Great Benin Bronze


We are all Yoruba: Ife, Isekiri, Awori. The Bini are not Yoruba, but are highly indebted to Yoruba culture. Twice has the Oba of Lagos goofed in a period of one week .First, he snubbed the Oonirisa, who was standing for Oodua – the father of Yoruba monarchical system – now he is saying Lagos is not Yoruba territory.
Some time far forgotten in human memory, the founder of Lagos, Ogunfuminire left Ife-Oodaye to settle by the Coast. The place he settled is today called Lagos or Eko. Eko was a pure Yoruba territory (Johnson history of the Yoruba; Ife cradle of the Yoruba Race; the Ifa Oracle System and many other historians and traditionalists know about this story. Wande Abimbola, Obayemi Ade and a host of Yoruba historians know about this.

Oba of Lagos is not an Oba and he knows it. He is an Olu. What is the difference? Obas are the first generation kings who are direct descendants of Oduduwa. They are only sixteen who can claim to be Obas – the Oonirisa – the Alaiyeluwa, who alone is the soul of Oodua Oramfe; the Alafin of Oyo, the Olu Iwo of Iwo etc.  Oba of Lagos is an Olu. Who is an Olu? The Olus are the second generation kingdoms in Yoruba land. The first sixteen Obas gave birth to the Olus. For example, the Oba of Lagos dynasty was birthed by the Oba of Benin who was a first generation Yoruba king, although he is ruling over non-Yoruba Edo people.  Oba of Lagos came into being in 1601 during the reign of Oba Orogbua of Benin (Egharevba 1948), before then, the descendants of Ogunfuminire were ruling. Olu of Warri is an Olu; his dynasty was birthed in 1480AD during the reign of Oba Olua of Benin, before then the Okotumu people were ruling(Pessu 2013). Of the sixteen children, these are the most senior – Olowu of Owu, Alaketu of Ketu, the king of Orangun,Onisabe of Sabe, Onipopo of Popo, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin. These kings occupy a territory from Nigeria. Benin, and Togo, Some kings who are not Yoruba at all qualify to be called Olu. Some of these are – Obi of Onitsha, son of Oba of Benin, Obi of Aboh, son of Oba of Benin, the king of Accra who came from Isekiri ( Since these kings are descended from Oba of Benin they are technically Olus, just like the Oba of Lagos.


Yes, you heard me well, Lagos was never a kingdom. A kingdom is governed by a king who before 1914 was able to conquer others and put them under him. Lagos was too weak to achieve that feat, rather it was colonized by Bini and later Isekiri, whence they had the Eyo(Awankere) masquerade.


Contrary to popular beliefs, the Bini were not the first colonialist in the Lagos areas, the Isekiri were. In 1520 Olu Irame rose as a power and with help of Portuguese weapons, he was able to chase Olagwe and Amapotu to the Epe area in Lagos. He effectively took control of those areas. The Ilaje intelligence report testifies to this fact. (THE BENIN FACTOR IN THE HISTORY OF LAGOS Written by R.O. AJETUMOBI Ph.D; Roth 1903 etc).
Scientific parameters to confirm this fact
1.      These Epe people see themselves as Isekiri and Ilaje
2.      Olagwe was at Ode-Isekiri and was driven by Olu Irame – the lion king.
3.      They still use Isekiri in celebrating their masquerades in the Epe area.
4.      Their language is more akin to Isekiri than any other language.


The Bini took over Isale-Eko from the Awori(Aunis in Portuguese document) in 1601. Take note that the Bini and the Isekiri did not conquer the same area. While the Isekiri concentrate in the Epe axis, the Bini took over Lagos (Eko)
1786 was the big war of the coastal states. The Oba of Benin, jealous of the fort built by the French in Ugborodo, decided to beg the Awori(Aunis) (Ifediora 1999; Sagay undated, Captain Landolphe 1796)to help them fight the Isekiri. In that same period, the French and the British had a war back home (Ian Morris 2010).  Isekiri defeated the Bini-Lagos-British coalition and sold the chiefs of Lagos as slaves in Calabar.
a.       Isekiri had more experience in maritime war. They had subdued the Ijaws of Kabo, Kumbo, Mehin and Tarakiri in a war of the Niger Delta, between 1730-1770). It was a series of wars which the Isekiri were progressively winning in order to control the trade of the Niger River. The area stretches from Bomadi in Delta state to very near Yenagoa(an Epie Edoid speaking town in Bayelsa). It was in these series of wars that Isekiri became masters of the western and central Niger Delta, having boundaries with Nembe in Bayelsa state, at the River Pennington (Talbot 1903also reported in Burton,). See Moore 1936, Alagoa 1972, Honsbira and St.Ifa 2011 for more information about the wars of the Niger delta.
b.       Bini as a power was much weakened in the 18th century when these wars were taking place. Isekiri had annexed the western Niger delta from Bini control. Tribes like Urhobo –Okpe – Isoko were under Isekiri tutelage. It was during this period that the Bini adopted primogeniture as a system of government. Isekiri and Aboh kings that left Benin before this era do not practice primogeniture.  It was during these series of wars for over 40 years that Oguni Atogbuwa was born; who became the founder of Aghalokpe in 1770. It was during these wars and as a result of these wars that western Urhobo people ran from the Erhowa area of the river Niger to stay in their present habitat. These people are Okpe, Uvwie etc. Oghara, Agbassa  and Jesse came later in 1850(Miller Intelligence Report)
c.       Isekiri had silenced Aboh in the western Niger Delta and become the major power during the time of Olu Irame, 1520 (Moore 1936). But the Aboh are trying to show they were the winners of the war. Hear them “They also constitute the ruling houses in Aboh up to this day. They are Ojugbeli, Ogwezi, Ossai and Ozegbe. The kings of Aboh, unlike the tradition in Benin, retain their names after ascending the throne. Succession to the throne also does not follow the rule of primogeniture. During the immigration movement from Benin to the present day Aboh, two major oppositions were encountered during the course of establishing the town. First was the Iwele people who were of the Itsekiri stock and the Akarais. After overcoming the challenge of opposition through fierce battles, the Benin immigrants took possession of the land, blessed with the knowledge of Benin architecture, they built Benin-like houses and constructed roads in the new town”.(
But Isekiri won the war because the Isekiri are the owners of the Osimiri juju, at Idumu Iwele) in Aboh. A defeated people cannot establish a religion for their victors.
d.      Isekiri acquired Portuguese weapon which was decisive in their defeat of their neighbours(Ilaje intelligence report Ekeh 2008, etc)
Oba of Lagos is an Olu. Some Olus rose to overcome some Obas like Olu Erejuwa who defeated the Bini-Awori-British coalition in 1786, using the mastery of Iyatsere Okorodudu, and Ologbosere Eyinmisan. The present prominence the Oba of Lagos is enjoying is due to the fact that Lagos was the capital of Nigeria, and later the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Lagos was never a kingdom the Olu of Lagos never captured anyone in history not even people of his closest vicinity. Lagos was just a Bini outpost and from 1786 an Isekiri outpost. It was not progressive until it was made a headquarter in 1914
What is to be done?
1.      Yoruba elders should plead with the Oonirisa not to be annoyed; the Ooni is not a mate of Oba of Lagos in anyway judging by Yoruba hierarchy!
2.      We should forgive the Oba of Lagos  for claiming to be Bini
3.      We should ignore the Olu of Lagos for pushing the Ikaladerhan fictitious stories of the Bini, which the Ogiamnien people are refuting. That fabricated story like the Esezi story of the Okpe is fast dividing Benin. The Ogiamien has declared himself a king in Sakponba road.
4.      Lastly, all we – Yoruba – should rally round the Oonirisa. He is a young man, yes! But Eledumare has made him the father of us all.

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