Thursday, 19 April 2018

Òpá Òránmíyàn: The Mystery of an Ancient Monument by Onigegewura

Opa Oranmiyan

LÀGÈRÈ ROAD is to Ile-Ife what Marina is to Lagos. It is the high street where you find the banks and the major stores. It is the main thoroughfare that leads to the ancient city. It is that road that begins immediately after you leave Obafemi Awolowo University and takes you past the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital to the Post Office. You know the road?

At the Post Office, Lagere Road forks into three. To your left is (Adekunle) Fajuyi Road. This is the road that leads to Ilesa and Akure. Straight ahead of you, and passing in front of the Post Office is Iremo Road which takes you directly to the imposing Palace of the Ooni at Enuwa Square. But that is not where we are going.

Oba Adesoji Tadenikawo Aderemi
Our route is the third fork, the one to your right. That is New Road. Yes, Onigegewura is not mistaken. You probably know it as Oba Adesoji Aderemi Road, right? Its original name when it was newly constructed was New Road. The road was constructed by the late Ooni of Ife as his personal contribution to the development of the town. Until Iya Agba’s death in 2000, she called it Nii Rodu. Our old uncle who lived there was, of course, Baba New Road.

If Lagere is Marina, Oba Adesoji Aderemi Road is Broad Street. And indeed it is actually a very broad street. The defunct African Continental Bank used to have its very beautiful branch there. It is Oba Adesoji Aderemi Road that leads to Òrótó. And that’s where we are going.

We are following Onigegewura to see the majestic Opa Oranmiyan (staff of Oranmiyan).

Opa Oranmiyan is one of the wonders of the African race.

You have to visit the Opa yourself to feel its mystery.

The Opa is tall. It is very tall. In height, it is taller than eighteen feet. And it has 1 foot underground. If we take the height of an average storey building to be twenty feet, Opa Oranmiyan is of a comparable height. However, it used to be taller than its present height. From historical records Onigegewura came across, about four feet was broken off from the top during a storm in 1884.

The Opa has upon its front side [I am assuming you are looking at it from the road] a number of metallic nails hammered into it with two mysterious figures carved in the midsection. From a distance, the design of the iron nails look like a ‘three-pronged forklike configuration”. The iron nails have a bullet-like appearance.

This is how Ayinla Ogun whom you probably know as the Reverend Samuel Johnson, the author of the seminal The History of the Yorubas, described the curious arrangement:
Mystery of Ancient Monument

The nails are arranged in such an ordered manner as to render them significant. First, there are 61 in a straight line from the bottom upwards at interval of about 2 inches on either side in midline; and next, at about a distance of 4 inches on either side of this, and from the same level on top, two parallel lines of 31 of the midline. Then in the space between these three rows of parallel lines, and about the level where they converge, is found the most conspicuous of the carvings...”

The Opa was carved of granite gneiss. That’s the first mystery. How did my great grandfathers who were presumed not to have any technological knowledge carve the structure out of granite? The European explorers who examined the Opa were of the opinion that it could have been made in the first millennium C. E.

This takes me to the second mystery. How were the iron nails hammered into the granite? What instruments did they use? In a British Museum document which I came across, it was recognized that: “Each nail would have been labouriously inserted into the granite before the stela was raised.” How were these nails inserted, and in such an orderly fashion? How long did it take them to insert the nails?

Then, how were the unlettered Yoruba people of Ile-Ife able to master the technique of hoisting up such gigantic stonework in those days? What tools did they use? What happened to those tools?

To me, the greatest mystery is the meaning behind the arrangements of the iron nails on the Opa Oranmiyan. Could they have been merely decorative? Or were they of peculiar significance? What could have been the reason behind the nail configuration? What do they represent? According to the British Museum document I mentioned earlier, it was observed that: “This arrangement of nails is probably not merely decorative, but has a symbolic significance that has been lost over the centuries.”

This is suggestive that the configuration must be representative of a deeper meaning.

A probable explanation as to the meaning of the nails was proffered by Ayinla Ogun. According to the famous historian who was also Pastor of Oyo, “what is conjectured as most probable in these arrangements is that the 61 nails in midline represent the number of years Oranyan [the alternate spelling of Oranmiyan by people of Oyo Province] lived, and that the 31 each on either side indicates that he was 31 when he began to reign, and that he reigned for 31 years, the year he began to reign being counted twice as is the manner of the Yorubas, and that the carvings are the ancient characters Resh and Yod which stand for Oranyan.”

Could the Reverend Johnson be right?  Or is there another explanation? Onigegewura spoke with some elders in Ile-Ife and Oyo. What they told him was as intriguing as it was mind-blowing.

How many of our scholars have attempted to study and analyse this mysterious monument of ages gone past? How many of our students have made Oranmiyan the subject of their thesis? Has the government done anything to make Opa Oranmiyan a centre of culture and tourism? How many people visit Ile-Ife annually for the purpose of cultural tourism?

Tourists in Turkey
Let me share these figures with you. About four million tourists visit Taj Mahal every year. More than seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year. Leaning Tower of Pisa attracts an average of one million people every year. Nearer home, more than a million tourists visit Victoria Fall in Zimbabwe on annual basis.  I know you are already calculating the number of jobs that would be created if we have a million tourists trooping to Ile-Ife annually.

Tourists visiting Osun State alone will be delighted to visit Osun Grove in Osogbo, the Olumirin Waterfall at Erin Ijesha, Opa Oranmiyan in Ife, Ife Museum, and of course, the panoramic mountains on the border with Ekiti State which have been colonized by prayer warriors, and a host of other breathtaking historical sites.

These tourists will need to be accommodated: hotels. They will need to eat: restaurants. They will need to go home with souvenirs: artists, manufacturers, and retailers. The opportunities along the value chain are simply endless.

All of us love to bring back to Nigeria miniature Eiffel Tower, Burj Khalifa, Taj Mahal, Leaning Pisa, and other beautiful mementoes from the places we have visited. What will you give someone who visits Nigeria to take back to his country?

Do you want to know what the elders of Ile-Ife and Oyo told Onigegewura about the meaning of the symbols? I will tell you if you can answer this simple question: where in Nigerian can I get a miniature of Opa Oranmiyan to put on my writing table?

I thank you for your time.


Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Oath of Egbe Omo Oduduwa

Sir Adeyemo Alakija

The Egbe Omo Oduduwa  [The Society of the Descendants of Oduduwa] was Yoruba premier cultural organisation founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and a group of Yoruba students in London in 1945. It was rejuvenated in Lagos in December 1947 and was formally inaugurated in Ile-Ife in June 1948.

Its first president was the late Adeyemo Alakija while Obafemi Awolowo was elected as the first General Secretary.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo
The main objectives of the Egbe were the organisation of a virile, efficient and modernized Yoruba state within a Federal state of Nigeria, the protection and development of Yoruba culture and traditional institutions, and the protection of the interest of the Yoruba so that future generations of the Yoruba would have a secured place in Nigeria.

Between 1948 and 1951, the Egbe awarded scholarship to 21 students from various Yoruba towns. The Egbe was banned by the Federal Military Government in 1966, along with similar ethnic group associations.

Please find below the Oath an applicant was required to take upon admission as a member of the Egbe:

Èké pa obì o di
Òdàlè pa tire má yàn
Oniwa rere nikan soso lo pa tire to yan gedegbe

Emi, ………………………………………………………………………………… ileri tokantokan niwaju Olorun ati eniyan, lati duro dede ninu Egbe Omo Oduduwa ati lati faramo gbogbo ofin ati eto Egbe yi.

Bi mo dale Egbe yi ni onakona ni gbangba tabi ni ikoko, nigbangba ni mo fi ara mi bu fun ijiya ti Olorun pa lase fun Oduduwa pe: “Eke a pa eleke, Ilè a pa odale.”

Ki Olorun ki o ran mi lowo ninu ileri yi ati ninu ise rere mi gbogbo si Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Ase!!!

[English Translation]

The efforts of a dishonest person are abortive
Those of disloyal citizens are futile
Only the upright shall be successful in their endeavours

I,………………………………………………………………………….faithfully promise before the Almighty God and in the presence of my fellow compatriots, that I shall ever remain loyal and firm in the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and I shall ever obey and support the constitution of the organisation.

If I betray the Egbe either publicly or privately, I make myself liable, in public, to the penalty which the Almighty God prescribed for Oduduwa, to wit: “Evil shall haunt the evil doer, and betrayers shall be destroyed by the mother earth.”

So help me, Oh God, in this my oath and in my obligations to this Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Amen!!!

Source: S. O. Arifalo, The Egbe Omo Oduduwa: A Study in Ethnic and Cultural Nationalism

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tony Anenih: The Man Who Makes Presidents and Governors

“In my political career in this country, one of my greatest legacies is that I have contributed to the making of governors and presidents. This is no mean achievement and I am not boasting or exaggerating. That is the simple fact which can stand rigorous screening by whatever stiff standards we want to apply.
With President Shehu Shagari

First, under the National Party of Nigeria, I largely assisted President Shehu Shagari and the NPN to win the presidential elections in 1979. At this time, I was largely a financier and strong backer of the NPN in Bendel State. I supplied the party with funds, vehicles and was responsible for the hired plane that took delegates to the party’s convention in Yaba.

Secondly, at the 1983 federal elections, we repeated this feat and won a second term for president Shehu Shagari, just as we won the first term for Dr. Osaigbovo Ogbemudia.

Then came the elections of 1983 when I was at the helm of affairs as the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Nigeria (SDP). The story of the wide acceptance of our candidate, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, has been told already.
With Shehu Musa Yar'dua

The annulment of the election of a candidate who had been declared by the NEC to contest the election was followed by unacceptable explanations and propositions which plunged the nation into a deep political crisis.

With MKO Abiola
At this trying period, contrary to what uninformed and some mischievous people popularized, I stood firm, at the risk of my life and detention to defend the political heritage of Nigeria and the victory of our party, the SDP, at the polls. This was resilience; this was strength of character; this was statesmanship; this was fearlessness and this was a legacy clearly indicated by all available documentary evidence and the evidence of participants at the futile meetings which followed the annulment support.

The making of presidents did not end with the victory of Chief M. Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and the annulment of June 12, 1993 elections. After the military’s final transition programme of General Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998-99, I was again instrumental in the making of a third president – Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo. The reward of a ministerial appointment into the Federal Executive Council as Minister for Works and Housing, for which I am grateful to the president, remains a visible landmark in my political career and contributions to the making of presidents.”

Culled from: Tony Anenih, My Life and Nigerian Politics, Mindex Publishing Co. Ltd, 2016.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Deputy Chief of Staff to the President Delivers Unilag Law Faculty Lecture

Ade Ipaye, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria will on Friday, April 6, 2018, deliver the 2nd Public Lecture of the Department of Commercial Law and Industrial Law, University of Lagos.

Ipaye who was formerly the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State and Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Taxation & Revenue is scheduled to speak on Funding Governmental Services in a Federation: The Inevitable Admixture of Law and Politics.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN is the Special Guest of Honour while another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, former Foreign Affairs Minister will chair the event. The President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; and the Chairman of Forte Oil Plc, Femi Otedola will be special guests.

Prof. Ige Bolodeoku, the Head of Department of Commercial and Industrial Law, said Ipaye would examine sources of funding to government from legal and political perspectives, as well as their adequacy and opportunities.

The lecture will hold at the J. F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium by 11.00am.