ORAL TRADITION OF
The story of the relationship between the people known as the EDOS and the
YORUBAS have been discussed in different format on many occasions. For many
years, the Obas of Benin and the Oonis of Ife have maintained their silence,
leaving academicians and politicians to argue it out among themselves. But
for the first time in the history of these two ruling houses, they
have started talking about the history of the relationship between the
two traditional rulers. From Prince Edun Akenzuas speech. you can hear the
traditional rulers say it as they know it. Omo n' Oba n' Edo, Uku
Erediuwa's recently published book have again restated what most scholars
trying to say all these years.
The publication of the speech and this new book would help most researchers
understanding the fact that, there are two oral traditions about the man
ODUDUWA OF ILE-IFE. Both traditions exists in theYoruba land and Edo land. A
examination will show some similarities and dissimilarities. But
Yoruba writers who have been in the fore front of writing about this
subject, tended to do
it as if no other tradition existed. Whlie many have been looking for the
track left behind
by Oduduwa's soldiers, as they marched to conquer the EDOS, some have merely
described the EDOS as sub-branch of the Yoruba ethinic group. The
rejects both positions. They have consistently argued that the man ODUDUWA
other person than Prince EKALADERHAN, the runaway son of OGISO OWODO of
IGODOMIGIDO. OWODO was the last ruler with the title of OGISO before the
of the present dynasty in Benin. It looks as if it is necessary now to
recount some of the
tales on how Ekaladerhan ended up at UHE ( ILE-IFE). Ekaladerhan had been
accused by Queen Esagho as being responsible for the inabilitiy of his
father's wife to bear
other male children. Queen Esagho had bribed or intimidated others who went
oraclist with her into silence. The oracle had actually declared Queen
Esagho as the culprit
and demanded that she should be killed. But some of the executioners who
knew the truth,
spared Ekaladerhan in the jungle and advised him to run for his life.
rested at Ughoton for some time and then moved westwards to a place the
world call UHE (Ile-Ife). The truth about what the oracle decreed came out
Esagho was executed but Ogiso Owodo died childless, regreting what he did to
son and heir until the end. The fact Ekaladerhan existed is shown to this
day when an Edo
man, especially those living near and around Benin City, declare an
inclement weather or a
very dull day, "EKALADERHAN'S DAY." For it said that when Ekaladerhan was to
being taken to the forest for execution, the Edos were filled with mourning
and the day
was very dull. Therefore any dul day is called Ekaladerhan's day.
But of all yoruba academicians, only one of them came close to unearthing
of the man, called the ODUDUWA of Yoruba land.
"From what we are able to gather from research work on the early
history of the Yoruba, we learn that the personage who has been given the
the name ODUDUWA was the powerful leader whom the nucleus of a strand of the
present Yoruba race migrated into this land from their original
home........It is not certain what his original name was; but it could not
have been Oduduwa.......But during the course of history, his figure has
become wrapped in legend to the extent that we can now dimly discern the
concrete outlines of the original.......
We learn from oral traditions that when Oduduwa arrived in Ile-Ife, there
was already a community of aboriginal people under the headship of ORELUERE"
The writer was Rev. Professor Bolaji Idowu, former head of the Department of
Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria AND fomer head of the
Methodist Mission in Nigeria in his book, OLODUMARE.
The Edo people have always argued, that Ekaladerhan changed his name to what
is known today as Oduduwa for security reasons. He has just escaped
execution at the hands of his own people by God's providence. In Benin City
and all over
Edo-speaking world of today, ODUWA-path to progress, is a very active word.
if you add
the following prefix of IZ, ID, you have the following names-IDODUWA,
IZODUWA-all active Edo names. Then you also have OGHODUWA/OGHODUA-an
attribute or the name of the almighty God, the creator of the universe or
IGHODUWA-I saw the path of progress. OKODUWA is a very active names among
the Esans (Ishan)
And depending on which dialect of the Edo group you are translating from, it
could mean (a) Idoduwa-I have bought /missed the path of progress. (b)
Izoduwa-I have chosen the path of progress. When you add all of the above,
including Bolaji Idowu quotation, to the the following statements credited
to the Yoruba tradition about Oduduwa:
a) The man Oduduwa trekked form Mecca or somewhere from the Middlle East in
90 days ( North-East)
(This is an impossible feat, but Igodomigodo-ancient Benin City is East of
b) He stoped only once to rest at OGHO modern Owo town in Ondo state of
( Ogho/Owo is a half way house for a man running away from some pursuers
from Benin City. It is about 70 miles from Benin City and almost the same
distance to Ile-Ife. Owo was on the fringe of the ancient Benin Kingdom. A
run away Benin prince will certainly keep moving until he gets to a place
where his identity can not be revealed. Ogho is the Edo name for the city.
And Owo man does not call himself the son of Owo but OGHO. Owo was part and
parcel of the ancient Benin/Edo Empire. The legendary ASORO of the Benin
1897 was an Owo crown prince )
c) Oduduwa came from the sky in a chain ladder
OGISO means king from or of the sky in Benin City.
(Ogiso was the title of Ekaladerhan's father-Ogiso Owodo of Igodomigodo It
undestandable for Ekaladerhan would tell the people he met at Uhe, that he
came from the
sky since that was what OGISO meant .
d) And other land marks in Benin City about the man Ekaladerhan
e) Oduduwa is the ancestor of the Yoruba race.
What happened to ORELUERE, the leader of the aboriginal community that was
at Uhe/Ile Ife? Did Oduduwa come to Ile-Ife alone? If not, what happened to
his followers? What happened to the aboriginal community at Ile-Ife? Which
names sounds yoruba (ANAGO)-Oreluere or Oduduwa
f) According to the Oni of Ife, Oranyan/Oronmiyan came to Benin in about
This means that ODUDUWA came from the sky about 1100 AD. Is the Oni Ife
yoruba race began in the 1100's AD?. Yoruba archeological history does not
suggestion. It also mean that Ile-Ife did not have a monarchial
institution until Oduduwa
arrived there. The question then is, why would the Edo-speakimg world with
years in monarchial experiment now appeal to an upstart monarchial
institution for a king,
if there were no prior relationship with the king? We are already aware that
Johnson's book, "The History of the Yorubas" was not only Oyo-centric but
influenced by European writers account of the history of the yorubas as
recounted to them
by Sultan Bello of Sokoto and his men.
Therefore you may have to come to the conclusion that the Yoruba Oduduwa is
the same as Ekaladerhan of the Edos.
The man who came to Benin City known as ORONMIYAN/ORANYAN (OMONOYAN)
was a Yoruba man. Even though his father Oduduwa may have been an Edo man,
a Yoruba mother. The language he understood was yoruba (ANAGO). The men and
women who travelled with him from Uhe/Ile-Ife to Benin were Yoruba men and
And one of the family that came with him is the EDIGIN OF USE near Benin. In
Edigin is a corruption of the yoruba (Anago) word OLIGI-the head of the wood
the royal entourage.
But when he got to Benin City, he met an established community who refused
accept him because he said his title was OBA instead of OGISO. Chief
Ogiamen as usual led the oppsition against him as he did to his grandfather.
It should also be noted, that it was the attempt by EVIAN and later his son
to crown themselves the Ogiso (king) of Benin,. that prompted some of the
to let the world know, that the Oduduwa of Ile-Ife is the same man as Prince
Ekaladerhan (Oduduwa) refused to return to Benin City, telling the
emissaries sent to him
" Eke ne oma eghele, ore re igiogbe ore-wherever a man find peace and
prosperity is his
home." But sent his son known as Oronyan/Oronmiyan. He too left Benin in
a pregnat woman behind, who gave birth to the man who later became Oba
first, of Edo History.
Oranmiyan therefore, was said to have called the land ILE-IBINU( the land of
from where Benin is supposedly derived. This statement is still shaky since
we have claims
from some Nupe's that Benin is Nupe derived. We have evidence that the
have given the name to Europeans travellers who popularised the name Benin.
therefore, not surprised that Oba Ewuare decided to do away with name Benin
which to him was an alien name. He named us EDO N'EVBO AIHIRE-Edo the city
love. But BENIN has stuck for eternity.
Aimiuwu,O.E.I., ODUDUWA, Nigerian magazine, nos 107-109,Dec/Aug. 1971
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