The Statement credited to Esogban in the palace of Oba of Benin that Oduduwa came from Benin and that Oba of benin is greater in position than any Yoruba Oba is a distortion of history.
During the findings on the above subject-matter of interwoven history,I dug out some salient facts and records that I feels and thinks as much that history will be kind to me,if I am able to put them on good record and to the knowledge of not only the Yoruba race,but the world at large.
For it is true that,the only debt we owe history is to re-write it and rekindle it's perspective without any attempt to distorting and/or tainting its facts in any form,shape and size.
In dabbling into the seeming "war of supremacy" between the Yoruba and Benin people,one does not have to be a trained historian,but it is absolutely necessary for one to consciously and cautiously adopt enough empirical evidences and historical references. These shall be revealed in the course of my submissions.Records don't lie.It is we human beings that lie in our efforts to distort history in trying to re-write it! But it is necessary for us to always pay our debts that we are owing history.Our fathers preserved our history for us and we are also duty bound to hand it over to the next generation.
It was indicated in one of the "Letters of Junius" (or Junius: Stat nominis umbra) - a collection of private and open letters from an anonymous polemicist Junius,as well as other letters in-reply from people to whom Junius had written between 1769 and 1772,that: "We owe it to our ancestors to preserve those rights,which they have delivered to our care and we owe it to our prosperity,not to suffer their inheritance to be destroyed."
Let us start our excursion to history with some indisputable records regarding the supremacy of Yoruba and by extension, Ile-Ife, over Benin Kingdom.I quote thus: "In 1916, when Aguobasimi was installed as Oba of Benin in place of his father who died in Calabar while on exile,and the royal messengers of the then Ooni of Ife - Oba Ademiluyi(aka Lawarikan),went to him after a series of earnest requests, they delivered Ooni's message thus:
"YOUR FATHER GREETS YOU." (See Nigerian National Archives:Oyo Prof. 1, File 133,24th May, 1916).
And listen to this: "The place called "Orun-Oba-Ado Bini" is the site from where great Oranmiyan set out to found the Yoruba Dynasty in Benin,and it is to here that the heads of the Kings of Benin were brought for burial.The head and nail pairings of King Adolo,the 34th Oba of Benin,who reigned between 1848AD to 1888AD was brought from Benin to Ife in 1888 AD, during the reign of Ooni Derin Ologbenla (1880–1894) - the last occasion on which the tradition was kept." - (See "Ife: The Genesis of Yoruba" p240-1), by Late Dr.(Chief) M. A. Fabunmi."
Note: Fabunmi was the Personal Secretary,for over 20 years or there about,to the Late Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife,who reigned for 50 years from 1930 - 1980.The late Ooni was born in 1891 and he died in 1980.
And again,in 1982,when the then Oba of Benin paid an official visit to Ile-Ife,a speech of welcome presented by Ooni to the Oba was at that time prepared for the Ooni by Prof.(Sabiru) Biobaku,and I think that the man or people who knew this are still alive.He was a former Vice-Chancellor of University of Lagos and a Professor of History (like Ade-Ajayi).Part of the speech read:
“We welcome Your Royal Highness most heartily back to Ile-Ife,the cradle of our common culture,the origin of your dynasty and ours.Today is really a very good day for us in us and its environs because since you left in 891 AD,we have come to know that your dynasty has performed wonderfully well."
Biobaku is not just an ordinary historian but one of the best Yoruba and African historians.
Oranmiyan - the famous and an unequaled Yoruba prince and warrior was the only Yoruba royal enigma to have ruled over Benin Kingdom,founded and became the very first Alaafin of Oyo and later came back to become the Ooni of Ife! He,it was who restructured Benin Kingdom,married in Benin,had two sons who later became Oba of Benin monarch. It is on record that Ogiso troubled dynasty was discarded and subsequent kings in Benin became known and addressed as "Oba" till date, based on the order established in Benin Kingdom by Oranmiyan.Even up to 1939,Yoruba language was the official palace language in Benin.No wonder then that many Benin families bear Yoruba names! And what about designs of the Benin palace after the renowned and historical Oduduwa palace in Ile-Ife?
And from Wikipedia comes this introduction: "The Ọọ̀ni of Ilé-Ifẹ̀ is the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife,whose dynasty goes back hundreds of years.Ife-Ifè is an ancient Yoruba people city in south-western Nigeria. Ọọ̀ni Lajamisan,who was the 8th Ọọ̀ni of Ile Ife,was a Son of Ọọ̀ni Oranmiyan, (Ọọ̀ni Oranmiyan was also The first Oba of Benin,First Aláàfin of Oyo and the Father of Oṣile of Oke-Ona Egba). Ọọ̀ni Lajamisan the son of Ọọ̀ni Oranmiyan,was also the Father of Ọọ̀ni Lajodoogun,the 9th Ọọ̀ni of Ile Ife,through whom the genealogy of all succeeding Ọọ̀nis of Ile Ife until the reigning Ọọ̀ni Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II,Arole Oduduwa and the Head of the Yoruba Nation,is traced down to Ọọ̀ni Odùduwà, The Ancestral Father of the Yorubas Globally."
From Oba (Dr) Adedapo Tejuoso’s 212 page book, titled: "Oranmiyan: What’s in a name?",I quote:"In Yoruba parlance,a name is given to signify situation of birth in a home,posterity,sense of character and projection into the future.
Oranmiyan was one of the seven sons of Okanbi,the only child of Oduduwa,and he reigned as the sixth Ooni of Ife.He was famed as a strong enigmatic leader,who led his people into a path of greatness that lasted several centuries,leaving a heritage that last till today.After several wars and conquests,and establishing the Benin and Oyo kingdoms,he was to later become the Ooni of Ife.The throne he held till he joined his ancestors."
It is my salient advice that,we must not allow ourselves to be hypnotized by the hollow rhetoric and any distortions of facts of history.We must not let any overpowering effluvium envelop our sense of history.
Before I draw curtain on this important historical argument,I want to borrow some facts from the submission of Kunle I Sowunmi, a Yoruba man of Abeokuta origin,who had earlier wrote from Dallas Texas, in the United States of America, in his writing titled: "Ile Ife - The Final Resting Place of History." And I quote, in extenso,"Ooni who is not a direct son or descendants of Oduduwa may not necessarily be considered viable in this discussion.Alafin of Oyo who is a descendant of the acceptable link between Yoruba and Edo 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 throne is a loss of right for Oranmiyan to his son in Benin but if the son (Eweka) and his descendants according to history continue to respect tradition and be buried at Ife or received blessing before being crowned then we can conclude that Ife is superior to Benin and Edo’s must have in fact originated from Ife.
The question is this:Can a son be greater than his father? No. Or can a river be greater than its source? No.Otherwise it will dry.
The fact of history of allegiance of Oba of Benin to Ile Ife the cradle of Yoruba race before being crowned and after death is an indication that Ife is the source of scientific and foolproof history to support this argument.
Otunba Peter Oladele Fatomilola
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