Re: Alaafin – Aje, an Early Yoruba Deity
By ASHE Foundation
Your Imperial Majesty, Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, with utmost respect, and on prostration, we are responding to your letter dated 2nd May 2019. We greatly appreciate your contribution to the public consciousness of our cultural origins, linkages and identity. We are also informed that the Ooni of Ife is also glad that the conversation is taking place to give us a true picture of our cultural origins and linkages.
ASHE Foundation welcomes all scholars to contribute to this most important conversation in 500 years. We have previously stated that the discussion is about whether Ifa recorded the full origins of humanity and those calling Ifa a liar, ‘awon ti won pe Ifa leke’.
It is not about whether or not Igbos migrated from Ife since genetic and linguistic science and Obi of Onitsha have confirmed it. Some Igbo traditionalists trace their migration from Yorubaland through Igalaland to get to their ancestral home Aguleri and also link Obatala to Ala – Oba nti Ala.
We implore His Majesty to get the best Ifa scholars to discern Igbo origins in the following Odus – Ogbefun, Okanran Onile, Osa Fun, Ateka, Otura Meji, Irete Ogbo, Owonrin Onigbo (Owonrin Oyeku) and many other Odus of Ifa Corpus.
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 Ooni’s 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.
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”.
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. 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.
Kabiyesi, it is disheartening, as one of our paramount Yoruba Obas and cultural custodian is not aware that Yoruba and Igbo share the same 16 erindinlogun IFA, the source of all Yoruba history and knowledge. Your statement is like the Queen of England saying she is not aware the French are Christians. And we share Ifa not only with Igbos, but Igalas, Idomas and practically every group across Africa. Ifa is not a tribal ancestral worship but a bona-fide African knowledge bank that also includes a global religion comparable to Buddhism or Abrahamic faiths.
Kabiyesi, rather than safeguard Yoruba culture your statement plays into the hands of those that want to sabotage Yorubas natural leadership role in bringing about original African unity and global Black ascendancy. You are giving ammunition to our cultural enslavers. In a Boston University study that collated ten different ethnolinguistic groups versions of Ifa, a wrong conclusion was arrived that since we all share identical Ifa systems, it must have originated from the Benue Valley based on the wrong assumption that man and civilization came into Nigeria, and not evolved in Nigeria.
This wrong assumption was challenged with DNA results that rather than Yoruba evolving from the Middlebelt through Oyo to Ife, DNA results show that Yorubas are the oldest full sized humans (under-dated to 87,000yrs ago by Simons Human Genome Project) and all other original groups started evolving out of Yoruba around 60,000yrs ago. One thing is crystal clear, we evolved from one family, so you either accept all evidence that Igbos evolved from Ife OR claim Yorubas evolved from Aguleri.
Linguistics shows that Yorubas, Igbos, Nupe, Ewe, Edo and others belong to the same linguistic family and origins called the Volta-Niger ethnolinguistic, a subfamily of the larger Niger Congo ethnolinguistic family.
We share hundreds of words:
Akuko (Yoruba)/ Okuko (Igbo) – Fowl.
Ewure (Yoruba)/ Ewu (Igbo) – Goat
Okuta (Yoruba)/ Okwute (Igbo) Stone.
Apo (Yoruba)/ Apa (Igbo) Bag/Pocket
Ile (Yoruba)/ Ala (Igbo) Land/Ground.
Eti (Yoruba)/ Nti (Igbo) Ear
Enu (Yoruba)/ Onu (Igbo) Mouth.
Imu (Yoruba)/ Imi (Igbo) Nose
Egungun (Yoruba)/ Egwugwu (Igbo), Masquerade and so on.
Kabiyesi, we would like to refer you to the book, ‘HOW YORUBA AND IGBO BECAME DIFFERENT LANGUAGES (2009) by Prof Bolaji Aremo Scribo Publications.
Rather than back the Yoruba fight for global cultural justice through cultural, linguistics and genetic anthropology, it is a sad day for Yoruba when an Alaafin publicly denies Ile Ife as the origin of humanity where all groups diverged. To make matters worse, you give credence to a Jewish origin of Igbo. The beginning of our problems culturally was the creation of the mosque in Oyo in 1550, Iwo in 1660 and a church in Benin in 1506, challenging the supremacy of our Ife culture and the beginning of our cultural disorientation.
In point 11, you ignore the fact that kolanuts as the foundations of Igbo culture were bought from Yorubaland all through history and till date. It appears that you value trade with the Afroasians that burnt down Oyo Ile than your original African family that you share the same 16 Odu of Ifa with. While on the issue of trade in Yorubaland, which you tied to Trans-Sahara trade, we would like to point out that Yorubas produced and traded beads as far back as 4,600 years ago, which was before Eurasians came out of Central Asian mountain cave complex to intermarry with Black Africans to give birth to Afro-Asians that Oyo traded with millennia later.
Igbo Olokun in Ife that produced Segi beads and Sesefun has recently been carbon dated to 4600 years ago in the ongoing study that involves Harvard University and other internationally reputable anthropologists.
The first currency, cowries, came out of Ife as we traded with fellow original Africans before the evolution of the Afro-Asiatic groups. The Ejigbomekun aka Ife market was created by Obatala descendants and is still immortalized by them. The deities of Oduduwa, Obatala, Oramfe and Aje are still in Ife, and being the source of all humanity is open to everyone to fact find.
As travelling and actual visit help perception, you are invited to Ife to visit these areas for better understanding. Ife still has ancestral homes of all groups that migrated eastwards- Ugbo Ile and Ugbo Oko, Iwinrin afi ota mo odi, Woye Asiri, Ado na Udu, Oluyare compounds etc.
In 1830, Richard Lardner visit to Katunga near Old Oyo gave him an insight, which unfortunately has not been impressed on we, Africans, especially Yorubas. He stated, “I met a trader and purchased a very curious stone in the market and was told it was dug from a country called Ife from where all Africans came from”. Lander R and Lander J(1832).
Journal of an Expendition to Explore the courses and Termination of the Niger. Vol I.JandJ Harper. Despite European and Arabic scholars knowing fully well that Igbo Irunmole, the Southern Ife rainforests, is the true origin of humanity, they have embarked on a divisive and defeatist history that prevents the cultural unity and uplifting of the Black Race.
Oyo may not be aware of the cultural relationships within the rainforests since it was based in the grasslands around River Niger, which was further to Akure than Western Igboland. Oyo and Benin shared borders at Otun Ekiti so most of the current Ekiti and Ondo states were not part of Oyo Empire. Nobody can deny that Oyo and Benin were the greatest kingdoms ever spurned by Yorubas and Edos, but we must accept Ife is the Black Race spiritual origin and cultural centre like Jews accept Jerusalem.
At this point in history, after 500 years of cultural, Economic and socio-political regression, it is time for us to unify the original African cultural sphere instead of attaching ourselves to foreign cultural spheres. This is not anti-any group or imperialist but simply a reconciliation of the original African family, aka Niger Congo groups which is a mere continuum of dialects from Gambia to South Africa.
It is time for undoing the confusion of foreign cultures that prevents us from knowing that Ifa is uniform and shared by other Original African groups. Yorubas are Adiye funfun tio mo ara e lagba that is supposed to lead the Black Race.
With an average age of 18 in Nigeria, we can only beg you our elders to give the coming generation a unifying cultural platform that can allow them assume parity. There are two cultural spheres in Nigeria and across Africa, Original African and Afroasian. The Afroasians are well articulated and organized into a formidable political force, while Original Africans are disorganized since they can’t articulate their Ifa cultural linkages.
Ooni of Ife has embarked on identifying and strengthening Yoruba Original African linkages, not only with Igbos but every Original African group with an Ifa foundation. This will cement IFAs place as the true authentic African perspective and it will enable the creation of a unified belief system.
Yorubas have been able to get over Oyo prominent role in slavery, we might not survive if Oyo breaks apart the original African cultural platform due to supremacy interests.
Kabiyesi Alaiyeluwa, as we enter a new 2000yr era known as Age of Shango, we implore you to take three things to mind. First, please support Ife as the Origin of all humans including Igbos. Second, please support the global relevance of Ifa to all original African groups. Third, please help in building an original African cultural platform that can help global Yoruba and Black ascendancy for the next two thousand years. Ki ade pe lori. May Eledunmare continue to strengthen you as the leader of Yorubas greatest empire ever.
Prince Justice Jadesola Faloye,
President ASHE foundation