OLD EDO HISTORIANS
Ademola Iyi-eweka, Ph.D
someone reads the Holy Bible, for example, the picture one gets is a "
one continuous story from Genesis to Revelation." When
the trained mind in
historical and religious analysis goes through it, he finds strata and
combination of stories-not one story line. A reading of
1 and 2 will show what we are talking about here. The untrained mind sees
both chapters just as one continuous whole-the creation of the world with "
man being created last." But when the student of history
subject the same
chapters to analysis, then the picture of more than one story comes into view.
Genesis Chapter 1 through chapter 2 verse 3 shows the first story of
creation with man being created last.
Genesis Chapter 2 verse 4 shows man being created first and all other things
What the old Jewish biblical writers did as they codified the bible, was
that they simply tried to mix different stories together, which they may
have gathered from different sources. In this case, they were trying to
up stories from both the NORTHERN KINGDOM and SOUTHERN KINGDOM of Israel
together. Their main purposes was to tell the world, how God (
dealt with the Israelites. They never knew that a time would come,
their writings would be subjected to scrutiny, as we now do.
The Rev Samuel Johnson, Rev Lucas, Chiefs Egharevba and Oronsaye wrote like
the biblical codifiers. From all historical accounts, the attempt to
the Yoruba and Edos to Mecca and Egypt began in the late 18th century.
It all began with the popular Hausa traditional historiography approved by
the Sokoto Caliphate which described the " Yoruba-Oyo" people as
having a common ancestory in Arabia. The Yorubas founded Ilorin.
Hausas have had hundred of years of trading relationship with Yorubas of
Ilorin and Oyo. The name Yoruba was given to them by the Hausas who called
them YABA YABA or YOBA. The original name of the yoruba language was
ANAGO. Many Hausas lived in Ilorin and Oyo. Many were in the
of the Alaafin of Oyo and Ilorin between 15th and 19th century. Many
in the Old Oyo, known as KATUNGA. How Ilorin and
Old Oyo eventually fell
to the Hausa/Fulanis has been retold in many in books.
When Clapperton visited Sultan Bello of Sokoto ( the son of Uthman Dan Fodio
) he told him of the Arabic ancestory of the Yorubas ( Oyo Yorubas)
Clapperton wrote it down in his note book. Rev Samuel Johnson
story with two layers of time-scale in his HISTORY OF THE YORUBAS. He
to reconcile the " Ife version of the history of the Yorubas with
the Oyo version." He created an unwieldy pan-yoruba history
which has a
very strong Oyo-centric perspective. That was how the Hausa version
yoruba history got into the main-streamed yoruba history which has been fed
to generations of Nigerians. It was in that book the ancestory
Edos was first mentioned. Rev. Olumide Lucas merely built on the
foundations laid by Rev, Samuel Johnson.
The Mecca or Egypt version is not the " YOURBA TRADITION." It is
imposition popularised by the 20th century nationalistic and pan-yoruba
Talbot, the authority cited by Chief Egharevba had access to Clapperton's
notes. Chief Egharevba himself had access to both Talbot and Rev.
Johnson who wrote with the UNITY OF THE YORUBAS in mind and a link to
and Egypt. Chief Egharevba wrote with the UNITY OF EDOS in mind.
Lucas was to Rev Johnson, so too was Chief Oronsaye to Chief Egharevba.
these men were pioneers in the field they had little or no training for and
they did their best.
The last twenty or more years have seen Yoruba historical academicians,
moving away from the Mecca, Medina, Egypt and Nubian stories. We are
surprised that some Edo writers are still stuck in this
Egypt/Mecca/Medina/Nubia " MUD " of history.
It might be neccessary for some of us to read the following on the history
of the Yoruba and Edo origins:
--Akinjogbin and Ayandele: " Yorubaland before 1800 " in
the Groundwork of Nigerian History, edited by Obaro Ikime.
--Ade Obayemi: Yoruba, Edo and the etc : History of West Africa ( Vol.1 )
edited by J.F. Ade Ajayi and Michael Crowther
--Thurstan Shaw: " Nigeria: Its Archaeology and Early History (
---Graham Connah: The Archaeology of Benin.
There are other books out there
Ademola Iyi Eweka.