Last Updated on May 18, 2023
Oduduwa was the Yoruba people’s divine ruler. He held the position of Ooni of Ile-Ife in the Oyo empire, the sacred city of the Yoruba, according to folklore. The Oyo Empire, a Yoruba state north of Lagos in modern-day southern Nigeria, ruled the majority of the states between the Volta River in the west and the Niger River in the east at its apogee (1650–1750).
Of all the early Yoruba states, it was the most crucial and authoritative. He was the first unified Ife monarch as well as the founder of multiple autonomous royal lineages in Yorubaland and the ancestor of many of its crowned rulers.
One of the largest single ethnic groupings in sub-Saharan Africa is the Yorùbá people, who number around 25 million. They are dispersed among Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, and Sierra Leone in West Africa, with Nigeria having the highest concentration.
The Yoruba Dominance and Regional Groups: Tracing the Legacy of Oduduwa
The Yoruba came to fully dominate six states, notably Lagos, Ògùn, Òyó, Òsun, Ondó, and Èkìti with the division of the Nigerian Federation into smaller states. Partially Yorùbá states, Kwara and Kogi were formed from the erstwhile Northern Region. Although culturally homogeneous, the Yorùbá were distinguished into sub-regional groups over time, including the Òyó, Ìjèbú, Ifè, Èkìtì, Ègbá, Ìjèsà, Ondó, Ìkálè, Ìlàje, Àkókó among others.
His name, pronounced Odùduwà by Yoruba language speakers, is now revered as “the hero, the warrior, the leader, and father of the Yoruba race.” It is also occasionally abbreviated as Ooduwa, Odudua, or Odua.
With the help of around 6 of the 13 component communities, Oduduwa and his group are thought to have disturbed the political order of the 13 communities when he became a prominent citizen of Ife. Instead of removing Obatala, the town was split in half, with each leader ruling their separate groups. Idio was primarily under his rule. However, according to Ife tradition, he was never recognised as an Ooni and did not wear the Ife ceremonial crown.
Who was Oduduwa?
Therefore, who or even what was Oduduwa? He was the first Ooni of Ile-Ife and the ancestor of all Yoruba rulers. This person is also known by the names Odudua, Ooduwa, or Odua. He is regarded as the creator of the Yoruba people. He stands for both the womb’s power and omnipotence.
Some Yoruba traditionalists assert that Oduduwa was more than merely Ile-creator. Ife’s Since he was one of the gods that created the earth, they think he was also responsible for its creation. According to mythology, Oduduwa was sent by Olodumare, Lord of the Skies, to complete his brother Obatala’s job as the King of White Clothes.
The latter was sent to earth to cultivate the land, but he drank the palm wine he prepared from the freshly grown palms and became inebriated. Oduduwa took over the assignment and finished it as a result. Ile-Ife is regarded as the spiritual centre of Yorubaland as well as the centre of the planet since it is also thought that when he went to earth, he touched down there. But how did this individual come to be regarded as a god by the public? As we continue with our little Oduduwa history, let’s find out.
How the Oduduwa story began
The oral narrative claims that Lamurudu, Oduduwa’s father, was from the east. No matter where he originated—Arabia, modern-day southern Sudan, Benin, Egypt, or Ethiopia—the sources all agree that he was a significant ruler in his homeland.
Lamurudu made the decision to move his family to a new country when the entrance of Islam threatened his status as a pagan. He was unable to complete the trek, and Oduduwa stepped in to help. Before relocating his family, he conquered the locals and became the inaugural ruler of Ife. It marked the beginning of the Yoruba dynasty and empire.
Oduduwa: The Legendary Founder of the Yoruba Confederacy and Ife Kingdom
Oduduwa’s rise to fame is also depicted in Ife tradition in a very different way. It said that he was from the village of Oke-Ora, which is located in the eastern region of the Ife cultural region. He used a chain to enter the valley of Ile-Ife, earning the name oriki Atenworo, which means “one who descends on a chain” in English. A confederacy of thirteen communities, each with its own Oba, existed when Oduduwa arrived. After solidifying his position in Ife, Oduduwa led his people in a conquest of the majority of the villages, overthrew Obatala, and succeeded him as the first Ooni of Ife.
The Yoruba people advanced and rose during Oduduwa’s rule. Given the ancient nature and contradictions of the Oduduwa myth, limited material exists about the specifics of his rule. All concur, however, that Yorubaland (and particularly Ile-Ife) worked hard during his tenure as Ooni.
Even great rules can’t last forever, so after he passed away with his fathers. His descendants dispersed over the continent and ruled the different city-states they had established. By building their realms after Ile-Ife, all of his offspring and descendants helped to unite the Yoruba confederacy of kingdoms.
Although Oranmiyan was Ogun’s biological son, it appears that Oduduwa adopted him. He was one of the historically most daring Yoruba people. Because both Oduduwa and Ogun had affairs with his mother Lakange, there is the question about his birth.
Ogun was a warrior whose expedition resulted in the capture of Lakange as war loot, and they had sex. Oduduwa shared the woman’s desire and engaged in sexual activity with her when she was carrying their child. Whatever the case, Odede, also known as Oranmiyan, was born as a result of the romance.
Later, Oranmiyan would become an Ooni of Ife and the first Alaafin of Oyo. In addition, he fathered Eweka, the ancestor of Benin’s Oba dynasty, by the daughter of a Benin chief.
Among his many children, Oduduwa had seven most prominent sons who, in turn, became the Olowu of Owu, Alaafin of Oyo, Orangun of Ila, Oba of Benin, Alaketu of Ketu, Olopopo of Popo and Onisabe of Sabe. Some people also like to include the Olu of Warri, Awujale of Ijebuland and Alake of Abeokuta to this list. However, they are considered to have come at a later.
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