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When Oba of Benin visited Ooni of Ife


It has been 36 years since an Oba from Benin visited the Ooni. Tunde Busari, Oluwole Ige and Paul Omorogbe cover the various aspects and the significance of Oba Ewuare II’s visit to the Ooni of Ife.

Oba no dey go transfer,” is a Pidgin English saying popular among people in the Edo/Delta region. It simply alludes to the fact that Obas of Benin rarely leave their palaces where they preside over the day-to-day running of the Benin Kingdom.

Indeed, it is on record that 37 years have gone by since an oba of Benin paid left his palace to pay a visit to a traditional ruler.

Therefore, the news of Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II’s impending visit to the Southwest caused ripples among all concerned in the region.

How the Oba was received

Traditionally, the oba will not just travel to any place directly. He will be met by a regent in that area who will accompany him into the place.

On this occasion, it was Chief Godwin Edobor, Obazuhwen of Benin Kingdom and the representative of the Oba of Benin in the Southwest, who was the man for the job. He led a contingent of cultural dancers, the Bini Community in Oyo State to meet the Bini Community in Ile-Ife to await the oba’s arrival.

Chief Edobor told Nigerian Tribune, “It is my duty as the representative of the Oba of Benin in this region to receive the oba first, and lead him to the Ooni of Ife’s palace and to see the governor.”

The waiting spot was at Roundabout Bus Stop, Ondo Road, Ile-Ife. There was singing, dancing and merriment from a cultural troupe, with various socio-cultural groups like the Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta Development Corporation (BRACED), Edo United, Ile Ife, among others were present.

Mr Aifuwa Igiehon, President of the Bini Community in Oyo State speaking on the significance of the oba’s visit to the Ooni said, “He is coming to meet his brother. There is a strong relationship between Ife and Benin; it is very important. Apart from the cultural and historical relationship, it is important they meet and share ideas to bring progress.”

The Oba of Benin and his entourage soon arrived, in a convoy of no less than 50 vehicles, comprising jet black SUVs, saloon cars, buses, and the oba’s iconic white Rolls Royce in the midst.

“This is more than a governor’s convoy,” one observer remarked.

Oba Ewuare’s entourage, numbering not less than 200 persons, comprised of the oba’s siblings, his daughter, Princess Osayuwamen Ewuare, royal courtiers and body guards, and palace chiefs. The entourage also included dance and theatre troupes, along with the palace drummers.

The Visit to Ooni

The atmosphere all the way from that point to the palace was electrified, and residents were out on the streets to behold the spectacle of the epic visit.

Excitement over the Oba’s visit was heightened because it coincided with the Olokun festival which had been on for a week. If there was a time to see the fullness of Yoruba tradition ‘from the source’ on display, it was on this day.

Apart from the captivating cultural displays by Oba Ewuare’s troupe, consisting of royal princes and princesses, including traditional payment of obeisance by Isoros of Ife, the duo of Oba of Benin and Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) confirmed the historical record of Oranmiyan, the last son of Oduduwa, who migrated from Ile-Ife about 1, 184 years ago to become the first Oba of Benin.

Findings by the Nigerian Tribune indicated that before the advent of Oranmiyan, traditional heads that governed Edo or Benin natives were referred to as “Ogiso”, the title said to be derived from the description Ogie n ‘oriso (meaning King in Heaven) which evolved from the wisdom and knowledge of managing the local affairs of the people.

But, Oba Ewuare, who arrived the palace of his host, located at Ile Oodua, Ile-Ife around 1.23 pm on Saturday with his large retinue of aides was received by his host, as the two foremost traditional rulers entered the private residence of the Ooni for discussion.

Oba Ewuare was received by Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, along with a retinue of traditional rulers. Prominent among them was the Orangun of Ila, Oba Abdulwahab Adedotun, among other important rulers from in around Ile-Ife, including Ekiti.

The richness of the cultures of the Yoruba people of Ile-Ife, and the Edo people of Benin were in full display at this occasion. The Edo State Arts Council Dance Troupe, and Inneh Theatre Troupe from Benin, made presentations.

From Ife, Ijala, Arike Ade, Osirigi, Alagbon, Elewo, Ogunde National Group among others made presentations to the delight of the jam-packed audience in the hall.

In his speech at Ooni’s palace, Oba Ewuare had this to say, “We are indeed appreciative of all the commendations and the remarks you said, moreso the support and working together so that our kingdoms will get closer and closer.

“I want to say it gives me great pleasure to visit His Imperial Majesty today in countinuation of my nationwide thank you call to traditional rulers, and other eminent personalities that graced my coronation on October 20, 2016, which by the divine grace of God is also my birthday. This visit has long been planned but due traditional and other palace engagements in Benin, it is coming at this time. My post-coronation thank-you tour commenced with a visit last year to President Buhari and the Sultan of Sokoto. I thank God for making this visit possible.

“This visit is to appreciate Your Imperial Majesty for the honour done to me and the entire people of Benin with your personal presence at my coronation. This visit should provide us the opportunity to re-awaken the cordial relationship between our two kingdoms which seemed to have unfortunately hitherto cooled off since my father’s visit to Ile Ife in the reign of Oba Sijuade, for reasons I am not too sure of. It is my prayer that this visit of mine will restart the cordial relationship which, because of the historical affinity, should exist between our two kingdoms. We should explore and tap into what unites us rather than what divides us, for the advancement of our cultural heritage and socio-economic development.

“It is gratifying to note that you and I have already been in regular communication even before this visit. We must increase visits to each other because such will augur well for the desirable close relationship between our two kingdoms.”

He used the occasion to highlight “three major issues of national concern. They are the persistent herdsmen/farmers clashes,  human trafficking, and the socio-economic under-development of the country.” He said there was a “dire need to improve on the security architecture of the country” mentioning porous borders as part of the issue. While commending President Buhari on tackling the issue of insurgency in the Northeast, I want to on behalf of all traditional rulers in Edo State, join al traditional rulers in Nigeria, appeal to the President to as a matter of urgency intervene in these other threats to the unity of our country.”

Having introduced members of the royal family on his entourage that included his bother Prince Aghatise Erediuawa who is Executive Director of NDIC, Princes Ehiose and Omoregbe Erediuawa  and his daughter, Princess Osayuwamen Ewuare,Oba Ewuare II also personally introduced one Chief Oliha.

He said, “Those of you that know the history know that the then Oliha came to Ife to ask that Oranmiyan be brought to Benin. There are details in history books. I am cutting out the details. It’s all in the history books and you can research that. He (the then Oliha)  was the one that successfully won the right to escort Oranmiyan to Benin to become the first oba of Benin.”

He mentioned the creation of a foundation called the Oba Ewuare II Foundation to help tackle the menace of human trafficking, noting that the issue was not peculiar to Edo State alone. He said Oba Ewuare II Foundation would work with the House of Oduduwa Foundation in Ife for the betterment of the people.

In his response, the Ooni of Ile Ife, responding said, “It is a great joy and honour to have you in Ife today. We are very excited. The excitement has been in the air since the 24th of this month, Because we are so inter-related. We have common ancestry, we are so linked by virtue of blood, and our two kingdoms have a common ancestral history. I am very happy for the warmth and love you have extended to the kingdom of Ife. On behalf of the house of Oduduwa, we are very honoured for you to be in our midst today.

He said that but for time,“We had a lot planned for today. We wanted to take you to the place of our common ancestral background where Oranmiyan still rests till date. Because he is still alive in our midst. All we need to do is propitiate the spirits of ancestors, and he will hear us.

“From the way Oba Ewuare II has spoken, we are going to solidify the relationship. We will not just have regular visits; we will continue to uphold our traditions jointly, we will continue to uphold our heritage jointly, and everything our ancestors did. For your visit, I actually extended it to the Alaafin of Oyo; I called all the prominent Yoruba kings and I am happy they are here; the Orangun of Ila is here with us. We are all brothers and we are all interrelated.

Definitely, Benin will be an extension of pat of my visits

He spoke of the need for traditional rulers to support politicians in government to solve the security issues highlighted by Oba Ewuare, adding that “I am extending my hand of fellowship to you.”

He added that Oba Ewuare’s visit coincided with the Olokun festival “that I know you are affiliated to. We are using the occasion of the Olokun festival to show to you that we see ourselves as one big happy family. We cannot grow as a nation if we do not uphold our heritage.

He presented a gift to commemorate the common ancestry via Oranmiyan, who the Ooni said, “was a prince in Ife, went to be the first king in Benin, king in Oyo and, came back to Ife to be the sixth Ooni, and began having offspring, and to the glory of God we are the offspring of our ancestors,” describing Oranmiyan as a great hunter.

“I know that you have the spirit of one of our great ancestors, Ogun. You cannot be a great hunter without the spirit of Ogun. He is a reincarnation of Ewaure I who was also known as Ogun, and my own surname is Ogunwusi. You can see the link; we are all the reincarnation of our ancestors.”

Traditional rulers from Yorubaland, who were in attendance during the visit of Oba of Benin of Ife included the Owa of Ijero, Oba Joseph Adebayo Adewole, Oragun of Ila Oragun, Oba Wahab Oyedotun Bibire, Obalufe of Ife, Elerinmo of Erinmo Ijesa, Oba (Dr) Michael Odunayo Ajayi, among others.





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