The Descendants of Ife
Ife’s descendant can be traced back to a single warrior and leader famous among the Yorubas as Oduduwa.
The Oduduwa rule Ife, but not only did he rule Ife, but he also went on many war expedition, expanding the Ife kingdom.
In many years, it is believed that Oduduwa was able to compete and defeat not less than 13 indigenous villages led by Obatala, and brought all the towns into a single community known as Ife.
Among his clan, he was also called as Olofin Adimula, Olofin Aye, and Olufe.
The three glorifying names are meant to praise his magnificence as a leader who brought unity among people.
The Descendants of Ife | Yoruba History
Instead of Oduduwa, he is also referred to as Ooduwa or Oodua by other kingdoms within the Yoruba Empire.
After his death, he was immortalized as a god, who they subsequently approached for divinity consultation.
The Descendants of Ife | Background
Based on a report from some early-day historians, they believed that Oduduwa was an émigré from another nation who came to settle in the south of Nigeria at one time between 400-900 AD.
Some found that his belief was part of his movement from his previous location. However, this last location of Oduduwa remained a controversial issue as about four different reports gave different earlier places of Oduduwa in history.
One report has it that Oduduwa immigrated to Nigeria from Mecca, where he was a prince.
His emigration was believed to occur as a result of the persecution of the notable Muslims in Mecca. As a result, Oduduwa and his followers left Mecca to seek for a new settlement.
The second report claims that Oduduwa came down from Egypt, and not from the Arabs.
During his reigning period, it is believed that much of his inventions can be traced back to feudal Egypt.
Thirdly, another report is a claim from the Indigene of Benin city – Edo’s people – who claimed that Oduduwa was their prince as he left Benin due to the Royal conflict.
Finally, it is the tradition of Ife about Oduduwa, which states that Oduduwa was a warrior who hailed from Oke-Ora – an eastern part of Ife towards the Ijesa people – and that he descended from the hills with a chain.
Consequently, they praise him as Atewonro, which translates to one who descends on a chain. As a warrior, he is always said to wear iron as an armor. After his arrival, he fought and conquered about 13 communities and overthrow Obatala.
Hence, uniting the communities as one, and eventually, he was referred to as the first Ooni of Ife. The bearer of the rightful kings of the entire Yoruba as his sons overtook the mantle of leadership in the other Yoruba land.
In essence, Oduduwa is an immigrant who was received by the locals of Ife.
History has it that Oduduwa had about seven children. The first of which is called Okanbi Iyunade, who later married Obatala, the Owu group leader.
The Descendants of Ife – Oduduwa’s Children
Obatala’s son is believed to have gained his crown when he was still an infant, precisely while crying on his grandfather’s lap.
Omonide was Oduduwa’s most cherished wife – gave birth to Sopasan.
Sopasan was the first of Oduduwa’s children to leave Ife, and he also gave birth to crowned kings of Ketu.
He was believed to have settled in two different areas; Oke–Oyan and Aro. Ajagunla Fagbamila Orangun was the first legitimate son of Oduduwa, and he was crowned as the king of Ila.
He married Adetinrin Anasin, who gave birth to Ifagbamila.
Other children of Odudwa includes the future Onisabe of Sabe, Onipopo of Popo, Orunto, and Oranmiyan. Orunto was born by one of Oduduwa’s maid, and his predecessor holds the Obalufe title – a royal crown which is second in rank to the Ooni of Ife – in Ife till the present day.
Oranmiyan, who was the last born of Oduduwa, was the most adventurous of them all as he migrated to Oyo and became the first Alaafin of Oyo, Benin became the first Oba of Benin, and finally became the second Ooni of Ife.
Ogun was on the throne of Ife when Oranmiyan came back from his journey, and he claimed his rightful royal seat from him.
Oranymiyan gave birth to Lajamisan, the progenitor of all Ooni of Ife, who reigns in Ife.
Ile-Ife is presently part of Osun State and has an estimated population of about half-a-million people.
It is home to one of Nigeria’s most prestigious universities, Obafemi Awolowo University, as well as the Natural History Museum of Nigeria.
Ife is also a prominent regional agricultural center for a surrounding area that produces vegetables, grain cacao, tobacco, and cotton.
The Descendants of Ife – The Owu kingdom
The Owu people are a significant set of people among the Yorubas. Their settlement is found all over the Yoruba land, and each unit constitutes itself an independent state.
Ago Owu in Abeokuta is where large Owus are settled.
So Who are the Owu people?
Owu people are warriors and the first settlers outside Ife hence why they call themselves Owu lakoda (The first to be created).
They speak the Yoruba dialect of Yoruboid languages, and they first settled not far from the Osun river in the Ijebu area of Ogun State.
The owu uses the facial mark called Keke Olowu, and the Abaja Owuto distinguishes themselves from other tribes.
Long ago, before any kingdom was formed in Yoruba land, a set of civilized warriors created an empire. These sets of warriors and their families move about within the western region of Nigeria, and they played an essential role in the civilization of the ancient Yoruba kingdom.
The Owu people were soo civilized that they had a hierarchy that defines their dominance and authority led by the Olowu of Owu.
Owu villages and towns are found all over the Yoruba land as some Owu people established an independent township; before, the majority of Owu people eventually settled at Egba-Owu.
The Descendants of Ife – Origin Of The Ijebu
Ijebu people are a significant Yoruba group and one of the first groups that left Ile-Ife after the arrival of Oduduwa between 400-900 AD.
The Owus were the largest and the first to move out of Ile-Ife, with their leader, Obatala.
Three primary sets of groups left Ile-Ile to Ijebu land. The first group of the Ijebus that left Ile-Ife settled at Owode, led by Olu Iwa, with two warriors, Ajebu and olode.
The two warriors played a significant role in the marking and planning of the newfound land. The people of Ijebu dedicated tombs to remember their warriors after their death.
Olode street in Ijebu ode, there’s a tomb bearing inscription of “The resting place of Olode.” likewise, for Ajebu, a Tomb is dedicated to him at Imepe.
The second group, led by Arisu, settled at Ijasi, in Ijebu Ode; Olu-Iwa accepted the group.
Olu-Iwa died not long after the arrival of the new group led by Arisu. Oshin, Arisu’s son, became the “Adele” (temporally leader), while the third group led by Ogborogan, also known as Obanta, is the significant one in Ijebu history.
Obanta’s mother, Gborowo, died after crossing the Oshun river just as they left Ile-Ife. She was buried at the Oshun riverbank, and he vowed to be performing a sacrifice in her memory every year.
It brought the human sacrifice the Ijebus usually perform every year that was stopped in 1892. Since then, A cow is still being used to perform sacrifice in honor of Gborowo until today.
Ogborogan had left Ile-Ife after the death of his father, Oduduwa, in search of Olu-Iwa, who was his maternal grandfather.
After arriving at Imesi en route to Ijebu, he was given some men to protect him as the prince of Ife. These men are called the “Odi,” whose descendants are still playing a significant role in Ijebu until today.
He passed the Igbo land during his sojourn, but the Olu-Igbo, leader of the Igbos, wouldn’t give him passage to continue his journey until they went on hand combat in which Ogborogan won. It attracted more followers from Igbo for Ogborogan. He also went with the Olu-Igbo’s wife.
Among the Igbos who followed Ogborogan to Ijebu are the future Elepe, Onipara, Alara, and Alalisha.
The Descendants of Ife – Obanta And The Origin Of The Ijebu
Upon arriving at Ijebu, Oshin handed over to Ogborogan and moved back to his house, which is still called Ita Osugbo in Ijebu-Ode until today.
The marking of Ijebu territory by Olode and Ajebu gave birth to the new Ijebu kingdom, where Ogborogan became their paramount ruler.
Ogborogan appointed Elepe, Onipara, Alara, Onipakala, Alado, and Alalishan as their respective towns. In contrast, the son of Olu-Igbo’s wife, Aka, was appointed as the ruler of Akarigbo.
The Rise & Fall Of Oyo Empire
The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire, and the Largest empire ever existed in West Africa, occupying most of what’s is today Southern Nigeria, expanding its territory to the nearby Republic of Benin.
Oranmiyan founded the Oyo nation after establishing the bini dynasty, making him the first Alaafin (ruler) of the Oyo kingdom.
The kingdom started very humble as some nations had already been established, like the Owus, moreso, Oranmiyan himself was the last son of Oduduwa.
All the kingdoms established in the Yoruba Land practices the Ebi (family) type of government whereby the nation is regarded as the larger version of the family.
Hence they adopted the Agbo-ile (Family’s compound) as the community and the palace as the house. i.e., Ife kingdom’s capital is Ile-Ife, (Home of Ife, or the place of Ife).
In the Oyo kingdom, the same practice was adopted, and Oyo Ile was the Oyo empire’s capital. The monarchy constitutionally reports to Ife.
It is worthy to note that the kingdom of Owu was not included in the Oyo empire, and didn’t pay any tributes to the Oyo nation as Owu was independent.
Sango took over the throne from his brother, Ajaka, and went on many war expedition, expanding the Oyo kingdom.
Historians believed it was the foundation that Sango laid that led to the rise of the Oyo empire.
However, the Oyo empire didn’t reach its peak until the 16th century.
At this time, the Oyo empire was powerful with an efficient army. The kingdom had expanded across a broad region with minor kingdoms and empires now paying tributes and service to the capital Oyo-Ile.
In 1698, (Allada)-Aja kingdom was attacked and destroyed by Oyo armies, and they started paying tributes to Alaafin.
Dahomey’s economic hardship around 1720 forced them to attack and destroy Aja, not knowing the Oyo army has already conquered Aja
The Dahomey army massacred the small unit of the Oyo army stationed at Aja, and only a few that survived made it back to Oyo to reveal the action that took place.
What makes the Oyo empire unique was her military strength. The Oyo Army attacked and conquered the Dahomey army stationed at Aja, Dahomey kingdom itself, and all other territories controlled by Dahomey.
The Descendants of Ife – Collapse of the Oyo empire
After Alaafin Ojigi died in 1735, the Dahomey kingdom stopped paying their tributes to the Oyo kingdom.
Agaja was the king of Dahomey at that time.
Alaafin Amuniwaiye sent his armies to Dahomey in a show of strength and to let king Agaja know that the Oyo is still In control.
Some of the (Oyo Armies) settle at the Dahomey kingdom, monitoring the nation’s activities.
After the death of Amuniwaiye, Dahomey once again stopped paying their tributes to Oyo, but at this time, it was easy for the Oyo empire to demand it.
Alaafin Onisile sent his army to support the ones stationed there to bring the kingdom on its knees.
Another event was In 1765 when an Asante army led by Odanqua invaded Oyo territory around Atakpame. Asante troops were in tens of thousands in number, but they were all massacred by the Oyo army.
In 1775, Abiodun teamed up with other chefs, and a civil war started in Oyo-Ile. Abiodun claimed Alaafin Gaha was too weak and too old and wanted to overthrow him as the king.
Abiodun led army attacked Alaafin Gaha, which some early historians believed he was burnt alive by Abiodun. His family members didn’t escape the ordeal as they were killed as well.
Ojo Agunbambaru, one of Alaafin’s sons, was the only survivor who escaped death and ran away.
Under Abiodun’s leadership, the Oyo empire grew in size; it had over 6000 villages.
He was a fearful leader and killed many top warlords in the Oyo army that he saw as a threat.
The Descendants of Ife – Alaafin Abiodun’s death
After he died in 1789, the Oyo empire’s trouble looms in. Awole became the Alaafin after Abiodun’s demise, but he doesn’t’ have the skill of a warrior like Abiodun and inherited a very weakened army.
His lack of skill of leadership led him to launch an attack against Apomu, a town in Ife and Iwere. Iwere had an emotional connection with Oyo, which caused his remaining army to go against him and eventually led to the Oyo Empire’s collapse.
In 1791, Tapa and the Bariba cast off allegiance with the Oyo empire.
He killed himself, and the circumstances surrounding his death made it impossible for a new king to be appointed leaving vacuum in the central leadership.
The Descendants of Ife – Owu & Ijebu War
The Owu homestead was Dariagbon, next to Sifirin in Osun State, 15 miles from the modern Oyo while their capital was Owu Ogbere when the Owu-Ijebu war occurred.
The battle lasted for at least four years, where thousands of people were killed, and hundreds of thousands of Owu people were displaced.
The remain of the Owu walls was over twenty feet high, which shows how defensive the Owu communities must have been before the war.
The present-day governor’s house at Agodi was built across Owu walls. Owu Ipole, which was where the Owu had settled before they moved to Owu Ogbere, is in Ayedaade local government area.
Historians like Mabogunje & Omer Cooper had argued that the Owus usually attack slave wagons, setting slaves free, in Apomu, which the Ijebus are not pleased about.
They further revealed that the pressure on Lagos’s demand for slaves from the Ijebus had caused kidnapping in the local area, which affected the Owus directly as Owus spread across a broad region.
Other historians have argued that the Owus had killed Ijebu traders, destroying their slave wagons leading to the war, on a pretense of discussing over bunches of alligator peppers.
What escalated to the war was the slave-raiding which the Owus had objected to since the late 17th century.
The Descendants of Ife – The Owu Lost Children
We are sure that the slave trade played a significant role in how the war started, and the Ijebus were the leading suppliers of slaves to Lagos.
During Alaafin Abiodun’s reign, he had asked the Owus in 1789 to prevent Oyo traders’ from been kidnapped in the Apomu market; this suggests that the abduction of people or slaves raiding in Yoruba Land had been existing before the Owu-Ijebu war between 1817 – 1821.
The Owu-Oyo relationship went further than providing securities to the Oyo Ile, Alaafin Abiodun is also married to one of Olowu’s daughters. Owu kingdom had been collecting tributes from Ajaka, Alaafin, after Oranmiyan, and Oyo-Ile was under Owus protection.
Sango took over the power from his brother, Ajaka, due to his gentle way of handling things. He was equally a warrior and a herbalist and regularly showed off his supernatural powers by calling down lightning.
The first thing Sango did as the Alaafin of Oyo was to stop giving Owu their tributes. He removed all Owu army bases all around Oyo, making Oyo an independent kingdom, and creating Oyo Army.
But during Alaafin Abiodun’s years in power, the Oyo Army had declined, and the Owus regularly provide securities to Oyo-Ile.
On the other hand, The Ijebus are an influential Yoruba group. Their settlement is the biggest in Yoruba Land and became principal suppliers of slaves to Lagos in the early 18th century. They pass through Apomu while transporting slaves in captive to Lagos.
The settlement of the Owu at Owu Ogbere made them victims of slave raiding, which made the Owus attack and killed several Ijebu traders at the Apomu market.
The Ijebu people reinforced, camped at the farm not far from the Osun river. The Owu people immediately attacked the Ijebus; they heard of their approach but met fierce resistance as the Ijebus were now better armed.
Ijebus, armed with the European weapons, attacked the Owu people, with Ife’s help, and defeated the Owus, destroying their community.
The Ijebus was attacked the second time, causing havoc on the Owu’s army.
The third time, the Ijebus attacked the Owu people with help from the Ifes. But at this time, the Owus have moved out of dariagbon, where the majority of the Owus were concentrated.
The impact the Owus had in Yoruba Land was significant; the Owus claimed to be descendant of Obatala and left Ile-Ife before Oduduwa was recognized as the Ife leader. The Anlugbua chains (Owu deity) is featured everywhere the Owus are settled.
It can be argued that the Owu civilization started before the Oduduwa conquest and before any kingdoms in Yoruba-Land.
Meanwhile, after Ijebu won their war against the Owus, the Oyo warriors attacked the homeless Owu refugees at Erunmu.
The attack, which happened in 1833, was led by Kurunmi.
During the attack, notable warriors that had formed an allegiance with the Owus like Degesin, Oginni, and Maye Okunade were killed.
But the Oyo forces couldn’t penetrate the Owu wall, which the Owus had built immediately; they became a homeless refugee to protect themselves against any external attack.
The Descendants of Ife – Oyo & Owu
The Oyo forces resorted to cutting supply for the Owu people. They laid siege at the Owu farms and markets, forcing the Owus to eat what other Yoruba town described as “disgusting” to survive.
Owu people captured during the war were sold to the Atlantic slave trade and transported on the Manuelita Spanish slave ship.
Owu settlement at Owu Ogbere was their last homestead before some headed to Abeokuta, Benin Republic.
The Owu people were scattered all over the South West region of Nigeria.
Orita Basorun in Ibadan was the previous Owu camp and is still called Anulgbua till today.