The Historian Analysis of the Ooni of Ife Dynasty
The Ooni of Ile-Ife is the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife. The town is seen as the cradle of the Yoruba nation of Nigeria. The Ooni dynasties go back hundreds of years, because the oral tradition was only recently transcribed, there are several detailed lists that contradict each other. Nevertheless, some key figures are common to all of them. All the Oonis are traced down to Oduduwa, who is seen as the ancestral father of all the Yoruba people. Ooni Oranmiyan, who was said to have lived between 1200 and 1300 A.D, became legendary for his role in creating many new towns. One of his sons, Eweka, became the first Oba of Benin. Another son, Ajaka, became the first Alaafin of Oyo. Another, Osile, of Oke-Ona Egba. Ooni Lajamisan, another descendant of Oranmiyan was said to have opened the modern Ife history. The four actual Ruling Houses are named from Ooni Lafogido, Ooni Osinkola, Ooni Ogboru and Ooni Giesi. The first three were sons of Ooni Lajodogun, and the later a maternal grandson of Ogboru.
Mythic origin of Ife: Creation of the world
According to Yoruba religion, Olodumare, the Supreme God, ordered Obatala to create the earth but on his way, he found palm wine which he drank and became intoxicated. Therefore, the younger brother of the latter, Oduduwa, took the three items of creation from him, climbed down from the heavens on a chain and threw a handful of earth on the primordial ocean, then put a cockerel on it so that it would scatter the earth, thus creating the land on which Ile Ife would be built. Oduduwa planted a palm nut in a hole in the newly formed land and from there sprang a great tree with 16 branches, a symbolic representation of the clans of the early Ife city-state. The usurpation of creation by Oduduwa gave rise to the everlasting conflict between him and his elder brother, Obatala, which is still re-enacted in the modern era by the cult groups of the two clans during the Itapa New Year festival. On account of his creation of the world, Oduduwa became the ancestor of the first divine king of the Yoruba, while Obatala is believed to have created the first Yoruba people out of clay. The meaning of the word “ife” in Yoruba is “expansion”; “Ile-Ife” is therefore, in reference to the myth of origin “The Land of Expansion”.
Origin of the regional states: Dispersal from the holy city
Oduduwa had sons, daughters, and a grandson who went on to found their own kingdoms and empires, namely Ila Orangun, Owu, Ketu, Sabe, Popo and Oyo. Oranmiyan, Oduduwa’s last born, was one of his father’s principal ministers and overseer of the nascent Edo Empire after Oduduwa granted the plea of the Edo people for his governance. When Oranmiyan decided to go back to Ile Ife after a period of service in Benin, he left behind a child named Eweka that he had in the interim with an indigenous princess. The young boy went on to become the first legitimate ruler of the second Edo dynasty that ruled what is now Benin from that day to this. Oranmiyan later went on to found the Oyo Empire that stretched at its height from the western banks of the River Niger to the Eastern banks of the River Volta. It would serve as one of the most powerful of Africa’s medieval states prior to its collapse in the 19th century.
Traditional setting: The King (Ooni)
The Oòni (or king) of Ife claims direct descent from Oduduwa, and is counted first among the Yoruba kings. He is traditionally considered the 401st spirit (Orisha), the only one that speaks. In fact, the royal dynasty of Ife traces its origin back to the founding of the city more than 10,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The present ruler is Adeyeye Ogunwusi, styled His Imperial Majesty by his subjects. The Ooni ascended his throne in 2015. Following the formation of the Yoruba Orisha Congress in 1986, the Ooni acquired an international status the likes of which the holders of his title hadn’t had since the city’s colonisation by the British. Nationally, he had always been prominent amongst the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s company of Obas, being regarded as the chief priest and custodian of the holy city of the Yorubas. In former times, the palace of the Oni of Ife was a structure built of authentic enameled bricks, decorated with artistic porcelain tiles and all sorts of ornaments. The current Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife, (born October 17, 1974) is a Nigerian accountant and the 51st Ooni of Ife. He succeeded the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who died on July 28, 2015.
Cults for the spirits
Ife is well known as the city of 401 deities. It is said that every day of the year, the traditional worshippers celebrate a festival of one of these deities. Often, the festivals extend over more than one day and they involve both priestly activities in the palace and theatrical dramatisations in the rest of the kingdom. Historically, the King only appeared in public during the annual Olojo Festival; other important festivals here include the Itapa festival for Obatala and Obameri, the Edi festival for Moremi Ajasoro, and the Igare masquerades.
Kings and gods were often depicted with large heads because the artists believed that the Ase was held in the head, the Ase being the inner power and energy of a person. Both historic figures of Ife and the offices associated with them are represented. One of the best documented among this is the early King Obalufon II who is said to have invented bronze casting and is honored in the form of a naturalistic copper life-size mask.
The city was a settlement of substantial size between the 12th and 14th centuries, with houses featuring potsherd pavements. Ilé-Ifè is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A.D. In the period around 1300 C.E., the artists at Ife developed a refined and naturalistic sculptural tradition in terracotta, stone and copper alloy – copper, brass, and bronze many of which appear to have been created under the patronage of King Obalufon II, the man who today, is identified as the Yoruba patron deity of brass casting, weaving and regalia. After this period, production declined as political and economic power shifted to the nearby kingdom of Benin which, like the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, developed into a major empire.
Bronze and terracotta art created by this civilization are significant examples of naturalism in pre-colonial African art and are distinguished by their variations in regalia, facial marking patterns, and body proportions. Ancient Ife also was famous for its glass beads which have been found at sites as far away as Mali, Mauritania, and Ghana.
The present Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II was born 40 years ago into the family of Ropo and Margaret Ogunwusi. He is from the Ile Opa family Compound. His father was a radio presenter between mid-1980’s and early 21st century.
Oba Ogunwusi is an engineer and a real estate developer. His business interests span across various countries.
He has been involved in engineering, procurement and construction locally and abroad for over 12 years. He is also actively involved in the development of over 2,500 housing units with various consortia of developers/promoters over eight years in Nigeria.
Prior to his coronation as the new Ooni of Ife, Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi was the Managing Director of Howard Roark Gardens Limited which is undertaking multi-million naira Jacob Mews Estate project in Yaba, Lagos, and the Lakeview real estate development in Lekki.” To become Ooni, Prince Ogunwusi defeated 20 other contenders, including his 48-year old real estate- magnate brother, Adetunji, the Group Chairman of Primewaterview Holdings (comprising of Primewaterview Limited and PWV Management Services) He is on the board of Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank Limited, (formerly GTHomes), GTBank Plc and FinaTrust Microfinance Bank Limited.
Since the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Olubuse II, who in his capacity as the Oonirisa of the source brought a lot of fanfare and prestige to the already well revered stool which was once occupied by such illustrious personalities as Oduduwa and Oranmiyan, the race for the next Ooni was between the four ruling families; Osinkola, Ogboru, Giesi and Lafogido.
Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was born into the Giesi Ruling House, Ojaja Royal Compound of Agbedegbede in Ile-Ife is an astute entrepreneur, driven by turning impossibilities to possibilities. His power of imagination has set him aside, revolutionizing his approach to creativity and innovation. He is a distinct achiever, with the conscience of youthful excellence, his ambition is exceptional with savvy business ideas, making a mark in his immediate society and beyond. Prince Ogunwusi’s excellence and outstanding acumen would soon start to announce itself for the world to behold. Prince Adeyeye’s appointment was announced in a press statement by the Government of Osun state signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti on October 24, 2015.
He facilitated strong trade relationships in over 200-member countries across the globe using the Association for International Business presence, an organisation he set up in Nigeria.
One of the key achievements of this body is the trade facilitation between the United Arab Emirates (Jebel Ali free Trade Zone Development) and the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.
He was a co-organizer for Ondo State Economic Planning and Implementation Committee. He led the Government delegation team to Canada in 2002, for strategic alliances and partnership with Ondo State Government on solid mineral potentials of the state (Bitumen, Dimension Stones, Granite, etc.) which led to the formation of Amalgamated Mining and Exploration Company Limited – wholly owned by Ondo State Government.
He was involved in the facilitation and development of Sparkwest Steel Galvanizing Plant (the only Steel Galvanizing Plantin Nigeria), National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited and Jakura Mines resuscitation projects, which has eventually become the major limestone feed stock to Obajana Cement Plant in Kogi State, Nigeria.
Oba Ogunwusi is an accountant. He graduated from Polytechnic, Ibadan and he is a member of ICAN where he holds a certificate in Associate Accounting Technician, he is also member of Institute of Directors.
Due to his large contact in estate management, he is currently an active member of Global Estate Institute.