Facts Of History Are Not Settled By Verbal Insults

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written by Chief Nosakhare Isekhure JP (Tuesday June 8, 2004) (Last Update June 16, 2021)

Since a piece of information that has always been well known, documented and orchestrated through legends, oral history and folk tales has now been elevated to the platform of ”controversy”, my first reaction was to allow those who seek to address the issues to exhaust their own side and understanding of the issue under reference viz: the origin and personality of Prince Ekaladerhan, who the Benin history recognises as the profound ruler in Uhe- (Ife) as our historical accounts positioned it.

It is for me an undue application of terms to refer to what the Omo N’ Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa CFR, Oba of Benin, recounted in his book , presented in Lagos with reference to the status of Izoduwa corrupted as Oduduwa by Yoruba historians as a “CONTROVERSY”. It is pitiable and most unfortunate that some of the reactions heard and read in some newspapers, since the Omo N’ Oba’s book launched in Lagos, contained insults, derogatory terms and outright arrogance, perceived directly and also through innuendos.

This is a serious breach of academic tradition, ethics and excellence. It is a matter of sound logic for people to address issues, statement, and position raised during a given state of argument or debate, by way of intellectual explanation of the validity or otherwise of the statement or utterance. It is out of permissible intellectual boundary for the personality rather than the ‘issue or issues, to be insulted, derided and consequently humiliated, all in an attempt to state or correct a simple fact of history by those who may claim to have better or at best, more authentic intonation about the subject matter.
It is a fact of history that, attacks on personality rather than issues and utterances, often inflame passion that triggers anger and subsequently violence, especially when the issue under reference is quite sensitive. It is on record that in partisan politics, such attacks on personalities rather than issues have led to violence, leading to wanton destruction of lives and property all across the world, including Nigeria.

This condition, we do not subscribe to, nor encourage by circumstances of our traditional religious beliefs, political consciousness and the nature of our beings as Edo people. I therefore, use this write-up to advice and also warn all and sundry who may be tempted to react to the issue at stake to do so by addressing the issue rather than the personality, and we will never accommodate any attack, direct or indirect on our Revered Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku, Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, by anybody, be he a traditional ruler, historian, a chief, a politician, a clergy man, a corporate person, etc, who may want to use a simple fact of history to fan the ember of hatred and ethnic violence which has nothing essentially to do with academic and intellectual project’ vis-á-vis the issue under reference.

This is an advice and a clear warming to all that we will never accept further, any attack or derogatory words on the personality of the Oba of Benin over the matter, As a matter of fact, the issue of a historical knowledge and enlightenment cannot translate to controversy, if the purpose is to seek and break new grounds over historical dogma and make-belief accounts.

Every historical account, like all other fields of knowledge must draw its premise and conclusions from sound logic. Historical account all over the world have been noted to have an evolutionary trend, when previously held beliefs, opinions and concepts are demolished under the weight of more factual, verifiable and attainable revelations by new frontiers of knowledge’s the history of Benin, and those of other ethnic nationalities, including the Yorubas, is not immune to this kind of historical trend.

In any case, what is being referred to, as “YORUBA ORIGIN CONTROVERSY” as papers and people have referred to it, is a ‘qualified misnomer? The Oba of Benin did not speak or write about the history of the Yorubas as a people. He only re-affirmed the Monarchical relationship between what we call Uhe and what the Yoruba call Ife vis-a vis the emergence of the Kingship system there on.
For the purposes of this write up, I seek to address specifically the assertions made by Processor Ade Ajayi in an interview he granted to the SUNDAY VANGUARD of May 16, 2004, printed on page 10-

The newspaper interviewer, whose anchor man was never named, asked the Professor questions to which he provided his own variant kind of answers that seems to provoke very loose and insultive air of academic arrogance. The first question was as follows,

"There is this ongoing controversy sparked off by the different accounts of the Ooni of Ife and the Oba of Yoruba progenitor, Oduduwa what is your position?” He proceeded to answer as follows:
“The thing is that none of us was present when the world was, created, so just accept stores of creation and myth of origin as a matter of belief  we cannot as a matter of fact argue because none of us was present.

So, we just believe what the ancestors handed over to us. We can ask questions to why the ancestors took a certain position. But if we are to find out what the Yorubas believe about their origin, I don’t think we will go to Benin, we will go to Ife.”

The answer as provided above also conversely means that, while the Yoruba people have their inalienable rights to look to Ife for their origin, the Benin people also exercise the same inalienable rights not to look to Ife for any significant material, about their origin because, both nationalities have ancestries, who had left behind, evidence of their respective state or origin. Therefore, our main centre of focus could also be a Benin environ.

In the course of providing more answers to the so-called controversy, Professor Ajayi alleged that, the Oba of Benin is saying that a Benin historian, Jacob Egharevba, wrote a book and that the fourth edition of the book was edited in Ibadan. According to him, there is no contradiction between the first and the fourth edition of the book. But, Oba of Benin says, he is dismissing Egharevba because of Akoko-Edo blood in him (Egharevba), which made him favour the Yorubas.

He didn’t say that the man is a Yoruba man, but that he has Akoko-Edo blood in him”. The Professor went further to say that “I think that Oba of Benin has been saying things like this before. He just wanted to use the opportunity of his book to provoke a controversy and I think he is getting that already. He did not cite any evidence. At least, those who said that Benin tradition agrees with who was a Benin chief who actually did a lot of research not only on Benin, but on Akure and the surrounding areas”.

It must be categorically stated and emphasized, that the Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa CFR, never cast aspersions on anyone or group of persons, particularly the Akoko-Edo people, who are descendants of Benin people as alleged by Professor Ajayi What the Oba said was that, Jacob Egharevba was an Edo Akure person.

Also, it must be clearly understood that, here in Benin Kingdom, there is a well established hierarchy of tradition, which has given primacy to historical records, religion, arts, artifacts, law, social interactions, political organizations and government to a point where guilds and institutional devices are created to service these arms.

As a matter of protocol and traditional practices, the Benin Law establishes and recognizes the Oba of Benin as the Sole-Authority of Benin history, tradition, customary practices and convention. He is the repository of information and the authority; therefore, he does not need to consult any other source to get information that concerns the consistent evolution of Benin Monarchical system and all the phases it has passed through since the past 5,000 years.

The author of this write-up, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, the Isekhure of Benin, occupies the office of the Chief Priest of Benin, while the Oba serves as the Spiritual Head of the Edo people. The author’s position as the Isekhure, a descendant of the original members of the Benin Royal Family who left Benin to seek the return of Ekaladerhan from Uhe (Ife) to Benin about some 1,000 years to ascend his father’s throne is undisputable.

The Isekhure has been established by the Oba of Benin as the Chief Recorder of Benin history as it affects Benin Royalty and Kingship system. The writer is the 33rd occupant of that position from the period of Oba Ewedo in an unbroken line of succession.

By this fact, our family known as the Ughoron in Ogiso’s period, and later changed to Ihogbe during the Obaship dynasty, possesses all the artifacts, historical records, stories, tales, oral records and, other ancestral instruments, that ably, and unquestionably established the validity of Ekaladerhan escapade and his eventual elevation to leadership of the people he met at the site known and called Uhe or Ife

Apart from the Oba of Benin, the Isekhure of Benin is the sole authority of Benin history .Therefore, for anyone to think that an historian, who fancied to study history like any other subject, should see himself as the authority over a people history, particularly over traditionally established history bearer, is to stretch academic freedom above reasonableness. This is not acceptable in Benin Tradition.

Therefore, Jacob Egharevba, a Benin son and an illustrious historian, author, of A SHORT HISTORY OF BENIN, wrote what he understood within the confine of the information available to him, and also the quality of source. A look at the book under reference, A short history of Benin”, Ibadan University Press 1968 Fourth Edition, the author did not publish any reference or a bibliography of his source of information.

Any book on Benin history, particularly that which concerns the Benin Monarchy in which an ISEKHURE does not make salient contribution as a vital resource channel is a nullity, because, Isekhure is the authority and recorder of the events under reference.

(Source: The Nigerian Observer Tuesday June 8, 2004)

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