When Sijuwade became Ooni of Ife in December 1980 he inherited an ongoing dispute over supremacy between the Obas of Yoruba land. In 1967 crisis had been resolved when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was chosen as the leader of the Yoruba. In 1976 the Governor of Oyo State, General David Jemibewon, had decreed that the Ooni of Ife would be the permanent chairman of the St te Council of Obas and Chiefs.

Other Obas led by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi said the position should rotate.  The dispute calmed down when Osun State was carved out of Oyo State in August 1991, but ill will persisted. In January 2009 Sijuwade was quoted as saying that Oba Adeyemi was ruling a dead empire (the Oyo Empire, which collapsed in 1793). Adeyemi responded by citing "absurdities" in Sijuwade's statements and saying the Ooni is not in tune with his own history. Adeyemi, Permanent Chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, was conspicuously absent from a meeting of Yoruba leaders in April 2011.



Front page




Table of Contents





1. 1 Background of the Study

1.2 Historical Background

1.3 Aims and Objectives

1.4 Significant of Study

1.5 Literature Review

1.6 Methodology

1.7 District, Divisional and Provincial

1.8 Definition of Terms





2. 1 Historical Background of Ile- Ife

2.2 Historical Background of Oyo

2.3 Socio - Political Relations of lIe-Ife and Oyo

2.4 Economic Relations of Ile- Ife and Oyo

2.5 Political Relations of Ile-Ife and Oyo





CHAPTER THREE:          


3. 1 Pre-Colonial Power Relations  

3.2 Colonial Power Relations in Yoruba land  

3.3 Decolonization and Power Relations in Yoruba land  





4.1 Coasts  

4.2 Magnitude and Consequences

4.3 Challenges and Prospects  





5. 1     Conclusions

5.2      Recommendations













The Yoruba land was usually referred to as southwest. In Nigerian geo-political zone. It comprises modern state of Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Lagos State. In addition, a considerable number of Yoruba people also inhabit a substantial part of Kwara, and southeastern part of the Republic of Benin (former Dahomey) and were also one of the major ethnic group in modern Nigeria.

All these areas are referred to form what was known as Yoruba country before the European partition of Africa, The area lies roughly between latitudes 60 and 90 North and longitude 20 - 30 and 60 31 east with an estimated area of about 161,300 square kilometers.

This part of the country presents generally two district features namely; the forest and the plains. The former comprising southern and eastern zones, while the later comprises the North central and western portion. The area constituted a thick forest but the rivers and the streams are dependent upon the annual rains. There are few high mountains in the North and West of this area, but in the. East, the prevailing aspect is high rangers of mountains.

On the political level, the political unit which government is' based in all the Yoruba kingdoms is the town, each kingdom consists of many towns, but this do not mean that there are many independent governments in each kingdoms. The only thing is that the government of the capital serves as the central government units. Notwithstanding this unequal, the unique system of government is monarchical, as towns in the central or local level are headed by an Oba or King, who is entitled to wear a crown. As head of the government the king is regarded as a divine ruler and head of Army, he has-absolute powers.

Enclosed with this geo-political are towns like Ife and Oyo. These are very salient towns in the study of the Yoruba history. The former are situated in the central portion of the Yoruba land and headed by a King Oba known as "Ooni" titular head while the later is situated in the Northern part of the area and headed by Alaafin African titular head. These two towns form the bases of this research.



In writing the early history of the Yoruba, one has to rely entirely on non-written sources of which oral tradition is very salient, this hitherto collected and popularized present different contradictory information about the origin of the people. This can be supplemented with archeological finding and linguistic research, and with inference drawn from the results of ethnological mapping of present day cultures and socio-political organizations.

According to the oral tradition which has various versions, one of' the resources tells us that in the beginning when the world was only a mass of water, God sent Oduduwa from heaven to create the earth and the human race. Oduduwa descend with his lieutenants and handed of Ile-ife, where he accomplished his task. Thus by this tradition, Ile-ife was asserted as the cradle not for the Yoruba but also of all mankind.

On the other hand, there is a body of tradition which claims that the Yoruba migrated to their present abode from Mecca under the leadership of Oduduwa as a result of a political crisis in Arabia after the rise of Islam. Some scholars have examined the details of this' version and concluded that, while it was possible that the Yoruba had contact with Mecca or other parts of Arabia before they migrated, their real place of origin was either Egypt or Nubia. In any case, they too did not deny that Oduduwa was the leader of the migrants but making use of etymological considerations is purely unscientific in historical context.

Therefore, the fundamentalist approach can be ruled out on the ground of incompatibility with modern sequence, as the Middle Eastern question is not authentic. Bat in the case of archeological findings in relation to origin of the Yoruba “two implication can be credited to this, first, that there have been considerable populations seem to have been physically and culturally continuous with the present day inhabitant”.

At this juncture however, it is pertinent to examine whether the people whom Oduduwa met at Ile-ife were Yoruba speaking or not in this connection, linguistic evidence is a better supplement to archeological findings as it’s crucial to our reconstructions of the history of Yoruba. In classifying African Languages in general and West African in particular, renowned scholars of linguistics have placed-the Yoruba Language among the Kwara group in the Niger Congo family of languages. Beside through the use of glottochronology, linguistic have been able to assert that Yoruba, Edo, Igbo began to evolve as separate languages from a common percentage about four thousand years ago; and that Yoruba had evolved as a distinct language, at least about two or three thousand years ago.

Sequel to this linguistic evidence, therefore, the Yoruba speaking' people had inhabited West Africa before the advent of education. This depicts that it was not Oduduwa's group that introduce the Yoruba Language.

Rather, if Oduduwa was a migrant then he and his followers became absorbed into their existing Yoruba group and adopted their language.

Assuming that Oduduwa was a migrant, his place of migration was in all probability somewhere in the neighborhood of Ile-ife where Yoruba or a related language was spoken and not Mecca or Egypt.

This suggestion is based on the fact that his name sounds more like a Yoruba name than Arabic or Egyptian name. At any rate whether Oduduwa was a migrant or a political adventure, his advent was a significant milestone in the history of the Yoruba people. "Thus he became the head of the lot. His seven princes and princess namely; Olowo of Owu (Princess), Princess of Alaketu of Ketu, Prince of Benin" Orogun of Ila, Onisabe of sabe, Olupopo of Popo and last Oranyan the king of Oyo. All these left Ife at different times for various reasons to found their own dynasties this made Oduduwa the original head of people as well as' the spiritual leader while his descendants became effective political authorities in their various territories.



The reason for me to choose this controversial issue as the area of my research is simply because of the public and press controversies cum debates the leadership supremacy has provoked, of which no concrete answer has been reached concerning "who is the supreme head of the Yoruba between ife and Oyo". Although many interested. Writers have been contributing either for or against them.

In this respect therefore, I think the origin of this issue should be traced and an answers should be found to it.



The significant of this study is to answer the question that who is really supreme between Ife and Oyo in regard of Yoruba leadership.



The study of the Yoruba land empire has been written by different scholars. But little has been said about the leadership supremacy in Yoruba land. This is to say that this study has been neglected and in this respect the work therefore set to study some related work on relationship between Ife and Oyo before and after colonial era.

Since most of the books written by the scholars did not treated the leadership supremacy in Yoruba land as a separate issue.

However, the research intends to use the article written by Chief Odofin of Ife and Chief Orunto of Oyo and some report found at the National Achiever. Since National Achievers has the basic information about the relations of the two cities.



In writing the early Yoruba history one must consult the primary source which is oral history and visiting some historical places so in order to analyses the data collected for this I will rely on primary sources which is oral, history report found at National archives and some secondary materials.

Historians of the Yoruba land such as Ajayi, Ayandele, Akintoye, Biobaku, Awo and a host of others have failed to give a little space for who is supreme between Ife and Oyo with regard to leadership claims in their writings.

With the exception of articles written by Chief Raji Badmus, the Orunto of Oyo and Chief Fabunmi, Odole of Ife, including individual comments in the Newspapers and magazines, all other sources of materials for this dissertation comes from oral traditions and materials from the National Archives.

Though, oral tradition as a source of historical data presents problems. There is the problem of inaccuracy. Oral tradition as we all knows is history material being spoken rather than written word. There are· distortions falsifications, repetitions and corruptions in tradition. The search for and the indication of variants and identification of corruption, show the way in which the tradition has been handed down from time immemorial; and the very variations distortions and corruptions themselves are important because they show the way in which historical event have been interpreted from one generation to another.

However, oral tradition passes through a more human potentially more emotional channel of communication written records; historian records them a living individual. In order to overcome such problems of subjectivity, the historian has to seek information' from and the other of various individuals, as many as possible and from all walks of life. In some cases, the information themselves are not sure of dates and facts, some we’re not alive to witness the events, while those who witnessed them might have forgotten certain facts. These are some of the problems which one encounter in oral tradition.

In spite of all these limitations, I have to depend largely on oral tradition to write this project. I interviewed mostly elders, important title holders which I was directed to by both Alaafin of Oyo and Ooni of Ife; and they well informed me of the historical events of their' respective areas. Majority of those I interviewed are not versed in English and therefore I spoke to them in Yoruba. All my interviews in general were faithfully recorded on the cassette - player and subsequently translated into English. I asked several questions to elicit as much information as possible. Others were primary sources which I got from the National Archives, Ibadan. The chief Archivist granted me every opportunity to look at various provincial papers on Oyo and Ife. There papers are the most useful of the written sources. For they contain direct records; kept by the Administrative Officers of the Native Administrative Affairs in Oyo and Ife-Ilesha area. Besides, they are as detailed as possible, being contributed to' by the officials at various levels;



The one classified as Oyo Proof. Files under which matter related to both Oyo and Ife are compiled. The materials mostly used in this work came from files under Oyo Proof. I, Oyo Proof 2/4. Oyo Proof 3 Oyo Proof 4 and Oyo Proof 6.

1.                 Daily Sketch November 2nd, 1980 Pg. 18

2.                Daily Sketch December 26th, 1980 Pg. 20

3.                Daily Sketch December 1st, 1980 Pg. 21

4.                Nigerian Tribune December 30th, 1980 Pg. 15

5.                Nigerian Tribune December 12th, 1981 Pg. 11

6.                Sunday Concord May 27th, 1984 Pg. 19

7.                Sunday Concord June 3rd, 1984 Pg. 21

8.                Sunday Concord June 10th -, 1984 Pg. 17

9.                Sunday Concord June 17th, 1984 Pg. 9

10.          Sunday Concord June 24th, 1984 Pg. 18

11.          Sunday Concord June 31st, 1984 Pg. 18

Figure 1 showing map of South-West Nigeria

1.8     Definition of Terms

Leader: Person that leads and followed by other. Supreme: highest in authority or rank. Supremacy: being supreme

Yoruba: a major ethnic group dominated or leaving southwest of Nigeria. South west, one of Nigeria six geo-political zone.

Power: ability to do or act

Relations: the way in which one thing is connected to another. Oba: Titular head of kingdom

Ice: Sacred town in Yoruba Land

Oyo: Town in Yoruba land.













J .A. Atanda; The Origin of the Yoruba People and the Rise of

   Oduduwa; in Introduction to Yoruba History (I.U.P,

   Ibadan, 1980) pp. 1.

J.F. Ade Ajayi; The Yoruba and Edo- Speaking peoples and their

   Neighbours before 1600. History of West Africa; Volume

   One (Longman; Essex; 1971). Pp. 199

Ibid, pp. 200.

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