By Chris Onuoha
Prince Justice Faloye, president of African Sociocultural Harmony & Enlightenment (ASHE) foundation has found it necessary to respond to the August 11th 2019 article titled ‘Ooni of Ife and Igbo-Yoruba relationship’ by Obi Nwakanma to clear up a few misconceptions.
First, contrary to the perception that the Ooni Of Ife, HIM Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi was the first to make the link Obi Of Onitsha HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe made with specific statements that Igbo migrated from Ife in July 2017 and December 2018. Ooni of Ife was just the first Yoruba monarch to confirm Obi of Onitsha’s statement from the Yoruba knowledge bank aka Ifa.
Second, although Yoruba and Igbo are two of the largest, oldest and most prosperous Original African groups (Niger-Congo ethnolinguistic family), ASHE does not want public discourse to focus only on Igbo-Yoruba cultural and genetic linkages, but the entire family of 2000 Original African groups.
The primary aim is to disseminate the genetic origins and cultural linkages of the Niger-Kongo family, which has been proven to be a continuum of dialects with the same genetic origins and cultural foundations. Therefore, we should be careful not to become mired in ‘Yoruba versus Igbo’ controversies, to the detriment of the larger picture of all other groups, especially in South and Middlebelt, and be distracted from the aim to crystallize a well-articulated Original African cultural platform that can empower global Black ascendancy.
The key issue to be addressed is Obi Nwakanma’s reinforcement of the wrong perception that either Yoruba or Igbo migrated to Ife to meet the other. In one instance, using the Obatala story, the article came to the wrong conclusions that Yoruba ‘settlers’ displaced Igbo rulership under Obatala, overthrowing republicanism for monarchy.
In another version, it is claimed that Igbo Ukwu was older than Ife, so Igbos must have migrated to Ife and back to Igbo Ukwu. The third version was Yoruba, Jukun and others migrated from the Middlebelt after coming from Egypt and the Middlebelt. All three options are wrong.
ASHE Foundation, in its primary objective to present a well-articulated Original African cultural platform, uses recent genetics and cultural anthropological evidence to validate which of our various oral traditions and myths tell the true story of our cultural origins. Unfortunately, without the recent knowledge of genetics and cultural anthropology, Mr. Obi Nwakanma fell into the trap of open-ended migration, which many in the mainstream academia fall into by relying on incomplete archaeological assumptions that blurs Original African origins and prevents an Original African identity and unity.
Scholars in the well-publicized Bantu Migration theory claim all Original Africans dispersed from the Benue Valley in what is known as the Benue-Congo (proto-Jukunoid) family. This is an incomplete analysis since it does not take cognizance of the Volta-Niger family of the Yoruba, Igala, Nupe, Gwari and others, nor the Ijaw family of languages. The Bantu Migration theory rests on the false premises that the origin of Man occurred in East Africa according to archaeologists or Southwest Namibian San homeland according to geneticists. However, there is a strong case of the West African Coastal origin of humanity.
It is proven beyond doubt that the origins of Man had to be along a coast to account for the chemicals and attributes that could only have been derived from the ocean. Therefore, to fit their postulations, the East African origin advocates claim Man must have fed on shellfish and prawns off the Somali Coast, while the South African origin advocates point to the Cape Coast.
However, a recent study from Kyoto University (H. Yasuoka 2013) has proven that Man evolved picking wild yams, which is at the foundations of Yoruba, Igbo and other Southern and Middlebelt cultures.
The global comparative genetic analysis of the world’s major groups in the ten year research known as the Human Genome Diversity Project, whose results were used and authenticated by the follow up project, the International HapMap Project, shows that Yorubas have the longest DNA strand, making it the oldest of all modern human groups.
Yoruba came out with 93.2% and as you move away from Yorubaland it falls, with IGALA scoring 93.1%, Igbo 92%, Cameroon’s Ewondo 91.2%, Ghana Akan 90.1% – (Tishkoff SA 2009 – Table S8 Global Unsupervised Structure Run). Harvard University’s Simons Genome Diversity Project (Mallick S, Li H 2016) states that Yorubas and San pygmies diverged around 87,000yrs ago, being the first, while Marino Silva paper, 60,000yrs of L2/Bantus states that all other groups diverged from around 60,000yrs.
Therefore, the question arises where did Man evolve and where did Yoruba and the San pygmies diverge? If Man evolved from East or South Africa, then where is the genetic and cultural trail from those areas into West Africa that houses the oldest genetic and cultural imprints of Original Africans? What did they eat on their way to West Africa, what language did they speak and why are there absolutely no oral traditions of East, South or Central Africa in Southern and Central Nigeria?
With the dynamics of genetic values and the cultural anthropological evidence that the first Original African Information retrieval system, the 16 sector knowledge bank, also known as Ifa-Afa-Iha-Eha, shared by all Original Africans in Nigeria, we have to examine the Southern Nigerian Coasts as a conducive evolutionary spot and tie it to existing oral traditions. The Attah of Igala HRM Ameh Oboni categorically stated that Ifa is the link between all Original Africans.
The beauty of the African Information retrieval system, also known as Afa-Ifa-Iha-Efa, is that the Yoruba version traces their evolution to a place called Ife and clearly states that there have been several Ifes, as people relocated due to environmental conditions caused by the moving coastline during the Ice Age epochs. Ifa’s history of evolution ties to the modern theory of evolution based on the evolution of hominids from monkeys to modern human.
It states that Ijimere Baba Obo, the Patas Monkey master of all monkeys, fell out with Orunmila and the process of evolving into modern Man by playfully and wrongly applying the ointment on his buttocks and face only. Despite being left behind, Yorubas and Igbos revere Ijimere through Egungun/Ngwugwu masquerades, being the link between humans and the spirit world.
The reference to Obatala as the first leader is faulted by the lack of distinction between the spirit, pre-human evolution and modern humans. Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi clarified in a recent interview when asked how Oduduwa, at the beginning of humanity, could have lasted to the beginning of monarchy that not only Oduduwa, but Obatala and others, were names tied to specific spiritual essences that repeat through history.
Obatala was the oldest spirit but not the oldest human because he failed in his assignment to solidify the Earth due to drinking palmwine and sleeping off, which made God send Oduduwa to complete the task and become the first human. Obatala remains the head of spirituality, religion, philosophy and law, while Oduduwa continues to be pioneer in human endeavors and leadership.
The claim that Obatala was Republican and not Monarchical, resulting in Igbo republicanism, is unfounded as Obatala in Igbo means Oba ti Ala, the king of the spiritual world. Igbos followed the same advanced social organization and development like others since it started with priest-Kings known as Eze based on Afa.
However, Igbos did not join the 1500s imperialistic monarchies of the Benin, Oyo and Igala inspired by the ‘arms for slaves’ race. Igbos suffered the carving up of its cultural sphere and enslavement by the Benin, Igala and Arochukwu, which is a more probable cause of the republicanism and distaste for long distance rulership from faraway capitals.
Back to the issue of a Southern Nigeria origin of humanity, the coastline and bell-shaped rainforest between Lagos-Benin and Ife is the most probable point of evolution. It could be no further than Benin because the older Igbo groups are located to the North and not on the delta, while the older Yorubas are to the South, not Oyo. The most popular Igbo African origin is that of dispersal from Igalaland after a stopover from an unknown origin, which is backed by DNA evidence as well as linguistic evidence.
This exercise is not about Yoruba-Igbo supremacy but to provide a well-articulated common genetic foundation, cultural origins and linkages. This is why we have to take into account the oral traditions of the Ijaw, Nupe, Ewe and others.
The Ijaw present the most telling picture of a Southern Nigerian origin of humanity. The Ijoid language has the distinction of being the only linguistic group given a class of its own in the Niger Kongo ethnolinguistic family, meaning it only diverged from the parent Niger Congo mother tongue, with absolutely no proof of ever living in the hinterland.
In one of Ijaw origin stories, by SK Owonaru (Woyengidinikpete GY 2006, Alagoa EJ 1964), it is said that an Idekoseroake also known as Ojo/Ijo/Ujo, anglicized to Ijaw, was an elder son of Oduduwa that migrated out of coastal Ife to its present Niger Delta homeland, which neatly ties with genetic and linguistic evidence to the people also known as Oru.
With the preponderance of genetic and cultural evidence, we rest our oars with a Southern Nigeria origin of humanity, instead of the directionless migratory patterns from Tanzania Gorge or Namibia desert, in order to crystallize our true Origin African identity and unity required to empower and uplift the Black Race.
There are only two cultural spheres across Nigeria and Africa – the well-articulated Afro-Asian cultural platform of Hausa, Fulani, Amhara and others despite being products of Asiatic imperialism and the unarticulated Original Africans (Niger-Kongo ethnolinguistic family) despite having common origins and cultural foundations.
ASHE foundation presents a clearer vision and template to unify the 700 million strong Niger-Congo ethnolinguistic family from the evolution of humanity in ancient Ife where various groups diverged. While Yorubas surround but don’t live in the evolution bell-shaped rainforest called Igbo Irunmole, forests of ancestral spirits, the Ijaw kept to the coast, as groups migrated North to split into Igala, Nupe, Gwari, Idomas and Igbo.
The Volta-Niger linguistic family moved out of the bell-shaped rainforest into Central Nigeria grasslands, where the Nok civilization evolved, followed by the Chad Sao civilization which linked to Egypt and Ethiopia, where the first king called Ori ruled in 4470 BC.
The new Jukunoid Benue-Congo language evolved and diverged up the Benue and Chad into Cameroun, where the Beti-Pahuin family diverged and spread through the Chari and Sangha Rivers into Ugbangi-Kongo River basin, where the Bantus broke into Western Bantus that migrated towards to the Coast to form the Kongo groups, and the East Bantus that migrated upstream to Rift Valley Great lakes, where they were known as Marshariki Bantus that diverged into Banda, Kikuyu, Sukuma and other Eastern Africans as well as the Zulu, Xhosa and other Ngunis of South Africa.