First of all, I didn’t plan to go to Buckingham palace and I was not even sure where it was. But I had been inquisitive. For some reason it did not occur to me that Buckingham palace would be somewhere easily accessible in central London, not to talk of it being just off Trafalgar Square. Interestingly I had visited Trafalgar square once and even taken a picture of an arch on the right side of the square, on my way to Westminster, but was not sure what the arch was or where it pointed to.
I had trekked that day, with my camera by my side. Na so the waka carry me reach Pall Mall. Ehh! Pall Mall wey we dey see for monopoly.
My plan was to find my way to Trafalgar square and then Westminster Road. I was determined to reach the Westminster Abbey and the House of Lords, so getting to Pall Mall was a pleasant surprise. I walked up a corner, found a Brazilians Embassy building that was promoting an open house event, then a souvenier shop. I entered the Brazillian House first and then the souvenir shop and na there discussion start.
“How may I help you sir?”
Na so one of the guys wey dey the shop ask me.
“Just want to see souvenirs you have”. I answered.
Na so the guy carry map comot. I never see people wey like map like Londoners. Map full everywhere, bus-stop, map, restaurant, map, road side where people dey waka their own, map, remain small make people toilet sef get map.
Na so I collect map, begin look am like say I be geographer..
“Excuse me, just to ask, pls where is Buckingham Palace at?” Na im I ask the Oyibo guy, with my British –Nigerian accent. By this time, I don dey London for a few days and London cold don hammer me enough to change my accent. E be like na cold dey change people accent for Jand.
“Oh”, the guys said. “Just walk up the street, take left, and then walk down, and you would see a stairway. Walk down the stairway and you will be on Buckingham palace road”.
I thanked him and did as I was told.
Guess what, that left turn took me back to Pall Mall, where I had just passed. I had seen what looked like a dead end, and did not bother getting there, apparently that was the stairway that joined the Buckingham palace road.
Oh boy, na so I descend the stairway, as I look ground, wetin I see, red coloured main road with flags everywhere, e be like I dey inside television. I don reach Buckingham Palace road.
See people everywhere, Americans, Indians, Mexican, African, even British people, as dem full, all of us dey go escortion for Buckigham Palace.
How British person go dey come escortion for Buckingham palace?
Anyway, as I reach there, people full, dey take selfie. Me sef, I balance begin snap my own. Na there my groove start.
While I was there, I began to wander, “How many people have ever gone sight-seeing at the palace of the traditional ruler of their town? Why e be say as Oyinbo dey go queen palace, we sef no fit carry our leg say we wan go Oba palace go to escortion?
How come people can go to Buckingham palace, in droves, just to sight-see, but cannot go to, let's say, the Ooni's palace or Oba of Benin palace to sight-see?
Una dey fear jaaz, full stop.
Shuo, who wan go Oba of Benin or Ooni of Ife palace go do sight-seeing? Oba palace resemble Buckingham palace for your eye?
Anybody wey go palace for sight-seeing, na anything im eye see, e go take.
But truly speaking, should we not be going on tour to the palace of the Ooni or Olubadan or even the Oba of Benin? Should they not have museums of ancient history? Should should the museums not have artifact of our true history? Not those “ridiculous” stories of how Oduduwa came from the sky and how Olodumare sent him with cowrie, sand and chicken. Which pikin go believe them?
Stories of how when Oduduwa got to the earth he saw water, and he poured the sand, and then the chicken came and scattered the sand and then the sand dried and became land. Sincerely I don't even know who formed this story in particular and added it to Yoruba mythology for people to accept.
Truth is a lot of us are afraid that the Oba's palace is secluded and jaazed up and you do not want to meddle.
I spent 6 solid years in Ife and never went to the Ooni's palace. With all the rich history the palace courts, as the palace of Oduduwa. The rich story of how Oduduwa founded Yoruba kingdoms, having moved from Benin to settle in Yoruba land.
Yes! Benin. And maybe I will tell you the story as I understand it, and how it help me make some sense of all those ridiculous stories that formed the Yoruba mythology.
I grew up reading Yoruba history. The records they have kept is eclectic, to say the least. The accuracy of the Yoruba people’s side of the story too is fantastic, except for the sides that connect to some other non-Yoruba actors.. For instance, the history agrees Oduduwa came to Ile-Ife (that is the Yoruba side, accurate), but from where? Mecca, the sky or somewhere else? Yoruba historians become lost or silent, but they agree that that he came from somewhere and that is how the Yoruba story begins. Oduduwa comes to Ile-Ife, settles and bears several sons including one named Oranmiyan.
People from a land that later became Benin come and asks Oduduwa to be their king, Oduduwa says no and sends Oramiyan or Oranyan. Oranmiyan goes to the land (Yoruba history does not have the name), and after ruling them for a while, name the place Ile-Ibinu (Land of Vexation) and tells them only a child born in that land could be their king. He also bears a son (Yoruba history does not tell his name) and installs him as Omo N'oba. Hence the title of Oba in Benin. Ile-Ibinu metamorphoses into Bini and eventually Benin when the Portuguese came in the 15th century.
To cut long story short, Oranmiyan leaves the town and comes back to Ile-Ife and then travels to Oyo where he establishes the Oyo Kingdom and becomes the first Alaafin. Yes the same Oranmiyan. The story from there continues with pitch accuracy.
He bear children, one of them is Dada (Ajaka), and the other is Sango. Dada becomes Alaafin as Oranmiyan goes back to Ile-Ife to become Ooni. The Oyo people pick the story from there and tell how Dada was weak and was dethroned to be replaced by Sango, his younger brother, and how Sango's notoriety grew until he could call down thunder . The story goes on how to tell how Oyo became a great empire and expanded as far as Dahomey (present day Republic of Benin) and then how by means of expansionism campaign they establish an outpost in a place called Eba Odan (present day Ibadan). Ibadan people pick up the story from there, and tell how Egba people used to own the axis until Oyo people established the outpost at the place where the savannah meets the forest (Eba Odan) and eventually drove the Egba people further inland.
Ibadan people then tell the story of how they gained independence from Oyo after the Oyo-Ibadan war, the war that earned Ibadan their "Oriki" as “Awon omo a je igbin, je ikaraun e" meaning (the people that ate snail and also ate the shell). Story has it that during the war, Ibadan people escaped to the mountains and survived on "Oro" fruit and Snail. They ate snails and used the shell of the snail as improvised cups and paddles to drink water and corn-pap. The story and history of Ibadan people goes on to include the war between them and Ijesha, the war that was called the "Kiriji War" the first war in Yoruba land that involved the use of cannons, purchase from the British. To put the time in perspective, the war was happening at about the same time the precussor bank that became FirstBank was being established - about 1894.
Going back to the Oranmiyan story, Oranmiyan becomes Ooni, and then Oduduwa's other sons, seven in all, also disperses and founds other yoruba kingdoms, hence the reason why they call Yoruba land "Ile Oduduwa" meaning Oduduwa's Land.
So I grew up on these stories, but I had one question, "Where did Oduduwa come from?" As definite as Yoruba people are about their story, this side of Oduduwa was very indefinite. Some said he came from Mecca, but that didn’t sound correct, because Arabian words did not gain access into Yoruba culture until the Fulani invasion, via Jihad, which was resisted, until the religion slowly gained access. The story of Afonja and Alimi and how Afonja was motivated by Alfa Alimi to rebel against the Alaafin, and how eventually Alfa Alimi connived and killed Afonja, then took the Ilorin kingship and made it an Emirate. So saying that Oduduwa came from Mecca was inaccurate.
You couldn’t have heard Yoruba history without being familiar with Oduduwa’s myths, which did not look like they made sense until the day I read the history of the Benin people.
Firstly the land Oranmiyan renamed Ile –Ibinu had a name before Oranmiyan got there. It was called Igodomigodo (sounds familiar, right? - Obahiagbon). Oranmiyan only renamed it Ile-Ibinu. The son he had, had a name, his name was Eweka. He was the first Oba of Ile-Ibinu. The people of Igodomigodo had a kingship structure in place that they asked Oduduwa and then Oranyan to fill, the kings were not called Obas until Oranyan came. They were called Ogiso which means “The ones that came from the sky”. Ogiso was the title of the king of Igodomigodo, as well as the recognition of their next in lines.
So why would they come to ask Oduduwa to be their Ogiso?
It was because Oduduwa was originally the son of the Ogiso and was supposed to be Ogiso in his stead. However through palace politics, he was usurped and so had to leave. He took his men and they settled in Ife where he established a kingdom. Now if Ogiso (the one from the sky) was his title, it made sense that the mythology would say Oduduwa came from the sky. That tied for the first time,
His original name was Ekalederhan, and when he settled in Ife, he changed his name to Izoduwa. Izoduwa was called in short Ooduwa and further stretched by metamorphoses to Oduduwa, and that made sense. I know that Oduduwa is usually called Ooduwa or Oodua in speeches, and Izoduwa is still a Benin name in current use, so it makes sense.
The reason why they asked him to come be their kings was that the Ogiso died and they needed a new Ogiso, and had to come fetch Izoduwa, but at that time, he had established his kingdom, and he told them, "A king does not leave his throne, to go somewhere else" so he offered his son Oranmiyan. That ties together and makes sense. Benin people, like the Yorubas, also have pristine records of all kings from Oranmiyan till date, and the story preceeding Oduduwa, the story that explained why Oramiyan came to Benin.
So the Myths were not really wrong. They just couched facts in unclear mythical rhetorics.
When Ooduwa did get to Ife, he met Agbonniregun who was a diviner, an Ifa Priest. Myths have it that Agbonniregun entered into the earth and turned into "Opele"
Sweet Yoruba history.
My question remains, how come with this rich history we do not go to the Ooni's palace on tourism?
Anyway such was my sojourn at the Buckingham palace. Hopefully someday, we will be able to go on escortion to our local palaces without being in dread of Jaaz.