Ife Of Ooni Is Not The Same As Uhe Of Oduduwa

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(Last Update June 17, 2021)

THE EMERGENCE OF Ile-Ife as a place of socio-cultural significance in the Guinea Rainforest Zone of West Africa has been much researched into and should no longer be a subject of controversy. Any outburst around it would show that there still remain some aspects of misinformation which would require further clarification for a fuller elimination of misconceptions. Our aim in this presentation is to simplify the subject through a 12-point expose. It will help to inform people that no one can play politics with the Ife history anymore. We may add that when Omo N’Oba Erediauwa wrote, he was putting forth a step of courage around which to query those among us who have done much work in Benin studies for the bewildering silence on the issue of Ile Ife which seems to have prevailed over time. Even when the Ooni of Ife raised a universal eyebrow in the assertion that Ile-Ife was divinely packaged for delivery from the sky God, it may historically be seen as a way of expressing the roots of the reverence of its people. Assertions of this nature have been used to sustain the Royalness of the Ife position through generations of Yoruba.

The era of Omo N’Oba Erediauwa is from all aspects of historical assessment already designated as the Learned Age of Benin history. There are five reasons for this conclusion. First, it is the first time the monarch on the Benin throne is blessed with the level of academic attainment which the age of Oyibo (since 1900 AD) has designed for any person with western education. Second, it is the first time the monarch on the Benin throne has the highest record of public service in Nigeria prior to the time of his coronation. Third, it is the first time the people of Benin would enjoy the liberty of examining the hidden skeletons about their history with the aim of bringing increased revelation knowledge into it so that posterity can be well served in the effort to find out itself. Fourth, it is the first time those who have in the past enjoyed the opportunity of seeing the empire of Benin crunched under them for histocultural manipulation will begin to feel jittery about the effort of the Binis to find out the truth about themselves. Fifth, it is the first time the Sons and daughters of Great Benin are to be marked seriously against continuing to be agents of the Dark Age, especially when effort is being made to utilize the benefits of the learned age.

The editorial in this edition of the ISPU Newsletter is not an accusation on any writer on Benin history, language and culture, the study of which is now collectively known as Ubiniology. Rather, it is a warning that any writer on aspects of the study should endeavour to avoid drifting into anachronisms.

Anachronism is the failure of a writer to put his work into a time perspective that links up properly with the wider events of world history, knowing fully well that history is both a unity and continuity. For example, Benin history is riot an island in itself. It is part of a wide tide of world history. It is the responsibility of the writers in the learned age to know the fundamental facts within and between, about the history of Benin before rushing into writing. For example, the age of using IFE OF YORUBA PEOPLE to confuse the Uhe of Benin People is past. That was the gimmick used in the time when the Empire of Benin was in the colonial age and was crunched into subordinate dimensions under an administrative rulership from Ibadan. The age of failing to see the Niger-Benue Confluence area (now country Nigeria) as the common centre of history for Edo people (to name a few) is past. This was the diversion which Benin people had to pass through in their being appended to the Yoruba as the root of their evolution. These are some of the between defects from which our own writers I must realise themselves.

There are also a number of the hidden defects. For example when a person declares sharply that Igodo founded the Benin monarchy in years BC (Before Christ) and he is not able to define the events of proto-history preceding that stage; he needs to be advised not to fall foul of anachronism. Furthermore; it is known that after Iyase Amaze died in the hands of Oba Ohen (1384 AD) no king of Benin including Oba Ewuare appointed an Iyase until the time of Oba Orhobbua when he brought Eze of Issele-Uku (Obodoiken) to Benin in 1560 AD and appointed him Iyase. For a person to write and put lyase as a chief under Ewuare; would be an anachronism.

With the 12 points stated below, the historical accounts concerning the emergence of Ile Ife are spelt out so that vey thing can be seen in clearer perspectives.

1. Ife of Ooni Is Not the Same as Uhe of Oduduwa
Clarifications on this statement began with the records of the Portuguese of the 15th century AD which pointed to the Seat of Oduduwa, the Benin people’s Potentate of the Interior as lying Northeast of Benin City, through the popular Uhunmwode route. The Seat was located at Uduwa, the sacred Pilgrimage home on the plateau top of Uheland, near the Great River, Ohinmwi (Niger). In 1895, J.O. George, a Yoruba historian, wrote a book on this subject and titled it Historical Notes on the Yoruba Country and its Tribes. In this book, he warned that the town of IIe-Ife as seen in the present place should not be taken as the older Ife, which lay much farther in the interior and which among Benin people had gone by the name Uhe. In 1857, T. J. Bowen in his book Adventures and Missionary Labour (p. 265) had written that the old Ife was different from the current Ife, and that the old Ife lay close to the ‘Great Water’ as the River Niger was called. In 1934, Jacob Egharevba in his book, ‘A Short History of Benin wrote that the Benins, in coming to Benin-land, made a short stay in Ile-Ife which the Benin people call Uhe. A.F.C Ryder’s works show that Ile-Ife of Ooni is completely different from Uhe of Oghene Ogane) where Oduduwa was the ruler. This infact is where the Benins refer to in their history, and which Egharevba using Uhe interchangeably with Ife without bothering about how historians would set it out for use.

2. Oduduwa Is Not A Personal Name, It Is The Title Of The Theocratic Monarch Of Uhe, Seated At Uduwa
Uduwa (meaning ‘Heart of Life’) was the name given to the Seat of the House of Oghene at the eastern peak of the Uhe plateau which stretched from present day Etsakoland to the Iips of the River Niger in Kogiland, (Egharevba, Omoregie, Cole, E.A. Kenyo). Oduduwa derived its name from Ode-Uduwa (Way to Uduwa) which was the prerogative of the Uhe monarch who was the Vicar of Oghene (Giver God) in Uheland and the Benin people’s potentate of the interior. It is said that between the founding of the Seat of Oduduwa in 550AD by the first Oghene N’Uhe, and the beginning of the threats of Odomuomu (Atlantic Slave Trade) in 1550AD when the people had to stop all pilgrimage visits to the place, a total of 200 rulers (Oduduwa Un) sat on the Seat of Oduduwa in Ube. The first was Idu the progenitor of Edo people and the root of the worship of Erinmwidu, (the spirit of Idu), among his descendants. The second Oduduwa was Olukumi, the progenitor of Yoruba people. During the time of Ikaladerhan’s flight of Uhe, Oduduwa Obaloke was the ruler. During the time of Oliha Ighide’s Lice Test and Oranmiyan’s coming to Benin it was Oduduwa Obalufon (Egharevba, Omoregie). During the time of Ewuare’s famous pilgrimage to Uhe in 1450AD, it was Oduduwa Obasanyo (Egharevba, Omoregie) that was on the Seat of Oghene. During this time, Ife as a name for historical use, had not come into existence.

3 Ife Of Ooni Did Not Enter The Benin Story Until About I800AD, Some 900 Years After The Monarchy Of Benin Was Founded, And Some 600 Years After The Era Of Ikaladerhan.
This point is very important. It helps to save our writers from plunging into anachronism. If Ikaladerhan lived 600 years earlier than the emergence of the Ife of Ooni, then certainly the work of Omo N’Oba Erediauwa would have nothing to do with the Ife of Ooni, but with the Uhe of Oduduwa. Incidentally, partly because in the environment within which Egharevba wrote, he often liked to use Ife and Uhe interchangeably and partly because, linguistically, both Owa Uhe and Ile-Ife mean the same thing, there is the tendency for any ready to confuse them. Historians have strongly warned against giving room to this confusion.

4 Oyo Is The Centre Of Monarchical Development In Yorubaland. It Is Not Ife Of Oonl
In about 1185 AD after Oranmiyan had successfully managed a home breed strategy through a son of Beninland, for the termination of the Great Interregnum during the era of Oruoru, he was sent to Oyo by Oduduwa Obalufon who was the reigning monarch of Uhe. This was in response to the pleas of the Oyo traders and pilgrims who often came to Uhe and who noted the achievement of Oranmiyan in stabilizing the monarchy of Benin. They also wanted him to do a similar thing for them in Oyoland. During this period, nothing was known of Ife of Ooni.

5 There Was A Pre-Ife Period In Yorubaland In Which IIe Ife Did Not Feature
This period may be contemporaneous with Oyo. Oyo took the lead by being the first monarchical center in the land occupied by the descendants of Olokumi, later known as Yorubaland. From 1185AD after the historical contact with Oranmiyan, the pre-Ife community became known as Iguadimu ( Adimu’s Village) (Egharevba, Omoregie, Atanda).Jacob F. Ade Ajayi in his book, which was co-authored with Robert Smith, and titled Yoruba Warfare in the 19 Century (p.2), draws attention to the fact that Yoruba people were not originally Called Yoruba but were generally known as Olukumj people. This was what the Benin People knew them to be, and it was because Benin people knew the Yoruba in connection with Olukumi, who was younger brother of Oduduwa Idu, the progenitor of Edo people. Olukumi was the second person to reign as Oduduwa in Uheland. When the descendants of Olukumi began to spread out of Uheland in the 7 Century AD, they lived in contiguous locations to Idu people in their expanding habitable territory and would not want to run into conflict with, them. The descendants of Idu had preceded them in occupying the New Earth of Post-Iso Norho era (Cole, English, Omoregie, and Wiedner).

Between the 7th Century and the 18th Century AD, what came to be known as Ifeland was a cluster of differently named villages. They were skilled in crafts and works of art which developed as a foundation heritage for them as they carne from Uheland. It was not until about 1185 AD when Oranmiyan passed that village cluster on his way to Oyo (on the Oduduwa’s mission) to establish the Oyo monarchy that changes began to emerge in the fortunes of the Land which later became known as Ile-Ife. Oranmiyan stopped a while in the village. When he was continuing with his journey, he left an aide or a lieutenant, by name Adimu who settled there and organised a unification of the villages so that the place became known as Iguadimu (Adimu’s Vilage) (Egharevba, Omoregie, Atanda). The walking stick believably turned into a stone obelisk known as Okpo Oranmiyan which can still be found in Ile-Ife did not feature as a unit of any historical significance in Yorubaland. It’s emergence as Owa-uhe (meaning Ile-Ife in Yoruba) came into history as an accident of Odomuomu (the Atlantic Slave Trade) which ravaged the Bight of Benin in the years 1550-1750AD.

6 Ikaladerhan Had Nothing To Do With Ife Of Ooni, But Much With Uhe Of Oduduwa
Ikaladerhan (not Ekaladerhan) is the name. Ikaladerhan means Ike-aladerhan which is it is from the girth that wood is valued for purchase’. Ikaladerhan did not flee to Ife of Ooni. He fled to Uhe of Oduduwa and abdicated his rights to the throne of Benin after his father, Owodo (the last of the 31 Ogisos of Benin), had been deposed and ostracized by the Great Nobles for committing the crime of Kirikuvua (killing a pregnant woman). Whether he used the words Izoduwa and Ile-Ife would be immaterial, and infact a misconstruction which historians would not want to accept as a relevant piece of history.

Ikaladerhan fled to Uhe from his mother’s home at Errua and with him, his wife, Isere, and newly-born boy, Omonoyan whose name later changed to Oranmiyan. This was three years later after the deposition of Owodo in 1130AD. Ikaladerhan had suffered a death dealing pronouncement. Under his father, but was favoured by the executioners. He was advised not to head towards the mother’s home (Errua), but to move in the opposite direction, so that in case of a Royal search, he would not be easily picked up. He then went to Ughoton where he settled as Enogie by convention and got married to the daughter of the Odionwere. Her name was Okunhonwa but he preferred to call her Isere (meaning I have survived till today). He left Ughoton for Errua after his mother, Umeto, died and had to be buried in her hometown.

It is clear that when Ikaladerhan left Errua in Beninland for Uhe, he was no more in fear of death or his being urged back to return home in succession to his father. He had rejected it. Because by his father’s pronouncement of a death sentence on him, he considered himself dead to the throne. He took the Unumwode route to Uhe, following the Traders guards who went to and from Uhe, Ide, Idoma, Ozigono and Bida in regular market and pilgrimage trips during that time.

7. Ikaladerhan did not reign as Oduduwa of Uhe, Oranmiyan reigned as Oduduwa
Ikalderhan was force out of his father’s home in Benin (and into the death that never was) into the cook of his day in 1 127AD. His father, Ogiso Owodo, was forced out of his throne in the heat of a day in 1130AD after which he died in 1 133AD. Ikaladerhan fled on his way to Uhe in the rains of 1133AD to avoid the pressure on Ogiso. He argued that since the death-pronouncement was not lifted by his father, he was as good as dead to the Benin throne. Then the Great Interregnum followed which gave room to Evian (1130- 7OAD) and Ogiamie (1170-11 99AD) to lead the Benin nation Okaevbo.

Ikaladerhan fled to Uhe using the Uhunmwode route which since the 7th Century AD, traders and pilgrims, from Iduland, had regularly taken. The Oduduwa ruled from the centre of his theocratic council into which he absorbed for life, any of the erstwhile ‘Emigrants’ who sought to return to settle and be protected. It would have been possible for Ikaladerhan to reign as Oduduwa, but he died (1168) some 30 years before the reigning monarch himself died. Oranmiyan’s departure to Benin was thus delayed by Obalufon for the burial of his father, Ikaladerhan. Oranmiyan did not stay long in Benin, ostensibly because he did not find the political situation created by Ogiamie conducive for his coronation, but realistically, it was because he was eager to go back to Uhe to perform the rituals for succeeding his father as a member of the theocratic council with the possibility of being qualified to rule as Oduduwa.

Oranmiyan’s chances were further extended by Oduduwa Obalufon when in 11 85AD he was sent to Oyo to establish a monarchy for them and rule as the first king. The call for this elevation had been made by Oyo people themselves who came to Uhe as pilgrims and traders, after interactions with peoples of the post-Iso-Norho New Earth. Oranmiyan’s departure to Oyo in the 12th Century AD was thus the beginning of a new life for the people of the community in which IIe-Ife emerged to became the officially know in the 18th century AD as the spiritual centre of Yorubaland

Oranmiyan did not spend the rest of his life in Oyo. As he had done in Benin, he left behind a son whom he raised into position as the first Alafin of Oyo. He returned to Uhe as soon as information reached him that Oduduwa Obalufon had died (1198AD). When he arrived in Uhe in 11 99AD, he entered the theocratic council in awesome glory and was installed Oduduwa, the Oghene of Uhe. He died three years later, during which he spent a good time seeing that the two monarchies, Benin and Oyo, which he had set up had started to operate as he desired. (Egharevba, (Omoregie, Allison).

8. Ife of Ooni ls a Product of the forces of Odomuomu
The forces of Odomuomu began about 1550AD soon after the death of Oba Esigie Odomuomu is the Edo word for the Atlantic Slave Trade By this time the effects of the Papal BuIl (1494) by which the world was divided between Portugal for the African World and beyond, and Spain for the Western world, had begun to show in the demand for the use of slaves in the plantations of the western world. Slave dealers anchored their ships on the coasts of the Bight of Benin and employed slave marauders with handsome gifts to scout the interior for the slaves with which they filled their ships. Odomuomu was not an open war. It was seen by the people as the demon of secret human capture which Europeans generated and which could not be stopped at local level. As the marauders became rich by it, the chieftains joined in the hoarding of slaves for them so that they themselves could be rich also.

As sacred centres were being profaned in the process, the hallowed Stone of the House of God at Uduwa in Uhe was secretly taken out to an unknown centre. Uhe ceased to exist as the place where the reigning Oduduwa could be seen and where the pilgrimage tradition dating back to the 7th Century AD could continue to hold. It ceased to exist as the centre of the theocratic council with which the known socio-cultural world had been held together.

(Source: An editorial of institute of Studies and Preservation of Ubiniology (ISPU) News)

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