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2019-06-21 00:28:02

Oduduwa was not only the first ruler of a unified Ife,[1][2] but also the progenitor of various independent royal dynasties in Yorubaland,[3] and is today venerated as "the hero, the warrior, the leader and father of the Yoruba tribe".[4] For a long time as propagated by early writers of Yoruba history, like the Bayajidda legend of the Hausa people, he was said to be an eastern prince who was driven out of his kingdom in Arabia, specifically from Mecca[5] in present day Saudi Arabia and was forced to migrate in a long march with his followers to present day south western Nigeria where through war lasting many years, he was able to defeat the forces of the 13 indigenous communities of Ife led by Obatala and formed these communities into a single Ife unit .According to the Kanuri ,Yauri ,Acipu,Jukun and Borgu tribes whose founding ancestors were Oduduwa's brothers (Citation: History of the Yorubas by Samuel Johnson 1921), Oduduwa was the son of Damerudu , whom Yoruba call Lamurudu ,who was the son of the Magician King Kisra (Kisra legend) who with his allies fought Mohammed at Badar (Battle of Badr ) near Mecca and was forced to migrate from Arabia into Africa after losing the War to the Jihadists in 624. AD. He and his followers founded many Kingdoms and ruling dynasties along their migration route into West Africa.( A. Matthews " The Kisra legend) " [6][7]

He held the praise names Olofin Adimula, Olofin Aye and Olufe.[8] His name, phonetically written by Yoruba language-speakers as Odùduwà and sometimes contracted as Ooduwa, Odudua or Oòdua, is generally ascribed to the ancestral dynasties of Yorubaland because he is held by the Yoruba to have been the ancestor of their numerous crowned kings.[9] Following his posthumous deification, he was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name.[10]

A Statue of Oduduwa
Ife Kings Head.jpg
Ife bronze head depicting a monarch (possibly Oduduwa)


  • 1 Etymology
    • 1.1 Later years
  • 2 Ife traditions
    • 2.1 Oduduwa and the line of Olowu
    • 2.2 Oduduwa and the line of Alaketu
    • 2.3 Oduduwa and the line of Òràngún
    • 2.4 Oduduwa and the line of Onisabe
    • 2.5 Oduduwa and the line of Onipopo
    • 2.6 Oduduwa and the line of Alaafin
  • 3 Oranmiyan
  • 4 Moremi and The Ugbo
  • 5 Alternative views
    • 5.1 Oduduwa and his/her role in creation
    • 5.2 A Yoruba Muslim's View - (of Sheikh Adelabu)
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading


  • Oduduwa is the power of the womb, that brings forth into existence
  • Oduduwa represents omnipotence, the ability to affect and reconstruct the physical reality at will.
  • Oduduwa - odu da uwa - odu to da iwa - the principle that created the physical reality

Later years

Upon the ending of Oduduwa's time on Earth, there was a dispersal of his children and grandchildren from Ife to the outposts that they had previously founded or gained influence over, in order for them to establish effective control over these places. Each is said to have made his or her mark in the subsequent urbanization and consolidation of the Yoruba confederacy of kingdoms, with each child or grandchild fashioning his or her state after Ile-Ife.

Orunto, a child of Oduduwa that was born to his maid, is the ancestor of the families that are entitled to inherit the Obalufe title - it is held by a royal that's traditionally ranked second in the order of precedence at the Ooni's court.

Obalufon II Alayemore was on the throne when Oranmiyan returned from his sojourn and ordered that the kingship be given to him and hence back to the legitimate family of Oduduwa. Oranmiyan's son Lajamisan was therefore the progenitor of all of the Oonis that have reigned in Ife from his time till now.

Ife traditions

In contradiction of the preceding historical claims, Ife tradition relates that Oduduwa was an emissary from the community of Oke-Ora, the easternmost part of the Ife cultural area which stretches towards the Northeastern Ijesa people. He descended from the Hills on a chain, earning the oriki Atewonro (which means 'one who descends on a chain'). He is said to have been a warrior that wore armor made of iron. At that time, a confederacy existed between the 13 communities of the valley of Ile-Ife, with each community or 'Elu' having its own Oba; the Oba of Ijugbe, the Oba of Ijio, the Oba of Iwinrin etc.

When Oduduwa rose to be a prominent citizen of ancient Ife, he and his group are believed to have conquered most of the 13 component communities and deposed Obatala, subsequently evolving the palace structure with its effective centralized power and dynasty. Due to this, he is commonly referred to as the first Ooni of Ife and progenitor of the legitimate kings of the Yoruba people.

Oduduwa and the line of Olowu

The first child of Oduduwa, Okanbi Iyunade, married Obatala and later gave birth to the future crowned king of Owu. He is believed to have acquired his crown as a toddler while crying on his grandfather's lap.

Oduduwa and the line of Alaketu

Omonide, Oduduwa's favorite wife, gave birth to Sopasan, the father of the future crowned kings of Ketu. Sopasan was the first to leave Ile-Ife with his mother and crown. He settled at such temporary sites as Oke-Oyan and Aro. At Aro, Soposan died and was succeeded by Owe. The migrants stayed for a number of generations and broke camp in the reign of the seventh king, Ede, who revived the westward migrations and founded a dynasty at Ketu.

Oduduwa and the line of Òràngún

Ajagunla Fagbamila Orangun, the first legitimate son of Oduduwa, is crowned king of Ila. Oduduwa is said to have wanted more sons to silence his critics. On the advice of the Ifa oracle, he went to a stream, where he found a naked lady by the name of Adetinrin Anasin. She eventually became his wife and the mother of Ifagbamila (which means "Ifa saves me")

Oduduwa and the line of Onisabe

  • Another son is subsequently crowned king of Sabe.

Oduduwa and the line of Onipopo

  • A third son is crowned king of Popo.

Oduduwa and the line of Alaafin

Oranmiyan went on to found Oyo-Ile. His sons Ajaka and Sango rule Oyo in their turn.


Oranmiyan was the last son and the most adventurous of the members of Oduduwa's household. The first Alaafin of Oyo, and the sixth Ooni of Ife, in that order.

Moremi and The Ugbo

After the dispersal of the family of kings and queens, the aborigines became ungovernable, and constituted themselves into a serious threat to the survival of Ife. Thought to be supporters of Obatala who had ruled the land before the arrival of Oduduwa, these people turned themselves into marauders. They would come to town in costumes made of raffia with terrible and fearsome appearances, and burn down houses and loot the markets. It is at this point that Moremi Ajasoro, a princess of Offa, of the lineage of Olalomi Olofagangan, the founder of Offa-Ile and the paramount head of the Ibolo region of the old Oyo kingdom, a member of the Ooduan dynasty by marriage to Oranmiyan, is said to have come onto the scene; she subsequently played a significant role in restoring normalcy back to the situation through a spying mission. She allowed herself to be captured and taken away with them. Subsequent to this she got married to the king of the Ugbo. Her new husband wanted pleasures from her but she wouldn't give in because she was married previously and was on a mission. She told him to tell her the secret of the marauders, he didn't want to but after a great deal of prodding, he gave in. He told her that the only thing they fear was FIRE, if they saw fire they would run. After this information she concocted an escape plan. She asked for some oranges and made the juice have a sleeping effect on the palace people. When they woke up after eating them, they found that she had gone to tell her people of their weakness. The people of Ife were soon prepared for the marauders.[11]

Alternative views

Oduduwa and his/her role in creation

Native religious traditions about the dawn of time claim that Oduduwa was Olodumare's favourite Orisa. As such, he (or she, as the primordial Oduduwa is gender fluid) was sent from heaven to create the earth upon the waters, a mission he/she had usurped from his/her consort and sibling Obatala, who had been equipped with a snail shell filled with sand and a rooster to scatter the said sand in order to create land. These beliefs are held by Yoruba traditionalists to be the cornerstone of their story of creation. Obatala and Oduduwa here are represented symbolically by a calabash, with Obatala taking the top and Oduduwa taking the bottom. In this narrative, Oduduwa is also known as Olofin Otete, the one who took the Basket of Existence from Olodumare.

This cosmological tradition has sometimes been confused and mixed with the tradition of the historical Oduduwa.

A Yoruba Muslim's View - (of Sheikh Adelabu)

Among the critics of Yoruba traditions about Oduduwa is the London-based Yoruba Muslim scholar, Sheikh Dr. Abu-Abdullah Adelabu, a PhD graduate from Damascus whose followers run several publications. In an interview with a Nigerian media house Sheikh Adelabu, the founder and spiritual leader of Awqaf Africa Society in London, dismissed the common myth that all Yorubas are descendants of Oduduwa as a false representation by Orisha worshippers to gain an unjust advantage over the spread of Islam and the recruitment of Christianity".[12] The Muslim scholar advised his followers at his Awqaf Africa College London against using phrases such as Omo Oduduwa i.e. Children of Oduduwa and Ile-Oduduwa i.e Land of Oduduwa. He argued that the story that all the Yorubas are children of Odua was based only on word of mouth, and that it does not conform with the science and the reality of logic conducted on objective principles which usually consists of systematized experimentation with phenomena, especially when examining materials and functions of the physical and spiritual worlds of the African people.[12]"

See also

  • List of rulers of Ife
  • Legends of Africa


  1. ^ "African Mythology, A to Z". 17 June 2018.
  2. ^ "The Origin, Growth & Development of Efon Alaaye Kingdom". 17 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Dissent, Protest and Dispute in Africa". 17 June 2018.
  4. ^ "The Egbe Omo Oduduwa: a study in ethnic and cultural nationalism". 17 June 2018.
  5. ^ T. A Osae &, S. N Nwabara (1968). a short history of WEST AFRICA A. D 1000-1800. London Sydney Auckland Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 92. ISBN 0 340 07771 9.
  6. ^ "This is Ile-Ife". 17 June 2018.).
  7. ^ "Milestones and concepts in Yoruba history and culture". 17 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Readings in Nigerian History and Culture". 17 June 2018.
  9. ^ *Obayemi, A., "The Yoruba and Edo-speaking Peoples and their Neighbors before 1600 AD", in J. F. A. Ajayi & M. Crowder (eds), History of West Africa, vol. I (1976), 255–322.
  10. ^ "The Mutual Interaction of People and Their Built Environment". 17 June 2018.
  11. ^ Yoruba Alliance: Archived 2011-07-02 at the Wayback MachineWho are the Yoruba!
  12. ^ a b DELAB International Magazine, July 2010 1465-4814

Further reading

  • Ojuade, J. S., "The issue of 'Oduduwa' in Yoruba genesis: the myths and realities", Transafrican Journal of History, 21 (1992), 139–158.