I crave your indulgence to first treat the issues raised over last week’s piece by some readers, before going into the claim of the Binis that Oduduwa was a Benin prince originally known as Ekaladeran before migrating to Ile–Ife, which I promised to deal with today. I have to oblige them because my writing on this topic was at the request of some adherents of this column. So, I need to let people know as much as they want to know on the issue.
My joy knew no bound last Saturday when I learned from Mr. J.F.O. Olalusi, a lecturer at the Royal College, Masaka, Nassarawa State, that he has found this series as very informative and educative. I met him at the investiture of my cousin, formerly based in Maryland, United States, High Chief Olusegun Adedipe VI, as the 15th Elemo of Akure and third – in – rank in the Kingmakers Council by the Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, Odundun II.
I begin the responses to last week’s column with that of Dr. Idris Olanrewaju, a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, Bauchi State (080 – 3834 – 0174), who phoned on Wednesday, wondering how I could write that the Binis are not Yoruba, when several thousands of them speak the Yoruba language. And when many of them also bear Yoruba names like Apata (which means rock and which they write as Akpata), Afe (the shortened form of the Akure nomenclature of Afelumo), Ojo, Adebayo and others. Evangelist Modecai Adekanbi (080 – 3657 – 6020) was another person who reacted the same way to my article.
As I stated last week, although the Obas of Benin are related to Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba, whose grandson, Eweka 1 (1180 – 1246) was the first king after the Ogiso dynasty collapsed, the Binis are not of the Yoruba ethnic group. They are Edo people who because of the crisis after the Ogiso dynasty crumbled requested Oduduwa to provide them with a king. Although his son, Oranmiyan whom he sent could not be enthroned, the latter’s son, Eweka I eventually became their ruler.
A large percentage of the Binis speak Yoruba and a good number of them bear Yoruba names because during the Benin invasions of the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries, hundreds, if not thousands, of Yoruba people in parts of present–day Ondo and Ekiti states, particularly Akure, were taken to Benin as hostages. During the three centuries as well as in the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries some traders and others left Yoruba land, especially Akure to settle in Benin while some Binis moved over to live in Akure and other towns in today’s Ondo State.
Those involved in the movements from Akure to Benin as hostages or on their own married the indigenes as wives and husbands while those from Benin in Akure did the same. The descendants of such people in Benin are known as Edo ne’kue, that is Edo – Akure people, ne’kue being the way Edo people call the Akures. In Akure such cross – breed citizens are referred to as Ado – Akure, Ado being the Akure corrupt pronunciation of Edo.
Some of the Ado – Akure families in Akure are Okoro Arowolo, Edo (pronounced as Hedo), Omoregie, Imadiyi, Alafe, Eke and the Alukos and Ojos of Itaogbolu, an Akure town on the way to Ikere – Ekiti, who include Chief Joseph Bodunde Ojo (JB Ojo) of blessed memory, the first Nigerian – born principal of Government College, Ibadan (GCI). In Akure city, the Ado – Akures are mostly found in Imosun, Eyinke and Oke Aro Streets. The Edo ne’kue or Edo – Akure clans in Benin include the Akpata, Afe, Osunde, Idehen, Lawal and Lawani who live mostly in Mission Road, Upper Mission Road, Akpakpava, Lagos and Idahosa Street.
Another reason many Bini people speak Yoruba is that Benin was part of the Western Region during the colonial period through 1963 when the Midwest Region was created with Benin as the capital. During those years, the Binis worked in the civil service in many towns in Yoruba land like Ibadan, Abeokuta, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Osogbo, Ilesa, Ile – Ife, Akure, Owo and Ado – Ekiti.
The second issue in the reactions to last week’s column that I am looking into is the statement of Chima (080 – 3803 – 0814), that the history of Oduduwa in Yoruba land was the institution of the kingship system over a Republican people who had no traditional rulers before his arrival. For which he claims that there are historical and archeological evidences as proofs. How I wished he had given specific examples.
But contrary to his standpoint, Edo–born Odia Ofeimun, in his article on page 33 of the Sunday Vanguard of February 21, 2016 has it that before Oduduwa arrived in Ile–Ife that the people had had 16 kings, the last of whom was Obatala and that many of the rulers had the prefix of oba (king) before their names.
The final reaction I am responding to are the two text messages from the owner of 081 – 3933 – 3922, who did not have his name in the one sent last week or that of a fortnight ago, who says that the Igbo are not Yoruba despite that their languages have 70 – 80 per cent similarities. And that the Yorubas should stop looking for a way to annex Benin as their ethnic colony.
I have not in any of my articles in this series referred to the Yoruba as having relationship with the Igbo. I, therefore, wonder why this person has brought their issue in. Because the Yoruba say the Oba of Benin is a descendant of Oduduwa he believes they are trying to colonize the Binis. Are the Binis not trying to do the same when they say that Oduduwa was the son of the Oba of Benin? Why then did he not accuse them of trying to colonize the Yorubas? By not doing so, he has shown that he is partial and a tribalist.
As for his statement that the Igbo did not originate from Yoruba land, I am referring him to Odia Ofeimun’s write–up on page 35 of the Sunday Vanguard of February 21 and his report on origin of the Igbo as stated by Igbo–born Dr. Adiele Afigbo, a lecturer of History at the University of Ibadan in the 1960s and later at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Who said the Igbo were among the people who left Ile–Ife when Oduduwa came and seized power and moved some distance from the town to live in a thick forest or bush, words in Yoruba language which mean igbo. He said while some of them later moved to the Ilaje area of present – day Ondo State and became known as Ugbo people, that the others crossed the Niger to the eastern side of the river and became known as Igbo. That is the people who now live in the South–East and parts of the South–South.
Next week: The claim of the Binis that Oduduwa was the son of the Oba of Benin and not his ancestor.