The Edo Understanding Of Oduduwa
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By Chief Nosakhare Isekhure( Friday June 18, 2004) (Last Update June 16, 2021)

In my reaction to the “controversy” over the origin and personality of Prince Ekaladerhan, who the Benin history recognises as the profound ruler in Uhe (Ife), it is for me an undue application of terms to refer to what the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, late Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin, recounted in his book with reference to the status of Izoduwa corrupted as Oduduwa by Yoruba historians as a ‘controversy’

What is being referred to, as “Yoruba origin controversy” as papers and people have referred to it, is a misnomer? The Oba of Benin did not speak or write about the history of the Yoruba as a people, he only reaffirmed the monarchical relationship between what we call “Uhe” and what the Yoruba call “Ife” vis- a -vis the emergence of the then kingship system thereon. For the purpose of this write up, I seek to address specifically the assertions made by Prof. Ade Ajayi in a newspaper interview.
While the Yoruba people have their inalienable right to look to Ife for their origin, the Benin people also exercise the same inalienable right not to look to Ife for any significant material about their origin because both nationalities have ancestors who had left behind, evidence of their respective origin. Prof. Ajayi quoted the monarch as saying that, a Benin historian, Jacob Egharevba, wrote a book whose fourth edition was edited in Ibadan. It must be emphasized that the Oba never cast aspersions on anyone or group of persons, particularly the Akoko - Edo people. What the Oba said was that, Egharevba was an Edo- Akure person.

Prof, Ajayi said the account of the Oba of Benin, as recorded in the book, is not the correct position of things regarding Oduduwa and that from his point of view, it was a departure from his status to say that Ife monarch was derived from Benin monarch. This position that the Oba was playing politics was a misguided presumption. The term “politics” has the highest virtues in human interaction.

Where there is no politics, there is anarchy, and where there is anarchy, there cannot be polities. Only dead people don’t engage in politics.

Our position is that, the story told and recounted in Erediauwa’s book remains in absolute terms the position of the Benin people worldwide about Benin/Ife connection.

In academies, a superior argument takes precedence over an inferior one. The right to historical accounts fail within the inalienable rights of self expression, freedom to pursue knowledge and exert it to create a more just and enlightened society. The Benin people have no business writing the history of the Yoruba and the Oba of Benin has not done that either. The Yoruba cannot write the history of the Benin people either.

However, there is a link between Ekaladerhan and Ife Kingdom and Ekaladerhan’s mission explanation is what the Oba merely recounted in his book, in spite of the fact that several other publications have recounted the same stories over and over again in the past 100 years. This argument is relevant to the point of admitting that Oduduwa”, according to the Yoruba, is a mythical person.

For the Edo/Benin people, Ekaladerhan, the son of Ogiso Owodo, the last Ogiso in that dynasty, was a real person with pedigree.

It is on record that when any Oba of Benin is visiting the Ooni for the first time, on arrival at the palace, the Ooni slaughters a black cow and a dog in a designated place at the palace where the Oba would pass through into the palace chamber. The current Ooni wrote Erediauwa seeking his confirmation of some special rites so that he could prepare duly when he was about to receive his staff of office.

In fact, the Oba of Benin, in his response to the Ooni, confirmed the validity of the rites. As a matter of historical records, Ooni Adesoji Aderemi performed the same ritual when Oba Akenzua II visited Ife during his reign.

As a matter of putting the records straight, it must be added that Prince Ekaladerhan was not the first ruler of Ife because he met a group of village with their heads in the area. When he emerged from the bush, he was led to the village head who arranged to provide him with a place to stay among the indigenes. It was Ekaladerhan’s wits and special training obtained from his royal background from Benin that made him so outstanding such that after the village head was deposed by the UHE (Ife) people, Ekaladerhan or Oduduwa was chosen to lead the people. Ekaladerhan did not give birth to the pronounced Yoruba race. They had existed as an independent nationality.

This is the true position and according to the Oba of Lagos, “The Oba of Benin cannot lie.”

(Source: The punch Friday June 18, 2004)

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