When did wealth become the determinant to rule in what generically is called Yorubaland today? Was there a word known as “Yoruba” at the time Oduduwa ruled Ile-Ife? Was Odua an Ooni? Reports in some journals are perverting the history of Ile-Ife and its relationship with other towns and cities that speak a language now known as “Yoruba” though in varying distinct dialects.
The title Ooni did not exist in the days of Odu’a. And from the list of men who ruled Ile-Ife published in some journals, it would appear that succession was not on blood relationship to Oduduwa until Oranmiyan surfaced; meaning all those who ruled after Odu’a until he emerged were outstanding men chosen because of their leadership qualities. Even a woman is listed to have reigned as Ooni. She might have been related to Odu’a. During the Ife-Modakeke clashes, many Ife intellectuals said that they were Ifes, not Yoruba because the word “Yoruba” is a bastardised description used to identify people of former Oyo Empire by Arabs and northerners. Ife was not under Oyo Empire.
Really, people in Port Novo, Ouiddah, Ketu, and many parts of the Republic of Benin speak the same language as people in the South-West, but they call it “Anago.”
So the question of a Yoruba race is stretching supremacist nationalism too far because Ga, Bini, Itsekiri, Ife, Ilaje, Ikale, Ijebu, Ijesha, Oyo, Ibadan, Igalla, Ondo, Ewe and even Igbo belong to the same language group, the Kwa, philologically. And there are variations of the same language in parts of the Republic of Togo and Ghana. The genesis of these people, one believes, is still lost in antiquity, though the evident direction is to the Sudanese drift down the south when the jungles of the Sahara turned to arid wastes.
Let us focus on wealth and whether it had always been a major factor in choosing Ooni in Ife. It is a distortion of history to claim that money determines who rule in Yorubaland.
Oba Adesoji Aderemi was not the wealthiest Ife prince when he was chosen as Ooni in 1930. But he had been a successful national figure for being once one of the leading Nigerian employees of the Nigerian Railway Department and then a respected trader.
Oba Sikiru Adetona, Ogbagba II, of ljebu-Ode, was an accounting student in London when he was picked to occupy the Awujale throne. The late Oba Adeyinka Oyekan was a pharmacist, but not the richest man in his ruling house when he succeeded Oba Adeniji Adele as Eleko of Eko. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi was an insurance executive when he succeeded Oba Gbadegesin in Oyo. Where else could be more imperial than Oyo?
They are polluting tradition again in bending history as they have messed up politics. Before the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) derailed Nigeria’s economic development, Ijebu was growing industrially in all sorts of middle -level enterprises. Ife did not attract as many as Ijebu did under the recently departed Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse 11…