Ooni tackles Erediauwa on Yoruba history (Guardian)
THE argument over the history of the Yoruba and the Bini reached a new height yesterday with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II disputing an earlier claim that the Yorubas originated from Benin Kingdom.
The Ife monarch was reacting to a claim by the Oba of Benin, OmoN’oba Erediauwa, in his biography, “I remain Sir, Your Obedient Servant.” launched in Lagos last week that the Yoruba migrated from Benin.
Sijuwade spoke in Lagos yesterday at the launch of the memoirs of the wife of the late elder statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Hannah.
The Ife monarch stated that Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba race had no link with the Ogiso Dynasty in Benin history as claimed by Erediauwa. Rather, according to him, the Oba of Benin whose dynasty began in 1191 AD, was an Ife prince “who was lent to the people of Benin on their request after the rule of the Ogisos had ended in Benin history.”
Sijuwade’s statement read in part:
“At this juncture, it is just right to allow the entire world to know that the name Oduduwa, the founder of our dynasty and from where we derive the present title of Mama, can never be corrupted or bastardised by any living being in an attempt to create for himself an unnecessary distortion of historical fact.
Oduduwa the legend, the father of the bigger Yoruba dynasty, has no connection whatsoever with Ogiso dynasty in Benin history as portrayed by the Oba of Benin, because Oduduwa descended directly from heaven through a chain to where is now known as Ife today in company of four hundred deities.
Last Thursday, April 29, 2004, OmoN’oba Erediauwa, the Oba of Benin, goofed during the launching of his book entitled: “I Remain Sir, Your Obedient Servant”, in this same building where he described Oduduwa on Page 205 as one Ekalederhan, a Benin prince who had once escaped the community’s axe-man later reappeared in Ife after wandering in the bush from Benin for a very long time.
According to him, the same Ekalederhan, having become the ruler in Ife refused to go back to Benin on request but instead sent Oranmiyan his son basically on a “Home-coming mission” to start the present dynasty in Benin.
It will interest the public to know the facts about the Ife-Benin relationship which are as follows:
the Oba of Benin whose dynasty commenced in 1191 AD was an Ife prince borrowed to the people of Benin on their request after the rule of Ogisos have ended in Benin history.
It was a request that Ife must help to provide them with a ruler, then Oduduwa the legend decided to send prince Oranmiyan who established that dynasty and whose first son in Benin from a Benin woman was Owomika (Eweka) the progenitor of all Benin Obas, including OmoN’oba since 1191 AD.
Since Oranmiyan dynasty started in Benin all the heads of the Obas of Benin on demise were buried in Ife in a sacred place called “Orun-Oba-Ado” up to the year 1900.
records in the archives made it clear that since 1191 AD, the Ooni of Ife had to be informed, and clearance must be given by him on the new Oba of Benin to be installed up to 1916.
The official language in the palace of Oba of Benin till 1934 was Yoruba.
the father of the present Oba of Benin was a member of the House of Chiefs in the old western Nigeria under our late revered father, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, my predecessor and the first African Governor in the whole African continent.
The Oba of Benin should go and read what his forefathers told the Portuguese explorers during their visit to Benin on July 2, 1550 AD about the relationship between Ife and Benin. So, it is too late for OmoN’oba to rewrite our history.
The word Oba, which is part of any of Benin Oba’s title, shows clearly that they are from the bigger Yoruba Dynasty. It is rather too late in the day to rewrite our history, which cannot be backed with any documentary evidence.
I have to thank the Benin first historian Jacob U. Egharevba for his publications, which contained the correct account of the relationship between Ife and Benin, which the Oba of Benin is now condemning.
At this stage, Mama Mrs. H.I.D Awolowo you are Mama Oodua, covering the entire Yoruba nation both here and in diaspora, including the Benin kingdom where OmoN’oba Erediuawa by the grace of God is the Oba”.