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I guess you must have read the history of the Itsekiri People. In this article we will be looking at how the Itsekiri people effect change on the lives and culture of the Niger Delta people and some of their numerous contribution to Nigeria and Africa.
We are taking critical look into how the Oduduwa culture succeeded in becoming part of the Niger Delta area. With Legion of contemporaries, Oduduwa formed the Yoruba ruling class. The Dynasty (ruling family) of Oduduwa spread to Benin. From Benin, most of the western Igbo areas had the Oduduwan civilization in the form of kingship and the establishment of religion. Therefore, some eastern Igbo areas – Onitsha, Oguta, etc – also benefited from the Oduduwan Monarchical Revolution. (Oshomha Imoagene 1990, and JFA Ajayi and Michael Crowder, 1971).

The area covered by the Oduduwan revolution spread to most parts of Benin republic among the Yorubas, Ajas and to Togo; among the Yorubas and Ewes, and even among the Ga Adangmes of Ghana. All these people claim their dynasties derive either from Oyo or Ife. The Oyo or the Ife dynasties were Yorubas. The Oduduwa revolution spread to Sierra Leone, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica etc. One can argue that this was as a result of the ignoble slave trade. Well, there are different views. First, it is interesting to know that there are historical evidences to show that coastal Yoruba such as the ITSEKITIS who Alagoa referred to as “religious innovations in several of these places” traveled to South America where they influenced the civilization of the Inca the Maya and the Aztec.

Note that this write-up is not implying that the Urhobos and Ijaws are Yorubas. The truth is, they are very far from being so. Rather, we are saying that they derive most of their civilization as a consequence of the Oduduwa religious and monarchical revolution. The Itsekiri being the most south easterly Yoruba-speaking people, were the ones who carried the Oduduwa civilization to the Urhobos and the Ijaws. Dapper in 1668 had described the Itsekiri as being in many ways cleverer than the Bini (Roth H. Ling. Great Benin). Captain Leonard described the lsekiri thus: ‘on the Warri and Benin rivers we find the ltsekiri middle men who are not only the most intelligent and tractable but quite the best mannered of all the tribes in the lower Niger’ (southern Nigeria) (Captain Leonard 1906).

GENERAL SPREAD OF YORUBIC CIVILIZATION.

The Spread of Native Courts
The native courts system began with the Itsekiri, and from the Itsekiri, Urhobos and the bulk of the Ijaws in the western Delta – from Burutu to Dodo river area in Bayelsa state – got the native courts system. Now, here Obaro Ikime, “When the native courts were being established in the outlaying districts of the division, leading Itsekiri with trading interests in those parts were given warrants in order to show the Sobos and other less enlightened tribes how the working of the courts should be carried on” (Obaro ikeme1969). On another occasion Ikime says: Chief Ekeke was a political Agent for Ganagana western Ijaw division. I was sent with chief Ekeke to assist him (sic). Than later Copland and Crawford and Chief Ekeke proceeded into the bush and opened the native courts. The courts opened by them all Frukama, Okpara, Ughelli and Jeremi’ Obaro Ikime 1969).

The above quotations therefore evidently show that all Urhobos and the bulk of the western Ijaws got the court system from the Itsekiri.

THE DELTA ATIRE
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The attire of the entire Delta peoples – the Ijaws, Itsekiri, Urhobos, Ogonis etc. – were originated from the foreign mode of dressing. The Portuguese mode of dressing – cowboy hats and wrappers spread from the Itsekiri to the other peoples of the Niger Delta. The female dress used by all and sundry in Nigeria is associated with the Niger Delta and they began with Itsekiri. Aside from the dress mode, the corals of the other peoples within the Niger Delta area radiate from the Itsekiri.

Past writing attests to the point under discussion. In a book written as far back as 1899, Mary H Kingsley confirmed that the Itsekiri were exporting clothes and slaves by 1678 AD. To buttress the fact that the Itsekiri were actually exporting cloth in 1678 AD, Joe Sagay says “There were nobody to relieve him and not until 1691 was he able to send priests to continue the missionary work. These men however, lacked his zeal and energy. One of them was more interested in trade than in Christian enterprise. He probably saw that the only thing that might make the mission pay its way was for the priest to serve both God and Mammon. He found out that the Itsekiri made some unusual cloth from bark of trees and that the Olu himself held the monopoly of this product. The priests bought all the available stock with tobacco and neglected the work of conversion, while he pursued this profitable trade”. (Sagay: the Warri kingdom) to corroborate this, Eve De Negri confirmed that the local Itsekiri weaving was influenced by the European presence Eve De Negri says: “In the Delta regions, the manufacture of cloths was somewhat influenced by contact with the Portuguese traders, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These traders brought real Indian Madras, cotton cloth and other fine cloths from India to exchange for African commodities.

The Indian madras brought inspiration to women. The women in question learnt the method of weaving such a cloth, using silk and cotton threads in varied patterns and colors. These clothes were established in traditional colors of saffron yellow and red, but other colors were eventually added including mauve purple and pink. Many cloths being embroidered with realistic motifs, depicting birds, flowers and animals, stripped and checked girders finished with fine silk strings were among the designs. The most remarkable traditional cloth is the one called Ileleji Ekpo (body cloth) which is woven entirely form silk treads. This is popularly known as senior service cloth. A sample of cloth worn in the nineteenth century in Warri district shows the Itsekiri art of weaving, to have been intricate and advanced in technique. The piece consists of four strips joined to make it both wide and long, measuring 230cm by 158cm. Evidently, it was on a continuous warp loom (woman’s loom) the silk patterns rendered only on one side of the cloth, woven by the technique known as floating jacquard, the lower side appearing pale. Matching up of colors had been carried out, the range being bright red, violet and blue. The warp ends hanging freely as deep fringes. It is said that silk fabrics were imported and unraveled for the use of local weavers, but this is doubtful. There is a kind of moth to be found in some areas which produced small amounts of silk threads, suggesting that the ancient source of silk threads may have been from these moths; or from fabric taken from the bark of trees. (Eve De Negri; Nigeria Body Adornment).

BEADS
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Aside from cloth manufacturing, Itsekiri also like bead weaving. Ling Roth says “Such corals as the Binis had was obtained through Jekri (Itsekiri) traders, either from the Benin River or Lagos”. (Roth 1903). Roth says further, at Warri, “The actual crown of the king is a sort of a large cap in the shape of a cone three feat high, covered with coral beads and with a couple of birds, heads on top”. (Roth 1903) This crown has been looted during the Warri massacre1997-2003. Even De Negri said further on coral beads, “This coral was first discovered (so it is told) during the fifteenth century in the reign of Oba Ewuare. This type of coral was derived from a tree, growing on the sandy bank of the Benin River”. It is evident; therefore, that both cloth weaving and bead making started with the Itsekiri and spread to the other peoples of the Niger Delta.

With respect to the spread of Itsekiri attire Ogbobine writes. “With the progress of time, the Itsekiri mode of dressing has gradually spread to all parts of Nigeria, and it is now common to see Nigerian women both young and old, dressed in Itsekiri fashion with the costly head ties.

Using coral beads, by Benin and Itsekiri chiefs in very early times has become integral part of the dress of all chiefs in the Benin and Delta provinces; even thought the origin and sanctity of the coral beads are unknown to them in the same manner, women all over Nigeria, now look on beads which were the prerogative of Itsekiri women as part of their dress for ceremonial and festival occasions, and coral beads are now gradually replacing gold trinkets” (Ogbobine; Warri Land Trust Review)

The Urhobos and the Ijaws happened to be the first to copy both the Itsekiri dressing and bead wearing. It is important to say here that most Urhobos got their beads when they pirated on the Itsekiri in 1952, while most Ijaws looted Itsekiri beads from 1997 – 2003 during the Warri Massacre.

THE EDOS: BINIS, ISHANS, AFEMAIS AND ORAS H. Ling Rohr captain Leonard etal had commented that Benin and Warri were originally one Kingdom. It was in the mystic half of the Kingdom – Warri – that most civilizations took place. Dapper records that the people of Warri are in many things cleverer that the people of Benin. It was in the riverine part (Warri) that the Binis go to serve their most revered deity, Olokun.

It is in the mystic Kingdom of Warri that the Binis got their beads for dressing their Obas; where they discovered salt, and where they have the genesis of their water religion. It is evident therefore that Warri did not capture Benin, but they would have done it during the regime of Olomu and Nanna, had they wanted. What the Itsekiri did was to spread civilization – the salt industry, the bead industry and the water religion and mythology – to the Binis.

According to the Binis, the first king (Igodo) was said to drop from the skies on a huge pool of water where he poured sand and formed dry land. This was in the dynasty in the dynasty of the Ogisos.

The early kings of Benin- Igodo, Ere and Orire- have names that are identical with the Itsekiri which shows that these three earliest kings came from a riverine habitat- Ode-Itsekiri. Little wonder then they talk of ending on huge water and pudding canoes, activities which can only be carried out in the riverine average.

The fact that the Oba (Olua) was able to deceive his people that Ginuwa, his first son and heir apparent to the Benin throne (Edaikin of Uselu) was going to Warri to serve Olokun (Umale Oken) showed that the Binis had been going there to serve the deity. As a result of this, we see that the Binis have Warri, (the land beloved of Umaloken) as their sacred spiritual home, the Edos, the man Ginuwa than took the title (Ogiame) king of the watery terrain, the corresponding title of Olokun, chief god of the Edos. The Edos in their traditional philosophy see the land as being surrounded by water, into which all the rivers flow. And it is through this large volume of water that the souls of the dead travel on their way to be born and on their journey after physical death. The land of Ughoton (Ughoton) is the approximate boundary that they found this mysterious abode which lay beyond Ughoton (Ugwoton or Gwatto) in the direction of the mysterious Atlantic. So many branches of civilization: the discovery of salt; the use of coral beads, and the worship of Olokun were introduced by the Itsekiri to the Binis. Rouppels officials confirmed that king Osogbua (Orhogbua, who through the Itsekiri captured Lagos), discovered salt in Itsekiri country.
Concerning the Corals beads used by the Oba of Benin and it inferiority to those used by Itsekiri chiefs (not even the |Olu) H. Ling Roth says: “According to Bold coral beads,” are the intrinsic treasures of the rich, being held in highest estimation and from their rarity, are only in the hands of a few chiefs, whose avidity for them is immeasurable; the species admired are the pipe beads of various dimensions, and are valued at ten large jars of oil an ounce, of the smaller sort, and so on in the proportion for this larger sized”. Mr. Punch informs me that “as a matter of fact, the king of Benin had few, if any, of the large coral beads such as Nanna, Dore Dudu and Jekri (Itsekiri) chiefs obtained from the merchants in the Benin River. His coral was insignificant pipe corals and was only striking when made up into vests and hats. The Binis cherished more the agate beads and especially the dull agate was a king’s gift and no one would wear such a neck let unless it were given him by the king. It was death in fact to wear it otherwise. The shiny crystalline agate, with white quartz veins, anyone could use. Such corals as the Binis had were obtained through Jekri (Itsekiri) traders, either from the Benin river or Lagos. The Binis said it was dug, up at the ‘back of Benin’ (Jekri country) but everything in the days I am (from 1898) which was at all mysterious came from the back of Benin (Jekri country)”.

The quote above led us to arrive at two things:
(1) Beads got to the Binis through the Itsekiri
(2) Itsekiri chiefs referred to by H.Ling Roth, Cyril Punch Roupell etc, that reigned during the interregnum wore more beautiful and costlier beads than those used by the Oba of Benin. Mainly the long interregnum that occurred in Warri T. N. Tamuno says. “The long interregnum in Itsekiri land continued from 1848 until 1936”.

It was those chiefs who were prominent during this interregnum that wore those costly beads that the writers describe so aptly. Eve de Negri further said concerning the origin of the beads used by the Binis. Hear Her. “This coral was first discovered (so it is told) during the fifteen century in the reign of Oba Ewuare. This type of coral was obtained from a tree, growing on the sandy bank of the Benin river. It was collected by divers who said it grows on strong ground, Blue stone or coral was ground into Beads at Benin and made in the forms of coral”.

Itsekiri traditions as narrated by Atigbi an Apostle of UmaleOkun, and a descendent of Orunmila, identified the town on the Benin river, where corals grew to be Urejusinin (the Delta new village for the Itsekirs, there, Ajopia). This was according to tradition where the Olu and Oba got their beads until the Olu (Atormgboge-Dom Antonio De Mingo) cursed the people of Urejusinins for cutting the tree that bear corals. Thus, they left the sandy and spacious area they inhabit in Urejusisin to found Ureju, in a muddy area between the twisting creeks.

Eve de Negri comments further: “Coral beads remained popular for centuries are still considered a vital part of the regalia of rulers of the Delta areas and other places in Nigeria. The most active middle men in the trade for coral beads were the Itsekiri people who are related to the Benin aristocracy”.

It is obvious therefore; that the Itsekiri were not only the manufacturers of beads, but that even the great Benin empire copied the art of Beads from the Itsekiri. The art of bead weaving also left Ode-Itsekiri to Angola Brazil, and so many parts of the world as you shall read very soon. Describing further, the bead crown of the Olu and some of the Itsekiri aristocracy H. Ling Roth said: “At Warri “the actual crown of the sovereign is a sort of a cone the feet high, covered with coral of birds, heads on top”. Some of the Jekri chiefs display a very fair show of wealth, which usually takes the form of silks, corals gold and ornaments all specially ordered for them by the white traders. I have seen Nanna (late chiefs of Ebrohimi) with seven or eight hundred pounds worth of coral on him”.
We have seen so far now that both salt and beads used by the early Binis were discovered in the Itsekiri country. And the Binis see Itsekiri land as the place from where the spirit of the dead sail through to heaven. The fact that Ginuwa brought a lot of beads to the Warri kingdom cannot be disputed. But as the records show, the Benin ancestors of Ginuwa, got the beads from the Itsekiri in the first instance. Minus that, the Benin ruling house, like the Ife or Ilaje or Itsekiri ruling house are Yorubas: all of them – sons of Oduduwa. Again when the Binis came, they did not meet Warri in a vacuum. Itsekiris were already there. The heir to the Bini throne, the Olu of Warri, abdicated his throne for Ogbawuru, the son of Ginuwa, thus, ending the dynasty of Itsekiri and his Irigboal ancestors.
Through the Binis the idea of coral beads spread to the Ishans, Afenmais, Oras, Akoko Edos etc. Also when Dore Numa was of acting for the Olu of Warri, he helped to settle the leadership tussles in the Benin kingdom. At this point Overami had been arrested and the kingdom of Benin – it was no longer an empire- was suffering from internal decadence. Paramount chief Dore Numa restored the kingdom to the rightful owner. See “Benin and Warri: Meeting points in history”, by J. O. S. Ayomike. H. Ling Roth said when the Binis serve Olokun they will say (Maloku Mobia)- Umalokun Mobie- “Umalokun I implore thee”. This shows that the Binis had the origin of Umale Okun (the African Poseidon), in the land of Itsekiri. Thus, those early Obas of Benin: Igodo, Orire and Ere, the first three Obas in the Ogiso dynasty were actually descended from Ode-Itsekiri from the ancient waterial descendants of Atlantis. For they talk of first dwelling in a watery abode before the appearance of land. In one of their accounts, the Edos claim descent from God himself, who they say is the grand father of Iso (Sky) who in turn is the grand father of Idu, ancestor of the Binis. One of the brothers of Idu called. Olukumi (the Yorubas were first called Olukumi, today a tribe called Olukumi, speaking a language very similar to Itsekiri-Yoruba, and the legends claim they all descended from Egypt, are to be found in parts of Edo and Delta States) lived with him in Uhe (Ife) before they left to found Benin. See Michael Crowder: “The story of Nigeria”, Page 63. The word Olukumi in Itsekiri, means a friend of mine. The word Oluken, rather than Ore is still used in Ife is evident that Idu and his brothers left to Ile-Ife, after the southward migration of the Yorubas to Ode-Itsekiri and thence to Ile-Ife. This is why the story of a watery terrain remains in the tradition of the Binis and the Ifes who are located very far from the Atlantic coast. The vast expanse of water, where the ancestors of the Binis and the Ifes find themselves is no other place than the Itsekiri territory of the Atlantic coast. Awujale also says Itsekiris are Ijebu descendants, this calls for Ijebu state Race and History Forum.

THE ODUDUWAN REVOLUTION

In the first chapter, we talked about the domestic nature of the Yoruban peoples. This chapter shall discuss a possible migration from ancient Egypt. Many traditions point to a fact that an alien group (Egyptians) immigrated to Yoruba land and mixed with the original population.

Many oral traditions are replete with these stories. The Awujale of Ijebu land has shown that the Ijebus are descended from ancient Nubia (a colony of Egypt). He was able to use the evidence of language, body, scarification, coronation rituals that are similar to Nubians etc, to show that the Ijebus are descendants of the Nubians. What the present Awujale claimed for the Ijebus, can be authenticated all over Yoruba land. The Awujale even mentioned (2004) that the Itsekiri (an eastern Yoruba dialect) are speaking the original Ijebu language.

For a fact that the Nubians descended or colonized by the Egyptians, the Ijebu, and by extension, all Yoruba customs, derived from the Egyptian. Many traditional Yorubas have always claimed Egypt as their place of original abode, and that their monarchical tradition derives from the Egyptians. Apostle Atigbiofor Atsuliaghan, a high priest of Umale-Okun, and a direct descendant of Orunmila, claimed that the Yorubas left Egypt as a result of a big war that engulfed the whole of Egypt. He said the Egyptian remnants settled in various places, two important places being Ode Itsekiri and Ile-Ife.Chief O.N Rewane says Oral tradition has it also that when the Yorubas came from South of Egypt they did not go straight to where they now occupy. They settled at Illushi, some at Asaba area Ebu, Olukumi Ukwunzu while some settled at Ode-Itsekiri. (O.N. Rewane Royalty Magazine A PICTORIAL SOUVENIR OF THE BURIAL AND CORONATION OF OLU OF WARRI, WARRI 1987)

Knowing that these oral traditions are passed on by very illiterate people, we can add whatever is recorded with written sources. Concerning the migration of some of the Yoruban ancestors from the east, Conton says:

The Yoruba of Nigeria are believed by many modern historians to be descended from a people who were living on the banks of the Nile 2,000 years ago, and who were at the time in close contact with the Egyptians and the Jews. Sometime before AD 600, if this belief is correct, this people must have left their fertile lands, for reasons which we cannot now discover and have joined in the ceaseless movement of tribes west wards and south-wards across our continent.

We can only guess at the many adventures they and their descendants must have had on their long journey and at the number of generations which passed before they arrived. All we can be certain about is that they were a Negro people (of which ancient Egypt probably had at least one community as we have seen) and that one of the many princely states they founded on their arrival in West Africa was Ife. Conton WF (1960. 71

Truly, we concur with Conton that some of the Yoruban ancestors migrated from Egypt, we tend to toe the scientific line of Cheik Anta Diop, that the ancient Egyptians were pure Negroes.

Aderibigbe, an indigenous scholar, also accepts that the Yorubas migrated from Egypt. He says:

The general trend of these theories, most of them based on Yoruba traditions, is that of a possible origin from the east. Some scholars, impressed by the similarities between Yoruba and ancient Egyptian culture religious observation, works of art, burial and other customs speak of a possible migration of the ancestors of the Yoruba from the upper Nile (as early as 2000BC 1000BC) as a result of some upheavals in ancient Egypt. (AB ADERIBIGBE 1976)

Unlike Conton, Aderibigbe was able to pinpoint a cause for the Yoruban migration war. Olumide Lucas did a lot of job to show similarities and identities between the ancient Egyptians and the Yoruban peoples. The date that Aderibigbe gave (2000BC 1000BC) is much earlier than that given by Conton. Aderibigbes date corresponds to that of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt 2000-1500BC. On the possible eastern origin of the Yorubas, Tariqh Sawandi says:

The Yoruba history begins with the migration of an east African population across the trans-African route leading from Mid-Nile river area to the Mid-Niger. Archaeologists, according to M. Omoleya, inform us that the Nigerian region was inhabited more than forty thousand years ago, or as far back as 65,000BC. During this period, the Nok culture occupied the region. The Nok culture was visited by the Yoruba people, between 2000BC and 500BC. This group of people was led, according to Yoruba historical accounts by king Oduduwa, who settled peacefully in the already established Ile-Ife, the sacred city of the indigenous Nok people.

This time period is known as the Bronze Age, a time of high civilization of both of these groups. According to Olumide J. Lucas, the Yoruba, during antiquity, lived in ancient Egypt before migrating to the Atlantic coast. He uses as demonstration the similarity or identity of languages, religious beliefs, customs and names of persons, places and things. In addition, many ancient papyri discovered by archaeologists point at an Egyptian origin. (Tariqh Sawandi: Yorubic medicine: The Art of divine herbology online article).

Ademoyega commented that the Ekiti section of the Yorubas must have migrated to their present area around 638AD when the Muslims took over Egypt and forced some of the Yoruba people to migrate to their present area.

Now it is obvious that the Yoruba did not come in one migration, but in many different migrations in waves. The first possible migration might be connected with the Hyksos invasion. Some words in the Yoruban vocabulary echo the words used in Egypt in predynastic times and in the early dynastic periods. Some Egyptian gods of this period have strong identities with Yoruban deities. For instance, gods such as Adumu (Adumu) Hepi (Ipi) Ausar (Ausa), Horise (Orise), and Smi (Smi) Nam (Inama) are present in Yoruba. All these gods existed in the pre-dynastic and early dynastic periods of Egypt. Today, among the itsekiri-yorubas ,these gods can still be physically seen, at least, once a year! Neighbouring peoples are already initiated into the various gods systems and beliefs in yorubaland.the agban ancestral worship was first organized in Urhoboland during the funeral ceremony of chief Ayomanor of Sapele (1949). The Ipi system was first organized in Urhoboland in March 11, 2005.

We can also behold words that existed in the Graeco-Roman period in some of the Yoruban dialects. When the Romans took over Egypt, they infiltrated the Egyptian area with their language. In present Yoruba, we can still find words of Roman descent. For instance, the Yoruba called the palm frond Mariwo. This word is derived form the Latin Rivus (River). One of the declensions of river is Rivo (by the river).Since the Yoruban possesses no V, the word become riwo. Thus, the word Omariwo means the child by the river. Some other words like Sangi (blood in Itsekiri-yoruba dialect) thought to have been derived form the Portuguese were actually brought as a result of the Roman Conquest of Egypt. Sangi is blood and the Latin term is Sanguis. Some eastern Yoruba use the term Ihagi which is clearly a corruption of the Roman Sanguis. A Christian army in 540AD invaded Egypt and some persons believed to have reached Yoruba land were driven from Egypt.

At a point in time during the commencement of the Arab period in Egypt, some indigenous Egyptians who never wanted to accept the Islamic religion escaped to present Yoruba land. It was probably in this period that words such as Keferi (Kafri pagan in Arab) infiltrated into the Yoruboid vocabulary.

All in all, more than fifty percent of the Yoruboid vocabulary of today can be deduced either directly or indirectly from the ancient Egyptian. These are the original ancient Egyptian language devoid of Arab and Latin words that are very few in the Yoruboid vocabulary

It is not really certain when king Oduduwa came from Egypt. He must have come in one of the many migrations. But since the Yoruba religious discourse has a lot of identities with Egyptian, Oduduwa would have left Egypt at a very early period perhaps after the Hyksos invasion of 2000-1500BC ,but not later than 30BC.

Could the Yoruba have migrated from a white Egypt? Far-from the truth!

PROOFS OF EGYPTIAN NEGRONESS

1. Egypt was a part of Africa and therefore should be black
2. The Egyptians believe that Egypt was a colony of Ethiopia, and that the religion was brought to Egypt by King Horus from the south (inner Africa). Thus when the Egyptians died, they buried their corpses with their faces facing the South West (the direction of West Africa, home of the Yoruba)
3. Some West African peoples claim that their ancestors migrated to ancient Egypt. The Yorubas claimed that a mystic-prophet Orunmila (Oritse Udeji among the Itsekiri) migrated to Egypt and established a religion. Archaeology and cross-cultural studies have shown that Negroes migrated from West Africa to ancient Egypt.
4. Anthropologists have discovered, to their dismay, that Egyptian cultural traits: divine kingship, forms of burial, Osirian cult, etc., permeate some parts of Negro Africa.
5. Some deities exist in Egypt and in Negro Africa, such as Adumu, Hepi, Inama, Sami Horise etc.
6. The Greeks referred to the Egyptian as Hoi Aiguptos, (black people); the Egyptians referred to themselves as Kam (black in their language.)
7. Melanin test proved that the Egyptians were black.
8. Osteological measurements which are less misleading than craniometry in distinguishing a black man from a white man has proved that the ancient Egyptians belonged to the black race. Lepsius, a German Savant at the end of the nineteenth century, made the studies and his conclusion remains valid. Future studies have not contradicted the Lepsius canon, which in broad figures gave the bodily proportion of the ideal Egyptian: short armed and of Negroid or Negrito physical type.
9. Most West African claim Egyptian ancestry. If they are black, their ancient Egyptian ancestors must be black.
10. Ancient paintings on caves and temples in Egypt depict blacks. At first there were only black paintings, in later times, the blacks were shown ruling over whites and yellows (Asians).
11. Ancient statues and carvings found in Upper and Lower Egypt showed black skins, and features.
12. Ancient monuments such as the pyramid have been replicated in other parts of Africa. A typical example is the Warri pyramid recorded in Roth (1671).
13. Language similarities exist between the Egyptians and some groups in west Africa such as the Wolof and particularly more so, the Yorubas ( more then 500 similar words have been discovered bearing identical meanings. See Yoruba is Atlantis by the same authors: to be published).
14. Recent findings of Genetics and Molecular Biology and Linear Analysis have proved the Egyptians were Negroid.
15. The testimony of classical writers such as Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Pythagoras etc., portrays the Egyptians as blacks.
16. the physical photograph of Yuyi of ancient Egypt is Negroid (Barbara Mertz : Red Land ,Black land: 1967)

In order to prove the Egyptians origin of the Greek oracle of Dodona, Herodotus says:

And when they add that the dove was black, they gave us to understand that the woman was Egyptian.

The doves mentioned in a text Epirus stands for two Egyptian women, reputed to have brought the oracle from Tebu (Thebes)[today there are two Tebus in Yoruba land] in Egypt to establish the oracle of Dodona in Greek and Libya.

Another antiquarian, Lycinus, describing a young Egyptian, mentioned Negroid features. This boy is not merely black; he has thick lips and his legs are too thin His hair worn in a plait behind shows that he is not a free man.

The mention of black, thick lips and hair worn in plaits behind are totally of African origin. In those days Itsekiri owned slaves (mostly Sobo) were either clean-shaven, or they wore their hair in plaits until they regained freedom. Thus, unknowingly, Lycinus had drawn an identical cultural affinity between the Kamites and the Yorubas.

Marcelinus, a Latin historian writes:

The men of Egypt are mostly brown or black with a skinny and desiccated look.

Appolodorus, who lived in the first century before our era, commented on Egypt as Negroes:

Aiguptos captured the country of the black footed ones and called it Egypt after himself.

Aristotle who was an ancient Greek philosopher, a disciple of Plato in a naive way showed that the Egyptians were black, hear him:

Those who are too black are cowards, like for instance the Egyptians and the Ethiopians, but those who are excessively white are also cowards as we can see from the example of women, the complexion of courage is between the two.

Herodotus, 485-425BC, the father of history, further said concerning the ancient Egyptians:

It also became evedent that the Colchidians are Egyptian by race. Several Egyptians told me that in their opinion that the Colchidians were descendants of the soldiers of Sesostris. I had conjectured as much myself from two pointers, firstly because they have black skins and kinky hair (to tell the truth this proves nothing for other peoples have them too) and secondly more reliably for the reason that alone among mankind, the Egyptians and the Ethiopians have practiced circumcision since time immemorial. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they learnt the practice from the Egyptians, while the Syrians in the river Thermodon and the Pathenoise region and their neighbours the Macrons say they learnt it recently from the Colchidians. These are the only races which practice circumcision, and it is observable that they do it in the same way with the Egyptians. As between the Egyptians themselves and the Ethiopians, I cannot say which of them taught the other the practice, for among them; it is quite clearly a custom of great contiguity. As to the further strong proof to my belief is that all those Phoenicians trading to Greek cease to treat the pudenda after the Egyptian manner and do not subject their offspring to concussion.

Herodotus mentioned black skins and kinky hair as features of the Colchidians of being descendants of the Egyptians; he also mentioned the survival of circumcision. It should be noted that Abraham the Arab patriarch of the Jews learnt circumcision from Hagar, his Egyptian slave wife, whence the custom spread to the Jews. Herodotus also commented that other peoples (those in inner Africa and the black Sumerians and Canaanites) also had kinky hair.

The towns of ancient Egypt: On (Annu) or Heliopolis, Hermonthis, Dendera, Tebu etc., were developed by Annu, the pre-dynastic blacks of Egypt. Skeletons of the Negro Annu were ubiquitous in ancient Egypt…

Mene, the first pharaoh of the first dynasty, sometimes identified with the God-man Osiris (A black forerunner of Christ) was a Blackman. Zoser, Sesostris, Amenhopis, Khufu, Menthuhotep, Queen Amuses, Nefertari etc., were also all Negroes.

The Egyptian religion and other cultural practices show strong African and more so Yorubic characteristics. These can be seen in the following areas:
1. The lost wax method of brass or bronze making, which was common to both the Yoruba peoples (particular Ife) and the ancient Egyptians.
2. The ritual of initiation
3. Striving to achieve the ultimate in Good and truth (summun bonum)
4. The doctrine of transmigration of soul and reincarnation is widely believed in, by both peoples.
5. The concept of the god king.
6. Aspiration to achieve the great good of the gods wealth health and long life.
7. The Yorubic regalia, in most cases, are strikingly similar to pharoanic ones.
8. Veneration of the Ram in both places. Among the eastern Yorubas (Itsekiri especially, most of the water deities are depicted as ram following the predynastic and pharoanic patterns).
9. Both peoples answer the theophorous names.

LINGUISTIC SIMILARITIES

Since Ferdinand de Saussure, the surest way to prove a cultural contact between peoples is to adduce linguistic evidence (Ferdinand de Saussure (1972) General HISTORY OF Africa).

One of the largest inhabitants of Egypt were Yoruboid , and it will be expected that a good percentage of their language will be yoruboid ,too. See the table below.

 

 

Egypt

Yoruboid

Wu (rise Wu (rise)
Ausa (Osiris, father of the gods) Ausa (father)
Ere (python/ Serpent) Ere (Python / Serpent)
Horise (a great god) Orise (a great god)
Sen (group of worshippers) Sen ( to worship)
Ged (to chant0 I Igede (a chant)
Ta (sell / offer) Ta (sell/offer)
Sueg (a fool) Suegbe (a fool)
On ( living person) One ( living person)
Kum (a club) Kumo( a club)
Enru (fear / terrible) Eru (fear / terrible
Kun / qun (brave man) Ekun (title of a brave man)
Win (to be) Wino (to be)
Odonit (festival) Odon (festival)
Ma or mi (to breath) Mi. (to breathe)
Tebu (a town) Tebu (a town)
Adumu (a water god) Adumu (a water god)
Khu (to kill) Ku (die)
Rekha (knowledge} Larikha (knowledge)
Hika (evil) Ika (evil)
Mhebi (humble) Mebi, humble to one’s family
Sata (perfect) Santan (perfect)
Unas (lake of fire) Una (fire)
Tan (complete) Tan (complete)
Beru (force of emotion) Beru (fear)
Em (smell) Emi (smell)
Pa (open) Pa (break open)
Bi (to become) Bi (to give birth, to become)
Hepi (a water god) Ipi (a water god)
Sami (water god) Sami (a water god)
Osiri (a water god) Oshiri (a water god)
Heqet  Re (frog deity) Ekere (the frog)
Feh (to go away) Feh (to blow away)
Kot (build) Ko (build)
Kot (boat) Oko (boat)
Omi (water) Omi (water)
Ra (time) Ira (time)
Oni (title of Osiris) Oni (title of the king of Ife)
Budo (dwelling place) Budo (dwelling place)
Dudu (black image of Osiris) Dudu (black person)
Un (living person) Una (living person)
Ra (possess) Ra (possess/buy)
Beka (pray/confess) Be or ka (to pray or confess)
Po (many) Po (many/cheap)
Horuw (head) middle Egyptian Oruwo (head) (Ijebu)
Min (a god) Emin (spirit)
Ash (invocation) Ashe (invocation)
Horuw (head) middle Egyptian Oruwo (head) (Ijebu)
Min (a god) Emin (spirit)
Ash (invocation) Ashe (invocation)
Aru (mouth) Arun (mouth ) Ilaje
Do (river) Odo (river)
Do (settlement) Udo (settlement)
Shekiri (water god) Shekiri (a water god)
Bu (a place) Bu (a place)
Khepara (beetle Akpakara (beetle)
No (a water god) Eno (a water god)
Ra -Shu (light after darkness) Uran-shu (the light of the moon)
Run-ka (spirit name) Oruko (name)
Deb/dib to pierce Dibi (to pierce)
Maat (goddess of justice Mate (goddess of justice)
Fa (carry) Fa (pull)
Kaf (pluck) Ka (pluck)
Bu bi (evil place) Bubi (evil place)
In- n (negation In-n (negation)
Iset (a water god) Ise (a water god)
Shabu (watcher) Ashonbo (watcher)
Semati (door keeper) Sema (lock/shut the door)
Khenti amenti (big words of Osiris Yenti  yenti (big, very big)
Ma (to know) Ma (to know)
Bebi, a son of osiris) Ube, a god
Tchatcha chief (they examined the death to see if they tricked tsatsa (a game of tricks, gambling )
Ren( animal foot) Ren (to walk)
Ka (rest) Ka (rest/tired)
Mu (water) Mu (drink water)
Abi (against) Ubi (against / impediment)
Reti (to beseech) Retin (to listen)
Hir (praise) Yiri (praise)
Ta(spread out) Ta(spread out)
Kurud (round) Kurudu (round)
Ak  male Ako (male)
Se (to create Se (to create)
Hoo (rejoice) Yo (rejoice)
Kamwr (black) Kuru (extremely black
Omitjener (deep water) Omijen (deep water)
Nen, the primeval water mother) Nene (mother
Ta (land) Ita (land junction)
Horiwo (head) Oriwo (head)
Ro (talk) Ro (to think)
Kurubu (round) Kurubu (deep and round)
Penka (divide) Kpen (divide)
Ma-su (to mould) Ma or su (to mould)
Osa (time) Osa (time)
Osa (tide) Osa (tide)
Fare (wrap) Fari (wrap)
Kom (complete) Kon (complete)
Edjo (cobra) Edjo (cobra)
Didi (red fruit) Diden (red)
Ba (soul) Oba (king) soul of a people
Ke (hill) Oke( hill
Anubis (evil deity) Onubi (evil person)
Kan (one: Middle Egyptian) Okan one)
Nam (water god) Inama (water god)

It is therefore evident from the words above that most Yoruban words are identical to the ancient Egyptian.

BINIS: THE ODUDUWAN LEGACY

The Binis claim Oduduwa was a Bini prince, the Ifes claim otherwise.

This approach will be purely scientific and will be as objective as possible. The following areas:
(1) The personality of Oduduwa {Ikaladeran?};
(2) archaeological researches;
(3) the linguistic linkages;
(4) scientific analysis of the myths; and
(5) Benins historical debt to Oduduwa.
All these will be analyzed. (a) The monarchies; (b) the water religion, (c) bead manufacturing (d) salt industry; and (e) the Lagos conquest, will be scientifically analysed.

1. THE PERSONALITY OF ODUDUWA

The personality of Ikaladeran; whether he was the man who later became Oduduwa will be scientifically analyzed

In this discourse, Oduduwa is seen as the founder of the Yoruba monarchical system, or at least, a founder of a prominent dynasty in Yoruba history. There must have been many dynasties in Ife, as Ife legends put pre-Oduduwa monarchs at more than ninety.

The personality of Oduduwa has suffered many attacks in recent times. The Binis claim he was a Benin prince (Ekaladerhan), who later became Imadoduwa or Izoduwa, and then Oduduwa. The Igbos claim he was an Igbo man from Nri. Some Igalas claim he hailed from Igala land. The Igalas have many Ifes, and they claim Oduduwa was from one of such Ifes. The Igala language is close enough to the Yoruba, to assert a common origin for both peoples.

The present writers are holding the following positions:
1. The Yorubas are aborigines or autochthonous to their present environment;
2. The monarchical structure seems to be alien. The present writers tend to place the origin of the Yoruba monarchy in ancient Egypt and Nubia. This is because a lot of Egyptian related relics, words and practices can still be discerned among the Yorubas, particularly among the following: Ife (where the Ifa oracle and Yoruba monarchical system blossomed); Ijebu (with some ancient settlements; Ijebu Ode, the seat of the Awujale, Ode, the seat of Lenuwa, in present day Ogun Water side Local Government, Oke-Eri, purported to be the home of the biblical queen of Sheba, called Bilikisu in Ijebu legends), Ugbo, the ancient city of the Ilajes, Idanre (the home of Ogun, the god of iron), all show some similarities and identities in their monarchical and religious authorities.Basil Davidson, Olumide Lucas, Tariqh Sawandi, and even the present Awujale of Ijebu land, have pointed to ancient Egypt or Nubia as the origin of Yoruba monarchical system. All the above have used the similarities or the identities of cultural practices to substantiate their claims.

If the Yorubas left the Egyptian or the Nubian axis, they must have left during turbulent periods of war, economic stagnation or religious persecution. Thus, we shall examine the periods of upheavals in black Egypt and black Nubia; and examine when the Yoruban aristocracy descended from the Nile valley. They may not be one migration, but several migrations and the personality called Oduduwa, must have led one of the various migrations.

The first crop of migrants or southward push of the Egyptians took place about 2000BC 500BC. The Hyksos invasion (2000-1500BC) caused some of these southward migrations. Many of the black Egyptians seemed to have moved to Yoruba land during this period. .

The second wave of migrations will correspond to what Laoye Sanda, of the department of Public Administration,The Polytechnic,Ibadan refers to as the black Nubian emigrants. The Nubians were black, they occupied present day Sudan, which was an integral part of the Egyptian Empire. The vocabulary, body scarification, and religious discourse resemble those of the Ijebus and more so, the Itsekiri. The 1984 Awujales coronation manual will make this manifest. These migrations occurred about 500BC.

A third wave of migration took place between 90BC and 30BC. The present writers feel the personality called Oduduwa, came in that migration trend.

A fourth migration will correspond to the Christian conquest of Egypt, about 100AD.

The last wave of migration will correspond to the Arab enforced emigration, between 700AD 1100AD, when the Arabs had consolidated their control over Egypt; they chased the last batch of traditional worshipping Egyptians from Egypt. This occurrence would have led to many Yoruba claiming that their ancestors were chased from somewhere in the Middle East for not accepting Islam.

The proof of archaeology

There has been a dearth of archaeological researches in Nigeria. Whatever research has been done is not final, for new finds can be found in future.

The most ancient archaeological finds in Nigeria are the following: (1) the relic at Iwo Eleru (with a radio carbon date of about 12,000BC). Iwo Eleru is close to Akure, Ondo State. (2) The findings at Igbo-Ukwu of about 6000BC. (3) The findings at the Mejiro cave near Oyo (about 4000BC). The Nok culture that is more than 1000BC. (4) The Oke-Eri walls and graves purported to be more than a thousand years. The walls are reputed to be the biggest in the world, but for the walls of China. (5) The bronze heads at Ife about 1000AD. (6) The bronze heads at Benin about 1400AD. This might authenticate the Ife claim that the Binis got the civilization of bronze casting from the Ifes. Both the Binis and the Ifes claim that Igueghae was the one who taught the Binis how to cast bronze, during the reign of the Oba Oguola, fourth king from Eweka, the son of Oramiyan, a distant descendant of Oduduwa from Ife.

THE LINGUISTIC LINKAGES

According to the studies of philology and etymology, most of the languages in Nigeria in the Kwa group of languages have a meeting point. The Yorubas and Idoma separated some six thousand years ago; while the Yoruba and Igalas separated about 2 thousand years ago; two thousand years ago corresponds to the time that the Yoruba dialects: Ekiti, Ijebu, Oyo, Itsekiri, Ilaje, Ikale etc started having distinct dialectical identities.

Linguistic studies have indicated that Yorubas in the Eastern Flanks of the Yoruba nation; Ekiti, Yagba, Kabba, Owo, Ijebu, Itsekiri and to some extent the Ifes, speak the most ancient Yoruba dialects. Glottochronological studies have shown that the dialects in the south east are more ancient than those of central Yoruba land and western Yoruba land. The table displays it further still.

A TABLE SHOWING EAST TO WEST ANCIENTNESS OF THE YORUBOID LANGUAGES

 

 

ENGLISH ITSEKIRI YORUBA OYO YOURUBA
RSPECT OGHO OWO
MONEY OGHO OWO
LOOK GHO WO
SAY GIN WI
FORBID GHO(r) WO(r)
THEM AGHAN AWON

The table shows that the Itsekiri dialect retains the more ancient gh or g guttural sound to the more liquid w of the Oyos. If it is taken that the Yoruban ruling class came from Egypt, the southern Yoruba block, particularly the Itsekiri, would have served as an initial stopping point and a secondary course of dispersal. The table below explains more.

EGYPTIAN ITSEKIRI YORUBA OYO  YOURUBA
ADUMU(water god) ADUMU(water god) ADAMU(A god)
KUKU(Darkness) OKUKU(Darkness) OUKU(Darkness)
DUDU(Black image of Osiris) DUDU(black) DUDU(black)
OMI(Water) OMI(Water) OMI(Water)
HEKET-RE(Frog god) EKERE(Frog) AKERE(Frog)
HORISE(Sky god) HORISE(Sky god) ORISA( A god)
HIKA(Evil) IKA(Evil) IKA(Evil)
SHU(Evil god) ESHU(Evil god) ESHU(Evil god)

 

Co-opted from 500 word-word correlation between, Yoruba and Egyptian languages . From the above, it means that the eastern Yoruba blocs such as the Itsekiri, Ilaje, Ijebu and the Owo are more cognate with the Egyptian than those of Oyo or Ife. . The Awujale has testified that the Itsekiri are speaking the original Ijebu dialect. . This is why Bolaji Idowu derived the origin of Oritse to the Itsekiri-Owo axis within the eastern Yoruba kingdoms… It is proper here to state that the word Orise is almost cognate with the Egyptian, Horise. Both deities represent very high gods.. Both deities were first water divinities before they became sky or heavenly divinities. Both words are derived from identical etymological origins. Hori(Ori) means head in both places. Se, means a source in both places. Thus both words mean a source of creation in both places. This type of linguistic similarity or identity cannot have arisen by mere accident – there was a concrete historical intercourse. The Binis call God Oyisa, a corruption of the eastern Yoruba form. This is certain because the Binis cannot derive the meaning of Oyisa by breaking the word into morphemes as the Yoruba can display, or draw up any identity with ancient Egypt.

A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF THE MYTHS

1. Oduduwa The myth of Oduduwa seems to be valid. Minus the fact that many Yoruba claim descent from Oduduwa, some Urhobos and even Ijaws also claim descent from Oduduwa.
2. Ekaladerhan This name exists in very little, if at all it exists, in the oral tradition of any of the Bini neighbors. There has been no relevant oral tradition among any of the circumjacent peoples that can recognize Ekaladerhan or identify him as Oduduwa. So, the Ife claim concerning Oduduwa seems to be more tenable.
3. Oduduwas descent from heaven The Ifes have been totally embarrassed by the invectives thrown on them by the Binis in their I claim that Oduduwa fell from the sky.

Yes! It is true. People can fall from the sky as modern interaction between earthmen and those from other planets have authenticated, and this can be displayed both in mythology and in real hardcore science in many parts of the world. The story of Ezekiel in the bible, the story of the Dogon mystic tribe of Mali are cases in point.

Then, some Yoruba ancestors would have been some of the Umales (aborigines) using their Umale-Olunas (spaceships) to travel across the universe, as this can still be sighted in Yoruba land today.
4. The huge bodies of water which the Bini and Yoruba mythologies claim their ancestors landed, would have been one of two waters (1) the Atlantic ocean, the home of Umale-Okun at the coastal flanks of Yoruba land , or the Mediterranean which was the biggest body of water known to the ancient Negro Egyptians.

BINI AND EASTERN YORUBA HISTORICAL LINKAGES

– The Monarchies

There are areas where the eastern Yorubas and the Binis have a lot of historical linkages. It is an indisputable fact that the founder of the present Itsekiri dynasty was Ginuwa, the first son of Oba Olua of Benin. The Binis ruled over most parts of Ondo state: Akure and Ode-Ondo, to be more specific. They even established dynasties in some of these places, including Owo. There are a lot of titles that the Eastern Yorubas derived from the Binis. Those titles include: Ologbotsere, Iyatsere, Otsodin, Olisan (Oliha) etc. There are also many areas where the Binis are indebted to the Eastern Yorubas. Many of these have not been given prominence by historians. But the more we delve into History, the more we are convinced of Binis indebtedness to the Yorubas, particularly the Itsekiri-yorubas. Some of this indebtedness are the Bini religious discourse, the conquest of Lagos, the manufacture of salt etc.

THE CONQUEST OF LAGOS


On face value, the Lagos conquest seemed to have been done by the Binis. Many authorities however, agree that it is the Itsekiri of Warri that served in the Navy that attacked Lagos. The assertion is likely to be true because of the following (1) The Binis are not watermen and could not easily travel on the lagoons to Lagos. (2) The name Olu is common among Lagos Obas eg. The Olu of Ikeja, the Olu Eko of Eko (Eleko) etc. The name Olu is Itsekiri or Oyo-yoruba and not Edo or Bini (3) The Eyo masquerade attire and dance style is similar to that of Awankere of Warri. It is true that the Eyo masquerade originated in Ijebu, but the attire is purely of Warri origin. This will authenticate a not-too-popular Okere(Warri) legend, that it was the descendants of Ekpen that accompanied Orhogbua (Osogbua) to conquer Lagos

Also, the drums used by the Awori people bear striking resemblance to the Itsekiri drums, but bear no resemblance to the Bini drums. In summary, the material culture of the Aworis is far more akin to the Itsekiri than to the Binis.

Captain Leonard says; Of the Jekri (Itsekiri) also there is much more definite, although to a certain extent contradictory evidence. According to one account, they are said to be closely connected with the Yoruba, the Warri kingdom having extended to and embraced Lagos as well as some of the surrounding territories to this day (1906), in fact, Jekri inhabit the strip of country, along the coast from the Benin river westward to Lagos This might be due to the fact that Itsekiri held most of the trading posts along the coast when Leonard was writing.

Captain Leonard in another section of his work says: And from all accounts, it is more than possible, if not evident that the army of warriors who founded Lagos proceeded in reality from Warri, but doubtless by the command of the king of Benin.

.

Corroborating Leonard and Nirven that the Itsekiri aristocracy has at least some politico-economic interests in Lagos, H. Ling Roth says Such corals as the Binis had, were obtained through Jekri traders either from the Benin River or Lagos.

ORIGIN OF BINI BEADS

Fig. 227.—Necklet of agate and coral beads. Said to have belonged to the King of Benin.
Fig. 227.—Necklet of agate and coral beads. Said to have belonged to the King of Benin.

The Itsekiri have always claimed that beads started with them and that the Binis got their beads from them. Settlements such as Omadino, Inorin, Ureju and Korobe area of the Warri kingdom are the ancient Itsekiri settlements with the bead industry.

The people of Ureju and Korobe in Koko claimed to have given Ogboruware (Ewuare), probably a usurper to the Bini throne, beads for the first time. There is a legend among the Korobes, that Ogboruware (Ewuare), had his swelling disease as a result of an affliction placed on him by Korobe, a legendary spiritual woman. Now hear the authorities:

H Ling Roth says

According to Bold, coral beads, are the intrinsic treasures of the rich, being held in highest estimation and from their rarity, are only in the hands of a few chiefs, whose avidity for them is immeasurable, the species admired are the pipe beads of various dimensions and are valued at ten large jars of oil an ounce, of the smaller sort, and so on in the proportion for the larger sized. Mr. Punch informs me that as a matter of fact, the king of Benin had few, if any of the large coral beads such as Nanna, Dore, Dudu and Jekri chiefs obtained from the merchants in the Benin River. His coral was insignificant pipe agate and was only significant when made up into vests and hats. The Benin value more the agate beads and especially the dull agate was a kings gift and no one could wear such a necklet unless it was given to him by the king. It was death in fact, to wear it otherwise. The shiny crystalline agate, with white quartz, anyone could wear. Such corals as the Binis had were obtained through Jeiri traders, either from the Benin river or Lagos. The Binis said it was dug up at the back of Benin but everything in the days I am speaking, 15 years ago (from 1898) which was at all mysterious came from the back of Benin .

Eve de Negri says that his coral was first discovered (so it is told) during the fifteenth century in the reign of Oba Ewuare. This type of coral was obtained from a tree, growing on the sandy bank of the Benin River.

PC llyod also commented that Itsekiri legends claim that their ancestors, the Umales, got the blue corals from particular trees that were growing in the Jekri country.

from the above quotations, it is evident that the Benin got their beads from the Itsekiri, and the Itsekiri legends that they gave beads to Oba Ogboruware (Eware), has to be positively examined by scientific historians.

BINIS LEARNT ABOUT SALT FROM THE ITSEKIRI

15th - 16th Century African Portuguese Jekri Salt Cellar
15th – 16th Century African Portuguese Jekri Salt Cellar

The Binis are land-bound people and they know very little about salt. Itsekiri legends testify that they gave salt to Binis for the first time

The Itsekiri are known as the manufacturers of salt.. Alagoa, H Ling Roth, and Obaro Ikime, agree to this position. H. Ling reports,

According to Roupels officials, king Osogbua (Orhogbua) is credited with discovering salt in the Jekiri country. Pg. 142.H Ling Roth Great Benin

It is now factual that Orhogba discovered salt when he came to the Jekiri (Itsekiri) country to seek the assistance of the Itsekiri navy in order to attack Lagos. In 1818 they also sought the assistance of Kaye, an Itsekiri mystic-warrior in order to attack Akure. He was given Ologbo some 25 kilometres south of Benin city.

The itsekiri were the major salt producers in the Niger delta area. On this hear Alagoa: the itsekiri supplied clay pots to to such Ijo communities as the Gbaramatu and Bassan, and and also sold salt to traders from eastern delta who took it up the Niger. Other Ijo exchanged dried fish and salt ,which was manufactured by the Itsekiri ,with the Urhobo ,Isoko and Igbo groups along the periphery of the Niger Delta and along the Lower Niger (Alagoa 1989:729)

WATER RELIGION OF THE BINIS

The cult of Olokun (the water religion) of the Binis seems to be purely alien. This is due to the following reasons: (1) the Binis are a land based people. Their main occupations are; farming, hunting and sculpture. So it will be unthinkable for the Binis to have a water religion as a major cult. (2) If a water religion exists among the Binis, and it has become prominent, the Binis might have copied from one of their riverine neighbors (3) these neighbours are the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, the Ilajes, and more distant neighbours being, the Asabas, the Onitshas, the Afenmai or Igala people around the river Niger.

The Afenmais and the Igalas seem too distant from Benin to have a good influence on them. The Asabas and the Onitshas, also, seem to be too far away form Benin. Minus that, they don’t seem to have any serious water cult to influence the Binis to have a viable water religion.

Thus, the Bini (a land locked people) must have had their water religion from the Ijaws, the Itsekiris or the Ilajes. The Bini religious discourse has nothing to do with the Ijaws. Besides that, the Ijaws that are the immediate neighbours of the Binis did not have any significant civilization. These Ijaw neighbours are the Egbemas, the Arogbos, the Apois now Yoruba-speaking the Ogbe-Ijohs, the Isabas, the Gbaramatus, the Ogulaghas, the Oburutus, and the Meins. No significant civilization or kingdom has emerged from these Ijaw clans. E.J Alagoa asserted that most of these Ijaws did not arrive their area by 1500, which is quite recent according to historical chronology. The cases settled in the Supreme Court between the Ijaws and the Itsekiri; place the date of Ijaws coming to these areas at the early 19th century. Now, hear Prof.Alagoa , an Ijaw doyen of history:

Pereiras record suggests that those Ijo groups now living west of the Forcados and east of the Bonny had not yet arrived at their present territory by 1500. Thus, it is unthinkable for the Binis to have copied the water religion from the Ijaws.

The Itsekiri and the Ilajes receive the likelihoodof having given water religion to the Binis for the following reasons:1)The Binis situate the home of Olokun, the god of the sea, in the Atlantic Ocean. Both the Itsekiris and the Ilajes are in the Atlantic coast. (2) The Bini religious discourse shows a strong Yoruba affinity. The name, Olokun, (Olu Okun) is an eastern Yoruba name that can apply to the Itsekiri as well as Ilajes, as eastern Yoruba dialects. The Binis call God Osa, which is the same word that the Itsekiri call father. The other Bini word for God, Oyise, is clearly corruption of the much older Itsekiri name, Oritse. . In the early days of November 2004 , the Bini Monarch invoked an Ilaje deity, Aiyelala, to recover some property that was stolen from the Oba Market in Benin . This will authenticate the Ilaje story of the Binis coming to Ugbo once every year to serve Umaleokun, the water god of the Ugbo Yoruba
H. Ling Roth went further, quoting Burton says:

Similar to other west Africans, the Bini When drinking,the Binis always pour a few drops upon the ground, muttering the while (Mobia, Malaku Mobia (Mobie, Umalokun, Mobie) Ibeg, O Malaku (Umale-Okun, fetish guardian of lands and waters 1 beg of thee to defend me against all evil, to defeat and destroy all my foes. This said, a broken bittock of Kola (stercula acuminata) is thrown upon the ground, and is watered with a few drops of palm wine. Burton Pg. 281. Mobia (Mobie) is however the Jekiri for 1 beg you : 59.

It is evident that the Bini religious discourse was, and to some extent is, still infiltrated with Itsekiri and Ilaje. This is most evident in the water religion of the Binis.

From the above, we see that some of the most important aspects of the Bini civilization: their bead industry, the cult of Olokun (Olu Okun King of the sea), their salt industry etc are from the eastern Yoruba land of Itsekiri and to some extent the Ilajes. Apart from this, the Itsekiri warrior, Ikaye, saved the Bini kingdom from being crushed by the Akures. For his settlement Oba Semede gave him Ologbo.
Again when there was leadership dispute between Obaseki and Aigwobasinwin, it was an Itsekiri chief, Dore Numa, who restored the Benin monarchy. He also gave them a lot of beads which the Bini aristocracy has not returned till today. It is therefore unthinkable that Ife, where the Yoruba kingship blossomed, would have copied from Benin. This is most evident when we consider the following facts: (I) The name, Oba (the Edo word for king), is copied from the Yorubas, particularly those from Ife (2) the heads of the Obas of Benin were taken to Ife, until very recently. The place where the heads of the Obas of Benin were buried is still called Orun Oba Ado, the heaven of the kings of Benin. (3) The Binis normally take permission from the Ooni, to crown new kings. There is no recorded history that the Oonis took permission from the Binis before getting crowned (4) The official language in the court of the Oba of Benin until 1934 was Yoruba. There was no time that Bini language was spoken in Ife. The Portuguese and other Europeans who were in the Bini area for more than 500 years (from 1486 when they got to Benin till 1960.)had no knowledge of Oduduwa being a Bini man.

So, scientifically speaking, the Ife position seems more tenable than that of the Benin. Oral traditions can be fabricated. So, rigorous history of the 21st century must be purely scientific even if we recourse to oral tradition, they must face scientific testing and not based on moribund oral tradition. Aspects such as linguistic analysis, archaeological discoveries, cultural practices etc, must come into the forefront when reconstructing the history of preliterate peoples like the Binis and the Ifes.