HISTORY OF THE YORUBA PEOPLE – The Yoruba tribe is one of the greatest tribes in Africa, although very sketchy evidence exists as to the true origin of this mighty tribe.
Several controversial articles and books have been written about the origins of this mighty tribe, with several kingdoms even in Yoruba land contesting for the rights to be pronounced as the source of the Yoruba nation.
This article aims to shed more light on the origin and history of the Yoruba people.
We would attempt to examine the influences on the language, dressing, food and cultural practices and norm of the Yoruba people, in an attempt to reach a befitting conclusion as to the history of the Yoruba, we would also include some folk lore and stories, to enable you the readers reach a strong conclusion.
One of the many schools of thought and the most popular believe that Yoruba land is the cradle of all mankind, precisely the scared town Ile-Ife. According to this school of thought, Oduduwa who is believed to be the progenitor of the Human race was sent by Olodumare (god) to form mankind out of clay. Oduduwa landed in Ile Ife and set about this task, till today, some of the objects he was said to have brought from heaven are still in Ile-Ife including the chain that he climbed down to earth with.
This school of thought is basically predicated on religious grounds, there are active worshippers of Oduduwa across the globe till date.
The proponents of this school of thought believe that Yoruba people have always been found in Ile Ife since the beginning of time and they vehemently oppose every claim of migration from Egypt or anywhere else.
It is said that at the time Oduduwa came to earth, he only had a chicken and a bag of sand with him and that the earth was filled with water.
As Oduduwa made his descent from the heavens, his grip on the bag of sand slacked and while he was trying to maintain a balance, the bag of sand and the chicken fell to the ground, he scrambled quickly down the chain and found that the sand had settled on the ground and the chicken was scattering it with her feet. This heralded the beginning of the Human race and the start of Ile-Ife.
A similar school of thought holds that Oduduwa was a mortal who was extremely powerful, a father to sixteen children. He sent them out to other territories. These children became rulers of different terriotories.
It is opined that the family background and the upbringing of these children who were kings in their different territories is the reason for the unified customs, language and practices found among Yoruba people today.
The eldest of all of the children was named the Orangun of Ila. He also had a female child named Alaketu, who is the progenitor of the Egbas in Abeokuta. Oranyan/ Oranimiyan was the last of his children and also the king of the Benin Kingdom. This must explain wh the Yourba and Benin culture have very similar traits raging from language to the food and dressing.
It is said that Oranmiyan ruled in Benin for a while, he subsequently made his son Eweka, the king of Benin and made a return to Ile Ife. On getting to Ile Ife, he met his father, Oduduwa, blind and well advanced in age.
He also found that Oduduwa had disbursed all of his territories and property to his other fifteen children and had left none for Oranmiyan, after concluding that Benin Kingdom was sufficient has a heritage for him.
Oranmiyan didn’t like this and was very angry. Oduduwa in an effort to appease him, landed over Ile Ife to him and made him king in his stead. This school of thought isn’t conclusive, there are so many variations, it is hard to believe the story.
There have been issues as to whether or not Oranmiyan was indeed a biological child of Oduduwa, there have also been mentions of Okanbi, as being the only child of Oduduwa and whether Oduduwa was the father or the grandfather of the 16 children in question.
There have also been reports showing slight Egyptian influences in the Yoruba culture. Another school of thought has found that there are many signs that show a possible link.
The king of Ijebu land, the Awujale has explained that the Ijebus, a section of Yoruba land are descended from ancient Nubai, an area in Egypt has we now know it. The Oba showed a link in the ways, manners and practices of the Nubians and Yorubas.
He did this by comparing the languages, body art, and coronation rituals of both tribes. The Yorubas have been traced back to the black migrants and settlers from Cush who didn’t go back to Africa with the other Cushites but chose to mark out a territory in what is presently known as Saudi Arabia
Continuing in this train of thought, this school of thought believes that Yorubas are not originally Arabs given their Cush origins but they settled in the area for a lot of years and were a respected minority in the area.
There are varying reasons as to why the Yoruba tribe eventually left the region of Egypt, some of these reasons include that there was a deadly disease which forced them to migrate, others claim that the original settlers found the sporadic growth of the Yorubas and their strength and economic prowess threatening so they were chased from the region.
Further reports have it that the Yorubas after they left the Egypt region did not proceed to settle where they are majorly found now in the South Western Region of Nigeria, but that they had many stops along the way, some settling in areas like Asaba and so on, before they eventually moved on to their present locations. This migration is calculated to have happened sometime around 2000BC-1000BC.
There are so many other schools of thoughts. But whatever you believe and whichever angle to the history of the Yoruba tribe you decide to follow, it is an undeniable fact that the Yoruba nation is one that has come to stay and no controversy as to its origin can change that.
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