YORUBA HERITAGE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION TEAM
YORUBA HERITAGE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION TEAM
I am writing you to please join the Yoruba heritage and historic preservation team for the various reasons explained below, if you believe that you are Omo Yoruba and Omo Oduduwa. Some people are getting ready to create a similar situation that led to the disunity and disagreement among the Yorubas Which led to the Yoruba Fratricidal Wars of the 1300AD to 1900AD which also sent many of our ancestors into slavery.
The Yoruba people have gone through one of the worst holocaust that has happened in human history, as a result of the Yoruba fratricidal wars; Many Yoruba were captured and taking as slaves. They were later sold into slavery to white Europeans. They were eventually taken to various parts of the world including the United States of America, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, and many other parts of the Caribbean Island to be used on plantations. The whole journey and the experience was so horrific and unimaginable. History is getting ready to repeat itself and we must wake up to stop it. Except for this time it will be more of a spiritual warfare rather than the guns. Below are the time line of the slave migration just so that we know.
Here is a time line of the African ancestors’ middle passage to the Americas. Compare it to the dates of the Yoruba Wars.
1481–Country of Portugal built the first European fort (Fort Elmina) on the coast of Africa
1501–King Ferdinand of Spain started the trade of African slaves to the colonies in the “New World”
1517–Bartolome’ de Las Casas made a deal with the Spanish King Charles I.
On his request “Indian” workers in the Caribbean can be replaced with African slaves.
1619-1620–a group of Africans arrived to Jamestown. They were indentured servants.
1620–“Mayflower” lands in America
1624–Samuel Maverick in Massachusetts owns two African slaves
1672–Royal African company is formed. Colonies can now buy slaves from the English.
1705–Virgina government tells slave owners that they are not guilty if they kill their slaves while they are punishing them.
1712–Slave revolt in New York
1721–South Carolina says that only “Christian whites” can vote
1735–Georgia, one of the English colonies in America, makes slavery illegal. But this was done so that Georgia would profit by selling slaves—not to free slaves. Slave owners paid a small fine and slaves were not set free.
1739–The Stono Rebellion, Stono, South Carolina. Twelve slaves kill several white men and try to escape to Florida.
1740–Slave Act in South Carolina makes it a crime to teach a slave to read and write.
1770–Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave, led a group of Boston citizens to protest against a group of British soldiers. When the soldiers opened fire, Attucks was killed.
1773–Four Boston slaves petitioned for freedom based on the same reason colonists used to justify separation from England in the Declaration of Independence.
1775–Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was formed in Philadelphia by Quakers.
1780–Pennsylvania becomes the first state to pass the law that ends slavery.
1785–John Jay and Alexander Hamilton started the Manumission Society in New York.
1787–Northwest Ordinance was passed.
1791-1804–Haitian Revolution—the only slave rebellion that succeeded.
1787–The Three Fifths Amendments was adopted. According to it, slaves should be counted as three-fifths of a person.
1789–Benjamin Franklin starts the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
1793–Fugitive Slave Act. This act allowed slave owners to return and catch the slaves who escaped to the “free states.”
1794–The first national antislavery organization was formed. It was called the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
1796–Boston’s black community starts Free African Society of Boston.
1800 –Gabriel Prosser Rebellion.
1800–James Forten and Absalom Jones write a petition to strike down The Slave Act of 1793.
1808–International slave trade becomes illegal.
1829–David Walker writes his appeal.
1831–William Garrison starts publishing the “Liberator.”
1833–American Anti-Slavery Society formed.
1837–Elijah Lovejoy is murdered.
1859–John Brown attacks Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
1861–Southern states secede.
1861–Civil War starts.
1862–Emancipation Proclamation issued and said that on January 1, 1863, all slaves will be free in America.
1863–Emancipation. Proclamation to free the slaves.
Here is a time line of some of the Yoruba fratricidal war:
In about 1820, the Fulani conquered Ilorin. Abdul Salami became the first Emir of Ilọrin. Ọ̀yọ́ became tributary tò war. Olúyọ̀le became Baṣọ̀run to Alaafin Àtìbà.
1850–1851 Ijebu ere war (Johnson 316-321)
Batedo war 1844 between Ìbàdaǹ and Ìjàyè
1860–1862 Ìjàyè war between Ìbàdaǹ and Ìjàyè. Ìbàdaǹ won in 1862.
In 1864 Òguńmọ́lá Balógun of Ìbàdaǹ was defeated and the Ẹ̀gbàs attacked Ìkòròdú. Ìkòròdú asked for the help of the British government. Ṣódẹkẹ́ attacked the Ẹgbas.
In 1665 an agreement was signed between Ìbàdaǹ and Ẹ̀gbáto to make peace.
In 1867 the Ìbàdaǹ defeated the Ìjẹ̀ṣà and Ọwá Obòkun surrendered.
In 1870 Ileṣa was captured by Ìbàdaǹ.
In 1878 Jalami war. Èkìtì Ìjèṣà and Ilorin attacked Ikirun. Ibadan drove them out.
In 1880 Kiriji war. Ẹgba and Ijebu were raiding the borders of Ìbàdaǹ.
By this time, the Ọ̀yọ́ Empire had been weakened. War went on between Ìbàdaǹ and Ilọrin. Through intervention of the government, a peaceful agreement was reached. It was planned that Ìgbájọ would belong to Ìbàdaǹ. Modákẹ́kẹ́ was to be evacuated. Anyone who wanted to be with Ìbàdaǹ would build a new town, and anyone who wanted to be with Ilé If̀ẹ̀ would stay in Ifẹ̀ towns.
In 1889 a treaty was signed between the British Government and Adéyẹmí (the Alaafin Ọ̀yọ́) to allow free trade between the towns. At that time, the French protectorate of Dahomey had been laying claims to some territories along the coastline of Lagos. The British decided to act quickly.
In 1893 treaties were made between Ọ̀yọ́ ̀Ibàdaǹ and others. The order to evacuate Modákẹ́kẹ́ was never obeyed. The British tried successfully to dismantle the war camps at Ìbàdaǹ, Ikirun and Ilorin.
In 1897 Ilọrin and Bidah, which were raided for slaves, were captured by the Royal Niger Company, which was already taking control of the territories. Tapa Nupe and Ilorin were warned against continuous slave trading and they later accepted the control of the Royal Niger Company.
In 1901 the Yorùbá land became attached to the colony of Lagos under the British and Royal Niger Company. The Yorùbá land was eventually colonized by the British under an indirect ruling system that emulated the similar system of Yorùbá governance in the 1901s.
Ile Ife being the cradle of Yoruba and Oduduwa being the founder and father of the Yoruba has been in the historical record for centuries. There have been scientific and archeological proves that the establishment of Ile Ife dated back to prehistoric time. That was the cradle of the religion of the Yoruba Ifa and the Orisas
History in Ile Ife revealed that there was only one day out of the 356days of the year that rituals are not made in IleIfe for the benefit of the mankind, the universe and the whole world. Weather the people know or not Ife Chiefs and elder have assumed the responsibility from the time of Oduduwa through the Oonirisa until the present moment. Of course we know civilization has changed many of our religious practices and culture, but the present elders are still the custodian of those rituals and culture weather people come for Ifa pilgrimage or not. The Spritual Chiefs of Ile Ife performs rituals for the 401 Irunmale everyday and for any OmoOduduwa that want to participate they are always welcome with open arms. But for any NGO organization to try and tell the Araba Agbaye and the elders what to do is an insult and a slap on their faces. This is a tradition that have been going on for thousands of years in Ile Ife Ifa is not the only Irunmale that the Omo Oduduwa come to Ile Ife to worship and pray to every year. Ile Ife and all the shrine belong to OmoOduduwa. That is why any OmoOduduwa can not be turned down. If there is misunderstanding let us resolve it.The people of Oshogho have been worshipping at the Osun river for decades before Suzanna Wenger sponsored the erection of all those sculptures at the Osun groove when no one cares.. Now Oshun Oshogbo festival has turn to a pilgrimage. Sorry Suzzan is not around to take credit for it. The erection of an Ifa Temple at Oke Olota in Ekiti should not bring division among the Ifa and Orisa practitioners.
I hope the Ifa and Orisa practitioners in the New World will not get involve in the confussion and the misunderstanding these yearly readings. Its an internal issue that will be resolve among the elders in the Yoruba land themselves . After all the year reading is by choice. You can do your own readings and make your own ebos. You should know individually how to solve your own problem than any one else. How many times have you come together to make ebo for the universe???. That is what the Isoro and the Awo Olofin does in Ile Ife. You can make your own pilgrimage when you want. For many years now the Cuban Babalawos have been doing their yearly Ifa readings on the 4th of October both in Miami and in Havana. It was never an issue. Adhere to yearly Ifa reading is by choice and it should not create confusion and division among the elders. Please let us find a way to stop the madness and don’t get involve.. Some people have been making comments on this issue creating more confusion. It is not necessary.
For many years there had been wars wage on Ile Ife off and on to destroy the ancient city of the Yorubas. But Ile Ife prevails. The recent one was the war between Modakeke and Ile Ife caused by some politicians. That went on; off and on for almost 20 years in which so many lives were lost and many properties were damaged. You can still see the burnt houses as you drive through Modakeke and Ile Ife. No government or head of any of the Yoruba towns came to compensate Ile Ife or Modakeke for all of that losses.
Sacred shrines in Ilé Ifẹ̀
Òkè’taṣẹ̀ was the original abode of Ọ̀ruńmìla when he arrived at Ilé Ifẹ̀. It is a hill in the middle of Ilé Ifẹ̀. Oral history said that when Ọ̀ruǹmíla ̀arrived, he found Onitaṣẹ and Àgbọnmìrèguń at Òkètaṣẹ̀. Ọ̀ruńmìlà came with “Aje,” what Yoruba also call money. The hair of ajé was made out of diamonds and gold. Today you can still see the “Ìdaǹraǹdańrań” shining and glittering particles of Ajé’s hair all over Òkètaṣẹ̀. For several years Babaláwos and Olórìṣà from all over the world have been coming to the annual Ifa festival at Òkètaṣẹ in Ile Ife to walk on the same ground Orunmila walked on.. It has become a pilgrimage for the practitioners of Orisa worldwidè.
The abode of Odùduwà was Igbó Idio. Only the priest of Odùduwà can go into the inner grove to perform rituals. The name of the highest chief of Odùduwà is Ọbàdio. There is an annual festival of Odùduwà that lasts twenty-one days. The priest dresses in white robes
Morèmi was the symbol of Liberty for the Yorùbá people. She was a very beautiful woman. Tradition says she was one of the wives of Ọ̀raǹmíyaǹ and was later with Alayemọrẹ when he took the throne after the death of Ọ̀raǹmíyaǹ. Oral history told us that there was a time when Ifẹ̀ began to expand and a tribe called Ìgbò tribe came to invade Ifẹ̀. They continue to invade Ifẹ̀ on regular basis. There was a very beautiful woman in Ife called Morèmi. She decided to find a way to help Ife liberated from her enemy, the invaders Igbo tribe. She went to consult with the river called Ẹ̀siǹmiǹriǹ. She made a promise that if the Òrìṣà Ẹ̀siǹmiǹriǹ would help her to conquer the Igbo people, she would sacrifice her only son Olúorogbo to the river. It sound similar to the ancient Egyptians, who used to sacrifice a virgin to the Nile river to prevent it from flooding.
The Ìgbò used to disguise themselves in dry palm raffia like monster aliens. The Ifẹ̀ would get scared and run, and as they captured them they would take them away as slaves. Mọremi allowed herself to be captured. Being a beautiful woman, she gained the attention of the King of Ìgbô tribe. There she found out their secret as they dressed themselves up in raffia to come capture the Ifẹ̀ people.
After she learned the Igbo’s secrets, Mọrèmi escaped to Ifè and told the secrets to Ifẹ̀ chiefs. She advised them to make long torches of fire sticks and have them ready for when the Igbos came in their raffia so they could set them on fire, which they did. She told them that the next time the Ìgbòs came they must light them with the torches. The Ifè did so and they won the Ìgbò tribe. After the victory, Mọrèmi offered sacrifice of Ram Goat Hen and so on to the Ẹ̀siǹm̀iriǹ river who she vow to that she will give anything if her mission was accomplished by the gods. But the offerings were not accepted. Instead the river Ẹsinminrin began to flood, and as the flood increased, Ilé Ifẹ̀ was sinking in the flood until a consultation was made with Ifá. It revealed that Mọremi must sacrifice her only son, Olúorogbo. Mọrèmi went ahead to fulfill her promise to Ẹ̀siǹmìriǹ. She sacrificed Olúorogbo. Since that time the two of them became defied. A big shrine was dedicated to Olùórogbo and a Yoruba national festival was dedicated to Mọrèmi called the Edì festival. The festival is a celebration of Ilé Ifẹ̀ victory over the Igbo invaders. This is the other day Ọọni of Ifẹ̀ come to the public in Ilé Ifẹ apart from at the Ọlọjọ festival for Oguǹ.
Olúorogbo became an Òrìṣà for the people of IléIfè. The oral story explained that Olúorogbo was the only son of Morèmi. He was sacrificed to Ẹ̀siǹmiǹriǹ and later became an Orisa of freedom and continuation for the Yorùbás. There is a saying in Ifè, “Ókù dẹ̀dẹ̀ k’aye Olúfẹ̀ o bàjẹ́ Olúorogbo lo táyé ṣe” (When the world of Ifẹ̀ was broken, Oluorogbo came to fix it).
The shrine of Ogunladin (the first blacksmith in Ilé Ifè). Òguń Laadin was the first blacksmith in Ilé Ifẹ̀. It was during the reign of Ọọni Ògbórú. Oral history says that Ọọni Ògbórú was banished from Ile Ifẹ̀ to Ifẹ Ọ̀daǹ. He lived there until he was 120 years old. During that time, all other Kings who were installed never lived that long until his blessings were sought. One of his grandchildren became the Ọọni. Oral tradition of Ifẹ̀ explained that Òguń Ladin was one of the giants who once lived in Ilé Ifẹ̀. Some of the remaining tools at the shrine are an indication of the size of Ógúladin. It was the magical spirit of that monarchy and one of the king’s sons was the chief priest of the Òguń shrine. The shrine is at the palace of Ọọni. At that time, all oaths were made in front of the Òguńladin. Justice was served promptly at the shrine of Ogunlaadin, which makes the Ogun still very respected and feared today.
Back in the ancient days, the doors to these shrines were wide open to the public. There were no worries of thieves and vandals. They belong to the public and all the children of Odùduwà. Yorùbá consider themselves as children of Oduduwa and created by Ọbàtálá. People come from far distances to visit and make offerings at the shrines. Despite all odds Ilé Ifẹ̀ continues to maintain its integrity as the cradle of the Yoruba people and Yoruba religion like Jerusalem is to the Jews and Christians and Mecca is to the Arabs and Muslims. The annual Ifá and Ọbàtálá festivals at Òkètaṣẹ̀ and Ìdìta brings Yoruba Ọmọ Oduduwa together from all over the world. I hope all the children of Odùduwà all over the world will continue to rally around Ifẹ̀ and make Ilé Ifẹ̀ what it is supposed to be like. After all, we all agree that Ilé Ifẹ̀ is the cradle of the Yorùbás. Ilé Ifè has become a pilgrimage site for the Yorubas all over the world. Not only for Ifa festival but to walk on the ground that Oduduwa and the Irunmole walked on.
Ancient times in Ifè.
Yorùbá Art. (Iṣẹ́ ọnà Ilè Yorùbá)
Yorùbá metal, wood and terracotta sculptures.
Yorùbá art is a spiritually inspired art. The Black Smiths and the carvers are the main core of the Yorùbá Arts. As we can see, a lot of ritual objects are made out of wood and metals. The Iron and the bronze ages were a turning point in the Yoruba artistical evolutions. Many of the Òrìsà ornaments and royal symbols are made out of metals in large scale. They are made to be very durable, and many of them ended up in the various museums around the world. Yoruba art and culture is so unique that you can see the impact of it across oceans. You can see it in the customs and culture of the Yoruba descendants across the world. Among the African Americans, you can see and hear it in their gospel songs, the rhythm and blues and the jazz music. Among the Cubans in Òrìṣàs, Lukumi and Santeria, you can hear the bàtá drums, the congas drums and the bẹmbẹ drums. Among the Brazilian Candomble, you can hear Yoruba songs, the Òrìṣàs and Capuera. Capuera looks like a Yorùbá wrestling contest.
I found Yorùbá art to be one of the most popular and respected arts coming from the continent. Everywhere I have traveled in Europe and the New World, I always find traces of Yoruba culture, religion and art among the people, not to mention the food, like the FuFu and Okra, especially where there are African descents and Orisa practitioners.
In the early years, Ilé Ifẹ̀ was the center of Yorùbá art. The pavement era dated back to 350 B.C. Pavement era came from a story of one female King in Ifẹ̀ at the time by the Luwo ordered that the streets of Ifẹ̀ to be paved with terracotta because her dress got in the mud during a parade. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after the Nok art age came to If̀ẹ. Royal families and the wealthy around the world used to send work to be made from Ilé Ifè by the Ifẹ̀ artist. Kings from Benin used to send their men to Ilé Ifẹ̀ to study and learn how to make brass sculptures from the artists in Ilé Ifẹ̀. The Bronze and Brass sculptures works of arts from Ilé Ifẹ̀ has made the Yorùbá art stand out among other cultures of the world today.
Written by Araba Adedayo Ologundudu