Oba Of Benin Must Be Respected With His Head Buried In Ile-ife
There is one Oba in Nigeria that most of the people have in common, that is Omo N’Oba of Benin. Most ethnic groups, especially from the South, either has claims to him or his subjects put claims on them. Whatever the validity of each claim or novel theories, it shows some relationships between the people of West Africa. In order to solidify that claim, most traditional ceremonies and protocols that are not against the law or human decency must be observed.
Recently there were some discussions about the most senior Oba in Yoruba world communities. Oba Adetona of Ijebu-Ode claimed he was one of the most superior and certainly senior to Alake of Egba/Abeokuta. What is interesting about this is that Oba Adetona always claims that he is from Waddai in Ethiopia and not Yoruba. The reason this is important is that Omo N’Oba also claimed that he was the father of the Yoruba and not the son.
Whoever is right on these claims, the fact remains about some relationship between them. The same is true of the Ijaw. Before oil became a foreign income curse on Nigeria, Yoruba and Ijaw had common progenitor in the name of Adumu/Adimu/Oduduwa in Ijaw history. Politics and foreign income sharing has shattered any hope of resolving the amicable relationship between them dating back, before Aiyelala in the now Ondo State.
None of the bad relationships between the people of Southern Nigeria today could have broken the alliance between Awolowo and Ernest Ekoli as their leader while Azikiwe supported Chief Samuel Akinsanya in those days. The political rivalries did not prevent Awolowo’s UPN from capturing Edo as Bendel State cementing the historical union between Yoruba and Edo. One has to accept that every ethnic or village deserves its own self-determination.
We cannot leave the Itsekiri out of these families since they are clearly related to the Yoruba. The Oba of Warri/Itsekiri has also been claimed as the son of Oba of Benin. Whether it is the Oba or the people that are related to Benin, the lingual franca or the dialect, in both Benin ruling House and in Warri were/are clearly Yoruba, closer to Ijebu dialects.
Another case in point is the Onitsha Igbo. Some of them still retain Yoruba in their dialects when speaking Igbo language and others trace their ancestors to the same Oba of Benin. Between Igbo, Benin and Yoruba, we have brothers and sisters that have rejected any link between them. Even more important are other ethnic groups from the union of the three that have spread further North and South near the rivers and the ocean.
The fact remains undisputed that it is only recently that the head of Oba of Benin was no longer buried in Ile-Ife. So far, there are no novel theories that can erase the place or location where the heads of Oba of Benin were buried in Ile-Ife. It will not be surprising if in the future, some of the children of Edo that refuse to bear Yoruba names today, also refute the burial place in Ife.
It is not a mystery how Ogiso was overthrown in Edo land after beheading a pregnant woman. The people revolted and called on Ile-Ife to send them Oba. Up till today, the ceremony that is going to be performed by the new Oba will make it clear that he must pay a token before his place can be given or leased. Not only that, this lease must be renewed every time a new Oba of Benin is crowned. So most of the chiefs around him remain Ogiso owners.
It will be difficult to reconcile the lease ceremony if the Oba was originally Ogiso and the reason for burying the head of Oba of Benin in Ile-Ife. As much as many have come up with theories and hypothesis, they have failed to reconcile classical history with their novel theory. What is more important today is how we can use this unity in history to bring our people together instead of creating divisions that drives us further apart.
People are also free to interpret history the way it further their interest for superiority or dominance. The problem is a clash between classical history and novel theories. We must depend on archeology, anthropology and the same history by using scientific methods to buttress our revisions. Other scholars must be able to verify and authenticate most diversions from the acceptable norms. So, we all have more in common than they are willing to accept.
We can also extend this relationship in history to the Hausa in the North. Their history accepts Yoruba as one of the children of the Hausa states but claimed superiority to Yoruba children as children of married women do in today’s western Judeo Christian laws. We know that such aberration was not tolerated in African cultures. But it serves both Muslim and Christian laws of discrimination and exclusion. The same problem existed between Ishmael and Isaac until today.
The relationships between African ethnic groups up to the level of so-called and demeaning word “tribes”, have poisoned the environment resulting into barbaric acts of civil and ethnic wars. If Africans are not fighting one another over land, it a war about gold, diamond, oil or uranium. Even when we speak the same language and accept the same descendants, we always find something to fight about. We are even more willing to accept those rejecting us as families from afar in the new world rather than our neighbors in the old world.
It must be emphasized that this writer does not care where the head of Oba of Benin is buried. But we cannot deny what unites us based on the ambition of each family to turn their village or local government into a country in order to become Prime Minister or President. Each village can go its separate ways without shedding blood, sacrificing the lives of children as soldiers of personal ambition to loot and proliferate in their own kingdom.