Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

The Frontier States of Western Yorubaland

 | 
Biodun Adediran

3. The Dynastic Origins of Western Yorùbá Kingdoms

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

  • 1 Lawal, B. The living dead: Art and immortality among the Yorùbá of Nigeria. Africa 47: 1 (1977) p. (...)
  • 2 See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Yorùbá ethnic groups or a Yorùbá ethnic group: A review of the problem of e (...)

1The emergence of kingdoms in the Yorùbá culture-area can be closely linked with the concept of adé ìlękę (beaded crown with a fringe over the face) as the symbol of political authority.1 The possession of adé ìlękę by an individual or a group was related primarily to the association with Odùduwà, the legendary progenitor of the Yorùbá, whose epoch in Ilé-Ifę is believed to be the first to be associated with the development of dynastic kingship and of a Yorùbá ethnic identity.2 This is evident in the dual references in the traditions, to Ilé-Ifę as the ultimate source of political authority and the cradle of Yorùbá civilization.

ILÉ-IFĘ AND THE CONCEPT OF KINGSHIP IN YORÙBÁLAND

  • 3 Law, R.C.C. The Òyò Empire, pp. 119-123. cf. Adépégba, CO. The descent from Odùduwà: Claims of sup (...)

2Although there is no clear picture of early Ifę, it is certain that Ilé-Ifę was the seat of an early monarchy and that Odùduwà played an important role in its development. It has been rightly suggested that the famous Ifę brass heads and terracotta sculptures were associated with an early form of sacred kingship.3

  • 4 See for instance, Fábùnmi, M.A. Ifę Shrines; Adémákinwá, J.A. Ifę, Cradle of the Yorùbá. 2 volumes (...)
  • 5 For a discussion of the state-formation process, see Balandier, G. Political Anthropology. Pelican (...)

3The traditional Ifę version of the Odùduwà traditions and the general belief among the Yorùbá that Ilé-Ifę was the cradle of humanity,4 suggest that Ilé-Ifę was a ‘pristine’5 state which influenced developments in other parts of Yorùbáland.

  • 6 Ozanne, P. A new archaeological survey of Ifę. ODÙ (NS) I (1969) pp. 28-45.
  • 7 For details of this, see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. A descriptive analysis of Ifę palace organization. The (...)
  • 8 cf. Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples.

4Most of the legends of Ifę are well known. While the debate as to what historical truth lies behind these legends continues, it has been possible to catch a glimpse of early Ifę from some of them. Ilé-Ifę before Odùduwà was an agglomeration of semi-autonomous settlements whose heads were like the Óòlú of early western Yorubdland.6 Odùduwà took over political leadership among these heads and embarked on a series of innovations which resulted in the amalgamation of these semi-autonomous settlements and the emergence of a single political unit,7 which the Yorùbá believe was their first kingdom and from which most of their other kingdoms were established.8

  • 9 Qbáyęmí, A. Ancient Ifę: Another culture historical re-interpretation.
  • 10 cf. Akinolá, G.A. The origins of the Eweka Dynasty: A study in the use and abuse of oral tradition (...)
  • 11 NAI, Òyó Prof. I File 203. Adérèmi Ǫòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę, 19/10/31.

5From the nucleus at Ilé-Ifę, the Odùduwà type of kingship institution diffused to other parts of Yorùbáland. This phenomenal spread is today represented in the traditions of the migrations of sons or grandsons of Odùduwà to various places where they successfully repeated the Odùduwà experiment. Part of this was the making and veneration of headwear as a symbol of royalty. In fact, it may well be true, as Adé Ǫbáyęmí suggests, that the widespread reference to Ilé-Ifę as the source of political authority derived from the exportation of adé ìlękę to different parts of Yorùbáland rather than from the physical migrations of various dynasties.9 The conjecture which arises in the light of present knowledge is that many individuals in various parts of Yorùbáland became qualified to put on the adé ìlękę by successfully carrying out the ‘Odùduwà experiment’. As the number of kingdoms formed on the Ifę model increased, so did the number of individuals prima facie qualified for adé ìlękę. Even outside Yorùbáland, Ilé-Ifę became the reference point for many individuals who successfully performed the type of political revolution personified by Odùduwà. This is at least confirmed in the case of Benin, an Edo kingdom with a Yorùbá dynasty whose claim to being an Ifę derivative is generally accepted as beyond doubt,10 as well as by reports in Ifę traditions of attempts to include the founders of Asante, Dahomey and Porto Novo among the list of ‘children of Odùduwà’.11

  • 12 Adédìran, ’Bíódún. State formation in Yorùbáland: A look at the traditions. Yorùbá 4 (1982).
  • 13 Adédìran, Bíódún. State formation in Yorùbáland Towards a working hypothesis. Ifę History Seminar (...)
  • 14 Adédìran, Bíódún. Ifę western-Yorùbá dynastic links, re-examined. Afrika Zamani 14 & 15 (1984) pp. (...)

6As suggested elsewhere,12 it would appear that once a handful of states were established from Ilé-Ifę, they became dispersal centres from which other states were founded. It seems evident from the traditions that during the state-formation process in the Yorùbá culture-area, there were three discernible stages. The first of these was the creation of ‘primary’ states established as a result of direct migrations or influence from Ilé-Ifę. Then there was the creation of ‘secondary’ states from the ‘primary’ states. Lastly, the secondary states in their turn became centres from which more states were created, making the whole process a fissiparous one lasting till about the end of the eighteenth century. Of the ‘primary’ states that emerged in Yorùbáland, only Òyó and Benin are known with some degree of certainty. Most other Yorùbá kingdoms belonged to the latter stages of the state-formation process, deriving their rights to adé ìlękę, not directly from Ilé-Ifę but from some other sources.13 It is, however, not clear whether all rulers of kingdoms who were cast on the Ifę model and went to Ilé-Ifę to obtain the adé ìlękę were founded directly from Ilé-Ifę. But it is certain that they eventually got incorporated into Ifę rituals, possibly to legitimize their rights to the adé ìlękę.14

  • 15 Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 14-17; also Ebi system reconsidered, op. cit.
  • 16 See Akínjógbìn, I.A and Àyándélé, E.O. Yorùbáland before 1800. In: Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of N (...)
  • 17 Ǫlómólà, I. How realistic are the historical claims of affinity among the Yorùbá. 1978/79 History (...)
  • 18 Law, R.C.C. The heritage of Odùduwà: Traditional history and political propaganda among the Yorùbá (...)
  • 19 This is already discussed in Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Ifę-western Yorùbá links re-examined.; and In sear (...)

7However, as a result of cultural affinity and geographical contiguity, the rulers of kingdoms who shared the ideas of the Odùduwà experiment and modelled their states on Ifę were bonded together. Invariably, the rulers of pre-19th century Yorùbá kingdoms saw each other as belonging to the same family, within which inter-kingdom relations had to be conducted. As they were placed on a single genealogy, their common descent from Odùduwà demanded friendship and co-operation. Akínjógbìn suggests that all looked upon the Ǫòni of Ifę as Odùduwà’s successor and their ‘father’, while they looked on one another as ‘brothers’15. Although the practical implications of this in Yorùbá politics before the nineteenth century are not yet clear, there is evidence which indicates that a feeling of kinship existed among rulers of major Yorùbá kingdoms. These included the sharing of the properties of a dead Ǫba among the major Yorùbá Ǫba, the sending of envoys to Ifę at the coronation and at the death of an Ǫba and the referring of dynastic disputes in various parts of Yorùbáland to the Ǫòni for settlement.16 It is also certain that wherever common interests existed among different kingdoms, such interests were explained by kinship ties,17 which in some cases were real, but which in many cases were robably only derived. In consequence, the traditions attempt to present a holistic view of the history of all those who benefited from the ideas of Odùduwà, a fact which has prompted the suggestion that they were merely political propaganda.18 There is no doubt that the Yorùbá concept of state-formation as embodied in the Odùduwà traditions is an oversimplification of the issue. This has necessitated a close scrutiny of the traditions of the dynastic origins of the various kingdoms.19

DYNASTIC MIGRATIONS FROM ILÉ-IFĘ

  • 20 Oral interview: J.L. Adéníran (70+), 31 Odùduwà Road, Ilé-Ifę, 22/12/77.
  • 21 See Johnson, S. The History, pp. 669-670; Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 99-100; Egharevba (...)

8Usually, all the kingdoms founded directly from Ilé-Ifę by sons or daughters of Odùduwà are regarded as having been founded around the same time. The princes who founded the western kingdoms are remembered in Ifę traditions as having journeyed together to a place near Ìpetumodù called Pínhùn Aséwélé on the Şásá river. Here, the group broke up into two, the founder of Òyó leading a branch northwards. The traditional king-lists of some of the kingdoms are so nearly of the same length with that of Ilé-Ifę that they may be taken20 as giving support to this tradition. The fortieth Aláàfin succeeded in 1911, and reigned till 1944; Adégbìtę Adéworí who ascended the throne in 1937 was the forty-second Alákétu to reign since the foundation of Ilé-Kétu; and the thirty-eighth Ǫba of the Odùduwà dynasty was installed in Benin in 1933.21 When compared with the Ifę king-list which lists Ǫòni Adésojí Adéręmí, who ascended the throne in 1930, as the forty-eighth, there seems no reason to doubt the traditions of migrations from Ilé-Ifę in the founding of the major Yorùbá kingdoms.

  • 22 Kęnyò, E.A. Ìwé Àwon Ǫba Aládé Yorùbá. Lagos (1955) pp. 16-22; Òjó G.J.A. Yorùbá Culture, p. 125 ( (...)
  • 23 For instance, Ǫòni Adésojí Adérèmí who is a reputable authority on the issue talked of two ‘instal (...)
  • 24 George, J.O. Historical Notes, pp. 16 and 69; also Líjàdú, E.M. Fragments of Ègbá national history (...)
  • 25 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 7-9.
  • 26 For instance Bascom, W.R. The Yorùbá of South Western Nigeria. New York (1969) p. 11; Kęnyò, E.A. (...)

9But the issue of those kingdoms that were founded as a result of the ‘primary’ wave of migrations from Ilé-Ifę is very enigmatic. One of the foremost chroniclers of Yorùbá dynastic traditions, E.A. Kęnyò, mentions one hundred and fifty crowned Ǫba. Similarly, Afqlábí Òjó refers to thirty-four Yorùbá crowned heads who presumably had claims of ancestral links with Ilé-Ifę. But he excludes those outside Nigeria and those, like the Òràngún of Ìlá, whose claims are generally not in dispute.22 The issue is complicated by the fact that Ifę traditions assert that there were many waves of dynastic migrations from the town;23 and by the fact that, as pointed out by Ǫòni Adéręmí, offshoots of some primary kingdoms referred back to Ilé-Ifę and got incorporated into Ifę rituals. It is therefore not surprising that popular lists of Ifę ‘princes’ held to belong to the primary migrations vary from the six given in 1895 by John O. George,24 the seven recorded by Rev. Samuel Johnson25 and the sixteen mentioned in various other recorded traditions.26

  • 27 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 8-9; cf. Law, R.C.C. The heritage of Odùduwà. op.cit.

10The number one accepts depends on the angle from which one views the issue. Johnson’s list of seven princes as well as those that mention six, would appear to be lists of those Ǫba who derived their rights to adé ìlękę through Òyó and who therefore belonged to the house of Odùduwà at Ilé-Ifę through their, association with the Aláàfin. It is perhaps not coincidental that the six ‘brothers’ of Johnson’s first Aláàfin were rulers of Benin, Ìlá, Şábę, Pòpó, Ówu and Kétu; all states over which Òyó, during its imperial period, made claims. As Robin Law points out, the Òyó tradition, recorded in Johnson, by which the Aláàfin’s senior brothers inherited all the moveable property of Odùduwà, leaving only the land for him, is an attempt by Òyó to legitimize its imperial claims over these neighbouring states.27

11On the other hand, the list of sixteen takes into account the eastern part of Yorùbá country which had less interaction with Òyó till the nineteenth century. This later list, which is more widely acceptable among the Yorùbá, includes virtually all states which had some prominence before the nineteenth century.

  • 28 Anon. Native crowns. JAS 8 (April 1903) pp. 313-314.
  • 29 Oral interview: Prince S.A. Ǫlógbęnlá, 26 Mórę, Ilé-Ifę, 21/12/77.
  • 30 NAI, Òyó Prof. I file 203. Adérèmí, Ǫòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę.

12In Ilé-Ifę itself, no adequate knowledge of the number of ‘sons’ who founded the primary kingdoms has been preserved. In 1903, Ǫòni Adélęgàn Olúbùşe mentioned twenty-one Yorùbá Qba whose ancestors migrated from Ilé-Ifę.28 A few years later, his successor gave a list containing twenty-six names;29 while in 1931 Ǫòni Adésojí Adéręmí mentioned twenty-five princes who migrated from Ilé-Ifę as a result of two ‘installations’ during which ‘Odùduwà crowned his children and sent them abroad in Yorùbá country with orders to show filial obedience to their eldest brother whom he first crowned Ǫòni his successor’.30

13The confusion in all available lists indicates the need to reexamine the various claims of ancestral links with Ilé-Ifę both from Ifę sources and from other claimants.

TRADITIONS OF DYNASTIC MIGRATIONS INTO WESTERN YORÚBÁLAND: A Review

  • 31 ibid.

14Five princes are said to have migrated into the area of present western Yorùbáland as a result of the primary wave of migrations from Ilé-Ifę; these are Qbàradà, Onínàná, Onípòpó (Olúpòpó), Oníşábę (Olúşábę) and Alákétu. They are believed to have migrated from Ilé-Ifę shortly after the Odùduwà revolution established separate kingdoms in different parts of western Yorùbáland. Until recently, the Onípòpó used to enjoy the same privilege of acceptance as the Oníşábę and the Alákétu; but the claim of either Qbàradà or Onínàná as belonging to the Odùduwà system is not generally accepted since the two names appear in some traditions of Ilé-Ifę as being identified with the king of Dahomey and the king of ‘a kingdom in modern Ghana’ respectively.31

  • 32 The name is probably not entirely unknown in Ifę rituals. Akínjógbìn (personal discussions) claims (...)

15In fact, ‘Obàradà’ only appears in early recorded Ifę traditions or in current ones derived from the recorded accounts. His name appears to have been forgotten in most ritual re-enactments connected with Odùduwà or in which the spirits of ‘sons of Odùduwà’ are invoked.32 The identification of ‘Obarada’ with the king of Dahomey appears to have no substance. The most probable source of its inclusion in the list of ‘children of Odùduwà’ was Ǫòni Adésǫjí Adéręmí who was literate and was aware of the age long relations between the Yorùbá and the Fon of Dahomey in the colonial era. Although the traditions of Tado talk of a Yorùbá prince as the founder of the Aja dynasty from which the royal family of Dahomey was derived, the traditions are not in themselves conclusive about the identification of the prince and, in any case, do not trace the source of his migration to Ilé-Ifę.

  • 33 Nàná Bùrùkúù was popular not only among the western Yorùbá, but also among the neighbouring Asante (...)

16The name ‘Onínàná’ also does not appear frequently in current Ifę traditions but features prominently in some Ifę rituals, especially in those involving Odùduwà and his ‘children’. The major problem with regard to the acceptance of this name is the identification with the founder of ‘a kingdom in modern Ghana’. The identification could be a rationalization based on the fact that the word Nàná is an Asante word. Nevertheless, the term ‘Onínàná’ could have been used by the western Yorùbá for the chief priest of Nàná Bùrùkúù whose influence was widespread in the region.33 However, until more ample evidence on the origins of Nàná Bùrùkúù is found it would be difficult to accept the Onínàná as an Ifę prince and the inclusion of the name must necessarily remain suspect.

17Equally suspicious is the inclusion of the name of Onípòpó in the list. The name ranks next to Onínàná in various Ifę rituals. It is also common in current Ifę traditions and features prominently in Samuel Johnson’s account which does not mention the two earlier ‘princes’, Qbàradà and Onínàná.

  • 34 Bertho, J. La parenté des Yorùbá, p. 123.
  • 35 Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 80; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 152.

18The first person to realize that this prince presents some problems of identification was perhaps Jacques Bertho.34 Ògúnşǫlá Igué and Robin Law have also drawn attention to the problems presented by the claims of the king of Pòpó as being a son of Odùduwà.35

  • 36 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 152; 186-187.
  • 37 Crowder, M. The Story of Nigeria. Faber and Faber (1969) p. 109.
  • 38 cf. the situation in Benin where the Edo a non-Yorùbá people, received a dynasty which undoubtedly (...)

19A major problem is the location of the kingdom of this ‘prince’. Ifę traditions are ambiguous about it, but point to the direction of western Yorùbáland. Bertho reconciled the Ifę accounts with the Aja traditions of ‘Adím ólá’ to suggest Tado. Samuel Johnson, however, locates the kingdom on the coast of the modern Republic of Benin where there is a group of people called ‘Pòpó’.36 Apparently, using the traditions recorded by Johnson, Michael Crowder points to the area between Porto Novo and Badagry.37 At first glance, these speculations seem valid, and appear to be supported by the fact that the worship of Odùduwà is very strong in the Ànàgó and Àwórì regions. It could in fact be argued that although the modern Pòpó are an Aja sub-group, they, at some time in the past, received a Yorùbá dynasty.38

  • 39 See Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 401.
  • 40 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 20-28; Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Co (...)
  • 41 Johnson, S. The History, p. 8. cf. Ifę traditions in which the son of Odùduwà who received a legac (...)
  • 42 Asíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp. 18-20.
  • 43 Dunglas, E. Perles anciennes trouvées au Dahomey, pp. 431-434; Fage, J.D. Some remarks on beads an (...)
  • 44 Georges, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 16; Ajíşafé, A.K. A History of Abéòkútia, p. 8.

20But the case is not that straightforward; there is not enough evidence to demonstrate that the progenitor of the ruler of Pòpó could ever be identified with the Odùduwà group. While the popularity of the Odùduwà cult in Porto Novo is intriguing, its presence is not a sufficient indication of a direct link between the region and Ilé-Ifę. Most of the shrines in the Ànàgó area were established from somewhere other than Ilé-Ifę; and the worship of the deity in Porto Novo itself appears to have been introduced from Adó-Odó, perhaps by some of the sixteenth century migrants into the Porto Novo area.39 It is also important to note that the Pòpó themselves claim that the progenitor of their ruler belonged to the same stock as that of Allada and Abomey; and that he migrated not from Ilé-Ifę but directly from Tado.40 The only major ‘evidence’ in support of the ancestral connection of the Pòpó with Odùduwà is probably the tradition in Johnson that the Olúpópó received a legacy of beads from Odùduwà.41 At least in one case, that of the şábe, it has been shown that Johnson’s claims of legacies for the ‘seven children of Odùduwà’ were based on his knowledge of articles produced in the respective regions where each of these ‘princes’ settled.42 The area of the Slave Coast between the Ouémé and Mono rivers was well known for the manufacture of beads from as early as the sixteenth century,43 and Johnson’s insistence on a legacy of beads for the ruler of Pòpó appears to derive from this. The rejection of the Olúpòpó as a prince of Odùduwà is made more tempting by the fact that Ájàyí Kóláwǫlé and Oláwùmí George, Johnson’s contemporaries, did not include him on their lists.44

21Indeed, with our present knowledge, the evidence in support of the hypothesis that Qbàradà, Onínàná and Olúpòpó belonged to the Odùduwà group is very slim, and must therefore be discountenanced in our reconstruction.

  • 45 Oral interviews with the prolific Yorùbá chronicler at various times between 1976 and 1978.
  • 46 Johnson, S. The History, p. 7 mentions ‘Ǫkànbí’ as Odùduwà’s eldest son. The name also appears in (...)

22There are, however, indications from Ifę narratives and rituals as well as in verses of the Ifę corpus that there existed ‘kingdoms’ headed by these ‘princes’ who had connections with Ilé-Ifę. E.A. Kęnyò who strongly believes that the Olúpòpó was an Ifę prince gives his proper name as Àkànbí Qję.45 According to Kęnyò, before the migrations from Ilé-Ifę, certain prescriptions were made for each child of Odùduwà. Àkànbí (Òkànbí?46) was told to make a sacrifice with two hundred small snails (ípére). Considering the ingredients too few, Àkànbí neglected the sacrifice. This, the tradition continues, was how the Olúpòpó became ‘lost to Yorùbáland and his descendants became sojourners in a foreign land’.

  • 47 An Ìdáìşà tradition tells of a period when the only two deities in the world were Nàná Bùrùkúù and (...)

23Whatever historical truth lies in this tradition, its message seems to be that since a very early time, specifically since the eve of the Odùduwà era, the Pòpó have existed as a group distinct in language and traditions from the Yorùbá If the speculation that Onínàná could be identified with Nàná Bùrùkúù is found to be true, then there will be every justification for regarding the Onínàná as belonging to the pre-Odùduwà era. Indeed in Ilé-Ifę, as in Western Yorùbáland, Nàná Bùrùkúù is regarded as a pre-Odùduwà deity.47 The mention of the names of Qbàradà and Qkànbí (Olúpòpó) in the Pòkúlere and Ìtàpá festivals at Ilé-Ifę strongly suggests that these two ‘princes’ belonged to a civilization earlier than those of the ‘children of Odùduwà’, since both festivals are associated with the pre-Odùduwà era in Ilé-Ifę. If indeed the three kingdoms were established in western Yorùbáland, it was before the region entered the Odùduwà era; and it may be presumed that they were ‘lost’ in the cataclysm that accompanied the expansion of the Aja-Ewe peoples from Tado in the sixteenth century.

24Unlike the three discussed above, the Kétu and the Şàbę were, until the nineteenth century, kingdoms of appreciable importance in western Yorùbáland. This makes it possible to assess the authenticity of the traditions of dynastic migrations for the Alákétu and the Oníşábę.

25The claims of these two ‘princes’ are generally accepted mainly on the basis of agreements in the traditions of Ilé-Ifę and those of Kétu, Şàbę and Ǫyǫ. The accounts of the foundations of both kingdoms follow the general pattern for the major Yorùbá kingdoms. The consensus in the traditions is that the Oníşábę and the Alákétu left Ilé-Ifę at the same time with the Aláàfin of Ǫyǫ. The three migrated together to the upper reaches of the Ǫyán river (simply called Òkè-Ǫyán) where they separated; the Aláàfin moving in a north-easterly direction to Ǫyǫ-Ilé, the Oníşábę moving in a northwesterly direction into the Ìbààbá country while the A1ákétu followed the Ǫyán river southwards. It can thus be inferred that the three ‘princes’ derived their political authority under similar circumstances and that Ǫyǫ, Kétu and Şábę were primary kingdoms founded about the same time. But as will be seen presently, the historicity of the Alákétu as a ‘son of Odùduwà’ is seriously in doubt, while the mention of the Oníşábę as one of the migrants from Ilé-Ifę is recent.

THE CASE OF THE KÉTU KINGDOM

  • 48 See Johnson, S. The History, p. 574; A. Moloney to Sir S. Rowe, 12/5/81. In: Correspondence Respec (...)

26The name ‘Kétu’ is not strange to Yorùbá oral literature. The frequent references by the Ǫyǫ in the nineteenth century to Kétu as one of the ‘four corners of the Yorùbá world’,48 suggests that the Alákétu was of some prominence among Yorùbá Ǫba. The A1ákétu appears on virtually all the lists of sons of Odùduwà. Although Samuel Johnson refers to him as belonging to the Odùduwà dynasty only through the female line, he records that the first Alákétu was one of the early princes to be given a crown.

27In Ilé-Ifę, a vivid account of the circumstances under which the first Alákétu left the town and assumed the title was given:

  • 49 Anon. History of Ifę (in Akínjògbìn’s collections).

A prince of Odùduwà. He got crowns. He blessed him. His mother was from Qbàwàrà of Ìlódè. He gave him a cord (rope) of orò,... He was born hunchbacked. Then an Ifá man promised to straighten the child’s back. Odùduwà gave him to the man who took him away to... where he was cured, he grew up and later left to found his own city. He stayed where he was cured hence — Oníkétu.49

  • 50 See Adédìran, ’Bíǫdún and Arífálò, S.O. The religious festivals of Ifę, ch. 15. In: Akínjógbìn, I. (...)

28Furthermore, in some Ifę principal ritual festivals such as the Ǫrùngbè in commemoration of the new yam, the Odùduwà festival, the Ǫlójó festival in honour of Ógún, and the Edì celebrated in commemoration of an important event in the constitutional development of Ifę,50 the Alákétu is one of the few ‘sons’ of Odùduwà called upon to come and pay homage to their ‘father’. There seems no reason, therefore, to doubt the claims by the Kétu that their kingdom was one of the ‘primary’ Yorùbá kingdoms founded directly from Ilé-Ifę.

  • 51 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 14-15; Verger, P. Oral tradition in the cult of Òrìshà and (...)

29In fact, Kétu traditions are very emphatic in the claims of a dynastic link with Ilé-Ifę. The accounts are particularly detailed and fairly consistent. It is remembered that, of the three princes who left Ilé-Ifę together, the Alákétu was the eldest; a version in fact makes him the father of the other princes.51 The circumstances under which the first Alákétu assumed the title are well-known as is the proper name of his progenitor, Şóipàsán.

  • 52 C.M.S. Intelligencer (1853) 251.
  • 53 Oral interviews: Chief Kúdęfù Ali (100+), 30/1/78; Chief Afqlábí Qnà-ęfà (68+), 2/2/78; Chief Raji (...)

30But when the Kétu traditions are examined in the light of the claim of Şóipàsán as the progenitor of their ruler, the inclusion of the Alákétu in the lists of ‘sons of Odùduwà’ becomes untenable. The problem with regard to this arises from the insistence that Şóipàsán was not just an Ifę prince but heir to the throne of and husband of Odùduwà. These traditions are definitely not recent fabrications as they were already current in the 1850s.52 The enigma about the historical identity of Sóipásán is intensified by the fact that neither in Şàbę nor in Òyó is he remembered as one of the migrants from Ilé-Ifé, even though in the latter place the name ‘Sóipàsán’ is not entirely unknown, as it is cited in the oríkì of Ajíbóyèdé, one of the seventeenth century Aláàfin of Òyó, and in some rituals connected with Şangó, an earlier Alááfin.53

  • 54 See Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 448; Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá Speaking Peoples, p. 41.
  • 55 Beier, Ulli. The historical and psychological significance of Yorùbá myths. Odù I (1955) pp. 20-21 (...)

31The claim of a connection with the Odùduwà dynasty at Ilé-Ifę through the female line is not in itself enigmatic and, as pointed out above, is implied in the account recorded by Johnson. But that of the sex of Odùduwà as a female is; even though similar contentions that Odùduwà is female are found in many places in western Yorubáland.54 Studies of various Yorùbá legends have suggested that variants of traditions in which Odùduwà is regarded as female refer to an early period, when the society was matrilineal or when women had sovereignty over their male counterparts.55

  • 56 See Ìdòwú, B. Olódùmarè, pp. 71-89 on these deities; Abímbólá, ’Wándé. Sixteen Great Poems, p. 3.
  • 57 Abímbólá, Ibid.
  • 58 The Kétu and Ifę accounts agree that it was an onomatopoeic word derived from the constant use of (...)

32In Yorùbá cosmology, Kétu features as one of the settlements founded shortly after the creation of Ilé-Ifę, and Èşù, the accredited founder, is ranked as a contemporary of such early Yorùbá deities as Ògún, Ǫbàtálá (Òrìsàńlá) and Ǫrúnmìlà.56 The Yorùbá also believe that the founder of Kétu kept ‘a copy of the divine authority and power with which Olódùmarè (the almighty God) created the universe and maintained its physical laws’.57 This gives Èşu a position of prominence among his contemporaries, and is in tune with Johnson’s account that the progenitor of the Alákétu inherited crowns from Ilé-Ifę, which, as we have seen, are symbols of authority among the Yorùbá. Kétu tradition, corroborated by those of Ifę and verses from the oríkì of Éşù indicate that the name Şóipàsán was a nickname for Éşù.58

  • 59 Oral interviews: Chief Awósadé Awóşogbón, the Aràbà I, Òkè-Ìtasè, Ifę, 9/3/78; Fádiórà Fátúnmise ( (...)

33In Ilé-Ifę itself, Şóipàsán is mentioned in many legends even though there is an unwillingness to discuss his personality at length. Some legends, however, reveal that Şóipàsán (Şóropàsán in Ifę dialect) was the last of the four kings who reigned successively before Odùduwá.59 He was allegedly exiled because he became too powerful and wicked. It would appear that the tradition that the Alákétu was the rightful heir to the throne of Ifę is a variant of the Ifę legends. It seems, therefore, that the progenitor of the Alákétu is to be identified, not with a member of the Odùduwà group, but with the wicked ‘king’ of Ifę, apparently the head of one of the pre-Odùduwà communities that existed at the takeover of Odùduwà. Unlike some of these heads who were incorporated into the Odùduwà system, Şóipàsán left Ilé-Ifę to establish his authority elsewhere. Where exactly the Şóipàsán group established itself after its exile from Ilé-Ifę is not yet certain. However, bits of evidence from the traditions make it possible to advance a tentative suggestion.

  • 60 Oral interviews: Prince S.A. Ǫlógbéńlá (90+), 26 Mòrę Street, Ilé-Ifę, 28/12/77; Chief M.A. Fábùnm (...)
  • 61 Johnson, The History, pp. 150, 9-11.

34Extant Ifę accounts do not believe that Òránmíyán (Òrányán) whom the Òyó claim as their progenitor was the first Aláàfin or founder of Òyó They postulate two waves of migrations.60 The first was led by an Ifę prince called Òlóyòó who was exiled and left Ilé-Ifę in penury. Some versions identify this Òlóyòó as Şàngó. The second wave was the popular one led by Qrànmíyàn who went to Òyó ostensibly to re-establish Ifę’s authority over the Qlóyòó. The Òyó traditions that it was Şàngó rather than Qrànmíyàn who founded Òyó-Ilé; that their progenitor inherited a bit of rag at Ilé-Ifę; and that Oránmíyán’s excursion to the Òyó region was to avenge the death of his great-grandfather;61 concede that there is some truth in the Ifę accounts.

  • 62 Ibid, pp. 150-152.
  • 63 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 31-33; Agírí, B.A. Early Òyó history, pp. 8-10.

35The cult of Şàngó, known in Ilé-Ifę as Jàkúta belonged to the pre-Odùduwà era, and it would appear that Sóipásán and Şàngó should be seen as important stages in the same pre-Odùduwà culture. The major factor against the acceptance of the implications of these strands of evidence is the chronology of the kings of Òyó. In the lists of Òyó kings, Şángó appears as the third Aláàfin after Àjàká and Qrànmíyàn. This is probably explained by the fact that the Òyó do not remember (or deliberately do not mention) the first wave of migration from Ilé-Ifę. A popular belief is that Şángó’s last few days were turbulent and that he had to abdicate.62 This should be seen as the deposition of the earlier pre-Odùduwà group under Qrànmíyàn. Dr. Babátúndé Agírí and Robin Law, arguing from another angle, suggest that both Şángó and Qrànmíyàn were not parts of the Odùduwà system. Nevertheless, Agírí notes that the traditions indicate that Şángó preceded Qrànmíyàn.63

36Certainly, the Şóipásán tradition is not that of a single ‘king’ or a generation, but one of those periods of indeterminable length which traditions often telescope into a single reign. For some time after its deposition, remnants of the pre-Odùduwà Şóipásán group continued to exist side by side with the new rulers. The result is that the ‘culture’ was not extinguished but continued underground until it was strong enough to resurface. This made the superimposition of the Sóipásán tradition on the Òrànmíyan one very easy. In fact, as will be shown later, the straightforward Kétu narrative of a dynastic migration from Ilé-Ifę is the fusion of two different historical periods; the first an independent pre-Odùduwà one and the second that of a splinter Òrànmíyan group which established the dynasty of Kétu.

THE CASE OF THE ŞÁBE KINGDOM

  • 64 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 7-8. cf. Aşíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę.

37Like that of Kétu, the tradition that the kingdom of Şábę was founded directly from Ilé-Ifę seems, at first glance, indisputable. The claims of the Onişábe, as a son of Odùduwà, to adé ìlękè is widely recognized in Yorùbáland. The Reverend Samuel Johnson specifically mentioned the Onişábę as the child who inherited Odùduwà’s cattle.64 Şábę appears on current Ifę lists of sons of Odùduwà and there is an Odùduwà shrine at Jàbàtá, one of the early Şábę settlements. Moreover, though the present Şábę dynasty (the Babagídàí) does not date earlier than the eighteenth century, it recognizes pre-existing communities all over Şabęland. One of these groups in Ilé-Şábę called the Amùşù (Amósù) claims to be the original founder of the kingdom and therefore the migrants from Ifè.

  • 65 Oral interview: Pa Fádiórà Fátúmişe (90+), 11 Omíşore Street, Ilé-Ifę, 10/5/79.
  • 66 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 14.

38In spite of this, there are issues that can be raised against the dynastic link between Şábę and Ilé-Ifę. There is an Ifę tradition about one Amósù, a son of Òrùnmílà who was entitled to a crown and left Ilé-Ifę for an unknown destination. But there does not appear to be any link between this Ifę tradition and the Şábę claims.65 In fact, the Kétu tradition collected in 1853 did not include the Onişábę as one of the migrants from Ilé-Ifę;66 and he was not included in the lists given by the Ǫòni in 1903 and 1931. These immediately suggest that the name was probably added to the lists in recent times.

  • 67 Şábę accounts explain that the name arose out of a clash between the founders of the kingdom and t (...)

39Furthermore, the Ifę prince who allegedly founded the Şábę kingdom is referred to in Ifę accounts simply by the title Oníşábę, and unlike the rulers of Òyó, Benin and a few other kingdoms, no explanation of the circumstances under which the ‘Ifę prince’ assumed that title is offered; nor is there any folk-etymology to explain the meaning of the title itself. That Ifę traditions are silent on these crucial issues confirms the belief among the Şábę themselves, that their progenitor did not assume the name or title Oníşábe until he got to Ilé-Şábę which became the nucleus of his kingdom.67 How the name could have worked itself back into the narratives of Ilé-Ifę remains a mystery. It strikingly suggests the possibility that names were added to Ifę lists in the process of updating the traditions.

  • 68 Oral interview: Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Houme-Tossue, Porto Novo, 5/8/78; Mouléro, T. Histoire e (...)
  • 69 Interviewed 7/3/78; see also Kęnyó, E. A Ìwé Ìtàn Ǫba Aládé, p. 10.

40The suggestions that the name of the Ifę prince who founded the kingdom of Şábę, was Şábę, Şálúbe; or Òpárá68 can easily be dismissed as recent rationalizations. Claiming the Ifá corpus as his main source of information, Aládémòmí Kęnyò insists that the proper name of the first Oníşábę was Adébíyì.69 But if that name could be retained in the Ifá corpus, one would not expect it to have been completely forgotten in the re-enactment ceremonies at Ilé-Ifę. One would also expect the Şábę to have retained that name in their traditions just as the Kétu and the Òyó retained the names of their legendary progenitors. In any case, until quite recently, Şábę princes did not use the prefix, Adé on their names; this seems to confirm the suspicion that the name ‘Adébíyí’, whatever its source, is a later invention, probably to plug the loopholes in the narratives.

  • 70 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, p. 38; Parrinder, E.G. Some western Yorùbá towns. Odù (...)
  • 71 See Aşíwájú, A.I. and Igué, O.J. The Story of Şábę. (ms.)

41A major issue on which one may also question the claims of a dynastic migration of the founder of Şábę from Ilé-Ifę is that of chronology, an issue which was first raised by Paul Mercier and subsequently revived by Parrinder.70 Since the traditions insist that the Oníşábe and the Alákétu were in the same group as the Aláàfin, one expects fairly equal length king-lists for the three. It is, however, conceivable that the nature of the source materials allows for natural omissions. Furthermore, it is arguable that the length of a king-list depends on the historical experiences of the particular kingdom as well as the average life-span of its rulers. Nevertheless, one would not expect a wide margin of difference between king-lists of ‘brother kingdoms’. Certainly the disparity between the eighteen names on Şábę lists71 and the thirty-two for Òyó and thirty-five for Kétu demands some explanations.

42An immediate suggestion is that the kingdom of Şábę was founded at a later time than Òyó and Kétu. This simply means that the claims of a dynastic migration by the founder of Şábę at the same time with those of Kétu and Òyó from Ilé-Ifę are incredible.

  • 72 Oral interviews: Ǫlájq Kétùpò (95+), Jàbàtá, 24/8/78. See also Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte.

43What may be considered as the crucial factor in the Şábę claims is the Odùduwà shrine in Jàbàtá. But the fact that Odùduwà was introduced into Jàbàtá from Adó-Odò72 in the sixteenth century renders ineffective any attempt to link the Şábę directly with Ilé-Ifę through the use of the presence of an Odùduwà shrine.

  • 73 Aşíwájú,.I. Notes on the history of Şábę, pp. 23-25; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 42.

44On the strength of the Amùşù traditions, one is tempted to suggest that there was a change in the dynasty of Şábę. The temptation is strengthened by the admission of the Babagídàí group that they fought many wars with the Amùşù before they could install themselves in Ilé-Şábę. This, in fact, seems to be the basis for regarding the Amùşù as the ‘dynastic group’ which founded the kingdom and the Babaídàí group as ‘conquerors’ who overthrew the ‘If ę group’.73

  • 74 See Ǫlómólà, G.O.I. The eastern Yorùbá country, pp. 59-61; also Goody, Jack. Technology, Tradition (...)
  • 75 Oral interview: Ǫba Làmidi Adéyęmi, the Aláàfin and chiefs, 30/1/78; see also Johnson, S. The Hist (...)

45This reconstruction, based on the claims of the Amùşù, demands a review. Examples from some cases show that when a dynastic change occurred in the political growth of a kingdom, the displaced dynasty was often retained to play principal roles in the religion of the new dynasty.74 This was not so in the case of the Amùşù. Also, if the Amùşù were truly a part of the ‘Odùduwà System’, one would expect them to know Odùduwà intimately. The admission by the Amùşù that the Odùduwà in Jàbàtá did not belong to them and that they know very little about Odùduwà suggests that their claims of a direct link with Odùduwà and migrations from Ilé-Ifę are not easily acceptable. It is significant that the name of the man who led the Amùşù to Ilé-Şábę (therefore their first Oníşábe) was ‘Àkíyò’ — a name near enough to be recognized as ‘Akęyò’, which is an Òyó term for a member of the Aláàfin royal family.75 This suggests that the leader of the Amùşù was an Òyó prince and that the Amùşù themselves were Òyó. The suggestion therefore, is that, like the Kétu, the hypothesis of a dynastic link between Şábę and the Odùduwà group is untenable except immediately through Òyó.

EMERGENCE OF THE WESTERN YORÙBÁ DYNASTIC GROUPS

  • 76 Mouléro, T. Histoire et legende, p. 52; also George, J.O. Historical Notes on the Yorùbá Country, (...)

46A few details in the traditions of Şábę and Kétu make it possible to fix the time of their dynastic migration into the better known events of early Òyó; and thereby reconstruct the events that led to the foundation of the two kingdoms. Both recount that after the separation at Òkè-Ǫyán, the Aláàfin took a direction which led him first to Ìgbòho and later to Òyó-Qrò). The Şábę version adds that the Oníşábe settled with the Aláàfin at Ìgbòho and then moved into the Borgu country from where he later went to found his kingdom.76

  • 77 Nadel, S.F. A Black Byzantium, the Kingdom of Nupe in Nigeria. Oxford (1942) pp. 72-76; cf. Law, R (...)
  • 78 Olúnládé, E.A. Ędę: A Brief History. Translated by I.A. Akínjógbìn. Ìbàdàn (1961) pp. 2-3; Abíólá, (...)
  • 79 For the general accounts of the period, see Johnson, S. The History, pp. 161-167; Smith, R.S. The (...)

47The mention of Ìgbòho and Òyó-Òrò immediately suggests that the origins of the two dynasties should be sought in the confusion that gripped the Òkè-Ǫyán region during the sixteenth century. By that time, the Nupe (Tápà) had established a kingdom a few kilometers from Òyó-Ilé on the Niger,77 and were expanding southwards into the Yorùbá country.78 During the reign of Onígbogí, the seventh Aláàfin after Òrànmíyan, the Nupe took advantage of an internal crisis to invade Òyó. They destroyed Òyó-Ilé and put its inhabitants to flight.79

  • 80 Oral interview: Chief S. Òjó, Badà of Şakí, Ìsàlè-Tábà, Şakí, 16/1/78.
  • 81 Ibid. See also his Ìwé Ìtàn Yorùbá Apá Kìníí, p. 158.

48The Aláàfin himself took refuge in ‘Gbére’, a town apparently under the Ìbààbá king of Bussa.80 Robert Smith identifies ‘Gbere’ as Gbereguru but points to the possibility of Gbeira. He suggests that the Ìbààbá king who gave Onígbogí refuge was the king of Nikki. Nikki was probably not founded till the sixteenth century and definitely was not important until the second half of that century. It is more likely that the Ìbààbá king whom Johnson calls Elédùwę was the king of Bussa, the most senior Ìbààbá state with which the Òyó claimed ancestral links through the legendary Kisra. The term ‘Gbére’ itself probably derived from a Yorùbá word meaning ‘a place of long sojourn’ and therefore is not necessarily a place-name. Whatever the case, ‘Gbére’ was certainly not the only Òyó settlement in Borgu, though as the place where the Aláàfin himself settled, it was probably the nucleus of their activities. Many Ìbààbá settlements received substantial numbers of refugees while some new ones which were founded by the Òyó themselves drew in many people from neighbouring Ìbààbá settlements.81

  • 82 The verse is ‘Òfinràn kò kǫ ìjà’, quoted in Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile, p. 65.
  • 83 Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile, pp. 63-64.

49The sojourn outside Òyó-Ilé lasted for a fairly long time. Onígbogí died in the Borgu country and was succeeded by Òfinràn. Unlike his predecessor, Òfinràn was a restless and ambitious king in exile. A verse in his personal oríkì, from which his name was derived, refers to him as one always looking for trouble and not afraid to fight.82 His main intention was to re-occupy Òyó-Ilé, but he could not take the necessary steps to achieve this, apparently because the Òyó were not strong enough to confront the Nupe. Meanwhile, Òfinràn found an outlet for his restless nature by organizing the Ìbààbá and the Òyó into raiding groups. His growing influence as the motivator of these raiding groups soon got him into trouble with his chief host and the Òyó had to retrace their steps into the Yorùbá country. The main group under the Aláàfin passed through Kìşí and eventually settled at Kìsí a few kilometres northeast of Şakí.83

  • 84 Lombard, I. Structures de Type ‘Féodal’, pp. 65-66; Levtzion, N. Muslims and Chiefs in West Africa (...)
  • 85 Oral interviews: Ǫba T. Oyèdòkun, the Ǫkęrę of Şakí and chiefs, 16/9/78; Alhaji Y. A. Gbóláhàn (60 (...)

50In the middle of the sixteenth century, the Songhai under Askia Dawud invaded the Borgu territory and succeeded in destroying Bussa in about 1555/56.84 This unleashed a period of unrest in Borgu since Ìbààbá warriors constituted themselves into marauding groups ravaging the Yorùbá country to the south. Many of these groups settled permanently in some northern Yorùbá settlements such as Kìşí, Şakí, Ìşęyìn and Ògbómòşó.85

  • 86 There is an indication that an Aláàfin Ǫmqlójù reigned at Kusu between òfinràn and Egunojú. See La (...)
  • 87 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 37-44, cf. Babáyęmí, S.O. The fall and rise of Òyó Empire c. 1760- (...)
  • 88 Smith, R. The Aláàfin in exile, pp. 72-74; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 50-59 suggests 1600. La (...)

51The attendant insecurity led the main Òyó group now under Aláàfin Egunojú86 to evacuate Kuşu and move first to Şakí and later to Ìgbòho. Robin Law suggests that the group which occupied Ìgbòho was an Ìbààbá one. This seems to be faulted by his own recognition of an Ìbààbá attack on Ìgbòho shortly after its occupation.87 In spite of the attendant chaos, the Òyó in exile were able to re-group and Ìgbòho became the seat of four Aláàfin: Egunojú, Òròmpòtò, Ajíbóyèdé and Abípa. The last Aláàfin initiated the move to re-occupy Òyó-Ilé which he renamed Òyó-Òrò after the plan materialized at about 1610.88

  • 89 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 17-18; Ajísafé, A.K. Ìwé Ìtan Abęòkúta, pp. 9 and 17.

52In Şábę and Kétu accounts the Òkè-Ǫyán appear to have been in the region of Kuşu and Şakí from where the Aláàfin occupied Ìgbòho. The inability of the two to pinpoint the exact location only reflects the confusion of the period. In fact the Ìgbòho period witnessed many demographic upheavals during which ambitious individuals carved out new areas for themselves while some imposed their authority on pre-existing ones. It would appear that it was during this period that northern Ęgbá settlements like Awę, Ìlǫrá Fìdítì and Ìlúgùn were founded.89 The inability of the Ęgbá to evolve a strong centralized kingdom before the nineteenth century might also not be unconnected with the migration of many independent groups under powerful Òyó individuals into the Ęgbá forest as reflected in the common Yorùbá saying, Ęgbá kò l’ólú, gbogbo wǫn ni şe bi ǫba (the Ęgbá have no king, all of them behave like kings).

  • 90 Ajísafé, A.K. Ìwé Ìtan Abęòkúta, pp. 8. Oral interview: Ǫba Oyèbàdé Lípędé, the Aláké and his chie (...)
  • 91 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu. p. 15.

53One suspects that the Kétu group was one of those that moved southwards at the time the Aláàfin occupied Ìgbòho. It is generally believed that the group which founded the Aké section of the Ęgbá left Òkè-Ǫyán together with the Alékétu.90 The tradition that Şóipàsán, the legendary ‘Ifę prince’ (or king ?), was himself part of the group, but that the leader was Owé, his nephew,91 suggests that the nucleus of the Şóipàsán element from Ilé-Ifę was also within the group though the leadership was exercised by a different element. The mention of Şóipàsán should be taken as a reference to one of his successors to the leadership of the pre-Odùduwà Ifę element.

  • 92 The concept of orírun is similar in Yorùbá philosophy to that of orí (head/fate), which underlines (...)

54At Áró, where the group first settled, Şóipàsán died and was taken back to Òkè-Ǫyán for interment. But when Owé died, he was not taken to Òkè-Ǫyán, rather he was buried in the Ògún Shrine at Áró. This indicates different orírun92 (sources) for the two and buttresses the suggestion that the Şóipàsán group was different from the one that led the migrants out of Òkè-Ǫyán. Furthermore, Ògún is a royal deity of the Aláàfin and all major Yorùbá dynasties that derived from Odùduwà. The burial of Owé in a shrine dedicated to that deity further indicates that he belonged to the Aláàfin dynasty and not to the pre-Odùduwà à Şóipàsán element.

  • 93 This is the thesis in Aşiwájú. A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp. 23-25; Law R.C.C. The Òyó E (...)

55There appears to be a conflict in the tradition that the Şábę group settled together with the Aláàfin at Ìgbòho. There are two ways of viewing the conflict. The first is that there were two independent groups that moved into Şábęland. At the time the Kétu group moved southwards, the Oníşábe also moved into Şábę to found his kingdom. The group was later joined by a group from Borgu. In this case the Şábę version of the traditions would be understood as the interweaving of two originally independent accounts; one representing the original dynastic group from Ìgbòho and the other that of a conquering group from the Ìbààbá country. This suggestion is particularly tempting because of the claim by the Amùşù that they were the original dynastic group that founded the kingdom before the arrival of the Babagídàí group.93

  • 94 Oral interview: Justin Yá, head of the Amùşù (75+), Sèhú, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78.
  • 95 cf. Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 82-83; also Orou, G. Origine de la Dynastie de Parakou (...)
  • 96 Oral interview: Ǫba A. Akànní, the Oníşábe and chiefs, 21/8/78. The mention of Angara Debu came un (...)
  • 97 See for instance, Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende pp. 54-57.

56However, it is clear that the Amùşù entered the Şábę territory through Borgu. Their traditions. in fact mention that while in Borguland, they lived among the ancestors of the Babagídàí group.94 Ògúnşolá Igué also argues that the Babagídàí group was a remnant of Òyó refugees left behind in Borgu at the retreat of Aláàfin Òfinràn in the sixteenth century. Similar attempts to show that the Babagídàí group was Yorùbá can be found in various traditions emanating from Şábę indigenes.95 In spite of recent pretensions, the Babagídàí group was originally of pure Ìbààbá stock from the region of Nikki. One version of their tradition of origin refers to the progenitor of the leader as an Ìbààbá prince; and locates the immediate source of their migration as the Borgu village of Angara Debu.96 There are indeed indications from §ábe narratives that the advent of the Amùşù into the Şábe country was closely connected with that of the Babagídàí group.97

  • 98 See the troubles that accompanied the plan to re-occupy Òyó-Ilé in Johnson, S. The History, pp. 16 (...)
  • 99 The ‘Boko’ are sometimes called ‘Bussa’. J. Lombard who distinguishes them from the Ìbààbá ‘proper (...)
  • 100 Another group apparently also opposed to the reoccupation of Òyó-Ilé moved southwards, settled for (...)

57A more plausible alternative is simply that the sequence of events as related by the Şábę is correct; only one dynastic group penetrated the Şábę country, moving from Òkè-Ǫyán with the Aláàfin to Ìgbòho and from there into Borgu country. It would appear from this account that the Şábę group was a splinter group of the Aláàfin party at Ìgbòho which was opposed to the re-occupation of Òyó-Ilé.98 Thus at the time Aláàfin Abípa ‘founded’ Òyó-Qrò, the Şábę group moved northwards into the Borgu country and settled among the Boko99 under the protection of the king of Nikki.100 This backwash of the Òyó refugees took a symbolic name Mokǫlé, ‘I refuse my home’. It was part of this group that later moved with some Ìbààbá warriors (the Babagídàí group) and became the Amùşù of Ile-Şábę.

  • 101 Oral interview: Albert Àbíssí (70+), Aafin Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78.

58The royal dynasty in Ìdáìşà claims Òyó as its origin and insists that its progenitor, Jagun Ǫlófin (Aláfin in the local dialect) and those of the Kétu and the Şábę were full-blooded brothers who left Òyó at the same time.101 This indicates that the dynasty that founded the kingdom was, like those of Kétu and Şábę, one of the groups of refugees from Òké-Ǫyán.

59Indeed the Òké-Ǫyán episode was one of rapid population expansion during which groups of Òyó refugees were scattered all over the central and western parts of Yorùbáland. It was the influx of the migrants into western Yorùbáland that led to the integration of many ‘city-states’ in a few regions and the emergence of the kingdoms of Kétu, Şábę and Ìdáìşá.

CONCLUSION

60Contrary to the impression created in the traditions, not all major Yorùbá kingdoms were founded at the same time; nor did they all benefit from the Odùduwà experiment directly from Ilé-Ifę. As regards the Kétu, Şábę and Ìdáìşá, the suggestion here is that Òyó rather than Ilé-Ifę was the immediate source from which the rulers derived their rights to adé ilękę; and that the process could not have begun earlier than c. 1550 following the influx of Òyó-Yorùbá refugees into western Yorùbáland as a result of the sack of Òyó-Ilé early in the sixteenth century. With the arrival of some of the Òkè-Ǫyán refugees in western Yorùbáland, many pre-existing ‘city-states’ were fused into single political units, thereby bringing into western Yorùbáland the type of socio-political revolution started by Odùduwà in Ilé-Ifę centuries earlier.

Notes

1 Lawal, B. The living dead: Art and immortality among the Yorùbá of Nigeria. Africa 47: 1 (1977) p. 56.

2 See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Yorùbá ethnic groups or a Yorùbá ethnic group: A review of the problem of ethnic identification. Africa: Revista do Centra de Estudos Africanas da USP 1 (1984) pp. 55-63.

3 Law, R.C.C. The Òyò Empire, pp. 119-123. cf. Adépégba, CO. The descent from Odùduwà: Claims of superiority among some traditional rulers and the arts of ancient Ifę. The International Journal of African Historical Studies 19:1 (1986) pp. 77-90.

4 See for instance, Fábùnmi, M.A. Ifę Shrines; Adémákinwá, J.A. Ifę, Cradle of the Yorùbá. 2 volumes. Lagos (1958); Ìdòwú, Bólájí. Olódùmarè, pp. 11-17.

5 For a discussion of the state-formation process, see Balandier, G. Political Anthropology. Pelican (1972), especially ch. 6; also Lewis, H.S. The origins of African kingdoms. Cahiers 23: vi (1966) pp. 402-407.

6 Ozanne, P. A new archaeological survey of Ifę. ODÙ (NS) I (1969) pp. 28-45.

7 For details of this, see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. A descriptive analysis of Ifę palace organization. The African Historian 8 (1976) pp. 3-28.

8 cf. Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples.

9 Qbáyęmí, A. Ancient Ifę: Another culture historical re-interpretation.

10 cf. Akinolá, G.A. The origins of the Eweka Dynasty: A study in the use and abuse of oral traditions. JHSN 8: ii (1976) pp. 21-25.

11 NAI, Òyó Prof. I File 203. Adérèmi Ǫòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę, 19/10/31.

12 Adédìran, ’Bíódún. State formation in Yorùbáland: A look at the traditions. Yorùbá 4 (1982).

13 Adédìran, Bíódún. State formation in Yorùbáland Towards a working hypothesis. Ifę History Seminar series 1980/81; see also his: In search of identity. The eastern Yorùbá and the Odùduwà traditions. ODÙ 36, pp. 114-136.

14 Adédìran, Bíódún. Ifę western-Yorùbá dynastic links, re-examined. Afrika Zamani 14 & 15 (1984) pp. 82-95.

15 Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 14-17; also Ebi system reconsidered, op. cit.

16 See Akínjógbìn, I.A and Àyándélé, E.O. Yorùbáland before 1800. In: Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of Nigerian History. Heinemann (1980) pp. 121-143; Bradbury, R.E. The Benin Kingdom. (NAI), Òyó Prof. I file 133.

17 Ǫlómólà, I. How realistic are the historical claims of affinity among the Yorùbá. 1978/79 History Departmental Seminar. University of Ifę, pp. 26-58.

18 Law, R.C.C. The heritage of Odùduwà: Traditional history and political propaganda among the Yorùbá. JAH 14: ii (1973) pp. 207-222. cf. Asíwájú, A.I. Political motivation and oral historical traditions in Africa; The case of Yorùbá beaded crowns, 1900-1960. Africa 46: ii (1976) pp. 113-127.

19 This is already discussed in Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Ifę-western Yorùbá links re-examined.; and In search of identity, op. cit.

20 Oral interview: J.L. Adéníran (70+), 31 Odùduwà Road, Ilé-Ifę, 22/12/77.

21 See Johnson, S. The History, pp. 669-670; Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 99-100; Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin, pp. 73-74. For this purpose, I have taken a rather uncritical view of the king-lists in the recorded traditions beginning from the king who founded each kingdom.

22 Kęnyò, E.A. Ìwé Àwon Ǫba Aládé Yorùbá. Lagos (1955) pp. 16-22; Òjó G.J.A. Yorùbá Culture, p. 125 (figure 19). This issue has recently been reviewed in Asíwájú, A.I. Political motivation and oral historical traditions in Africa: The case of the Yorùbá beaded crowns, 1900-1960. Africa 46: ii (1976) pp. 113-127.

23 For instance, Ǫòni Adésojí Adérèmí who is a reputable authority on the issue talked of two ‘installations’ apparently referring to two important waves of migrations. NAI Òyó Prof. I file 203, Adéręmí, Ǫòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę.

24 George, J.O. Historical Notes, pp. 16 and 69; also Líjàdú, E.M. Fragments of Ègbá national history. Ègbá Government Gazette No. I, 1904, ENA. Note 28 No. 1.

25 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 7-9.

26 For instance Bascom, W.R. The Yorùbá of South Western Nigeria. New York (1969) p. 11; Kęnyò, E.A. Ìwé Àwon Ǫba, pp. 9-18; 6)6, S. Ìwé Ìtan Yorùbá Apá Kìní, p. 21.

27 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 8-9; cf. Law, R.C.C. The heritage of Odùduwà. op.cit.

28 Anon. Native crowns. JAS 8 (April 1903) pp. 313-314.

29 Oral interview: Prince S.A. Ǫlógbęnlá, 26 Mórę, Ilé-Ifę, 21/12/77.

30 NAI, Òyó Prof. I file 203. Adérèmí, Ǫòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę.

31 ibid.

32 The name is probably not entirely unknown in Ifę rituals. Akínjógbìn (personal discussions) claims to have heard it during the Pòkúlere festival. ’Wandé Abímbólá (personal discussions) also claims to have heard frequent references to ‘Olúràdà’ and ‘Ìràdà’ which he suggests could be identified with the king of Allada and the kingdom of Allada respectively.

33 Nàná Bùrùkúù was popular not only among the western Yorùbá, but also among the neighbouring Asante, Gonja and Dagomba. Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, pp. 272-273.

34 Bertho, J. La parenté des Yorùbá, p. 123.

35 Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 80; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 152.

36 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 152; 186-187.

37 Crowder, M. The Story of Nigeria. Faber and Faber (1969) p. 109.

38 cf. the situation in Benin where the Edo a non-Yorùbá people, received a dynasty which undoubtedly belonged to the Odùduwà group. Egharevba, I.V. A Short History of Benin, pp. 6-7.

39 See Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 401.

40 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 20-28; Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Coast and its Rulers, p. 9.

41 Johnson, S. The History, p. 8. cf. Ifę traditions in which the son of Odùduwà who received a legacy of beads is believed to be the progenitor of the ruler of Benin.

42 Asíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp. 18-20.

43 Dunglas, E. Perles anciennes trouvées au Dahomey, pp. 431-434; Fage, J.D. Some remarks on beads and trade in the Lower Guinea in the 16th and 17th centuries. JAH 3: ii (1962) pp. 343-347.

44 Georges, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 16; Ajíşafé, A.K. A History of Abéòkútia, p. 8.

45 Oral interviews with the prolific Yorùbá chronicler at various times between 1976 and 1978.

46 Johnson, S. The History, p. 7 mentions ‘Ǫkànbí’ as Odùduwà’s eldest son. The name also appears in the Ìtàpá festival at Ilé-Ifę.

47 An Ìdáìşà tradition tells of a period when the only two deities in the world were Nàná Bùrùkúù and òrìşànlá who reigned supreme in the west and east respectively. Hence among the Ìdáìşà Ęsę Bùkúù and Ęsę Òósà are used to express the west and east cardinal points respectively. Oral interview: Alálę Albert (Chief Priest of Nàná Bùrùkúù), Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78.

48 See Johnson, S. The History, p. 574; A. Moloney to Sir S. Rowe, 12/5/81. In: Correspondence Respecting the war between the Native Tribes in the Interior and the Negotiations for Peace conducted by the Government of Lagos. Parliamentary Papers, C.4957, (1887) 6.

49 Anon. History of Ifę (in Akínjògbìn’s collections).

50 See Adédìran, ’Bíǫdún and Arífálò, S.O. The religious festivals of Ifę, ch. 15. In: Akínjógbìn, I.A. The Cradle of A Race from the Beginning to 1980. Sunray Publishers (1992) pp. 305-317.

51 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 14-15; Verger, P. Oral tradition in the cult of Òrìshà and its connections with the history of the Yorùbá. JHSN 1: i (1962) p. 62.

52 C.M.S. Intelligencer (1853) 251.

53 Oral interviews: Chief Kúdęfù Ali (100+), 30/1/78; Chief Afqlábí Qnà-ęfà (68+), 2/2/78; Chief Raji Àsùnmó Ìlúgbóùn (90+), 2/2/78, Aàfin Òyó. See Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 384; idem. Oral traditions in the cult of Òrìshà, p. 60.

54 See Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 448; Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá Speaking Peoples, p. 41.

55 Beier, Ulli. The historical and psychological significance of Yorùbá myths. Odù I (1955) pp. 20-21; Verger, P. Grandeur et décadence du culte de Ìyá Mi Òsòròńgà (Ma mère la sorcière) chez les Yorùbá. JSA 33: 1 (1965) pp. 200-210.

56 See Ìdòwú, B. Olódùmarè, pp. 71-89 on these deities; Abímbólá, ’Wándé. Sixteen Great Poems, p. 3.

57 Abímbólá, Ibid.

58 The Kétu and Ifę accounts agree that it was an onomatopoeic word derived from the constant use of the whip. See the oríkì of Èşù in Ilé-Kétu recorded in Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, pp. 131-132.

59 Oral interviews: Chief Awósadé Awóşogbón, the Aràbà I, Òkè-Ìtasè, Ifę, 9/3/78; Fádiórà Fátúnmise (90+), 11 Omísore Street, Ìlé-Ifę, 10/5/79; Fátúnmişe Fálójú (55+), 3/5/79.

60 Oral interviews: Prince S.A. Ǫlógbéńlá (90+), 26 Mòrę Street, Ilé-Ifę, 28/12/77; Chief M.A. Fábùnmi, 5/11/77; Mr. S.T. Ǫláníyan (55+), 55 Òkèrèwè Street, Ilé-Ifę, 20/12/77; See also NAI Òyó Prof. 1/203, ‘Oòni of Ifę to District Officer, Ifę, 9/10/31’; Adémákinwá, J.A. Ifę, Cradle of the Yorùbá I, pp. 45-46; II, pp. 22-23; Òjó, S. Ìwé Ìtàn Yorùbá I, p. 45.

61 Johnson, The History, pp. 150, 9-11.

62 Ibid, pp. 150-152.

63 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 31-33; Agírí, B.A. Early Òyó history, pp. 8-10.

64 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 7-8. cf. Aşíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę.

65 Oral interview: Pa Fádiórà Fátúmişe (90+), 11 Omíşore Street, Ilé-Ifę, 10/5/79.

66 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 14.

67 Şábę accounts explain that the name arose out of a clash between the founders of the kingdom and the early inhabitants of Ilé-Şábę. Interviews: Qba A. Àkànní (the Oníşábe) and chiefs, 21/8/78; Justin Yáì (75+), Shèú, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78.

68 Oral interview: Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Houme-Tossue, Porto Novo, 5/8/78; Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 52.

69 Interviewed 7/3/78; see also Kęnyó, E. A Ìwé Ìtàn Ǫba Aládé, p. 10.

70 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, p. 38; Parrinder, E.G. Some western Yorùbá towns. Odù No. 2, p. 31.

71 See Aşíwájú, A.I. and Igué, O.J. The Story of Şábę. (ms.)

72 Oral interviews: Ǫlájq Kétùpò (95+), Jàbàtá, 24/8/78. See also Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte.

73 Aşíwájú,.I. Notes on the history of Şábę, pp. 23-25; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 42.

74 See Ǫlómólà, G.O.I. The eastern Yorùbá country, pp. 59-61; also Goody, Jack. Technology, Tradition and the Slate in Africa. (1971) pp. 63-66

75 Oral interview: Ǫba Làmidi Adéyęmi, the Aláàfin and chiefs, 30/1/78; see also Johnson, S. The History, pp. 149-150.

76 Mouléro, T. Histoire et legende, p. 52; also George, J.O. Historical Notes on the Yorùbá Country, p. 23.

77 Nadel, S.F. A Black Byzantium, the Kingdom of Nupe in Nigeria. Oxford (1942) pp. 72-76; cf. Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 38; and Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile: A study of the Ìgbòho period in Òyó history. JAH 6:i (1965) pp. 61-62.

78 Olúnládé, E.A. Ędę: A Brief History. Translated by I.A. Akínjógbìn. Ìbàdàn (1961) pp. 2-3; Abíólá, J.D.E., Babáfęmi, J.A. and Atáíyéro, S.O. Ìwé Ìtàn Ìjèsà Obòkùn. Iléşà (1932) pp. 44-48.

79 For the general accounts of the period, see Johnson, S. The History, pp. 161-167; Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile, pp. 61-62; and Babáyęmí, S.O. Upper Ògùn: An historical sketch. AN 6: ii (1971) pp. 77-79.

80 Oral interview: Chief S. Òjó, Badà of Şakí, Ìsàlè-Tábà, Şakí, 16/1/78.

81 Ibid. See also his Ìwé Ìtàn Yorùbá Apá Kìníí, p. 158.

82 The verse is ‘Òfinràn kò kǫ ìjà’, quoted in Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile, p. 65.

83 Smith, R.S. The Aláàfin in exile, pp. 63-64.

84 Lombard, I. Structures de Type ‘Féodal’, pp. 65-66; Levtzion, N. Muslims and Chiefs in West Africa, p. 173.

85 Oral interviews: Ǫba T. Oyèdòkun, the Ǫkęrę of Şakí and chiefs, 16/9/78; Alhaji Y. A. Gbóláhàn (60+), Ilé-Şiyanbólá, Sępętęrí, 18/1/78; Mr. D.F. Àwùjoolá (55+), Ìgbòho, 18/1/78; Alhaji Lawani Qlátúnjí (75+), òkè-Atipa, Kìşí, 16/1/78; Qba Raji Adébòwálé, the Asęyìn and chiefs, 12/1/78. See also òjó, S. Ìwé Ìtàn Şakí àti Şakí Kejì. Òyó (1967) pp. 46-51; Oyèrìndé, N.D. Ìwé Ìtàn Ògbómòşó. Jos (1934).

86 There is an indication that an Aláàfin Ǫmqlójù reigned at Kusu between òfinràn and Egunojú. See Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 49.

87 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 37-44, cf. Babáyęmí, S.O. The fall and rise of Òyó Empire c. 1760-1905, pp. 32-57.

88 Smith, R. The Aláàfin in exile, pp. 72-74; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 50-59 suggests 1600. Law’s calculations appear too artificial to be true and are based on the inconclusive evidence that the Nupe sacked Òyó-Ilé in 1500. Working from the evacuation of Kusu about 1555/56, a total reign of about 50 years for the four Aláàfin at Ìgbòho is not too generous. This makes Smith’s date more acceptable.

89 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 17-18; Ajísafé, A.K. Ìwé Ìtan Abęòkúta, pp. 9 and 17.

90 Ajísafé, A.K. Ìwé Ìtan Abęòkúta, pp. 8. Oral interview: Ǫba Oyèbàdé Lípędé, the Aláké and his chiefs, Aké Palace, Abęòkúta, 13/2/78; Alákétu Adétutù and chiefs, Ilé-Kétu, 15/7/78.

91 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu. p. 15.

92 The concept of orírun is similar in Yorùbá philosophy to that of orí (head/fate), which underlines the Yorùbá traditional belief in predestination. As orí is the most important element in the identity of an individual, so is orírun the most important element of a group. It is the orírun that binds together (psychologically) all individuals in a group. On the concept of orí, see Abímbólá, ’Wándé. Ifá: An Exposition of Ifá Literary Corpus. Ìbàdàn, O.U.P. (1976) pp. 111-116.

93 This is the thesis in Aşiwájú. A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp. 23-25; Law R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 37-44.

94 Oral interview: Justin Yá, head of the Amùşù (75+), Sèhú, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78.

95 cf. Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 82-83; also Orou, G. Origine de la Dynastie de Parakou. NA 66 (Avril 1955) p. 39.

96 Oral interview: Ǫba A. Akànní, the Oníşábe and chiefs, 21/8/78. The mention of Angara Debu came unconsciously during a recitation of the oríkì of Babagídáí.

97 See for instance, Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende pp. 54-57.

98 See the troubles that accompanied the plan to re-occupy Òyó-Ilé in Johnson, S. The History, pp. 164-165.

99 The ‘Boko’ are sometimes called ‘Bussa’. J. Lombard who distinguishes them from the Ìbààbá ‘proper’ says that they have some traits of Hausa culture in their customs. See Lombard, J. Structures de Type ‘Féodal’, pp. 41-42.

100 Another group apparently also opposed to the reoccupation of Òyó-Ilé moved southwards, settled for a while at Ìjérù in present-day Ògbómòsó and later moved into the Ifę territory to establish a dynasty at Ìpelumodù. Oral interview: Ǫba S.A. Olóyèdé, Apetumodù and chiefs, Ìpetumodù, 1/5/79. See also Oyèríndé, N.A. Ìwé Ìtàn Ògbomòşó.

101 Oral interview: Albert Àbíssí (70+), Aafin Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1994

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Cette publication numérique est issue d’un traitement automatique par reconnaissance optique de caractères.

Acheter

Volume papier

Place des libraires