Tourism in Nigeria (National Association of Omo Egbe Yoruba Descendants in North America(

Who are the Yoruba?

The first obvious answer to this question is the Yoruba are a nationality, numbering about 40 million, the majority of whom live in the South Western part of the state of Nigeria in West Africa. Obvious as this answer is, it is not wholly explanatory, and certainly, it is not without its own controversy. First, regarding its explanatory status. One has to add, that the Yoruba are people, that speak a common language, Yoruba, which belongs to the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo linguistic family, and it has about 12 dialects; that they are a well urbanized group with genius in arts as symbolized in the famous “Ife Bronzes”; that Yoruba people are also found in Togo, Benin Republic and in other parts of the world, including Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, and the United States. Second, regarding its controversial status, one has to confront the question what makes the Yoruba a nationality, or a nation, not a tribe or clan, and how does one then mark a distinction between Yorubaland and Nigeria. To this last question, there is no better answer than the one provided by Obafemi Awolowo in 1947, to which a later section of this presentation will return. For now, it is necessary to answer the question: “Who are the Yoruba?” by focusing on some critical moments in Yoruba history and thought.

Address these and other issues by focusing on some critical moments in Yoruba

1. The Oduduwa Dynasty and the Founding of the Nation.
Oduduwa is the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba. There are two variants of the story of how he achieved this feat. The first is cosmogonic, the second, political. The cosmogonic version also has two variants. According to the first variant of the cosmogonic myth, Orisanla (Obatala) was the arch-divinity who was chosen by Olodumare, the supreme deity to create a solid land out of the primordial water that constituted the earth and of populating the land with human beings. He descended from heaven on a chain, carrying a small snail shell full of earth, palm kernels and a five-toed chicken. He was to empty the content of the snail shell on the water after placing some pieces of iron on it, and then to place the chicken on the earth to spread it over the primordial water. According to the first version of the story, Obatala completed this task to the satisfaction of Olodumare. He was then given the task of making the physical body of human beings after which Olodumare would give them the breath of life. He also completed this task and this is why he has the title of “obarisa” the king of orisas. The other variant of the cosmogonic myth does not credit Obatala with the completion of the task. While it concedes that Obatala was given the task, it avers that Obatala got drunk even before he got to the earth and he was unable to do the job. Olodumare got worried when he did not return on time, and he had to send Oduduwa to find out what was going on. When Oduduwa found Obatala drunk, he simply took over the task and completed it. He created land. The spot on which he landed from heaven and which he redeemed from water to become land is called Ile-Ife and is now considered the sacred and spiritual home of the Yoruba. Obatala was embarrassed when he woke up and, due to this experience, he made it a taboo for any of his devotees to drink palm wine. Olodumare forgave him and gave him the responsibility of molding the physical bodies of human beings. The making of land is a symbolic reference to the founding of the Yoruba kingdoms, and this is why Oduduwa is credited with that achievement (Idowu, 1962).

According to the second version of the myth, there was a pre-existing civilization at Ile-Ife prior to its invasion by a group led by Oduduwa. This group came from the east, where Oduduwa and his group had been persecuted on the basis of religious differences. They came to Ile-Ife and fought and conquered the pre-existing Igbo (unrelated to the present Igbo) inhabitants led by Oreluere (Obatala). Obviously, there is a connection between the two versions of the story. The political one may be the authentic story of the founding of Ife kingdom through conquest. However, the myth of creation lends it a legitimacy that is denied by the conquest story; just as it appears that it is lent some credence by the fact that, as a result of the embarrassment it caused their deity, the followers of Obatala are forbidden from taking palm wine. Indeed the second version of the cosmogonic myth also appears to foreshadow the political variant. The claim that Obatala got drunk and the task of creation had to be performed by Oduduwa already has some political coloration which is now explicit in the political version of the tradition. What is crucial in both variants of the story is the role of Oduduwa as the founder of the Yoruba nation which is why the name cannot be forgotten. Oduduwa is the symbol of the nation, the rallying point for al those who subscribe to the Yoruba identity. The name Yoruba itself, according to historians Smith, Atanda and others, was fixed on us by our northern neighbors and later popularized by colonial publications. Before then, the “Anago” to which some Yoruba in the present Benin Republic and others in the new world still use to refer to themselves, was used to refer to most of the people called Yoruba today. A common origin and language, as well as common political and religious cultures made the Yoruba a nation long before any contact with Europeans and the advent of colonialism.

2. Moremi ‘s Patriotism and the Survival of the Nation Upon the death of Oduduwa, there was a dispersal of his children from Ife to found other kingdoms. These original founders of the Yoruba nation included Olowu of Owu (son of Oduduwa’s daughter), Alaketu of Ketu (son of a princess), Oba of Benin, Oragun of Ila, Onisabe of Sabe, Olupopo of Popo, and Oranyan of Oyo. Each of them made a mark in the subsequent urbanization and consolidation of Yoruba confederacy of kingdoms, with each kingdom tracing its origin to Ile-Ife.

After the dispersal, the aborigines, the Igbo, became difficult, and constituted a serious threat to the survival of Ife. Thought to be survivors of the old occupants of the land before the arrival of Oduduwa, these people now turned themselves into marauders. They would come to town in costumes made of raffia with terrible and fearsome appearances, and the Ife people would flee. Then the Igbo would burn down houses and loot the markets. Then came Moremi on the scene-like Deborah of the Old Testament. When no man could dare the Igbos, Moremi asked the Esinminrin river for help and promised to give offerings if she could save her people. The orisa told her to allow herself to be captured and to understudy the Igbo people. She did, and discovered that these were not spirits; only people with raffia for dress. She escaped, and taught her people the trick. The next time that Igbo people came, they were roundly defeated. Moremi then had to go back to Esinminrin to thank the gods. Every offering she offered was refused. On divination, she was told she had to give Oluorogbo, her only son. She did. The lesson of Moremi is the lesson of patriotism and selflessness. The reward may not be reaped in one’s life time. Moremi passed on and became a member of the Yoruba pantheon . The Edi festival celebrates the defeat of the Igbo and the sacrifice of Oluorogbo till today.

3. The Oranmiyan Adventures, Afonja Treachery, Internal Division, Enslavement and the Fall of the Nation. Oranmiyan was the last of the Oduduwa offsprings. But he was the most adventurous and the founder of Oyo Kingdom. On some accounts, he was the third ruler of Ife as successor to Oduduwa. But he later decided to avenge the expulsion of his father from the East, and so, he led an expedition. After many years on the road, and as a result of disagreement between him and his people, he could not go further. Feeling too ashamed to go back, he appealed to the King of Nupe for a land to found his kingdom. He was obliged, and that land became the nucleus of Old Oyo Kingdom. Oranmiyan, taking the title of Alafin, succeeded in raising a very strong military and effectively expanded his kingdom. His successors, including Sango, the mythical god of thunder, Aganju and Oluasho were also as strong. Peace and tranquility prevailed during the reign of Abiodun, though it also experienced the decline of the army. (SONG). Awole Arogangan was Abiodun’ s successor and it was during his reign that trouble started for the kingdom. He was forced to commit suicide; but before his death he was said to have pronounced a curse on all Yoruba, that they will not unite and that they will be taken captives.

Afonja was the Kakanfo, the generalsimo of the Army, in the northern Yoruba town of Ilorin, during the reign of Awole and his successor. Afonja refused to recognize the new king, and invited the Fulani who were then leading a jihad to the south, to assist him against the king. They did, but he did not survive himself, because the Fulani, after helping him defeat the Alafin also turned against him. They fired numerous arrows at him and his dead body was stood erect on those arrows as they stuck into his body. The treachery of Afonja marked the beginning of the end of the Oyo empire and with it the decline of the Yoruba nation. Civil war erupted among the various Yoruba kingdoms: Oyo, Ijesa, Ekiti, Ijaiye, Abeokuta and Ibadan. As this was going on, Dahomey on the west and the Borgu on the north were also posing trouble for the Yoruba kingdoms until the intervention of the British and the imposition of colonial rule.

Those who argue that there was no consciousness of a common Yoruba identity until the 19th century may be referring to these civil war episodes in the life of the nation. But they forget that these people, in spite of the civil war, share a sense of common origin and common language. And it is to be noted that the so-called peace that was imposed by the British could not have lasted had there not been a sense of consciousness of coming from a common origin.










www.Yorùbá e- mail: info@Yorùbá



For Immediate Release

Contacts: Adeola Òdúsànyà (813) 309.4850

Bólájí Oláríbigbé (904) 612.8222

COTTAGE CITY, MD, August 18, 2006.

“dire state” of the health of Honorable Alhaji Rauf Arégbésolá, the Egbé Omo Yorùbá, National Association of Yorùbá Descendants in

North America (Egbé) has decided to restate and expand its Communiqué issued on August 14, 2006. We once again use this opportunity

to call on all Nigerians, Yoruba, Obas’, Yoruba Leaders, political aspirants and law enforcement to do whatever they can to prevent a state

of emergency being declared anywhere in Nigeria. We do not want a reoccurrence of the “wetie” era, but we are concerned that history

may already be repeating itself.

…Due to current and recent developments at home, including but not limited to the news of the

TAMPA, Florida, August 14, 2006.

(Egbé) held its 14

America. In attendance were delegates from 18 member-chapters from all geopolitical regions of North America.

At the general assembly, the opening address on the convention theme “

for Development

Oládàpò Odúnlámì gave the State of the Egbé Address. Other speakers included Òtúnba Olú Awótésù former Minister for

Agriculture, Chief Bísí Àkàndé, former Governor of Òsun State, Professor Mobólájí Àlùkò of Egbé Ìsòkan Yorùbá

Washington DC, President Nigerian Democratic Movement and the foremost political commentator in the Diaspora, Chief

Àlàó Adédayò, Publisher Aláròyé Yorùbá Newspapers, Mr. Yínká Òdúmákin, Publicity Secretary of the Afénifére and Mr.

Tóyìn Olánrewájú, President Midland Financial Services.

His Royal Highness, Oba Adéjuyìgbé Adéfúnmi of Òyótúnjí chaired the 11th Excellence Awards banquet which was held on

Saturday night and the Keynote Speaker for that event was Senator Olálékè Mámora, representing the Lagos East Senatorial

District and who is also the former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Other speakers and attendees included

Honorable Adé Adégbénjó, Member of the National House of Assembly, Dr. Osadebe Anam who represented Dr. Orji Uzor

Kalu, Governor of Abia State, Nigeria, Dr. Mohammed Ladan, President of Zumunta, USA and Dr. Olú Òtúbùsìn, power

attorney and former President of the Egbé.

After deliberations from the three-day event, the Egbé made the following Observations and Resolutions:

The Egbé observes with great consternation:

1. The federal government’s continued over bearing influence on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

through the use of the executive power over funding for INEC amongst other things.

2. The developing purported plan by the President Olúségun Obásanjó led administration to hand over power to

an interim government following its failure to secure a third term mandate. President Obásanjó and the Nigerian Legislators

should be mindful that their terms expires in 2007, and therefore should as a matter of urgency resist any undemocratic and

slick attempt to manipulate and extend this deadline.

3. Statements made by President Obásanjó and the PDP to the effect that the 2007 presidential elections would in some

fashion seek to exclude Yorùbá aspirants and candidates due to Obásanjó “occupation” of the Yorùbá presidential slot from


4. The lack of an electoral timetable and guidelines from INEC with less than a year to the general elections. Also,

based on the 2003 history and performance by five of the six Electoral Commissioners appointed last June to the Yorùbá

States, the Egbé is gravely concerned by the appointments.

5. The rampant and sporadic political assassinations and lack of tolerance over political differences amongst our

people. This continues to lead to wanton arrests, intimidation and barbaric killings of such political opponents. To that effect,

…Egbé Omo Yorùbá, National Association of Yorùbá Descendants in North Americath Annual Yorùbá National Convention last weekend in the City of Tampa, Florida, United States ofYorùbá Homeland and Diasporas: Joining Hands” was given by its National President, Adéolá Òdúsànyà, after which the National General Secretary,

Communiqué of the 2006 Yoruba National Convention

August 14, 2006

Restated on August 18, 2006

Page 2 of 2

the Egbé cites the recent killing of Chief Fúnsó Williams in Lagos State, Dr. Báyò Dáramólá in Èkìtì State and the detention

of Lagos State Commissioner for Public Works and Infrastructure, Alhaji Rauf Arégbésolá in Òsun State and notes that such

acts of blood-letting are uncivil, undemocratic, disgraceful and unacceptable within Yorùbáland.

6. The continued systematic destruction of the Yorùbá agricultural economy and infrastructure. With great interest, the

Egbé notes that prior to the petroleum era, the main stay of Nigerian economy was centered on agriculture, with most of the

production coming from the Western States, but the structure that carried the country in the pas t, continues to undergo a

deliberate and intentional destruction in order to undermine and reduce the influence of the Yorùbá on the Nigeria economy.

7. The continued detention of Òtúnba Gàní Adams and Dr. Frederic Fáseùn leaders of the Yorùbá stabilization group.

The Egbé believes this is a deliberate attempt by the Administration to dampen the fighting spirits of well meaning Nigerians

that are bold enough to stand up and challenge the dictatorial tendencies of the Government; that this as an attempt by those

who do not wish Yorùbá well to disorganize this Yorùbá stabilization group prior to the upcoming national elections; and the

Egbé views the charges of “treasonable felony” against these two Yorùbá leaders as frivolous, baseless and unfounded.

Therefore, the Egbé:


INEC and allow it to do its job of conducting free and fair elections in the short time it has left in order to preserve the

Nigerian fledging democracy and the idea of an interim government is unacceptable and should be terminated immediately.

We encourage all citizens and lover of democratic ideals everywhere, to pressure the Nigerian legislature and other leaders,

to stay the current path to succession through free and fair democratic elections; and be it further

, President Olúségun Obásanjó and other powers that be, release the shackles and stranglehold over


be true to its principles and ensure that the electoral process is not compromised in any way or fashion. We put INEC on

notice that the resident electoral commissioners currently assigned to the Yorùbá States are unacceptable because, being all

holdovers from the ignominious 2003 elections, they have proven to be biased, without integrity or credibility and the Egbé if

necessary will use all means available to it to challenge any electoral pronouncements made by these commissioners. The

Egbé also puts all Police Commissioners assigned to Yorùbá States on notice that any acts to harass the masses during the

elections or to unduly influence the elections in anyway will not be tolerated; and be it further

, INEC, whose guiding principles are, Transparency, Integrity, Credibility, Impartiality and Dedication,


parties in Nigeria, including the Presidency, irrespective of President Obásanjó presidency from 1999-2007; and be it further

all credible and worthy aspirants from Yorubaland should vie for all political positions in all political


cause there to be havoc and unrest in our motherland. We also ask for a cessation on all political killings and riots in

Yorùbáland and in Nigeria. We again remind our legislators that there is dire need for the decentralization of the Nigerian

Police and the creation of States’ or regional police to ensure that the basic constitutional right of every Nigerian to live in

peace and safety is assured; and be it further

, all Yorùbá including our elders be vigilant and not allow forces that do not wish the Yorùbá well, to


adjudicated expeditiously. Particularly, we ask that the Chief Báyò Òjó, Ministry of Justice ensure that the case against

Òtúnba Gàní Adams, Dr. Frederic Fáseùn and others detained with them be adjudicated or dismissed without further delay.

We also specifically urge that the health and safety of Alhaji Rauf Arégbésolá, a seasoned and well-tested friend of our Egbe,

be ensured in his current travails with the political machinery of Òsun State government. We also use this opportunity to

plead with all political intimidators, murderers and or harassers to desist from such actions immediately and be it further

, all political prisoners detained unjustly and under false pretenses are released or have their cases


over the loss of their worthy fathers, sons and benefactors, and pray that such days of blood and tears no longer re-occur. We

continue to express our disappointment that the killers in our political midst, starting from those of Chief Bólá Ìgè, have not

been found, and urge that they be hunted down and brought to justice.

The Egbé calls on all Yorùbá, to work together to rebuild Yorùbáland and reform our processes including the process for

selecting our political representatives and making them accountable to us. We further advocate for the harnessing of all

Yorùbá resources, be it natural or human any where in the world, for the actualization of a self-sufficient Yorùbá nation.

More than ever, we ask all Nigerians to join us in advocating for smooth transition and a new administration next in 2007.

we express our deepest condolences to the families of Chief Fúnsó Williams and Dr. Báyò Dáramólá


Adéolá Òdúsànyà, National President

Bólájí Oláríbigbé, National Secretary Public Affairs


oyedepo sesan samuel

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