CONTRA-INTERPOLATIONS AND POSTULATIONS IN ODUDUWA’S ANCESTRY



CONTRA-INTERPOLATIONS AND POSTULATIONS IN ODUDUWA’S ANCESTRY
BOOK TITLE: ODUDUWA, KING OF THE EDOS
AUTHOR: JUDE IDADA
PAGES: 233
GENRE: DRAMA
REVIEWER: ADENIYI TAIWO KUNNU

The heated controversies surrounding the ancestry of Oduduwa and the Bini-Yoruba divergent postures may have derived a realistic panacea in the fictive amassing of Jude Idada. It’s been said afterall, that what every human owes the universe is either to protect it in its pristine state or add unadulterated colourations to it. These alternatives could well describe the attempt by this young Nigerian-Canadian, to re-face a perhaps, near-defaced issue, in a bid to salvage the very important history of these proud races, using the channel of creative writing to ostracize the demons of historical distortions.
Employing the imperialist bequest- English Language in its dialogue, the author immersed himself in shark-infested waters of tradition and historical mythology  ensuring a balance is attempted with the use of Bini and Yoruba dialects to course through the rhythmic invocations of music and somber dirges, lighting up the embers of tradition in its unalloyed form. It must be noted, that referring to Oduduwa as Ekaladerhan; Owomika as Eweka and Ogiso as Oba and a fews others should make for better appreciation as same.
Oduduwa, King of the Edos can best be described the Microcosm of our current geopolitical entity; complete in intrigues, distrusts, treachery, foibles and scarce integrity; vices and virtue which may not elude any civilization, even if such a sphere wields the toga of civility and sanctimoniousness, it no doubt has evolved overtime from the dregs of bloodshed and ugly inhuman cultivations.
 An unforgettable savageness is the 7th century Greek theatre- where Dionysus, god of wine and fertility basked in the wanton revelry of those thespians. One from the current civilization was the American civil war in the 17th century, characterized by ideological loggerheads and consequent decimation of fellow American rebels, as that’s what they are, having crossed the Atlantic to the Americas from the United Kingdom. A more contemporary allusion is the Umbrella Revolution in the former British colony of Hong Kong, where people clamour for what is theirs and the authorities in Beijing are dung-faced about it.   
The work opens with introduction of the treacherous and tempestuous warrior Uwafiokun, leading fellow fighters against Evian and Ogianmen, a regent of Igodomigodo and his son, whose heads eventually leave their bodies to his sword. Shameful and deserved, Uwafiokun’s retributive imbecility comes to the fore as one journeys through the work and definitely attest to fate’s punitive measure against hypocrisy and greater iniquity. A plunge from an initial exalted position, where war fought was for his pernicious intents than the preservation of the revered culture and heritage of Ogisos, and the Edo people. 
Hear him in Act One, Scene One:
“Let the hunger of the greedy consume the usurper of the crown of the Ogisos…Ogiamen!”
If anyone ever predicted his own end, then Uwafiokun just did. Expressing to the ears of all within earshot and impressing on the justification for beheading some usurpers. It is no doubt an auto-prophecy for the same crime he accuses Evian and Ogiamen of. He shares similarity with Odewale in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame, who unknowing predicts his own end on the knowledge that Oba Adetusa has been killed by none other than himself.
This opening foreshadows unveiled chains of plots by power mongers and power brokers who jostle with wisdom, practical steps and at times deviousness in order to stem the tide of what causes man to be left in delirium. This disorientation can be adduced to the overriding influence of the gods; seeming insatiable cum conflicting tendencies of man and certain inexplicable phenomena. These descriptions definitely chart its course through different levels of conflicts in the work
Evian the beheaded regent says in Act One, Scene two:
 “Culture is silent; it needs a man of wisdom, foresight and courage to speak on its behalf….”
Crave for wisdom, foresight and courage results in the need for an Ogiso to occupy the throne of his ancestors. How then can Igodomido have her “Ruler from the sky”? Banished, hasn’t he been? Majority of Ovbiedo believes he is long dead in the forest of Igo, following his fate occasioned by the  treacherous Queen Esagho and subsequent verdict by Ogiso Owodo- Ekaladerhan’s father. Conversely, a handful knows Oduduwa lives. The accomplices include, Ezomo- a highly respected member of the Edion’isen and Odionmwan- chief of the palace executioners- whose acts of omission eventually guarantees a royal lineage.
In Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not Blame, King Adetusa’s and Queen Ojuola’s joy become shortlived, when it gets predicted that their source of fulfillment-Odewale- will become their eventual failings. It is in similar vein that Oduduwa is sentenced to die, so as to make way for other sons to be sired from the loins of Ogiso Owodo. Situating both works side by side, one finds the gods’ intervention in man’s affairs, with an instruction to tow a line so as to address an immediate concern or avert an impending doom. While Ekaladerhan was not killed by Odionmwan, Odewale was himself spared by Gbonka, leading up to the fates of these core personas, who at best are reflections of an artist impression.
 A contrast however surfaces. It is gullibility, cowardice cum stupid verdict from Ogiso Owodo, who prefers to cast out the strength of his youth-Ekaladerhan- as that appeared to placate his inability to bear more sons. It however happens to be a bull’s eyes prophecy in Ola Rotimi’s work, where the prophecy comes to pass, but also enabled by man’s inability to adhere to instructions-Gbonka.
An important precedent in the work is that, only blue bloods who are eldest males become Ogisos, so the revelation about Oduduwa bearing rule over Yorubas in Ile Ife is received with mixed emotions. Ezomo reveals the veracity of Ekaladerhan’s existence, but since patience is alien to Uwafiokun and treachery pitches a concrete tent at his domain, such stories are best left as myths from Europe’s dark ages.
 Hear him again in Act One, Scene Two:
“I stand here ready to go to war with anyone who tries to use guile and flowery words to usurp the throne”
Uwafiokun appears to breathe on war. His every existence is in making another life go down lifeless, should any situation not find an immediate comprehension in his cerebrum. He even refuses to make peace with his fellow chiefs because to him, war alone resolves knotty issues. Power indeed has its stuporous tendencies.
Priority for the Edos is seeing Ekaladerhan return to his homeland, so that an unoccupied throne will be ascended. Oliha, a member of the Edion’isen carries this burden of destiny. His childhood fondness and friendship with Oduduwa is leveraged to accomplish this daunting task of salvaging the throne. This quest however has its thorny sides, because a trap set is often forgotten, but he who gets entrapped and wrenches out with bruises never forgets. This dialogue between Oliha and oduduwa in Act Two , Scene Three spells it aptly.
ODUDUWA: “The Edos are not my people”
OLIHA: “The land of the Edos has wronged you. Your father, Ogiso Owodo, dictated your death, believing at the time that it was the will of the gods and in silence, we supported him”.
Faith is a virtue of survival but fate is its parallel which charts its own course. This expression best describes the departure of Oduduwa to Ile Ife. He met a people with open arms and with exceptional dexterity, strengthened the land which affords him love and life; together with them becoming the Oba of an economically viable and militarily structured land. Love has never been attained or enjoyed in isolation. Oduduwa adds value to the land that embraced him with peace and plenty, even when his land almost snuffed Olodumare’s life out of him. He shows qualities and powers only gods wield, warming his way through their hearts and enjoying the delightful bossom of a wise daughter of the Ile Ife – Okanbi, the mother of his son, Oranmiyan.
How else will a man who unifies thirteen villages, provided herbs to heal ailments, commanded rains, killed a fierce leopard, has military prowess, understood artistic work, enabled bronze smelting amongst others be rewarded if not to wave aside any doubts about his lineage and bestow him with a new and befitting identity as king of their land. This again prompts a reference to Odewale in The gods are not to Blame. Having restored dignity to Kutuje, he gets blessed with the mother of the land and by extension authority and power to bear rule over every affair of his newfound land.
It was indeed a reprieve from the unforgiving and proud people of Edo land. This may well be the cancer that has eaten unrepentantly into the human fabrics of Ogiso Owodo - who himself tasted the bitter pill of his indiscretion by passing a verdict of death on his only son as well as Uwafiokun and other accomplices to the crime, who seek the extermination of a true son of Edo land.
Ezomo confirms this identity in Act Four, Scene Four:
“The Edos are a proud people. They are also very stubborn and unforgiving….”
The unraveling yarns continue after much entreaty by Oliha and subsequent test of integrity by Oduduwa.  A louse was given to Oliha to be returned after three seasons, which he did, albeit not without another head hitting the ground in death as announced by Isoken-the slain slave’s wife. Osaze, whose head bore the insect from Ife to Edo gets cut off by Uwafiokun in his bid to preserve the throne for his son, making attempts at preventing Edos’ quest to take the right course. His scheming however fails, as the wit demonstrated by Oliha in preserving the lice elsewhere puts paid to this evil. It is no doubt that Ivie, the wife of Uwafiokun is Ekaladerhan’s sibling, but the paternal preserve of the throne of the Ogisos cannot be controverted. Ivie in her wisdom counsels her husband, rather than being heeded she receives a thunderous slap as reward for comely virtue.
Oranmiyan volunteers to be, according to late Ogidi Chinua Achebe,  Oduduwa’s ”Eyes and Ears”  in Igodomido but the unforgetting, unforgiving and probing  Ovbiedo makes it  hugely challenging. It must also be said, that Oranmiyan fails to understand the “Universal Law of Protocol” and the ever essential need to speak “Latin when one finds himself in Rome”. No doubt a blue blood, but leading people comes from understanding as well as not violating what is considered sacred to them  Oranmiyan’s hubris causes him to take Erinmwinde of Egor- an albino for a wife, births a child-Eweka or Owomika in Edo and Yoruba languages, who did not walk for four seasons and eventually leaves Igodomido for Ile Ife before departing to found a land he calls his own.
The albatross of many great men seems to be Hubris; from Oedipus to Odewale, in killing both their fathers and marrying their mothers; to French Emperor, Napoleon III, who headed France to the Franco-Prussian war against Otto Von Bismarck’s led side,  but could only salvage his battered pride, if any, at the battle of Sedan  where an armistice was dangled before him and subsequent reparations. He foolishly led 83,000 men against Prussia’s 380,000. It is the cancer of Hubris that leads Uwafiokun to his humiliation then madness. The south paw of Hubris on its sufferers may just never end.
Numerous incidences abound in the intrigues that web the Oduduwa story. Beginning from the refusal of Ekaladerhan to return to Igodomigodo from Uhe (Edo word for Ile Ife), preferring to send Oranmiyan to Edo and the many problems the latter faced with Uwafiokun and other sons and daughters of the land; particularly in accepting a man that rejected the title “Ogiso” for “Oba”; ran their warrior mad in a duel; married an albino and refused to take another daughter of his fatherland as is the practice to wife; returning to Ile Ife with his wife Erinmwinde.
 The role of women in this fictive material cannot be over-emphasized. Infact, a woman opens up the gateway to the flourish of an Ogiso in another land and the transfer of culture and values from Igodomigodo to Uhe. Queen Esagho benefits from my forgiveness and applause for her decisiveness in keeping Ogiso Owodo to herself, thus paving the way for an “almost misplaced royalty” in Oduduwa to Ile Ife.
Ivie the wife of Uwafiokun also stands tall here. When the lure of usurping the throne seems too much for her husband Uwafiokun, she defiantly looks her husband, speaks the truth, though buffeted, her stand remains unalloyed in truly upholding the revered culture of her ancestors. A mother that toes the line of honour rather than lip the poisoned chalice is worthy of all reverence.
Okanbi is the wife of Ekaladerhan and a woman of immense wisdom. She employs her virtue in seeing that Oranmiyan goes to Igodomigodo, while Oduduwa remains in Ile Ife as Oba. Her wisdom also strengthens her husband upon the revelation that she has been married to a stranger and mere mortal rather than a god as earlier believed. She was also smart to apply knowledge in supporting the departure of Oranmiyan to another land but maintaining ties with his fatherland.
Isoken, the wife of Osaze the beheaded slave also comes to mind. Apart from being the wife of the slain, she announced her husband’s death and as such averted the keg of gun powder that would have resulted in an implosion. This cataclysm would have destroyed the preserve of Igodomigodo, but she comes to her dear kingdom’s rescue. She thus occupies a favoured divine haven.
The slave that gave birth to Ooni must not be forgotten in a hurry. It must be said here that the author carved an eternal niche for himself in the paradise of wordsmiths, placing a matter of life at the doorstep of death. She escapes death as sacrifice to Olodumare having been found with seed from an un-named person. Her seed thus guarantees that the tentacle of Igodomigodo operating in Uhe will keep a lifetime hold. Afterall, the bible says a woman shall be saved in childbearing.
The glorious crowning to the repertoire of achievements by great women listed here is Erinmwinde’s. She must be endlessly hailed. This benevolent woman bears the humiliation of her unsolicited albinism, loves Oranmiyan in his troubled moments, endured the pains of a child that did not walk for four seasons and eventually leaves the child in the care of a race that causes her husband to leave the land of his ancestors. She is a deified persona whose rewards spell itself in unquantifiable proportions. Her Eweka becomes the Ogiso upon which Igodomido thrives.
An allusion to material occasion was a workshop held at the Eko multipurpose hall in Lagos on Thursday, October 7, 2004 where it was revealed that “Skeletal remains of a stone age man was found at Isarun in Ondo state; with similar sites also discovered in Ife, Owo and Asejire”. This according to conveners was to establish that Ife is the cradle of mankind.
On the other hand, certain historical accounts reveal, that Yoruba civilization has been in existence for as long as humans thrived on the earth, but Bini history precedes Oduduwa by 1,240 years because 31 Ogisos ruled Igodomido between 40BCE and 1,200CE. Further researches into Bini records show that between 1100 and 1200CE, her prince Ekaladerhan took Edo civilization to Uhe (Ile Ife) meaning “Re-Birth” and that Ile Ife also called Ilefe in Edo means “Successful Escape”
The Yoruba story reveals that 37 Oonis reigned in Ife before Akinmoyero in 1770-1800. 13 more have reigned since. It is said that if from 1800CE to 2014CE (a period of 214 years) produced 13 Oonis, it can only make sense that 38 Oonis have reigned from 1200CE to 1800CE, a period of 600 years. it is also worthy of note, that Oduduwa may not be regarded in certain quarters as the progenitor of the Yoruba race, it is however indisputable that he is the spiritual progenitor of the Yorubas, having entered into the Yoruba Pantheon history about 900 years ago.
The issues treated in Oduduwa, King of the Edos brings to fore an awakening to the realities of these races kinship. Anthropological and folkloric evidence have proven beyond reasonable doubt, so it is only sensible to consider what binds rather than un-cords both great people. On the Oba Of Benin’s visit to Ooni’s palace on November 11, 1982 it was recorded in the book titled Ekaladerhan by Ovbia Edu Akenzua that His Royal Highness Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I said to His Imperial Majesty Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubuse II Ooni of Ife
“if the Ooni  calls the Oba his son
and the Oba of Benin calls the Ooni
of Ife his son, they are both right” 
It is evident that the author sharpens his horns with research, so as to engage in this realistic rumble with those who would not rather enjoy fiction than pick holes in sealed planes.  I dare say he may well have rested the heated claims and counter claims over whose progenitor charted the course of life ahead of the other or for the other.
Jude Idada adventured through themes of  culture, ancestry, authority, power, politics, providence, indiscretion, wisdom, patience, endurance, death, treachery,  love, women and procreation. He employed the core elements of drama in dialogue, songs and dance;  creating very apt character interactions with copious and rich use of proverbs, befitting moulds of characters and relaying the essential pleasures between man and woman in most subtle, honest yet modest bravado.
It is impossible to avoid one’s common inheritance as the heritage of the Edos and Yoruba is one.
This statement of fact leaves us ruminating:
ODUDUWA: “Two distinct people bound by a common heritage
                        countless ruling houses over a diverse people flowing
                        from the same loins. Yorubas and Edos united in one
                        brotherhood….”

Act Five, Scene One.

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