The Ooni of Ife and Arole Oduduwa, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi II on Saturday played host to the Oba of Benin, Uku Apolopolo, Oba Ewuare II at his Ile Oodua Palace in Ile-Ife where the best of traditions and culture of Benin and Ile Ife Kingdoms were admirably on display.
Though it was learnt that the immediate past Ooni, Oba Okunade Sijuade and late Oba of Benin, Oba Erediuwa both exchanged visits at different times of their reigns. However, Saturday’s visit was the first Oba Ewuare would pay to the present Ooni, Oba Ogunwusi, after the latter witnessed his coronation last year where Oba of declared himself as a bonafide descendant of Oduduwa.
From music to appearance of palace messengers, it was clear that Ife and Benin Kingdoms have a lot in common, even as various cultural troupes from Ile Ife and Benin added colour to the historical visit.
In his address, Oba Ewuare commended President Mohammadu Buhari for giving good attention to security challenges facing the country, but expressed concern about incessant herdsmen, farmers clashes, illegal migration and human trafficking, kidnapping and armed robbery, the development complicated by the porous border, especially in the North East.
He urged President Buhari to do more in tackling the issues to ensure peaceful coexistence among Nigerians of various ethnic background and beliefs.
He averred that the visit to Ife was to foster better understanding between the two kingdoms, even as he called for emphasis on what unites the Ife and Benin Kingdoms and prayed in the name of Oranmiyan for long life and prosperity for Ooni of Ife.
“I feel very much at home here, I pray that the spirit of our father Oranmiyan will always be with you as you manage this very sacred throne of Oduduwa very admirably
Ooni Ogunwusi who at the occasion presented gift of artifact showcasing hunting as the traditional profession of the descendants of Oduduwa declared that Ife and Benin Kingdoms belong to the same family, adding that gains of the visit would be built upon, to foster more cordial relationship between the two kingdoms.
“If not for the time constraint, I would have loved us to visit where Oranmiyan was buried. He was the world’s foremost hunter and that’s what this artifact represents. He was a Prince of Ile-Ife who went to be the first king of Benin, he went to become the first king of Oyo and came back to become the sixth King of Ile Ife, where he died and was buried.
“This visit will be used to solidify our relationship. Ife will continue to protect what belongs to us as people of similar heritage. I thank you for keeping Benin culture and tradition intact. Without culture, we can’t grow as a nation.”
Reacting to what Oba Ewuare said about security challenges in the Northern part of the country, Ooni Ogunwusi said royal fathers must assist the political leaders in the country the more, in tackling security infractions across the country.
He added that community policing should be adopted with royal fathers playing a prominent role, using their subjects to monitor their domain.
The two monarchs later visited “orun oba ado”,an heritage site which used to be the burial ground for the departed kings of Benin until about two hundred years ago in order to pay homage to all Benin kings believed to have been buried in the place, the culture that only ceased in about hundred years ago, when the practice was stopped.
Prominent traditional rulers and notable indigenes of Ife, who joined the Ooni to receive the Benin monarch are the Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedotun, Alara of Ilaramoko Ekiti, other traditional rulers, Former Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Isola Awotorebo, Former Nigerian Ambassador to Cuba, Senator Segun Bamigbetan Baju, Obasewa of Ife, Chief John Odeyemi, Hon. Rotimi Makinde and a host of others.
The Oba of Benin’s visit is coming thirty seven years after the last visit of an Oba of Benin as late Oba Of Benin Oba Ereduiwa visited Ile-Ife in 1981 to visit same Orunobado and Oranmiyan shrine.
Ooni Ogunwusi later led his guest and his entourage to the Government house in Osogbo to be hosted to a dinner reception organized by the Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Photo-credit : FABZ Fotography