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Yoruba and Benin Kingdoms: The missing gap of history

by Kunle Sowunmi

The source of Yoruba from Benin is very authentic.


THE statement credited to Oba Erediauwa Omonoba Uku Akpolokpolo, that the Yoruba race originated from Benin Kingdom, was very rich in details and calls for re-examination by historians of high repute from all the Nigerian Universities and recognised institutions not from uneducated and bias sources of chambers or shrines of some Obas or traditional rulers as presently being envisaged or contemplated. The statement from Ooni of Ife disputing the fact of Oba of Benin was not strong enough.
ries we were told about the origin of the Yoruba. As a Yoruba man from Abeokuta I was told Oduduwa was the first man created by God just like the Bible said Adam and Eve were the first to be created by God.

The Bible says Cain the only surviving child of Adam and Eve went to another city called Nod to marry his wife. The question is who created the wife, the wife's parents or the family of the in-law if any. Just like I asked in my innocent mind as a student in the primary school then who created Oduduwa and how did Oduduwa marry his wife? My Teacher never told me the answer. We were even told Oduduwa was the son of Lamurudu from Far East in Saudi Arabia and that some of our Yoruba cousin can be found in Uganda. Many conflicting stories which are very difficult to prove or binding on history.

These are some of the missing gaps of history.

Oduduwa had sixteen children we were told and the eldest was Orangun of Ila and the Egbas in Abeokuta were descendants of the female child of Oduduwa named Alaketu. None ever disputed the fact that Oranmiyan the last born of Oduduwa also ruled the Benin Kingdom.

Why did Benin allowed the last child of Oduduwa to be made a king over them or his descendants, if there was no blue blood connection? Oba of Benin gave a detailed account of fact of history that are very difficult to dispute.

The Yoruba share so many things in common with the Edo's in names and culture, which must be the reason why it is very difficult to dispute the version of Omonoba Uku Akpolokpolo

Again, to the Bible, Adam and Eve never told or shown Cain the only surviving child the Garden of Eden where God created them, just like Oduduwa never shown the place and real evidence how he was created by God.
Archeologically, the Yoruba race is not more than 2000 years meaning other tribes existed before the Oduduwa appearance. None availability of any other serious fact to negate this lend credibility to Oba Benin's version.

Two versions of history

Both version of History from Oba of Benin and Yoruba agreed that Oramiyan the last son of Oduduwa returned to Ife from Benin after he installed his son, Eweka the first as Oba of Benin. He met his father Oduduwa who was very advanced in age and blind, more also all
properties had been shared and distributed among his fifteen brothers and sisters. Alternatively, seven brothers according to Oba of Benin, Oduduwa was at a dilemma on what to do because he assumed Benin Kingdom would be enough as Oranmiyan's inheritance. Both version of history agreed that the name Benin meant "the land of the annoyed" because Oranmiyan left the place in annoyance. Again, Oba of Benin was right on this.

Oduduwa found an easy way out. He gave Oranmiyan his staff as symbol to show his brothers and sisters to be able to collect ten percent of revenue derived from yearly harvest through out Yoruba land. With this, Oranmiyan was able to collect over 150 percent of all the returns throughout the uncoordinated kingdom.

Oduduwa also grudgingly agreed to allow his last son Oranmiyan to be king at Ile Ife after his death. The reason for this was unknown as this was against the custom and tradition of giving priority to first child or son who was Ila of Irangun. On the other hand, could it be said that Orangun was too afraid to challenge his junior brother or Oranmiyan was indeed the senior? This is something the present Orangun of Ila should explain.

Oduduwa was primarily a priest and voodoo man. It is said until today that it is only one day that is free of ritual worship in Ile Ife and the day is never made public. Oduduwa took vacation just for one day. In one of the ritual ceremonies where nobody was allowed to be seen outside, a foreign woman of no means of tracing her background was captured and was to be used as sacrifices for the gods. She was later spared because she was found to be pregnant beside, it was against ritual requirement. The child from the woman was dedicated to the gods and act as a servant to assist Oduduwa in his day-to-day ritual and voodoo job. The child was named Ooni: meaning "this is Spared One"

After the death of Oduduwa his son, Oranmiyan was invited to take over the job of his father, which was primarily ritual and voodoo, as well as traditional ruler of Ile Ife. Oranmiyan refused because he had succeeded in building an economically viable place at Oyo Ile with administratively sound method of government around the Oyomesi council in chief and it would be degrading to leave this and move to Ile Ife to be involved in daily ritual sacrifices.

Oranmiyan gave a condition that he must be buried at Ife to symbolize his right to Ife thrown. It was on condition of this that Ooni the son of the slave woman that was captured and dedicated to gods that was assisting Oduduwa continued the work of Oduduwa at Ife. This is the reason why Alafin of Oyo will never accept Ooni of Ife as a king or a superior in any Yoruba gathering of Obas.Ooni's assumed superiority was a British creation because the King of England assumed a king at Ife, the cradle of Yoruba, must be superior to all Obas just like the British did in Abeokuta by imposing Alake's superiority over other Obas at Abeokuta. In case of Egbas, Sorunke who led the Egbas from Ibadan to the present Abeokuta was from Oke Ona, where Oba Tejuoso is the King. This is the reason why there is conflict between Alake and Osile till date.

Oranmiyan was buried at Ife and not at Oyo, which is the reason for the Opa Oranyan at Ife till today. Ooni was not a true son or direct descendant of Oduduwa and his title was not recognised. Ooni was just his name, which became his title. Ooni like other Yoruba Obas paid duties to Oranmiyan during and after the death of Oduduwa.

This practice stopped after the Oyo Empire was destroyed. It is rather difficult to accept the Ooni's version as against the Omonoba Polopolo. Oranmiyan was a belligerent person. A war hero and where his brothers and sister refused to give the yearly ten percent duty as agreed with the staff of Oduduwa he would use force. He later appointed his representatives in each of the kingdoms of Yoruba to monitor the returns, thus the creation of Oyo Empire that led to the end of the kingdom Oduduwa created which was not properly coordinated. The new empire
grew with amazing rapidity throughout West Africa and was like the Ghana or Shonghai Empire of the medieval history in the south of Sahara. Oyo Empire started slave trade to weaken opposition.

An administration like the British

Oranmiyan's administration was the best in Africa and could be likened to the British system of Administration during the colonial government. The empire expanded up to the present Benin republic. Those who escaped the control of Alafin are the Yorubas living in Benin Republic, which was formerly Dahomey, On the East side, Oranmiyan never bothered Benin Kingdom because of his son, and his son never looked for him. At least there was no record of history of any transaction between father and son.

Benin Kingdom continued to progress and Oyo Empire continued to expand to the west coast. In Lagos, there could not be a clash, it was a place of reunion for Edo's and Yoruba it was said Eko, which is Lagos, and in our local dialect is a Benin word.

Oyo Empire later suffered from over expansion and some local hero started to emerge to challenge the authority of the Oyo kingdom or that of the Alafin of Oyo. Among them was the Lisabi Agboagbo Akala who liberated the Egbas from Oyo Empire to create a fearless Egba Kingdom.

Lisabi was never a king. In fact, he was murdered by the Alake of Egbaland because of his popularity. Egbas as a kingdom with its own National Anthem "Lori Oke ati Pele" was merged with Nigeria by the British Empire after 1914. In addition, Lagelu emerged from Ibadan, Ogendegbe from Ijeshaland and Shou of Ogbomosho and Ilorin through the deserter Chief of Army Staff of Oyo who was killed by Alimi a Fulani; thus, the end of Oyo Empire. The attack from the Sokoto Caliphate from the North finally nailed the coffin of the Oyo Empire. The collapse of the Oyo Empire led to the Yoruba Wars. The present Oyo town has nothing to do with Old Oyo town; it was just a new creation to symbolize the memory of the Old.

The Egbas and Ijebus took over the control of southwest towards the Atlantics because of lucrative slave trade and closeness to the white man. The emergence of western civilization further weakened the Old Oyo empire, the empire collapsed and the ruminants of it can still be found at the old site. The irony of it is Alafin of Oyo in the present Oyo town continued to live in the memory of his ancestors' glory of the Old Oyo Empire.

In conclusion, Ooni who is not a direct son or descendants of Oduduwa cannot be considered viable in this discussion, but Alafin of Oyo must examine his place in history and that of his senior brother Orangun of Ila the first son who had disappeared into history because he never challenged Oranmiyan. The abdication of the thrown is a loss of right. However, can a son be greater than his father? Or can a river be greater than its source? The source of Yoruba from
Benin is very authentic than Saudi Arabia or Lamurudu, which cannot be traced, in Saudi Arabian history.
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