(Total rejection of the collective insult and cultural violence targeted at Igbo People by the Ooni of Ile-Ife)
By Nze-na-Ozo, Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc., CSS, M.Sc., PCR
Ezinifite, Aguata, Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria: The Igbo Nation is indisputably 2,550yrs older than the Yoruba Nation in Nigeria. This is in terms of age of existence and settlement. It is further an established fact that no other ethnic nationality out of Nigeria’s current 386 ethnic nationalities is the age mate or rival to the Igbo Nation in terms of age of existence or settlement in Nigeria, Nze-na-Ozo, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said today, Sunday, 2nd June 2019, in his ancestral home in Enuama, Ifite-Ezinifite, Aguata LGA of Anambra State in Eastern Nigeria.
Historical, forensic and verifiable records, available, have shown grandly that the Igbo Nation is 2,550yrs older than the Yoruba Nation; 2,250yrs older than the Hausa Nation; 3,140yrs older than the Fulani Nation; and 550yrs older than the Bini/Agbon (Agbor) Nation. Most of other Ethnic Nationalities, studied have been found to have relatively new ages of existence or settlement in different parts of the country. That is to say that the only Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria closest to the Igbo Nation in terms of age of existence and settlement is the Bini/Agbon or Agbor Nation which is only 550yrs by default or lesser in terms of Igbo’s 3,469yrs of existence and settlement in Nigeria.
The Agbor People in present Delta State were originally of the Ominije People with Bini roots, just as the Arochukwu People in Igbo Land were originally owned by the Ibibios, who lost same during the Aro or Igbo-Ibibio wars of 1600s. In the case of Agbor People, they had lost their ancient Ogele Kingship Dynasty, established since 701BC to Igbo warriors around 1250AD; with the first Igbo King, Ebonka, crowned as the first “Dein of Agbor” in 1260AD. It must be reminded too that the Igbo People had existed for 1,450yrs before the birth of Jesus Christ around 001BC/001AD; and 3, 436yrs after his glorious death around 33AD. The Yoruba Nation, on the other hand, was founded in Nigeria about 1,099yrs after the birth of Jesus Christ and 1,066yrs after his death.
It must also be pointed out that the position of this writer is not hinged on celestial point of view or the notion of a progenitor of an ethnic nationality falling or emerging from sky or heaven; but from terrestrial point of view or earthly settlement by each of the ethnic nationalities; backed by provable historical instruments including historical facts and symbols. That is to say that the writer of this piece; a researcher, human rights activist and proud Igbo, does not believe that “Igbo or Yoruba or Bini or Hausa founder emerged from the sky or heaven”. The provable and factually corroborative findings have clearly shown that every ethnic nationality in Nigeria was founded by a settler or group of settlers in one part of Nigeria or the other.
The Writer’s Identity & His Reasons For Writing:
Emeka Umeagbalasi is a Nigerian and proud Igbo; a university trained criminologist, graduate of security studies and holder of master’s degree in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution. He is also a researcher and detailed investigator. His research on Igbo origin reached its peak during his master’s degree thesis when he worked on: origin of the Igbo People and their traditional methods of peace and conflict resolution; a work thoroughly supervised by internal and external supervisors and remarked at NOUN which later earned him second highest grade (“B”) and a master’s degree with potential doctorate grades. A book on this is in the making.
His work or M.Sc. thesis included the cursory study of history of origins of other key ethnic nationalities in Nigeria (Hausa, Yoruba, Bini/Agbor, Ijaw, Tiv, Jukun, Ibibio, Idoma, Efik, Fulani, Itsekiri, Urhobo, etc) especially how they were founded and settled; using works done by their scholars and other informed sources. Emeka Umeagbalasi, born 1969, is a proud and noble member of the prestigious Nze-na-Ozo Society or red-capped in Igbo Land, specifically in his hometown of Ezinifite, Aguata LGA of Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria. He is of the Class of 2005; and goes by an Ozo title name of Ume-Eziokwu-Welu-Onodu; Asi n’ Oso Anaeme (when truth takes a center stage, falsehood runs amok and vanishes).
This writer is therefore compelled by unhealthy events unfolding in the Igbo Nation and beyond, seen and unseen, cosmically, spiritually and esoterically disclosed to him by benevolent ancestors and forefathers during his routine visit in spirit to their spiritual abodes; to write this benevolent and respectable reply to the Ooni of Ile-Ife and his Yoruba kinsmen and women as well as the silent Igbo scholars and lettered elders as a saying goes that a child automatically becomes the receptor of grey hairs in the absence of an elder.
It is further said immortally that:
A child who carefully follows and listens to a wise elder is already qualified to break and eat cola nut and alligator pepper with his ancestors and forefathers; that when a child does the right thing at the right time or independently sets up his homestead, his homestead becomes a popular arena for the meeting of benevolent ancestors and forefathers; that a child with great wisdom is greater than an elder with foolishness; that a wise child does not miss his father’s attendance of a kindred meeting where only the elders are allowed to talk; that a son of a noble or titled man is hardly found guilty when a complex matter is being discussed at a kindred meeting; that he who wants to destroy or rubbish an elder usually takes him to a discussion he does not know its origin; that when teeth gnashing fails to find elders, it becomes the turn of the children to become same overnight; that when a taboo is committed without cleansing and left for long, it becomes a societal norm and reference point; and that when an abomination stays long unchecked, it automatically becomes a tradition.
The litany of adages above is in direct reference to recent insult of the highest order and obvious cultural violence targeted and directed at the Igbo Nation by the 45yrs old Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, born 1974 and crowned in 2015 as the 51st Ooni of Ile-Ife in old Western Nigeria. They are also directed to Igbo scholars and lettered elders who seemed to have gone into silence as elders, watching a mother goat to deliver while in rope.
The relatively young and inexperienced Ooni had on 22ndApril 2019 in his palace at Ile-Ife, Osun State, fallaciously and provocatively claimed that “Yoruba Land is the root of the Igbo People (i.e. where Igbo People were founded by the Yoruba before migrating East of the Niger) and that the Yoruba People and the Igbo People are blood brothers”. The Ooni also claimed falsely: “we still have the House of Igbo right in this palace till date. We call it Ile-Igbo up till now. Our ancestors are buried and transfigured there. That is where kola nut was first discovered and nurtured”.
The relatively young and inexperienced Ooni uttered the provocative and insulting words while playing host to one Mr. Solomon Ogbonna; maybe or maybe not, an Nze ama oke ani; and other non Igbo persons. Mr. Solomon Ogbonna was singled out on account of his being “the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State”. He was reported to have been in the company of a delegation of “African Farmers & Cultural Organization” that went on courtesy at the Ooni’s Palace. How the issue of Igbo origin took a center stage in a purely non Igbo farmers’ affair is still highly suspicious; suggesting strongly that the event was deliberately arranged to spite the Igbo Nation, using falsehood, misrepresentation of facts or historical accounts and unfriendly media campaigns.
Having waited in vain for long for Igbo scholars and lettered elders to reply and tutor the relatively young and inexperienced Ooni as well as calling him to order to further desist from ignorantly encroaching on Igbo matters especially as they concern the Igbo history of origin and settlement in Nigeria or any part thereof, this writer; foreseeing the consequences of leaving unanswered and un-replied such provocation, gross misrepresentation of historical facts and imposition of phantom tribal superiority through the age-long cultural violence against the Igbo Nation; has decided to do the needful as a proud Igbo.
This is more so when in the words of Les Brown, it is always better to speak out and clear a doubt than to remain silent and thought to be a fool or defeated. The Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi may be relatively young and inexperienced, but he occupies a stool, regarded as the most supreme, sacred and historically authoritative in Yoruba Land and beyond; meaning that his false and provocative utterances must not be allowed to go without replies. The Ooni, by this special this piece, is hereby called to order and lectured on the following sacred and incontrovertible facts provided below.
Igbo People As Oldest Settlers In Nigeria:
These findings are verifiably derived from historically and scientifically grounded accounts of origin variously written by scholarly natives of the affected Ethnic Nationalities and the corroborative findings from other scholars, jointly and forensically analyzed by this writer. From records supplied by various scholars who traced the Igbo roots to Aguleri and Umunri, the Igbo People through Eri and his companions, had existed from about 1,450BC (Before Common Era) or 3,469yrs from 1,450BC to 2019AD; making the Ethnic Nationality or Nation-State the oldest settlers in Nigeria.
Bini/Agbon (Agbor) People As Second Oldest Settlers:
The second oldest settlers in Nigeria are the people of Bini/Agbon Ethnic Nationality. Although the kingship in Bini was much younger than its age of existence, having been established pre-imperially in 1180AD or in the era of Anno Domini (AD) or Common Era (CE), yet the kingship in Agbon, now Agbor Kingdom was dated back to around 701BC. The Agbon People had its “Ogele Dynasty” established around 701BC, lasting till 1250 to 1260AD when it was conquered, abolished and replaced by some returning Igbo warriors. The Ogele Kingship Dynasty had its last Ogele or king in the person of Ogele XIV Okwakpor, dethroned by Igbo warriors in 1260AD.
The Stools Of Ooni Of Ile-Ife & Dein Of Agbor As The 13th AD Age Mates: As at the time the first Ooni of Ile-Ife was installed around AD 1200s, per Ooni Oranmiyan, with Yoruba Nation founded by Oduduwa around 1100AD; the Ogele Kingship Dynasty of old Agbor Kingdom had existed for 1,900yrs; meaning that the Ogele Dynasty of old Agbor was 1,900yrs older than the stool of the Ooni of Ile-Ife. The Dein Igbo Kingship of Agbor, established by some returning Igbo warriors was established in 1260AD, almost during the same decades the stool of Ooni of Ile-Ife was established; with the latter producing 51 Oonis in Yoruba Land till date. The Ooni stool remains the oldest kingship dynasty in Yoruba Land till date, but one of the youngest in Nigeria particularly older than the stools of the Shehu of Bornu, inherited from the Kanem-Bornu Empire established in 1380AD and the Fulani Emirate Kingship (Sultanate of Sokoto), established in 1804.
The stool of Oba of Lagos was established in 1630AD, with its palace constructed in 1705AD by the Portuguese, who named present Lagos after group of lakes. Lagos or “Eko” was originally founded by the Benin Empire as a military camp used for its imperial wars with other neighboring old empires. The word, “EKO” is originally Bini word, meaning “war camp”. It was also used for trade purposes and diplomatic exchanges between Benin Empire and Europeans. The Bini Empire was established in 1440AD and lasted till 1897AD, with first European-Portuguese-Benin contacts or diplomatic exchanges taken place in 1472AD. The pre-imperial Benin Kingdom was established in 1180AD.
Hausa People As Third Oldest Settlers:
The third oldest Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria is the Hausa Nation, established around 800AD or 1,219yrs today. The Hausa Nation, by the accounts of Hausa scholars was founded by a Baghdadi (Iraq) Prince, named Bayajidda, calculated to be around 800AD; which was about two centuries before the ancient Kano was founded by one of his grandsons, named Bagauda who later became its first king or Sarkin Kano in 999AD. According to the Kano Chronicle, the ancient Kingdom of Kano recorded a total of 38 Sarkin Kano or Kings of Kano between 999AD and 1743AD before the invasion of the Fulani Islamic Jihadists led by Usman dan Fodio at the beginning of the 19thCentury AD or early 1800s. Prince Bayajidda originally founded Daura (the oldest of the seven original Hausa States which is now in Katsina State). The kingship in Hausa Land, formerly Sarkin Kingship Dynasty, was violently replaced with Fulani Emirate Councils, with the exception of Borno, which had established Kanem-Bornu Empire as far back as 1380AD; over 420yrs before the Fulani Jihadist Revolution in most parts of Northern Nigeria.
Yoruba People As Fourth Oldest Settlers:
The Yoruba Nation is likely the fourth oldest settlers in Nigeria having recorded to have been founded by Oduduwa; a migrant, in about 1100AD. He later sent his last son, Oranmiyan (Oranmiyan Omoluabi Odede) to Benin in about 1170AD as the first interim Oba of Benin and was later succeeded by Oba Eweka 1 in 1180AD signaling the establishment of Pre-Imperial Benin Kingdom, which lasted from 1180AD to 1440AD, replaced by Benin Empire (1440-1897AD).. Oduduwa, the founder of Yoruba Nation was believed to have lived around 1100AD upwards while one of his sons, Oranmiyan, the first Ooni, was said to have lived between 1200AD and 1300AD.
Eze Nri & Eze Ora Stools Of Nri And Aguleri As Evidence Of Igbo Seniority In Nigeria: From the historical accounts of Aguleri, backed by facts and symbols, concerning the lifetimes of Eri and his first generation children (i.e. Agulu, Menri, Onoja-Nwa-Oboli (founder of Igala), etc), Eri; the Igbo founder was likely to have lived around 1,450BC, making it 3,469yrs today. It was further recorded that one of his first generation children who also founded the present Agulueri; by name Agulu, lived for about 140yrs.
That is to say that Eri, his son, Agulu and grandson-Enugu were likely to have lived for 360yrs in all before the Eri’s great grandson, Anyiamaigbo, the Eze Ora 1 was crowned in 1087BC as the first king of Aguleri. Another son of Eri, by name Menri, the founder of Umunri Clan, had his direct but last son; Nri-Ifikwuanyi or Ifikwuanim who in turn was Eri’s grandson was made the first famous priest-king of Umunri, the progenitor of famous Eze Nri stool in Igbo Land. His crowning was recorded to have taken place around 1230BC (reconstructed by this researcher/writer using the Aguleri’s account) after the death of his father, Menri; thereby signaling the establishment of first or premier priest-kingship in Igbo Land, followed by the Eze Ora Dynasty of Aguleri in 1087BC. It is reminded that BC period was counted in descending order while AD or CE period is counted in ascending order.
That is to say that the Eze Nri throne in now Nri Kingdom, the first priest-kingship stool in Igbo land is 3,249yrs today and 2,430yrs older than the Ooni of Ile-Ife stool in Yoruba Land, likely to have lasted till date only for about 819yrs; having been established around AD 1200s. For the Eze Ora Dynasty of Aguleri, established since 1087BC, it is 3,106yrs today and 2,287yrs older than the Ooni stool in Yoruba Land.
It is on verifiable records that the ancient kingdom of Aguleri has the lists of its kings from 1087BC till date, comprising 34 Eze Oras; with Eze Ora, Anyiamigbo as the first or Eze Ora 1, crowned in 1087BC. There are also decades in the history of Aguleri without records of kings owing to intra and inter communal wars and kingship tussles; and much later, due to Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. It must also be stated that linage of kingship and historical facts and symbols including naming, special trees, etc; not celestial junks and its false linkages are the surest and evidential ways to ascertain the age of existence or settlement of a community or an ethnic nationality.
Reconstructing Distorted Account Of Existence Concerning The Throne Of Eze Nri: This writer had found the accounts of Profs Angulu Onwuejiogwu and Elizabeth Isekwei anomalous as it concerned the historical existence of the first Igbo king, the Eze Nri, Priest-King, Nri-Ifiukwuanim, who was erroneously recorded to have started reigning from 1043AD to 1089AD. The accounts also recorded erroneously that “Eri, the founder of Igbo Nation, existed from “948-1041AD”.
It is possible their erroneous accounts were based on what they laid their hands on as at the time they wrote in the mid 1970s and early 1980s. Today, this narrative has historically and verifiably changed with the emerged accounts from Aguleri, supported by provable historical symbols, etc. Biblically speaking, too, this is not out of place, as it was similarly the case with the written lifetime of Jesus Christ whose written lifetime account disappeared when he was 12yrs and reappeared when he was 30yrs (disappeared at 12yrs and reappeared at 29yrs), a loss of 17yrs.This has come to be known as “the unknown years of Jesus Christ”.
While the existence of the revered priest-king of Nri was never in dispute, timing of his era or reigning was fundamentally and historically fallacious. Using Aguleri’s accounts to reconstruct and correct this historical anomaly, the Nri priest-king must have existed and be made the premier priest-king about 200yrs or more after the death of his father-Menri and grandfather-Eri; or from 1450BC to 1230BC when he was probably crowned. This is more so when Eri and his first generation sons (Agulu, Menri, Onoja-Nwaoboli were never kings; likewise in Yoruba Land where Oduduwa was never recorded as a king, but his last son-Oranmiyan, crowned as first Ooni of Ile-Ife.
Fulani People As Fifth & Newest Settlers In Nigeria:
The Fulani People are a group, originally from Futa Toro in Senegal who are pre dominantly pastoralists. Members of the Ethnic Nationality were recorded to have started migrating to different parts of West Africa as early as 14th Century AD. In Nigeria, the Fulani Ethnic Nationality is 229yrs old today having arrived and settled in Northern Nigeria their large numbers in 1790s. That is to say that the Igbo Nation is 3,240yrs older than the Fulani Nation.
By 1790s, the Fulanis had migrated in large numbers in Northern Nigeria and settled in Gobir (Sokoto), Adamawa in then part of Cameroon, among other areas or cities. They were congregated, aggregated, inspired and led by an Islamic diviner/cleric, Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817), who lived in Gobir (Sokoto). Usman Fodio had quarreled with Hausa Kings (Sarkins), mainly pagans and accused them of “being little more than pagans”; resulting in the mobilization of Hausa commoners and his own Fulani pastoralists (today’s Fulani Herdsmen/Jihadists) and commencement of Jihad or Islamic Holy war.
By the account of King Ben Azubuike (via Elombah Reports, 29thMay 2019), Usman dan Fodio assembled a Fulani army to lead a jihad against the Hausa kingdoms of the north of Nigeria. The forces of Usman dan Fodio slowly took over more and more of the Hausa kingdoms, capturing Gobir in 1808 and executing Yunfa. The war resulted in the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, headed by Usman dan Fodio, which became one of the largest states in Africa in the 19th century. His success inspired similar jihads in Western Africa. The Hausa had established well organized city states before the advent of the Fulani. These states included Katsina, Daura, Kano Zazzau (Zaria), Biram, Gobir and Borno. Some of these were conquered and re-established by the Fulani. A few other kingdoms such as Katagum, Hadejia and Gombe were founded.
The Fulani led Islamic Holy War had swept most of the Hausa Land, leading to killing, abduction or exiling of Hausa Kings and forceful takeover of their kingdoms and conversion to Islam. The Usman dan Fodio holy war was only repulsed in Northern Nigeria in the Eastern Empire of Kanem-Bornu, an Empire established as far back as 1380AD. The war engulfed Adamawa, Nupe and Ilorin part of the Yoruba Land. The war was crushed in 1903 by the new British colonial authorities. Before then, the holy war had abolished Hausa’s Sarkin Kingship and established the Fulani Islamic Emirate Councils with Fulani Islamic Emirs appointed to rule over the conquered Hausa Lands till date. Usman dan Fodio later installed his son, Muhammed as the Sultan of Sokoto, while his brother, Abdullahi, took charge of Gwandu.
The Shehu Othman dan Fodio’s Jihad also consumed the Ilorin, a Yoruba border town, now referred or considered to be one of the Banza Bakwai, or one of the adulterated Hausa-fulani Kingdoms. At the start of the 19th century, Ilorin was a border town in the northeast of the Oyo Empire, with a mainly Yoruba population but with many Hausa and Fulani immigrants. It was the headquarters of an Oyo General, Afonja, who rebelled against the Empire and helped, bring about its collapse with the assistance of the Fulanis. The rebellion was powered by Nupe and Bornu Moslem slaves. Afonja had been assisted by Salih Janta, also called Shehu Alimi, a leader of the local Fulani. In 1824 Afonja was assassinated and Alimi’s son Abdusalami became Emir. Since then till date, Ilorin had become an emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate.
Nze na Ozo Emeka Umeagbalasi is board chairperson of a leading human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law.
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