Re: Omo N’oba Vs Ooni On Oduduwa’s Origin

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Written by David I. Okuaro ( Friday June 4, 2004) (Last Update June 17, 2021)

Newspaper publications on the origin of Oduduwa have been quite exciting and surprising, with some noted scholars demonstrating ignorance of the Benin’s origin of Oduduwa,
Historical authors (Interviewees), like Associate Professor Hakeem Haruna, Dr. Dele Adeoti, and Professor J. F Ade Ajayi (in the New Age of 6 (Page 1), 7 (Page 1) and 1 G (Page 3), May 2004 and PUNCH of 10t May, 2004. Page 56 should know that the claim by Omo N’Oba on the origin of Oduduwa (the founder of Ife and Yorubas) was neither a “new input” nor “new angle to history” nor “mere hypothesis”.

The claim by the Omo N’Oba has been published in the past in many history books, Federal Government of Nigeria posters as well as in Benin oral history, and folklores: Benins (or Oba’s) institutionalized traditional festivals on the departure of and search for Oduduwa from Benin, the visitations of Benin Chiefs led by the Oliha of Benin to Oduduwa at Ife, Oranmiyan’s representation of Oduduwa to Benin, the birth of Eweka I of Benin, and the coronation of Eweka 1 and all subsequent Benin Obas including the present Omo N’Oba N’Edo, long may he reign. The claim by the Omo N’Oba can be founding the following books and in posters viz:

1. The story of Nigeria by Michael Crowder (Faver and Faver, London- Boston), Chapter 3, Page 7 States:.... that Oduduwa was an eastern prince driven out of his Kingdom. After long wandering, he conquered the local inhabitants of Ife, where he settled.

2. People & Empire of West Africa: West African History (1 000- 1800) by C T. Stride, Caroline Ifeka (with advice from prof. J. F Ade Ajayi), and Page 308 states that: “...Owodo also suffered from the fact that although he had many wives, he only had one son. Eventually, an oracle pronounced that the son should be executed so that the other wives would be able to conceive. Instead, Owodo arranged for the son to be banished,
Note: Ogiso Owodo was the father of Oduduwa (the son in the text)

3. Federal Government of Nigeria posters of some traditional legends exhibited in the High Commission in London and by extension other embassies round the world. The poster of Ododuwa has the following inscription:”... The Yoruba believe he (Oduduwa is the father of the Yoruba and progenitor of all Yoruba Obas and the Oba of Benin., The Benins believe that he Oduduwa, is a Benin prince called EKALADERHAN who was banished by his father the Ogiso of Benin. His name, the Benins claim is derived from ‘Iduduwa’ a Benin word meaning fortune path...

4. Some Facts about Great Benin (1979) and the Benin Monarchs and their period of reign - A publication of Oba’s Palace.

5. Many short story books in Benin languages for primary/secondary school pupils/students.

6. Say more on Ife Benin Dynasty, Sunday Times, October 20, 1991, page 10.

7. ‘lIe-Ife’ by Kokunre Agbontaen, WEEKEND OBSERVER, Saturday July 4, 1991, page 10.

8. IIe-Ife A rejoinder, WEEKEND OBSERVER, Saturday, September 19, 1992, page 10

9. A film on Ogiso Owodo (the father of Oduduwa) titled:
The Trials of Ogiso Owodo and Reviewed in The NIGERIAN OBSERVER, Thursday, April 22,1993.

10. The Making of a Dynasty, Edo National (Monthly Periodical), December 2003, page 8.

11. Event Magazine, 23 March 2004, page 8, The Scholars should have known that:

¡. The Ooni of Ife was not one of the Sons of Oduduwa (proved in 1991, Newswatch, March25, 1991 and p31; National Concord, Wed., March 31, 1991 and other dailies)

¡¡. In the history of Yoruba (or Oyo) Empire, Ooni of Ife was a Chief Priest to the Alaafin of Oyo (the King of Yoruba).
The Colonial Government, too, recognised Alaafin as the King of Yoruba. Therefore, the sitting position (in 1937 Conference at Oyo) would not have made Ooni of Ife to be superior to neither the Omo N’Oba nor Alaafin.

A large part of the old Benin Empire was part of the Western Region created by the colonial government. The House of Chiefs (The Comet, May 4, 2004, page 3) of Western Region in the 1950’s was for the promotion of Ife and Ooni of Ife as the Ooni was the backbone and patron of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and in the founding of the Action Group Party and its governance of the Region even to the extent of sending the Alaafin (the King) of Yoruba Empire into exile. Akenzua II, the Oba of Benin restricted attendance to the House of Chiefs and intensified demands for MID-WEST Region.

Note that Oranmiyan became the Oba of Ife after the passing away of his father (Oba Oduduwa), Omo N’Oba and Benins have a festival for the celebration of the spirits of all past Obas of Benin including Eweka I They do not celebrate Oduduwa and Oranmiyan spirits because, they were not Obas of Benin, but princes of Benin. They are however honourably remembered with attendant promises made to them.

It is really difficult to understand scientifically and mystically how in the 12th century, during the peak periods of the Roman Catholic Empire of Europe, and after Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ (the beloved Son of God), Roman Empire, Babylonia Empire, Egyptian Pharaohs, Kush Empire, etc. that a person could fall down or climb down a chain with 400 deities from heaven. Was it the Heaven of God or imaginary heaven?

J. F. Ade Ajayi and Ade Obayemi were not that very convinced of the origin of Oduduwa from Heaven by their conclusion in their book, History of West Africa (1976 vol. 1 page 213) as quoted below:

“..the Ile-Ife accounts had also tried to establish an outside origin for Oduduwa. Some accounts say that Oduduwa came from the east, but as far as the concrete evidence goes, this is unlikely to be further field than Ora hill to the north-east of Ile Ife city.AS TO HOW HE GOT TO ORA HILL, THE BEST WE CAN OFFER IN THE PRESENT STATE OF OUR KNOWLED IS TO STAY WITH ONE VERSION OF THE TRADITION THAT THEY CAME FROM ORUN (HEAVEN)”

Anyway, only a truly and beloved son can know his father, grandfather, and ancestors better than any other person. A father can only reveal the totality of his mystical history/ existence to his true and beloved son(s) more than to a servant, no matter how beloved  that servant maybe to his master unless may be to his master unless, may be, the mystical man had no child and the servant becomes more or less an adopted child. Oduduwa certainly shrouded himself in mysteries against those who did not know his origin.

History is not a fiction in records of facts and events of the past, including yesterdays. History is a universal subject and not a tribal bias. Some historians like to leave vacuum in their stories. Oduduwa (the founder of Ife and the Yoruba race) could not have climbed down with 400 deities from Heaven in the 12th Century. Egharevba must have been a hypothetical historian by publishing that-

¡. The origin of Benins was from Egypt.

¡¡. Ooni of Ife was a son of Oduduwa; and

¡¡¡. Other hypothetical fallacies.

From Dr, Adeoti’s claim, historians should also reveal how the Benin Palace and the Benins in 1934 could change their 800 years old language (Yoruba) to another language without any semblance with the pre- 1934 language. How is this possible? A mystery too?
Omo N’ Oba is the principal person to know the origin of Oduduwa because, from the time of Eweka 1, the event of the journey to and from Oduduwa/Oranmiyan became part of the coronation rites (and festivals) of any Oba of Benin and it is from that rite that Omo N’Oba chooses his title. Historians should have known that! But they can be exonerated because the coronation of an Oba of Benin may not be experienced throughout the life time or active scholarship of the Historians.

(Source: The Nigerian Observer Friday June 4, 2004)

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