to the story of Queen Idia of the ancient Kingdom of Benin, who played an essential role during the reign of her son, Esigie, who ruled Benin from 1504-1550. This story tells of a young Idia who pursued her dreams, believed in herself, and became the first Queen Mother of Benin. The story starts with a dream young Idia has where she sees a woman in battle.

The woman in her dream also appears to be using herbs and potions to heal the wounded. Something about the dream convinces Idia that she is destined to do more for her beloved kingdom. She does whatever it takes to become what her dream had shown her.

It wasn't easy because, at the time, young girls were not groomed to be warriors. But Idia was determined to challenge the status quo. Idia is an excellent role model. As history tells us, she grew up to be a fierce dancing warrior queen. After the death of Idia's husband, the Oba, the kingdom was divided. Idia's political counsel helped her son end a civil war. He, in turn, bestowed upon her the title "Iyoba" meaning Queen Mother. (From Our Ancestories)

Ekiuwa Aire is a Nigerian Canadian author of children's books.

Alina Shabelnyk is an illustrator and designer from Ukraine.

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