Since the Nubians were descended or colonized by the Egyptians, the Ijebu, and by extension, all Yoruba customs, derived from the Egyptian.
Many traditional Yorubas have always claimed Egypt as their place of original abode, and that their monarchical tradition derives from the Egyptians.
Yorubas left Egypt as a result of a big war that engulfed the whole of Egypt. The Egyptian remnants settled in various places, two important places being Ode Itsekiri and Ile-Ife. Oral tradition has it also that when the Yorubas came from South of Egypt they did not go straight to where they now occupy. They settled at Illushi, some at Olukumi Ukwunzu while some settled at Ode-Itsekiri.
Since these oral traditions are passed on by very illiterate people, we can augment whatever is recorded with written sources. Concerning the migration of some of the Yoruban ancestors from the east, Conton says: The Yoruba left their fertile lands, for reasons which we can not now discover and joined in the ceaseless movement of tribes west wards and south-wards across our continent.
They were Negro people of ancient Egypt and that one of the many princely states they founded on their arrival in West Africa was Ife. While the ancient Egyptians were pure Negroes.
Impressed by the similarities between Yoruba and ancient Egyptian culture – religious observation, works of art, burial and other customs – speak of a possible migration of the ancestors of the Yoruba from the upper Nile (as early as 2000BC – 1000BC) as a result of some upheavals in ancient Egypt. He also pinpoints the cause for the Yoruban migration – war.
The Yoruba history begins with the migration of an east African population across the trans-African route leading from Mid-Nile river area to the Mid-Niger. The Nigerian region was inhabited more than forty thousand years ago, or as far back as 65,000BC. During this period, the Nok culture occupied the region. The Nok culture was visited by the “Yoruba people”, between 2000BC and 500BC. This group of people was led, according to Yoruba historical accounts by Oduduwa, who settled peacefully in the already established Ile-Ife, the sacred city of the indigenous Nok people.
This time period is known as the Bronze Age, a time of high civilization of both of these groups. The Yoruba, during antiquity, lived in ancient Egypt before migrating to the Atlantic coast. Thus, the similarity or identity of languages, religious beliefs, customs and names of persons, places and things. In addition, many ancient papyri discovered by archaeologists point at an Egyptian origin. (Tariqh Sawandi: Yorubic medicine: The Art of divine herbology – online article).
Some words in the Yoruban vocabulary echo the words used in Egypt in predynastic times and in the early dynastic periods. Some Egyptian gods of this period have strong identities with Yoruban deities. For instance, gods such as Adumu (Adumu) Hepi (Ipi) Ausar (Ausa), Horise (Orise), and Sámi (Sámi) Nam (Inama) are present in Yoruba. All these gods existed in the pre-dynastic and early dynastic periods of Egypt.
TODAY, AMONG THE ITSEKIRI – YORUBAS, THESE GODS CAN STILL BE PHYSICALLY SEEN, AT LEAST, ONCE A YEAR.
Neighboring communities are already initiated into the various gods systems and beliefs in yorubaland.
There are words that existed in the Graeco-Roman period in some of the Yoruban dialects. When the Romans took over Egypt, they infiltrated the Egyptian area with their language. In present Yoruba, we can still find words of Roman descent. For instance, the Yoruba called the palm frond ‘Mariwo’. This word is derived form the Latin Rivus (River). One of the declensions of river is Rivo (by the river).Since the Yoruban possesses no “V”, the word become riwo. Thus, the word “Omariwo” means the child by the river. Some other words like Sangi (blood in Itsekiri-yoruba dialect) thought to have been derived form the Portuguese were actually brought as a result of the Roman Conquest of Egypt. Sangi is blood and the Latin term is Sanguis. Some eastern Yoruba use the term “Ihagi” which is clearly a corruption of the Roman Sanguis. A Christian army in 540AD invaded Egypt and some persons believed to have reached Yoruba land were driven from Egypt.
With the commencement of the Arab period in Egypt, some indigenous Egyptians who never wanted to accept the Islamic religion escaped to present Yoruba land. It was probably in this period that words such as Keferi (Kafri pagan in Arab) infiltrated into the Yoruboid vocabulary.
All said and done, more than fifty percent of the Yoruboid vocabulary of today can be deduced either directly or indirectly from the ancient Egyptian. These are the original ancient Egyptian language devoid of Arab and Latin words that are very few in the Yoruboid vocabulary
It is not really certain when king Oduduwa came from Egypt. He must have come in one of the many migrations. But since the Yoruba religious discourse has a lot of identities with Egyptian, Oduduwa would have left Egypt at a very early period perhaps after the Hyksos invasion of 2000-1500BC, but not later than 30BC.
PROOFS OF EGYPTIAN NEGRONESS
1. Egypt was a part of Africa and therefore should be black
2. The Egyptians believe that Egypt was a colony of Ethiopia, and that the religion was brought to Egypt by King Horus from the south (inner Africa). Thus when the Egyptians died, they buried their corpses with their faces facing the South West (the direction of West Africa, home of the Yoruba)
3. Some West African peoples claim that their ancestors migrated to ancient Egypt. The Yorubas claimed that a mystic-prophet Orunmila (Oritse Udeji among the Itsekiri) migrated to Egypt and established a religion. Archaeology and cross-cultural studies have shown that Negroes migrated from West Africa to ancient Egypt.
4. Anthropologists have discovered, to their dismay, that Egyptian cultural traits: divine kingship, forms of burial, Osirian cult, etc., permeate some parts of Negro Africa.
5. Some deities exist in Egypt and in Negro Africa, such as Adumu, Hepi, Inama, Sami Horise etc.
6. The Greeks referred to the Egyptian as “Hoi Aiguptos”, (black people); the Egyptians referred to themselves as Kam (black in their language.)
7. Melanin test proved that the Egyptians were black.
8. Osteological measurements which are less misleading than craniometry in distinguishing a black man from a white man has proved that the ancient Egyptians belonged to the black race. Lepsius, a German Savant at the end of the nineteenth century, made the studies and his conclusion remains valid. Future studies have not contradicted the “Lepsius canon”, which in broad figures gave the bodily proportion of the ideal Egyptian: short armed and of Negroid or Negrito physical type.
9. Most West African claim Egyptian ancestry. If they are black, their ancient Egyptian ancestors must be black.
10. Ancient paintings on caves and temples in Egypt depict blacks. At first there were only black paintings, in later times, the blacks were shown ruling over whites and yellows (Asians).
11. Ancient statues and carvings found in Upper and Lower Egypt showed black skins, and features.
12. Ancient monuments such as the pyramid have been replicated in other parts of Africa. A typical example is the Warri pyramid recorded in Roth (1671).
13. Language similarities exist between the Egyptians and some groups in west Africa such as the Wolof and particularly more so, the Yorubas ( more then 500 similar words have been discovered bearing identical meanings. See Yoruba is Atlantis by the same authors: to be published).
14. Recent findings of Genetics and Molecular Biology and Linear Analysis have proved the Egyptians were Negroid.
15. The testimony of classical writers such as Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Pythagoras etc., portrays the Egyptians as blacks.
16. the physical photograph of Yuyi of ancient Egypt is Negroid (Barbara Mertz : Red Land ,Black land: 1967)
The Egyptian religion and other cultural practices show strong Yorubic characteristics. These can be seen in the following areas:
1. The lost wax method of brass or bronze making, which was common to both the Yoruba peoples (particular Ife) and the ancient Egyptians.
2. The ritual of initiation
3. Striving to achieve the ultimate in “Good” and truth (summun bonum)
4. The doctrine of transmigration of soul and reincarnation is widely believed in, by both peoples.
5. The concept of the ‘god king’.
6. Aspiration to achieve the great ‘good’ of the gods – ‘wealth health and long life’.
7. The Yorubic regalia, in most cases, are strikingly similar to pharoanic ones.
8. Veneration of the Ram in both places. Among the eastern Yorubas (Itsekiri especially, most of the water deities are depicted as ram following the predynastic and pharoanic patterns).
9. Both peoples answer the theophorous names.
The surest way to prove a cultural contact between peoples is to adduce linguistic evidence
One of the largest inhabitants of Egypt were Yoruboid , and it will be expected that a good percentage of their language will be yoruboid too. See the table below.
1. Wu (rise) Wu (rise)
2. Ausa (Osiris, father of the gods) Ausa (father)
3. Ere (python/ Serpent) Ere (Python / Serpent)
4. Horise (a great god) Orise (a great god)
5. Sen (group of worshippers) Sen ( to worship)
6. Ged (to chant) Igede (a chant)
7. Ta (sell / offer) Ta (sell/offer)
8. Sueg (a fool) Suegbe (a fool)
9. On ( living person) One ( living person)
10. Kum (a club) Kumo( a club)
11. Enru (fear / terrible) Eru (fear / terrible
12. Kun / qun (brave man) Ekun (title of a brave man)
13. Win (to be) Wino (to be)
14. Odonit (festival) Odon (festival)
15. Ma or mi (to breath) Mi. (to breathe)
16. Tebu (a town) Tebu (a town)
17. Adumu (a water god) Adumu (a water god)
18. Khu (to kill) Ku (die)
19. Rekha (knowledge} Larikha (knowledge)
20 Hika (evil) Ika (evil)
21 Mhebi (humble) Mebi (humble to ones family)
22 Sata (perfect) Santan (perfect)
23 Unas (lake of fire) Una (fire)
24 Tan (complete) Tan (complete)
25 Beru (force of emotion) Beru (fear)
26 Em (smell) Emi (smell)
27 Pa (open) Pa (break open)
28 Bi (to become) Bi (to give birth, to become)
29 Hepi (a water god) Ipi (a water god)
30 Sami (water god) Sami (a water god)
31 Osiri (a water god) Oshiri (a water god)
32 Heqet – Re (frog deity) Ekere (the frog)
33 Feh (to go away) Feh (to blow away)
34 Kot (build) Ko (build)
35 Kot (boat) Oko (boat)
36 Omi (water) Omi (water)
37 Ra (time) Ira (time)
38 Oni (title of Osiris) Oni (title of the king of Ife)
39 Budo (dwelling place) Budo (dwelling place)
40 Dudu (black image of Osiris) Dudu (black person)
41 Un (living person) Una (living person)
42 Ra (possess) Ra (possess/buy)
43 Beka (pray/confess) Be or ka (to pray or confess)
44 Po (many) Po (many/cheap)
45 Horuw (head) middle Egyptian Oruwo (head) (Ijebu)
46 Min (a god) Emin (spirit)
47 Ash (invocation) Ashe (invocation)
48 Aru (mouth) Arun (mouth ) Ilaje
49 Do (river) Odo (river)
50 Do (settlement) Udo (settlement)
51 Shekiri (water god) Shekiri (a water god)
52 Bu (a place) Bu ,a place
53 Khepara (beetle Akpakara (beetle)
54 No (a water god Eno (a water god)
55 Ra -Shu (light after darkness Uran-shu (the light of the moon
56 Run-ka (spirit name) Oruko (name)
57 Deb/dib to pierce Dibi (to pierce)
58 Maat (goddess of justice Mate (goddess of justice)
59 Aru (rise) Ru (rise up)
60 Fa (carry) Fa (pull)
61 Kaf (pluck) Ka (pluck)
62 Bu bi (evil place) Bubi (evil place)
63 In- n (negation In-n (negation)
64 Iset (a water god) Ise (a water god)
65 Shabu (watcher) Ashonbo (watcher)
66 Semati (door keeper) Sema (lock/shut the door)
67 Khenti amenti (big words of Osiris Yenti – yenti (big, very big)
68 Ma (to know) Ma (to know)
69 Bebi, a son of osiris) Ube, a god
70 Tchatcha chief (they examined the death to see if they tricked tsatsa (a game of tricks, gambling )
71 Ren( animal foot) Ren (to walk)
72 Ka (rest) Ka (rest/tired)
73 Mu (water) Mu (drink water)
74 Abi (against) Ubi (against / impediment)
75 Reti (to beseech) Retin (to listen)
76 Hir (praise) Yiri (praise)
77 Ta(spread out) Ta (spread out)
78 Kurud (round) Kurudu (round)
79 Ak – male Ako (male)
80 Se – to create Se (to create)
81 Hoo (rejoice) Yo (rejoice)
82 Kamwr (black) Kuru (extremely black
83 Omitjener (deep water) Omijen (deep water)
84 Nen, the primeval water mother) Nene (mother
85 Ta (land) Ita (land junction)
86 Horiwo (head) Oriwo (head)
87 Ro (talk) Ro (to think)
88 Kurubu (round) Kurubu (deep and round)
89 Penka (divide) Kpen (divide)
90 Ma-su (to mould) Ma or su (to mould)
91 Osa (time) Osa (time)
92 Osa (tide) Osa ( tide)
93 Fare (wrap) Fari (wrap)
94 Kom (complete) Kon (complete)
95 Edjo (cobra) Edjo (cobra)
96 Didi (red fruit) Diden (red)
97 Ba (soul) Oba (king) soul of a people
98 Ke (hill) Oke( hill
99 Anubis (evil deity) Onubi (evil person)
100 Kan (one: Middle Egyptian) Okan one)
101 Nam (water god) Inama (water god)
The words above are used to show that most Yoruban words are identical to the ancient Egyptian.
BINIS: THE ODUDUWAN LEGACY
THE PERSONALITY OF “ODUDUWA”
The personality of Ikaladeran; whether he was the man who later became Oduduwa will be scientifically analyzed
Oduduwa is the founder of the Yoruba monarchical system, or at least, a founder of a prominent dynasty in Yoruba history. There must have been many dynasties in Ife, as Ife legends put pre-Oduduwa monarchs at more than ninety.
The personality of Oduduwa has suffered many attacks in recent times. The Binis claim he was a Benin prince (Ekaladerhan), who later became Imadoduwa or Izoduwa, and then Oduduwa. The Igbos claim he was an Igbo man from Nri. Some Igalas claim he hailed from Igala land. The Igalas have many Ifes, and they claim Oduduwa was from one of such Ifes. The Igala language is close enough to the Yoruba, to assert a common origin for both peoples.
The present writers are holding the following positions:
1. The Yorubas are aborigines or autochthonous to their present environment;
2. The monarchical structure seems to be alien. The present writers tend to place the origin of the Yoruba monarchy in ancient Egypt and Nubia. This is because a lot of Egyptian related relics, words and practices can still be discerned among the Yorubas, particularly among the following: Ife (where the Ifa oracle and Yoruba monarchical system blossomed); Ijebu (with some ancient settlements; Ijebu Ode, the seat of the Awujale, Ode, the seat of Lenuwa, in present day Ogun Water side Local Government, Oke-Eri, purported to be the home of the biblical queen of Sheba, called Bilikisu in Ijebu legends), Ugbo, the ancient city of the Ilajes, Idanre (the home of Ogun, the god of iron), all show some similarities and identities in their monarchical and religious authorities.Basil Davidson, Olumide Lucas, Tariqh Sawandi, and even the present Awujale of Ijebu land, have pointed to ancient Egypt or Nubia as the origin of Yoruba monarchical system. All the above have used the similarities or the identities of cultural practices to substantiate their claims.
If the Yorubas left the Egyptian or the Nubian axis, they must have left during turbulent periods of war, economic stagnation or religious persecution. Thus, we shall examine the periods of upheavals in black Egypt and black Nubia; and examine when the Yoruban aristocracy descended from the Nile valley. They may not be one migration, but several migrations and the personality called Oduduwa, must have led one of the various migrations.
The first crop of migrants or southward push of the Egyptians took place about 2000BC – 500BC. The Hyksos invasion (2000-1500BC) caused some of these southward migrations. Many of the black Egyptians seemed to have moved to Yoruba land during this period. .
The second wave of migrations will correspond to what Laoye Sanda, of the department of Public Administration,The Polytechnic,Ibadan refers to as the black Nubian emigrants. The Nubians were black, they occupied present day Sudan, which was an integral part of the Egyptian Empire. The vocabulary, body scarification, and religious discourse resemble those of the Ijebus and more so, the Itsekiri. The 1984 Awujale’s coronation manual will make this manifest. These migrations occurred about 500BC.
A third wave of migration took place between 90BC and 30BC. The present writers feel the personality called Oduduwa, came in that migration trend.
A fourth migration will correspond to the Christian conquest of Egypt, about 100AD.
The last wave of migration will correspond to the Arab enforced emigration, between 700AD – 1100AD, when the Arabs had consolidated their control over Egypt; they chased the last batch of traditional worshipping Egyptians from Egypt. This occurrence would have led to many Yoruba claiming that their ancestors were chased from somewhere in the Middle East for not accepting Islam.
The proof of archaeology
There has been a dearth of archaeological researches in Nigeria. Whatever research has been done is not final, for new finds can be found in future.
The most ancient archaeological finds in Nigeria are the following: (1) the relic at Iwo Eleru (with a radio carbon date of about 12,000BC). Iwo Eleru is close to Akure, Ondo State. (2) The findings at Igbo-Ukwu of about 6000BC. (3) The findings at the Mejiro cave near Oyo (about 4000BC). The Nok culture that is more than 1000BC. (4) The Oke-Eri walls and graves purported to be more than a thousand years. The walls are reputed to be the biggest in the world, but for the walls of China. (5) The bronze heads at Ife about 1000AD. (6) The bronze heads at Benin about 1400AD. This might authenticate the Ife claim that the Binis got the civilization of bronze casting from the Ifes. Both the Binis and the Ifes claim that Igueghae was the one who taught the Binis how to cast bronze, during the reign of the Oba Oguola, fourth king from Eweka, the son of Oramiyan, a distant descendant of Oduduwa from Ife.
THE LINGUISTIC LINKAGES
According to the studies of philology and etymology, most of the languages in Nigeria in the Kwa group of languages have a meeting point. The Yorubas and Idoma separated some six thousand years ago; while the Yoruba and Igalas separated about 2 thousand years ago; two thousand years ago corresponds to the time that the Yoruba dialects: Ekiti, Ijebu, Oyo, Itsekiri, Ilaje, Ikale etc started having distinct dialectical identities.
Linguistic studies have indicated that Yorubas in the Eastern Flanks of the Yoruba nation; Ekiti, Yagba, Kabba, Owo, Ijebu, Itsekiri and to some extent the Ifes, speak the most ancient Yoruba dialects. Glottochronological studies have shown that the dialects in the south east are more ancient than those of central Yoruba land and western Yoruba land. The table displays it further still.
A table showing east to west ancientness of the Yoruboid languages.
ENGLISH ITSEKIRI YORUBA OYO – YORUBA
RESPECT OGHO OWO
MONEY OGHO OWO
LOOK GHO WO
SAY GIN WI
FORBID GHO( r ) WO( r )
THEM AGHAN AWON
The table shows that the Itsekiri dialect retains the more ancient “gh” or “g” guttural sound to the more liquid “w” of the Oyos.
If it is taken that the Yoruban ruling class came from Egypt, the southern Yoruba block, particularly the Itsekiri, would have served as an initial stopping point and a secondary course of dispersal. The table displays it further still
EGYPTIAN ITSEKIRI-YORUBA OYO-YORUBA
ADUMU (Water god) ADUMU (Water god) ADAMU (A god)
Kuku (Darkness) Okuku (Darkness) Ouku (Darkness)
Dudu (Black Image of Osiris) Dudu (black ) Dudu ( black )
Omi (Water) Omi (Water) Omi (Water)
Heket-Re (Frog god) Ekere (Frog) Akere (Frog)
Horise (Sky god) Orise (Sky god) Orisa (A god)
Hika (Evil) Ika (Evil) Ika (Evil)
Shu (Evil god) Eshu (Evil god) Eshu (Evil god)
Co-opted from 500 word-word correlation between, Yoruba and Egyptian languages .
From the above, it means that the eastern Yoruba blocs such as the Itsekiri, Ilaje, Ijebu and the Owo are more cognate with the Egyptian than those of Oyo or Ife. .
The Awujale has testified that the Itsekiri are speaking the original Ijebu dialect. . This is why Bolaji Idowu derived the origin of Oritse to the Itsekiri-Owo axis within the eastern Yoruba kingdoms…
It is proper here to state that the word “Orise” is almost cognate with the Egyptian, Horise. Both deities represent very high gods.. Both deities were first water divinities before they became sky or heavenly divinities. Both words are derived from identical etymological origins. Hori(Ori) means head in both places. “Se”, means a source in both places. Thus both words mean a source of creation in both places. This type of linguistic similarity or identity cannot have arisen by mere accident – there was a concrete historical intercourse. The Binis call God Oyisa, a corruption of the eastern Yoruba form. This is certain because the Binis cannot derive the meaning of Oyisa by breaking the word into morphemes as the Yoruba can display, or draw up any identity with ancient Egypt.
A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF THE MYTHS
1. Oduduwa – The myth of Oduduwa seems to be valid. Minus the fact that many Yoruba claim descent from Oduduwa, some Urhobos and even Ijaws also claim descent from Oduduwa.
2. Ekaladerhan – This name exists in very little, if at all it exists, in the oral tradition of any of the Bini neighbors. There has been no relevant oral tradition among any of the circumjacent peoples that can recognize Ekaladerhan or identify him as Oduduwa. So, the Ife claim concerning Oduduwa seems to be more tenable.
3. Oduduwa’s descent from heaven – The Ife’s have been totally embarrassed by the invectives thrown on them by the Binis in their I claim that Oduduwa fell from the sky.
Yes! It is true. People can fall from the sky as modern interaction between earthmen and those from other planets have authenticated, and this can be displayed both in mythology and in real hardcore science in many parts of the world. The story of Ezekiel in the bible, the story of the Dogon mystic tribe of Mali are cases in point.
Then, some Yoruba ancestors would have been some of the Umales (aborigines) using their Umale-Olunas (spaceships) to travel across the universe, as this can still be sighted in Yoruba land today.
4. The huge bodies of water which the Bini and Yoruba mythologies claim their ancestors landed, would have been one of two waters (1) the Atlantic ocean, the home of Umale-Okun at the coastal flanks of Yoruba land , or the Mediterranean which was the biggest body of water known to the ancient Negro Egyptians.
BINI AND EASTERN YORUBA HISTORICAL LINKAGES
– The Monarchies
There are areas where the eastern Yorubas and the Binis have a lot of historical linkages. It is an indisputable fact that the founder of the present Itsekiri dynasty was Ginuwa, the first son of Oba Olua of Benin. The Binis ruled over most parts of Ondo state: Akure and Ode-Ondo, to be more specific. They even established dynasties in some of these places, including Owo. There are a lot of titles that the Eastern Yorubas derived from the Binis. Those titles include: Ologbotsere, Iyatsere, Otsodin, Olisan (Oliha) etc. There are also many areas where the Binis are indebted to the Eastern Yorubas. Many of these have not been given prominence by historians. But the more we delve into History, the more we are convinced of Binis indebtedness to the Yorubas, particularly the Itsekiri-yorubas. Some of this indebtedness are the Bini religious discourse, the conquest of Lagos, the manufacture of salt etc.
THE CONQUEST OF LAGOS
On face value, the Lagos conquest seemed to have been done by the Binis. Many authorities however, agree that it is the Itsekiri of Warri that served in the Navy that attacked Lagos. The assertion is likely to be true because of the following (1) The Binis are not watermen and could not easily travel on the lagoons to Lagos. (2) The name ‘Olu’ is common among Lagos Obas eg. The Olu of Ikeja, the Olu Eko of Eko (Eleko) etc. The name ‘Olu’ is Itsekiri or Oyo-yoruba and not Edo or Bini (3) The Eyo masquerade attire and dance style is similar to that of Awankere of Warri. It is true that the Eyo masquerade originated in Ijebu, but the attire is purely of Warri origin. This will authenticate a not-too-popular Okere(Warri) legend, that it was the descendants of Ekpen that accompanied Orhogbua (Osogbua) to conquer Lagos. .
. Also, the drums used by the Awori people bear striking resemblance to the Itsekiri drums, but bear no resemblance to the Bini drums. In summary, the material culture of the Aworis is far more akin to the Itsekiri than to the Binis.
Now hear the authorities: Captain Leonard says; “Of the Jekri (Itsekiri) also there is much more definite, although to a certain extent contradictory evidence. According to one account, they are said to be closely connected with the Yoruba, the Warri kingdom having extended to and embraced Lagos as well as some of the surrounding territories to this day (1906), in fact, Jekri inhabit the strip of country, along the coast from the Benin river westward to Lagos” This might be due to the fact that Itsekiri held most of the trading posts along the coast when Leonard was writing.
Captain Leonard in another section of his work says: “And from all accounts, it is more than possible, if not evident that the army of warriors who founded Lagos proceeded in reality from Warri, but doubtless by the command of the king of Benin”.
Corroborating Leonard and Nirven that the Itsekiri aristocracy has at least some politico-economic interests in Lagos, H. Ling Roth says “Such corals as the Binis had, were obtained through Jekri traders either from the Benin River or Lagos”.
ORIGIN OF BINI BEADS
The Itsekiri have always claimed that beads started with them and that the Binis got their beads from them. Settlements such as Omadino, Inorin, Ureju and Korobe area of the Warri kingdom are the ancient Itsekiri settlements with the bead industry.
The people of Ureju and Korobe in Koko claimed to have given Ogboruware (Ewuare), probably a usurper to the Bini throne, beads for the first time. There is a legend among the Korobes, that Ogboruware (Ewuare), had his swelling disease as a result of an affliction placed on him by Korobe, a legendary spiritual woman. Now hear the authorities:
H Ling Roth says
According to Bold, coral beads, “are the intrinsic treasures of the rich, being held in highest estimation and from their rarity, are only in the hands of a few chiefs, whose avidity for them is immeasurable, the species admired are the pipe beads of various dimensions and are valued at ten large jars of oil an ounce, of the smaller sort, and so on in the proportion for the larger sized”. Mr. Punch informs me that “as a matter of fact, the king of Benin had few, if any of the large coral beads such as Nanna, Dore, Dudu and Jekri chiefs obtained from the merchants in the Benin River. His coral was insignificant pipe agate and was only significant when made up into vests and hats. The Benin value more the agate beads and especially the dull agate was a king’s gift and no one could wear such a necklet unless it was given to him by the king. It was death in fact, to wear it otherwise. The shiny crystalline agate, with white quartz, anyone could wear. Such corals as the Binis had were obtained through Jeiri traders, either from the Benin river or Lagos. The Binis said it was dug up at the back of Benin but everything in the days I am speaking 14 – 15 years ago (from 1898) which was at all mysterious came from the back of Benin .
Eve de Negri says,
“This coral was first discovered (so it is told) during the fifteenth century in the reign of Oba Ewuare. This type of coral was obtained from a tree, growing on the sandy bank of the Benin River”.
PC llyod also commented that Itsekiri legends claim that their ancestors, the Umales, got the blue corals from particular trees that were growing in the Jekri country.
from the above quotations, it is evident that the Benin got their beads from the Itsekiri, and the Itsekiri legends that they gave beads to Oba Ogboruware (Eware), has to be positively examined by scientific historians.
BINIS LEARNT ABOUT SALT FROM THE ITSEKIRI
The Binis are land-bound people and they know very little about salt. Itsekiri legends testify that they gave salt to Binis for the first time
The Itsekiri are known as the manufacturers of salt.. Alagoa, H Ling Roth, and Obaro Ikime, agree to this position. H. Ling reports,
“According to Roupel’s officials, king Osogbua (Orhogbua) is credited with discovering salt in the Jekiri country”. Pg. 142.H Ling Roth Great Benin
It is now factual that Orhogba discovered salt when he came to the Jekiri (Itsekiri) country to seek the assistance of the Itsekiri navy in order to attack Lagos. In 1818 they also sought the assistance of Kaye, an Itsekiri mystic-warrior in order to attack Akure. He was given Ologbo some 25 kilometres south of Benin city.
The itsekiri were the major salt producers in the Niger delta area. On this hear Alagoa: “the itsekiri supplied clay pots to to such Ijo communities as the Gbaramatu and Bassan, and and also sold salt to traders from eastern delta who took it up the Niger………Other Ijo exchanged dried fish and salt ,which was manufactured by the Itsekiri ,with the Urhobo ,Isoko and Igbo groups along the periphery of the Niger Delta and along the Lower Niger” (Alagoa 1989:729)
WATER RELIGION OF THE BINIS
The cult of Olokun (the water religion) of the Binis seems to be purely alien. This is due to the following reasons: (1) the Binis are a land based people. Their main occupations are; farming, hunting and sculpture. So it will be unthinkable for the Binis to have a water religion as a major cult. (2) If a water religion exists among the Binis, and it has become prominent, the Binis might have copied from one of their riverine neighbors (3) these neighbours are the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, the Ilajes, and more distant neighbours being, the Asabas, the Onitshas, the Afenmai or Igala people around the river Niger.
The Afenmais and the Igalas seem too distant from Benin to have a good influence on them. The Asabas and the Onitshas, also, seem to be too far away form Benin. Minus that, they don’t seem to have any serious water cult to influence the Binis to have a viable water religion.
Thus, the Bini (a land locked people) must have had their water religion from the Ijaws, the Itsekiris or the Ilajes. The Bini religious discourse has nothing to do with the Ijaws. Besides that, the Ijaws that are the immediate neighbours of the Binis did not have any significant civilization. These Ijaw neighbours are the Egbemas, the Arogbos, the Apois–now Yoruba-speaking–the Ogbe-Ijohs, the Isabas, the Gbaramatus, the Ogulaghas, the Oburutus, and the Meins. No significant civilization or kingdom has emerged from these Ijaw clans. E.J Alagoa asserted that most of these Ijaws did not arrive their area by 1500, which is quite recent according to historical chronology. The cases settled in the Supreme Court between the Ijaws and the Itsekiri; place the date of Ijaws coming to these areas at the early 19th century. Now, hear Prof.Alagoa , an Ijaw doyen of history:
“Pereira’s record suggests that those Ijo groups now living west of the Forcados and east of the Bonny had not yet arrived at their present territory by 1500”. Thus, it is unthinkable for the Binis to have copied the water religion from the Ijaws.
The Itsekiri and the Ilajes receive the likelihoodof having given water religion to the Binis for the following reasons:1)The Binis situate the home of Olokun, the god of the sea, in the Atlantic Ocean. Both the Itsekiris and the Ilajes are in the Atlantic coast. (2) The Bini religious discourse shows a strong Yoruba affinity. The name, Olokun, (Olu Okun) is an eastern Yoruba name that can apply to the Itsekiri as well as Ilajes, as eastern Yoruba dialects. The Binis call God Osa, which is the same word that the Itsekiri call father. The other Bini word for God, Oyise, is clearly corruption of the much older Itsekiri name, Oritse. . In the early days of November 2004 , the Bini Monarch invoked an Ilaje deity, Aiyelala, to recover some property that was stolen from the Oba Market in Benin . This will authenticate the Ilaje story of the Binis coming to Ugbo once every year to serve Umaleokun, the water god of the Ugbo Yoruba
H. Ling Roth went further, quoting Burton says:
“Similar to other west Africans, the Bini When drinking,the Binis always pour a few drops upon the ground, muttering the while (Mobia, Malaku Mobia (Mobie, Umalokun, Mobie) – Ibeg, O Malaku (Umale-Okun, fetish guardian of lands and waters 1 beg of thee to defend me against all evil, to defeat and destroy all my foes”. This said, a broken bittock of Kola (stercula acuminata) is thrown upon the ground, and is watered with a few drops of palm wine.” Burton Pg. 281. Mobia (Mobie) is however the Jekiri for “1 beg you : 59.
It is evident that the Bini religious discourse was, and to some extent is, still infiltrated with Itsekiri and Ilaje. This is most evident in the water religion of the Binis.
From the above, we see that some of the most important aspects of the Bini civilization: their bead industry, the cult of Olokun (Olu Okun – King of the sea), their salt industry etc are from the eastern Yoruba land of Itsekiri and to some extent the Ilajes. Apart from this, the Itsekiri warrior, Ikaye, saved the Bini kingdom from being crushed by the Akures. For his settlement Oba Semede gave him Ologbo.
Again when there was leadership dispute between Obaseki and Aigwobasinwin, it was an Itsekiri chief, Dore Numa, who restored the Benin monarchy. He also gave them a lot of beads which the Bini aristocracy has not returned till today. It is therefore unthinkable that Ife, where the Yoruba kingship blossomed, would have copied from Benin. This is most evident when we consider the following facts: (I) The name, Oba (the Edo word for king), is copied from the Yorubas, particularly those from Ife (2) the heads of the Obas of Benin were taken to Ife, until very recently. The place where the heads of the Obas of Benin were buried is still called “Orun Oba Ado”, “the heaven of the kings of Benin”. (3) The Binis normally take permission from the Ooni, to crown new kings. There is no recorded history that the Oonis took permission from the Binis before getting crowned (4) The official language in the court of the Oba of Benin until 1934 was Yoruba. There was no time that Bini language was spoken in Ife. The Portuguese and other Europeans who were in the Bini area for more than 500 years (from 1486 when they got to Benin till 1960.)had no knowledge of Oduduwa being a Bini man.
So, scientifically speaking, the Ife position seems more tenable than that of the Benin. Oral traditions can be fabricated. So, rigorous history of the 21st century must be purely scientific – even if we recourse to oral tradition, they must face scientific testing and not based on moribund oral tradition. Aspects such as linguistic analysis, archaeological discoveries, cultural practices etc, must come into the forefront when reconstructing the history of preliterate peoples like the Binis and the Ifes.
THE EDOS ARE DESCENDED FROM THE IRIGBO OF ODE_ITSEKIRI
In one of their accounts, the Edos claim discent from God himself, who they say is the grand father of Iso (Sky) who in turn is the grand father of Idu, ancestor of the Binis. One of the brothers of Idu called. Olukumi (the Yorubas were first called Olukumi, today a tribe called olukumi, speaking a language very similar to Itsekiri-Yoruba, and the legends claim they all descended from Egypt, are to be found in parts of Edo and Delta States) lived with him in Uhe (Ife) before they left to found Benin. Michael Crowder: “The story of Nigeria”, Page 63.
The word Olukumi in Itsekiri, means a friend of mine. The word Olukumi, rather than Ore is still used in Ife is evident that Idu and his brothers left to Ile-Ife, after the southward migration of the Yorubas to Ode-Itsekiri and thence to Ile-ife. This is why the story of a watery terrain remains in the tradition of the Binis and the Ifes who are located very far from the Atlantic coast. The vast expanse of water, where the ancestors of the Binis and the find themselves is no other place than the Itsekiri territory of the Atlantic coast.
At a time, the powerful Bini kingdom was paying tax to the Olu of Warri when the yoke of imperialism crumbled the once great kingdom of the Guinea. Concerning this issue Michael Crowder says:
“With the decline of Ughoton
the Benin had to use theports of the Benin river and thus, pay dues to the Olu of Warri in whose territory the ports was located”.17
In conclusion the Itsekiris introduced the following to Benin: salt, beads, and the worship of Umale Okun. The Itsekiri under Dore also helped the Binis to revive their monarchy.