African Sociocultural Harmony and Enlightenment (ASHE) FOUNDATION
RE: IGBO IFE ORIGINS BY OONIRISA – Pros and Cons
As a cultural think-tank, ASHE Foundation, whose key mission is to stimulate informed public discourse on cultural origins and linkages, we are pleased with the current public discourse on Yoruba and Igbo cultural origins and linkages that has been long overdue, but eventually prompted by His Royal Majesty Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
However, despite being an emotionally charged issue, we would have preferred a more focused and informed discourse, not hijacked by those with spurious supremacy claims or those who profit from divisive ventures.
At this junction, it is necessary to categorically state that this line of discussion is not to establish whether or not Igbos and Yorubas shared common genetic and cultural origins, since it has already been proven 100% without an iota of doubt with DNA, cultural and linguistic anthropological evidence, as presented below. Most Important, The Obi of Onitsha and other informed Igbo elite have previously publicly stated that Igbos migrated out of Ife, and it is agreed that a people will know where their origin based on their oral traditions.
Therefore the current discourse is whether or not our ancestors efficiently recorded the information of the migration of Igbos and many others out of Ife in our knowledge bank, the Original African Information Retrieval System, known as Ifa in Yoruba and Igala, Iha in Edo, Afa in Igbo, Efa in Urhobo and all the other 16-sector (erindilogun) knowledge banks, which form the foundation and source of cultural origins of all ethnic groups in Southern and Central Nigeria.
His Royal Majesty, Oonirisa Adeyeye Ogunwusi has stated the Ifa corpus Odu regarding the evolution and migration of Igbos. What is required from those with dissenting views is to quote a different Odu pertaining to the Igbos. Otherwise, since it is indisputable that Igbos were with us at the beginning of humanity, their denial can only impugn the validity of Ifa’s claim to know everything. Tantamount to Won pe Ifa leke, calling Ifa a liar. It would be a shock that Ifa never recorded our neighbours.
Long before the recent genetic evidence, linguistics had postulated that the Niger Congo ethnolinguistic family, of which Yoruba and Igbo are the two most populous groups, evolved from Nigeria and spread across Africa to form about 2240 groups currently over 700million strong from Gambia to South Africa. The Niger-Congo ethnolinguistic family is composed of two main subfamilies – Volta-Niger and Benue-Congo subfamilies. The Volta-Niger subfamily made up of Yoruba, Igbo, Nupe, Ewe, Fon, Igala, Gwari etc is believed to be the oldest and they share the 16 sector erindilogun Original African Information Retrieval System aka Ifa-Afa-Iha-Efa.
The Benue-Congo language evolved around the Jukun Kwararafa homeland in the Benue River basin, spread from Cross River to River Kaduna, then into Cameroun where it created the Beti-Pahuin branch, before moving down Rivers Chari and Sanga to the River Ugbangi-Kongo River basins to form Western Bantus of Kongo and the Eastern Marshariki Bantus that spread to fill East and South Africa.
This linguistic fact has recently been backed by genetic evidence generated from the Human Genome Project, a global DNA comparative analysis commissioned in 1990 and concluded in 2002 by international collaborations led by USA that also included Nigeria. Genetic evidence shows Yoruba to have the oldest and most diverse DNA strand, making it the oldest full statured ethnic group in the world, from which all other African groups diverged. The table of DNA evidence can either be viewed from the supplementary table S8 in Tishkoff SA, Reed FA, Friedlaender FR, et al. (25 co-authors). 2009. The genetic structure and history of Africans and African Americans. Science 324:1035. Or directly from HGDP-CEPH Human Genome Diversity Cell Line banked at the Foundation Jean Dausset-CEPH in Paris.
In 2016, Harvard University Medical School, Reich Laboratory conducted a study that stated that San diverged from Yorubas 87,000 years ago, Mbuti diverged from Yorubas 58,000yrs ago, Dinka 19,000yrs ago – The Simons Genome Diversity Project: 300 genomes from 142 diverse populations Swapan Mallick, Heng Li[…]David Reich Nature volume 538, 2016 The Yoruba-San divergence is the first ethnic differentiation. Another study shows that all other full statured Black African groups didn’t not start to diverge from Yorubas until about 60,000yrs ago – M.Silva, F.Alshamli, C,Carrilho et al ‘60,000 years of interactions between Central and Eastern Africa documented by major African mitochondrial haplogroup L2’ Scientific Reports volume 5, Article number: 12526 (2015).
Science has proven what was formerly regarded as Ife creation myth to be true and that we Black Africans lived together as a single group for tens of thousands of years before migrating along riverbanks as shown through linguistic flows and fall in DNA values as you move away from what was labelled in the 18th century as Yorubaland. So, the current discussion is not a test of whether or not Igbos migrated out of Ife, but questioning the veracity of Ifa as a complete knowledge bank that recorded all our history, or a test of the ability of the current generation to understand and interpret Ifa corpus of history.
While ASHE foundation is gladdened by the current discourse, it implores contributors to shy away from sacrificing our collective future threatened by xenophobic tendencies and divide and rule hegemonic interests for myopic supremacy considerations. We also implore our cultural custodians not to shy away from the need to educate their people on their cultural origins, identity and linkages that will have immense social ramifications like better work ethics, moral value systems and sociopolitical alliances necessary to uplift us as a race.
If we squander this opportunity, we would be leaving the stage for external predatory interests that profit from divide and rule policies that have arrested our economic and political development, as well as hatemongering Youths that will inspire xenophobic tendencies that will destroy our socioeconomic viability. History will harshly judge those who sacrifice our collective sustainability for personal supremacy games.
Prince Justice Jadesola Faloye,
President ASHE Foundation
Cc Board of Trustees
HRM Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife, Chairman Board of Trustees
HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, Chairman Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers.
HRM, Dr Idakwo Ameh Oboni II, Attah of Igala, Kogi State Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers
HRM Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa-ibi Kuvyon II. Aku Uka of Wukari, Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers, Taraba State
HRM Dandeson Douglas Jaja, The Amanyanabo of Opobo, River State Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers