THE BINI - IFE JOURNEY: IN WHICH DIRECTION? PART 13
Wed, 7 Mar, 2012
ODUDUWA: IFE AND BENIN CONNECTION
The hindsight is always 20/20. I believe in the claim that Oduduwa descended from heaven with chains. It is what the Historians called a Cosmogony. A cosmogony is a creation story, a culture's account of its cosmic origins. Each cosmogony gives spiritual or cosmic significance to the given culture's surroundings and activities. It establishes the culture's importance and establishes its environment as the center of the world.
By the way, I would like to debunk the assertion made by his Royal Highness Omo N'Oba Erediauwa that Oduduwa was a Benin scoundrel called Ekaladerhan. I would also like to add here that Ile-Ife did not derives its Kingship from Benin. Rather, it was Benin that owed mother Ife and the rest Yoruba a great deal.
The simple reasohn is this, it was the bonafide Ife people who emigrate to settle in Benin that diametrically displaced the unsound and weak Ogisos who gradually died out.
It is a known fact that Ile-Ife is a city of great antiquity that gave birth to many Kingdoms that extended to Republic of Togo and Benin. On page 418 of the book titled "Soul of Africa-Magical Rites And Traditions" Published in 199, by Konemann-MBH Cologne- Renowned German Ethnologist Professor Klaus E Muller said thus: "The ancestors of the Adja (of which the Fon are a subgroup) came from Tado(on the Mono River in present day Togo), a town founded by migrants from Ile-Ife, the Yoruba sacred center...Allada thus has significance for Fon similar to that of Ile-Ife for the Yoruba. The sons of Kings had set out from both centers to establish their own Kingdoms."
In his book "I Remain Sir Your Obedient Servant" the iconoclast Oba Erediauwa said among other things that Ogiso Owodo was advised by the oracle to execute his son. I want to state here that what the Oba of Benin presented to us as history was indeed a myth that lacks substance.
I believe the oracle would not have tricked Owodo to execute his son. African gods like the Hellenistic Greeks are capable of doing both evil and good things at the same time.
That was clearly demonstrated to us in "The Gods Are Not to Blame." by Ola Rotimi a Master Playwright of his Period. And that is what we saw in Oedipus who uses the gift that he possessed his (intellect) he does nothing wrong...and yet is punished and made to suffer. Even if we accept as flimsy facts that the oracle lied that Owodo should execute his son, it still doesn't make senses to our hearings.
When and how did the doomed infant boy acquired magical power inside the bush where he was abandoned alone? A mere child who is not up to a mischief thing in future would not have survived the terrible situation that he found himself in the forest let alone acquired the mystery of magic by unnatural means. Including knowledge of science and art during his wanderings.
It is evident that he thus possessed magical powers to have broken the spell of the present and the future, the rigid law of individuation and the true magic of nature itself. By doing so, he had transgressed the sacred codes of nature.
According to Fredrich Nietzsche in his essay of 1872 titled "The Birth of Tragedy." "What Oedipus myth seems to whisper to us is that wisdom, and Dionysiac wisdom in particular is an abominable crime against nature, that anyone who, through his knowledge casts nature into the abyss of destruction must himself experience the dissolution of nature...
I would also like to point out here that it is also not possible in history for a man who is conscious of his true past like Ekaladerhan not to have been filled with much anger that would have made him consider avenging the cruelty that some of his people did to him.
He ought to have acted boldly like Chaka the Zulu(1786-1828) who was a victim of terrible cruelties as a child. The trauma that Chaka went through forced him to join Dingiswayo army where he nurtured the dream of inflicting evil on those who contributed to his ordeal.
Again, if Igodomigodo people have deeper thoughts they would never have considered bringing back a cursed child who was ordered to be killed by the oracle to come and rule over them. Someone ought to have capitalized on the chaos and lawlessness that occured after the death of the former King to fill the vacuum by seizing power for himself in an absolute manner just like what happened in Songhai when Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr Alias (Askia the Great) meaning "The forceful one." A trusted general of former ruler Sanni Ali who believed that he was entitled to the throne by right of achievement. He fought bloodiest battles with the new ruler who was the last King son until he finally subdued him.
One other ludicrous thing in Oba Erediauwa's book was his claim that the Kings that ruled the people that came to be known as Edo or Benin were called Ogiso. This is not only strange but also very troubling that his Royal Highness is trying to usurp the facts of history. The extinct Ogiso has nothing to do with the present monarch in Benin. Nor does it have anything to do with the so-called Edo land.
In his Fourth Chief Jacob Egharevba Memorial lecture under the auspices of the Institute for Benin Studies in 2001, Professor Peter Eke citing Isidore Okpewho's (1998) in what he called a comprehensive and scholarly study of Benin folktale.
"Ogiso goes back on his word. Where upon heaven and earth threaten to convulse the nation, forcing the Ogiso to capitulate.( His rival ) became the Oba, and the Ogiso became his sword bearer."
And now we must ask ourselves these vital questions: If Ogiso was indeed the father of Oduduwa as Omo N' Oba wrongly asserted, "Why did he capitulate when his rival became the Oba?
Why did Ogiso became the sword bearer of his rival?
Which is Which? Was Ogiso-Afenmai, Esan or Bini?
It is clearer to us through history that the people who now pride themselves as Edos' migrated to their present abode from Ile-Ife and other parts of Nigeria. and the word "Edo" itself is the name of a slave some now referred to him as a 'servant' who rescued Oba Ewuare from a trapped death. Well, it is that serf's name that Oba Ewuare later adopted as a new identity for his people who were not often comfortable with Ile-Ibinu ( Land of Vexation) acronym. And it is this Edo appelation that the Binis later extended within its frontier to incorporates the subjugated tribes in its kitchen fitments.
To illustrate my point about extinct tribes or races further, for example, the Arabs in Lebanon are not the ancient Phoenicians who once populated the place. Just like the Iraqis large populated Arabs are not the replica of the Babylonians.
In Social Animals writes Darwin, Natural Selection will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the whole community. If the community he adds, profits by the selected changes."
Here the community does profit. No one disputes the fact that Prince Oranmiyan went to Benin. and no one contested the fact that the official language in the palace of the Oba of Benin up to 1934 was Yoruba. Infact, it was Oranmiyan, his kinsmen and their descendants that founded cities and Yoruba temples in their new abode, which gave a flying start to what is now known as Edo culture.
In one of the fantastic reasons he attributed as to why Oranmiyan left Benin. Oba Erediauwa said thus: "Whenever he and his people from Ife were performing some secret rituals, Benin people, including some elders who had often wondred at the Ife people's secretiveness, used to climb walls to peep at them. Enough was enough and he decided to leave."
Isn't it amusing that his Royal Highness gave us this lengthy account of history and still falsely claimed that Oduduwa was a Benin fugitive?
How could Oba Erediauwa have convinced even a naive person to belief his story that his people who were fascinated with Ife's people secretiveness, and who climbed walls to peep at them, truly gave birth to Oduduwa monarchy in Ife?
Some people may say, history repeats itself. But it is better said this way, History does not progress through time but recapitulates time. Oba of Benin revisionist history reminds me of a similar one that Henry Richmond Tudor ( The ancestor of the present Queen of England did ) when he commissioned an Archbishop named Morton to write a revisionist history on his behalf to justisfy his seizure of the British throne from the Plantagenet dynasty that came with its Lancastrian and Yorkist branches that ruled England.
He first brought Thomas More on board to write a revisionist history history proving Tudor's legitimacy. Thomas More refused to revise the actual history that was when he turned up to Archbishop Morton who nevertheless, gave him what he wanted a pure propaganda book to bolster his claim on the throne.
It is interesting to note that nobody in British academic circles took his revised history for serious. Some of it later became Shakespeare pun "Henriad" plays.
No doubt, Omo N' Oba and his ghost writer at the University of Benin may have satisfied their yearnings, but they have not convinced me, neither do they buy over people who are passionate about truth, objectivity and knowledge in the arguments for their case in a totally repugnant book that only deserves my sigh and jest.