Are the People from Ijebu Land genuine Yoruba?
This article was narrated by Egbe Bobagunte (Okunrin) Akile Ijebu members.
Multiple migration legends related the Ijebu origin to the biblical Jebusites and Noah (hence “Omoluwabi – omo ti Noah bi – the children of Noah). Other migration legends trace the Ijebu people to Mecca where Oduduwa, the legendary forefather of the Yoruba was said to be the son of king Lamurudu. According to the legend, Oduduwa was expelled from Mecca when he resorted to idolatry.
This is an objectionable story since it implied that the Yorubas must have come into existence as a group after some faithful Muslims expelled Oduduwa some 1500 years ago. But serious historians dismiss all these tales as far-fetched.
The migration theory that the Ijebu people came to their present territory from a region of Sudan called Owodaiye, corrupted Wadden. Is preferred by the traditional historians, indicating that Jesus had a parallel migration wave like other Yorubas who believed they came to their home via Oduduwa.
A claim which seems to be corroborated by a Haile Mariam magazine, who wrote that “the most powerful people that the Negede Ort (Ancient Ethiopian Africa) met in East Africa were the Ijebus.” Their king was claimed to be very powerful and he appointed the Governors of Yemen. It is however not known if that king was the similar Olu-Iwa, the legendary first king of Ijebuland.
Negede Orit’s sojourn into Ethiopia was several centuries before King Solomon and the popular Makida, the Queen of Sheba (about 900 BC) where he met the Ijebus on the East Coast of southern Sudan, a tale that negates the earlier story of the descent from Mecca.
There stands a lot of proof in support of the fact that the Ijebus migrated into Nigeria from Sudan, the Sudanese tribal mark being the most obvious although it is varied and duplicated all over Yorubaland.
For the Ijebus, the three vertical marks on both cheeks are the national parks. Further, the original languages which Arabic replaced and spoken on the border of South Sudan and Ethiopia are very much like the Ijebu language. Names like Esiwu, Saba, and Meleki (a corruption of Menelik) are still synonymous with Jesus and the Southern Sudanese.
A musical flute previously used during the coronation of the Awujale is still being used in Ethiopia and Southern Sudan.
The forefather of the Ijebus who now inhabit Ijebu-Ode and district came into Nigeria from the ancient Owodaiye Kingdom of Ethiopia which came due to the Arab supremacy in the Middle East and the Sudan where Owodaiye was situated.
The kingdom of Owodaiye (Corrupted into Waddai) was bounded in the East by Tigre and the Kingdom of Axum; in the North by Nubia in the South-Eastern border, it was bounded by the land of punt while there was no clear boundary in the West.
The Ijebus share their culture and belief with these people; tribal marks with Tigrians and ancient Axumites, funeral rites, the Agemo cult, and the Erikiran are shared with Egyptians, the Nubians, and Puntites.
The Yoruba in Nubia were the closest people to the Ijebus in Owodaiye. But there were basic differences between the two people: whereas the Yoruba group practices circumcision on both their males and female, the Ijebus only practice it on only males, the Yorubas used to bore the lower of their ears in both sexes while the male never bore in Ijebu.
The above tradition indicates that the Ijebus were in Nigeria before the main Yoruba stock as the Ijebu King being referred to as the fifth Awujale. Oduduwa set out to visit the Ijebu King in appreciation of this service but died about fifteen miles east of Ijebu-Ode. His followers settle down at idofe a town that has now become uneventful.
The Ijebu legend tracking their origin to Waddai must have brought the known rivalry between them and the other Yoruba people. If indeed Lamurudu and Oduduwa descended from Omu, the younger brother of Olu-Iwa, there is some sense in the claim that the Ijebus are senior to the Yorubas and cannot, therefore, accept the junior order that puts them under the Ooni of Ife and Alaafin of Oyo.