It was indeed a remarkable day for black race as His Imperial Majesty, Arole Oduduwa Olofin Adimula, Oonirisa Oba Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II played host to an important visitor, His Majesty, Eze Chukwuemeka Eri (Ezeora 34th, Eze Aka Ji Ovọ Igbo), the present occupant of ancient Eri Igbo Throne, custodian of Sacred Ovo Eri (Staff of Eri, founder of Igboland).
On a special invitation from the revered Eze Eri Throne, I joined some selected delegates, princes and chiefs from the ancient Iduu Eri Kingdom Aguleri to Ile Ife to honor an invitation from the Ooni of Ife. I was fascinated but at the same time curious knowing that Eze Eri rarely leaves his throne (the ancient throne of the founder of Igbo race) for parties and merry making.
Curiosity they say is the fuel for discovery, inquiry, and learning. So we set out for Ile Ife from Lagos while the revered monarch and his team traveled from his domain in the south eastern Nigeria. The entourage arrived Ile Ife in the evening of Tuesday, 7th May 2019, received by the President General of Igbo Association and was greeted with an arousing welcome/reception from Igbo groups, women and youth at the ‘palace’ of Onye Ndu Ndigbo (Leader of Igbos) in Ife land, His Highness Ezekiel Chinedu Onyejekwe. After exchange of pleasantries, royal blessings, brief entertainment and sensitization of Igbos in Osun on the purpose of the visit, we proceeded to the lodge prepared by the host for our relaxation.
On Wednesday 8th May, 2019, we were ushered into the Ooni Palace hall (auditorium).The palace is an architectural masterpiece. Inside a big hall where the monarch usually receives his guests, entertainers including drummers, dancers and praise singers sing and dance, eulogizing and praising Ooni to the admiration of the guests.
At first, we were entertained by maiden dancers and then few minutes later, Owolawi Olawale (Akewi Ooni) announced the monarch’s arrival. I was told and later met Ooni’s praise singer Omisore Lateef Oyewale Oderinde (Ijala Oonirisa) who doubles as the human clock that goes to wake the Ooni up between 7.30 am and 8.30 am daily. A visitor to the palace must notice 3 characters (Akinsanmi Adesuyi, Kakaki Ooni of Ife; Omisore Lateef, Ijala Oonirisa of Ife and Owolawi Olawale, Akewi Ooni. They play distinctive roles in the palace during events. When the Ooni was ushered into the conference hall venue of the event, I saw the best of Yoruba culture on display! Talking drums, high chiefs, various categories of priests paid homage to the Ooni and sang his praise. Ijala Oonirisa, dressed in leopard skin chanted Ooni’s oriki (eulogy) using ijala ode (Yoruba hunter’s chant) style. Ooni was addressed in many other prefixes like Oonirinsa, Iku baba yeye, Arole Oodua, Atewonran, Oko Oso, Oko Aje, Odundun a sodedero (Ooni the deity, the custodian of death, the husband of witches and wizards, the harbinger of good tidings) etc.
The throne of the Ooni is not just like any other throne. The Ooni of Ife is not just any other monarch in Yoruba Land. I saw the Abobaku (don’t ask me anything about him).
After the initial welcome address/introductory rites by the palace compère, Ooni of Ife presented Kola Nut to Eze Chukwuemeka Eri (Ezeora 34th, Eze Aka Ji Ovọ Igbo). Eze Eri accepted the kolanut, prayed for peace between Igbos and Yorubas, peace in Nigeria and black race in general and it was followed by breaking on kolanut by Eze Eri.
Then after breaking of Kola nut and some speeches from both monarchs, Ooni requested that Eze Chukwuemeka Eri (Ezeora 34th, Eze Aka Ji Ovọ Igbo) should visit 3 historic sites namely Yeyemoolu Well, Obatala and Ile Aje Shrines.
The Yeyemoolu, according to myth, is very significant. A wife of one of the past Ooni many years ago who was barren turned to water and became a goddess of fertility, giving children to women who seek from it. One of the palace emissaries told us that successive Ooni, after completing the sacred rites at the obatala shrine must proceed to the YeyeMoolu Well, must marry Yeyemoolu and take her as first wife before he can sit on the throne.
Then Obatala, Traditional Yoruba religious mythology holds that in primordial times a deity known as Obatala descended from Heaven to a water laden earth, spread a handful of soil that would form the continents, and settled onto a spot that would later be called Ile-Ife. Obeying his mandate from God himself, Obatala molded from clay the very first human beings at that very place. Following his return to heaven, Obatala’s immediate descendants began to maintain a shrine for the very structure in which they themselves were created from-clay, and where God, first gave men and women his greatest gift, the breath of life. Thereafter, members of the family were (and still are) installed as priests, responsible for remembering the intricate and poetic commemorative ceremonies of their ancestor, Obatala, Father of Mankind, the god of creation, perfection, purity, piety, and peace.
Thirdly, at Ile Aje, it was explained that Aje is a deity in charge of wealth and economic prosperity, adding that it has a great positive influence on the world’s economy.
According to Yoruba mythology, Aje is the goddess that brings fortunes, wealthy and economic prosperity to human beings. This is why till today, the Yorubas always wish, hope and pray to encounter Aje, the goddess of economic, prosperity in their commercial endeavors.
After visiting the three (3) sites with palace emissaries, Eze Chukwuemeka Eri returned to the Ooni palace for private session with the Ooni and special guests only. We were ushered into the “glass house” abode of the Ooni of Ife. There, we were treated to the best western entertainment, private discussions, meal and drinks (royal banquet).
In Ooni, I see a king that is passionate about the unity of black race and has asked for more research on the ancestral links. Also, from the speech made by Eze Chukwuemeka Eri (Ezeora 34th, Eze Aka Ji Ovọ Igbo), I see a king that wants further historical research to on the origin of black race. So many facts were unearthed and will be communicated through official medium. I just rendered an eye witness account.
However, one thing is crystal clear, it is either Igbos evolved from Ife OR Yorubas evolved from Aguleri, the ancestral home of Igbos.
May God continue to strengthen both kingdoms (Monarchs) as they continue to work and do more research on the ancestral link between the 2 races.
God bless you all.
Nnamdi Edochie is a businessman based in Lagos.
MD, Marcville Nig Ltd
TMM Oil and Gas Ltd