The war of words between the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi is yet to abate over the vexed issue of the Igbo ancestral connection with the Yoruba. Another letter has emanated from Ife side (ASHE Foundation), trying to demolish the Alaafin’s position on the issue. Not a few Nigerians now pray that this will not go beyond intellectual exercise.
What is happening between the two monarchs now began when Oba Ogunwusi spoke at his Ile-Oodua palace in Ile-Ife while receiving the Lagos State president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Solomon Ogbonna. He was a member who accompanied the delegation of African Farmers And Cultural Organisation that paid a courtesy visit to the Ooni’s palace.
With eclat, Oba Ogunwusi told the visitors: “This is your root. I said it recently, some of our Yoruba kinsmen with ignorance of our history came out with nugatory beratement of my position on the family ties between Yoruba and Igbo people. We have to say the truth and the truth must set us all free, we are blood brothers. We should be inseparable. Please feel at home in Yorubaland and respect your Yoruba brothers and sisters too.”
The Alaafin, in a letter or response published in the Nigerian Tribune, debunked the linkages between the two ethnic groups and narrated the Yoruba and Igbo’s path in history.
Oba Adeyemi, as published earlier on this platform, reasoned that the Igbo with a record of highly respected origin will feel comfortable after tracing their origin to ancient Israel with lineage to Eri, the fifth son of Gad who was the seventh son of Jacob, who was the youngest son of Isaac, son of Abraham.
Alaafin repeated the history of Igbo origin: “Eri, the son of Gad was said to have entered the present Egypt, journeying down Africa, crossing the Nile to Ethiopia (present day Sudan) and finally into the present day Enugwu Aguleri (for more details about this see: THE BOOK NIGERIA 2.O. CARAPACE PUBLISHERS NIGERIA LIMITED. Pg 46 ORIGIN OF THE IGBO: OBU GAD (HOUSE OF GAD) ANAMBRA STATE. Khartoum Street, Wuse, Zone 5, Abuja Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria or www.dayoadedayo.com). Certainly, the Igbo people who are proud of their origin will not feel comfortable with any pseudo history that will make them superior to Israel.
“I am not aware of any business relationship between the Yoruba and the Igbo until the 19th century, leading to the amalgamation of the Southern Protectorate and Northern Protectorate that resulted into Nigeria in 1914. In other words, we are related as fellows Nigerians who have been enjoying mutual relationship for each other. Culturally, linguistically, traditionally and historically, we are basically different. We have always striven to promote harmonious understanding in our diversities.”
Now Prince Justice Jadesola Faloye, President ASHE foundation has written a letter dated 4 May 2019 and entitled, “Re: Alaafin – Aje, an early Yoruba deity,” trying to smash the Alaafin’s logic into smithereens. ASHE Foundat means African Social-Cultural Harmony and Enlightenment. Its Board of Trustees is chaired by Ooni Ogunwusi. Other memebers are:
•HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi Of Onitsha, Chairman Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers.
•HRM, Dr Idakwo Ameh Oboni II, Attah of Igala, Kogi State Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers
•HRM Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa-ibi Kuvyon II. Aku Uka of Wukari, Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers, Taraba State
•HRM Dandeson Douglas Jaja, The Amanyanabo of Opobo, River State Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers
In the letter, Faloye argued: “Kabiyesi, is it a coincidence that Igbo rivers are called Osimirin and till date there is a river Osinmirin also pronounced Esinmirin in Ife. Can it be a coincidence that River Omi (Yorubas word for water) and River Mirin (Igbos word for water) join to make River Omirin, a tributary of River Osimirin till date in Ife? Kabiyesi, though Ifa says there are no coincidences in life, can it be a coincidence that in Ile Igbo (House of Igbo) inside Oonis palace, we have Ile Omirin, Ile Odikeji and Ile Ogun? Lastly, is it a coincidence that there is still Lukumi (Oluku mi) living in Ndigboland, a lineage they refer to as Oratife (Oramfe in Yoruba), and clearly traced to Ife.”
The ASHE Foundation President went further: “Kabiyesi, our response is not solely about mythology but about some incorrect assumptions made by you, especially since they are tied to the root of problems encountered by Yoruba and the Black Race, as a whole.
Kabiyesi Iku Baba Yeye, statements made in your point 6 have to be corrected to prevent further damage to our cultural psyche. You stated – ‘I am not aware of any business relationship between the Yoruba and the Igbo until the 19th century, leading to the amalgamation of the Southern Protectorate and Northern Protectorate that resulted into Nigeria in 1914. In other words, we are related as fellows Nigerians who have been enjoying mutual relationship for each other. Culturally, linguistically, traditionally and historically, we are basically different.’
On Alaafin’s debunking Yoruba’s early business relationship with the Igbo, Faloye submittewd that it is understandable that Ife, and not Oyo, made the cultural link with Igbos, since Oyo was not created until thousands of years after Igbos migrated through what later became Oyo into Igalaland till they settled in Aguleri. Faloye added: “However, your claim that there was no interaction between Yorubas and Igbos, the two most populous Original African groups that lived across a single forest for thousands of years before the advent of the Whiteman and creation of Nigeria, is an insult on not only Yorubas and Igbos ancestors, but the entire Black Race. It’s tantamount to you calling us monkeys that only came down from trees with the advent of European.”