Yoruba history has been written and re-written many times by pundits and pseudo-pundits through such fields as history, archeology, traditional religion, mythology, language, Christianity and Islam, among others. Who are the Yorubas and where was their origin? A recourse to Wikipedia in this regard for knowledge showed that the ancient Yorubas settled at Ile-Ife about 700BC but that they were migrants (See: History of the Yoruba people, www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoruba_people).
The Ifa mythology holds that the Yoruba race came down from heaven on a solid platform (earth) separated from waters (See: Yoruba History, http://www.cultural-expressions.com/ifa/ifahistory.htm). The latter version is in partial agreement with the teachings of the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Whether this was an adaptation of the Holy Bible by early Christian converts or an attempt by the traditionalist to find a counter measure or draw a parallel to the Genesis story of creation is subject to speculation.
The position of Olokun Festival Foundation supports the above concept with little modifications. This Foundation asserted that God sent both Oduduwa and Obatala on an errand into the world to establish the Yoruba nation landmass. But before completing the mission, the latter met with a group of palm wine drinkers and joined them while the former went ahead to complete the mission. Oduduwa was said to have sprinkled some sand on the waters and then dropped the chicken he was holding on it. The chicken then spread the sand on the waters and the earth was formed. Upon completing the mission, he ascended to heaven with a chain through which he descended. His second coming also with a cahin from heaven and he was to rule over the region of land previously created as well as the people living on it (See: The History of Oodua, Olokun Festival Foundation Research Unit Source, Ile-Ife, www.ooduapeoplescongress.org/ooduahistory.html).
But it must be noted that some Yoruba scholars and religionists do not share the Foundation’s and Ifa mythology concepts due perhaps to their religious inclinations (See: Yoruba people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoruba_people). Included in this religious group were those who believed that the Yorubas came from Quraish tribe in Mecca or were descendant of Ya’rub the son of Qahtar in Yemen (See: The Arab Origin of the Yorubas – Culture, http://www.nairaland.com/627276/arab-origin-yorubas). Yet another version had it that the Yorubas came with Oduduwa from Mecca after they were forced out through religious persecution. And that Oduduwa met Oreluere at Ile-Ife who accommodated him. He eventually ruled over Oreluere (See: History of the Yoruba People, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_yoruba_people).
There were other scholars who believed that the Yoruba race came from south of Egypt after being involved in wars that ultimately led to their migration to the present abode. Some even claimed that the Yoruba settled somewhere in the present day Delta State before some of their kindred migrated to Ile-Ife (See: Olomu and Eyebira, Yoruba: The Egyptian Connection, http://www.raceandhistory.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/2139). The same writers showed that about 500 language similarities exist between the Yorubas and some parts of ancient Egypt thus supportive of the Egyptian connection theory.
Still some other argued that the Yorubas were of “Afro-Asia” origin. For instance, “…the Ijebus are Canaanites of old. The Edos are also Canaanites. The Oyos are Kushites of Old and so is Ife the Kushites of old. There are several independent researchers, none of them with any personal interest in Yoruba who have clearly said that Yoruba is an Afro Asia root. Even a former Caliph (Sultan) of Sokoto even wrote a book in which he clarified it” (See comments on: Origin of Ifa – Culture, http://www.nairaland.com/733193/origin-ifa).
Another version holds that the Yorubas originated from Edo or Benin because of an established link between Oduduwa, Oranmiyan and Eweka who later became the Oba of Benin. A Benin prince, Ekaladerhan, was said to have been banished by his father – the last Ogiso – the reigning King then. It went further that the prince was accepted by the Yorubas and made as the first King in Ile-Ife. This made him to say “Izoduwa” implying that had found a desired homeland in place of Benin. It concluded that it was this “Izoduwa” that metamorphosed to “Oduduwa”. At the demise of the last Ogiso, the Benins searched for Ekaladerhan and wanted him to return to Benin as a King.
He was said to refuse this offer but preferred to send his son, Oranmiyan, instead. Oranmiyan reigned briefly and left Benin in annoyance referring to the town as “Ile-Ibinu” implying a vexatious land, “land of the annoyed”. The word “Ile-Ibinu” was corrupted to “Ubinu” by their Itshekiri and Uhrobo neighbours and later “Benin” by Portuguese explorers. Oranmiyan’s son Eweka was eventually crowned as Oba Eweka 1 (See: Kunle Sowumi – Yoruba and Benin Kingdoms: The Missing Gap of History, www.edo-nation.net/sowumi1.htm; Also Naiwu Osahon – Oduduwa’s Controversy, www.edofolks.com).
Almost supportive of the above assertion was Mr. Eghareva who stated in an interview on May 3, 1975 that “…Oduduwa was not a Yoruba man. Oduduwa found the Yorubas already living in Ife when he arrived” (See: Ewaen Edoghimioya – Re: Yoruba origin Controversy: Prof Ade-Ajayi’s view is politicized, ethnicised and antihistorical, www.edo-nation.net).
The article “Alafin of Oyo or Sijuade of Ife – Cultural (1)” and the many comments on it threw up some other contentious issues just like all the references given earlier. Some argued that the Ooni of Ile-Ife was superior to the Alafin of Oyo while some gave opposing reasons - all in relation to how the Yorubas arrived and settled down in these two ancient towns. For instance, it was argued that the crown was taken to Oyo-Ile from where the present Oyo migrated. Some argued that the key to spiritual worship with the deities resided in Ile-Ife as the Ooni of Ife was by tradition the only person saddled with the responsibility of dealing with these deities (See: Alafin of Oyo or Sijuade of Ife – Culture (1), www.nairaland.com/.../1).
Some pundits believed that Oduduwa had only one child, Okanbi. Some others said he had seven children who later became kings as “Alaketu of Ketu”, “Onipopo of Popo”, “Oranmiyan of Ila”, etc. Yet some others believed that he had sixteen children and that the Egbas were direct descendants of the Alaketu, a female (See: Kunle Sowumi – Yoruba and Benin Kingdoms: The Missing Gap of History, www.edo-nation.net/sowumi1.htm). Undoubted, all the contradictions listed above and those excluded cannot be right at the same time. This shows how the history of the Yoruba race has been badly battered. How do we know the right one or ones and hence reject the wrong one or ones? How do know we know whether all the writings were mere fabrications and had nothing to do with the Yoruba history?
Does a statement become truth because it comes out of the professor’s workshop, a traditionalist’s oracle, a historian’s artifacts, legendary kingship, intuition, religious template or political abracadabra? NO! I shall endeavour to examine most of these contractions in history in perspective and find a reasonable answer to the Yoruba origin question.
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