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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yoruba Obas’ crowns: The mystic, the taboo

~Nigerian Tribune. Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Aside the long staff and horsetail, one important paraphernalia of Yoruba traditional rulers is the crown which affirms and also asserts the monarch’s authority. TUNDE BUSARI, in this piece, examines the history, significance and the making of the crowns.

There are different Yoruba versions of the history of Yoruba Obas’ crown. What the versions, however, share in common is their acknowledgement of the primacy of Ile-Ife as the source of the crown from where other Obas received theirs.

The Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Frederik Obateru Akinruntan would always declare that his town, which migrated from Ile-Ife, owns the first ancient crown.

Although his claim is open to debate given the fact that Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba race is regarded as the first to wear beaded crown, Oba Akinruntan says his crown predates the arrival of Oduduwa to Ile-Ife.

Regardless of the side the argument swings , the crown is an important insignia of the stool in Yorubaland.

It comes in two types. One, Are Crown, regarded as the ancient one, is worn only by the Ooni of Ife. It is put at coronation and on annual basis. It is also called Adenla and conically shaped and attached with heavily beaded veil that covers the face of the Oba.

According to the Alayemore of Ido-Osun, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, the Are crown is a supreme crown which spiritual essence cannot be over-emphasised. Until certain sacrifice is made, it is not put on the head of the Ooni.

“Another side of it is that it must be worn once in a year. It is important to clarify that it is forbidden not to wear it in a year. In lieu of not wearing it, sacrifice needs to be made also. The Ooni must not see its interior. It is so powerful a crown to be desecrated,” he said.

crownsThe second type is what is commonly seen on traditional rulers at social functions. Sometimes shaped in a Lawyer’s wig, it carries no spiritual importance because it is more of fashion than tradition. Even at that, without a crown on his head, an Oba is not different from his subjects.

Yoruba Obas in Nigeria, Benin Republic and the Diaspora are easily identified with their crown and so revered as a symbol and indeed custodian of custom and tradition.

In one of his articles, Afro-American Art Historian, Robert F. Thompson writes, “the crown incarnates the intuition of royal ancestral force, the revelation of great moral insight in the person of the king, and the glitter of aesthetic experience.”

With crown, complemented by horsetail and a long staff, the Oba is an authority over his subjects who also see him as their royal father whose word is binding on them.

Irrespective of modern system of government which has arguably eroded significant power of traditional ruler and turns them to ceremonial personage; the position of Obas is still sacred to the extent that modern government officials often result to them for grassroot mobilisation.

However wealthy a man is, he is forbidden to wear crown despite the fact that he can afford as many as his appetite demands in his wardrobe. It is against chieftaincy law for one who has not been approved or is not qualified to wear the crown. That is the rule which has survived many generations.

But the flip side is that Obas are not expected to wear their crown everyday. This seeming restriction is recommended to underscore the sacredness of the crown. The evidence of this is seen is in the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Olayiwola Adeyemi, who does not often appear with his crown.

The monarch, widely acclaimed as chief promoter of Yoruba culture and tradition, is rather seen in a cap called abetiaja which sits comfortably on top of his head at both private and public’s functions. The abetiaja has arguably become the Alaafin’s dress code and his identity and signature.

To analysts, the Alaafin’ s act might be informed by his better understanding of all that surround the use of the crown. An analyst revealed that many Obas in Oke-Ogun appear to have taken after the Alaafin in this regard.

The Shabiganna of Iganna, an Oke-Ogun community, Oba Soliu Oyemola, described the crown as a special paraphernalia of the stool which should not be reduced to ordinary cap worn on a daily basis. Oba Ikuomola argues that wearing it to every outing is an abuse of the crown.

“Traditional rulers should always guide against the abuse and desecration of the crown. Crown is what separates an Oba from his chiefs and subjects. The crown is, therefore, synonymous with the stool. Unfortunately,

“it suffers abuse today as you see some traditional rulers putting it on with less regard to its sacredness. It is turned to a fashion and style thing. But we are making effort to let them see reason this should not continue to preserve the significance of the crown,” he said.

As beautiful as the crowns appear on the heads of traditional rulers, only a handful know the details of its making and efforts that go into its beautification.

crowns2Tools used to make crown include, Tape rule, scissors, needle, thread, beads, sharping stone, knife and others. Without the above, crowns cannot be made.

An Ile-Ife-based crown designer, Owojori Asinde, dismissed spiritual connotation of making crown, stressing that he does not need to perform any sacrifice to make a crown. Conducting this writer round his workshop located in Ile-Ife, Asinde made a mock display of how a crown is made and asserted his strict adherence to his Christianity faith.

On the contrary, an important event during the annual Osun Osogbo festival is called Ibo Ade (Sacrifice for the crown). The event includes display of the Ataoja’s crowns of different sizes in the presence of the sitting Ataoja, the Arugba Osun and priestesses who offer prayer in the memory of the past Ataoja and also bless the sitting Ataoja.

The Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun explained that Ibo Ade is an integral part of activities marking the Osun festival, saying that on no account should the event be skipped before the grand finale of the festival which draws thousands of tourists to the town.

“We have to perform Ibo Ade as a matter of obligation. It is about the history of the town and a way to bless the past and present Ataoja. It is done in such a manner that does not attract much attention of the outsider. But there is secrecy in it because people who are supposed to be there must be present,” Oba Olanipekun said.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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