Ile Ife is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria; the city is located in present-day Osun State, Ife is about 218 kilometers northeast of Lagos with a population of 509,813.
According to the traditions of the Yoruba region, ile Ife was founded by order of the Supreme God Olodumare by Obatala.
It then fell into the hands of his sibling Oduduwa, which created enmity between the two, Oduduwa created a dynasty after that sons and daughters of this dynasty became rulers of many other kingdoms in Yorubaland. The first Oòni of ile Ife is a descendant of Oduduwa, which was the 401st Orisha.
The present ruler since 2015 is Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife, who is also a Nigerian accountant.
Named as the city of 401 deities, Ife is home to many worshippers of these deities. It is where they are routinely celebrated through festivals.
Ilé-Ifè is famous worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, dating back to between 1200 and 1400 A.D.
According to the Yoruba religion, Olodumare, the Supreme God, ordered Obatala to create the Earth. However, on his way, he found palm wine, which he drank and became intoxicated.
Therefore, the younger brother of the latter, Oduduwa, took the three items of creation from him, climbed down from the heavens on a chain and threw a handful of earth on the primordial ocean, then put a cockerel on it so that it would shatter the earth, thus creating the land on which Ile Ife would be built.
Oduduwa planted a palm nut in a hole in the newly formed land and, from there, sprang a great tree with sixteen branches, a symbolic representation of the clans of the early Ife city-state. The usurpation of creation, by Oduduwa, gave rise to the ever-lasting conflict between him and his elder brother Obatala.
This is still re-enacted in the modern era by the cult groups of the two clans during the Itapa New Year festival. On account of his creation of the world, Oduduwa became the ancestor of the first divine king of the Yoruba, while Obatala is believed to have created the first Yoruba people out of clay.
The meaning of the word ife in Yoruba is expansion “Ile-Ife” is therefore in reference to the myth of origin as “The Land of Expansion”.
First Ooni of Ile Ife
Oduduwa was a Yoruba divine king, according to tradition, he was the holder of the title of the Ooni of Ile Ife the Yoruba holy city.
He was not only the first ruler of a unified life but also the progenitor of various independent royal dynasties in Yorubaland and ancestor of their numerous crowned kings.
His name, phonetically written by Yoruba language-speakers as Odùduwà and sometimes contracted as Ooduwa, Odudua, or Oòdua, is today venerated as “the hero, the warrior, the leader, and father of the Yoruba race.
For a long time as propagated by early writers of Yoruba history, like the Bayajidda legend of the Hausa people, he was said to be an Eastern prince whose people were driven out of their kingdom in Mecca in Arabia and were forced to migrate in a long march to present-day southwestern Nigeria.
Through a war lasting many years, Oduduwa was able to defeat the forces of the 13 indigenous communities of Ife led by Obatala and formed these communities into a single Ife unit.
Oduduwa held the praise names Olofin Adimula, Olofin Aye, and Olufe. Following his posthumous deification, he was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name.
Upon the ending of Oduduwa’s time on Earth, there was a dispersal of his children and grandchildren from Ife to the outposts that they had previously founded or gained influence over, in order for them to establish effective control over these places.
Each is said to have made his or her mark in the subsequent urbanization and consolidation of the Yoruba confederacy of kingdoms, with each child and grandchild fashioning his or her state after Ile-Ife.
Orunto, a child of Oduduwa that was born to his maid, is the ancestor of the families that are entitled to inherit the Obalufe title – it is held by a noble chief that is traditionally ranked second in the order of precedence at the Ooni’s court.
Obalufon II Alayemore was on the throne when Oranmiyan, youngest grandson of Oduduwa, returned from his sojourn and ordered that the kingship be given to him and hence back to the legitimate family of Oduduwa.
Oranmiyan’s son Lajamisan was therefore the progenitor of all of the Oonis that have reigned in Ife from his time till now, prompting Historians to label it the Lajamisan Dynasty which has remained unbroken for almost 700 years.
Ife tradition, which modern Yoruba historians accord precedence, relates that Oduduwa was an emissary from the community of Oke-Ora, the easternmost part of the Ife cultural area, which stretches towards the Northeastern Ijesa people.
He descended from the Hills on a chain, earning the oriki Atewonro (which means ‘one who descends on a chain’). He is said to have been a warrior that wore armor made of iron. At that time, a confederacy existed between the 13 communities of the valley of Ile-Ife, with each community or ‘Elu’ having its own Oba; the Oba of Ijugbe, the Oba of Ijio, the Oba of Iwinrin etc.
When Oduduwa rose to be a prominent citizen of ancient Ife, he and his group are believed to have conquered most of the 13 component communities and deposed Obatala, subsequently evolving the palace structure with its effective centralized power and dynasty. Due to this, he is commonly referred to as the first Ooni of Ife and progenitor of the legitimate kings of the Yoruba people.
List Of All The 51 Ooni’s Of Ile-Ife Till Date
- 1ST ODUDUWA
- 2ND OSANGANGAN OBAMAKIN
- 3RD OGUN
- 4TH OBALUFONO GBOGBODIRIN
- 5TH OBALUFON ALAYEMORE
- 6TH ORANMIYAN
- 7TH AYETISE
- 8TH LAJAMISAN
- 9TH LAJODOOGUN
- 10TH LAFOGIDO
- 11TH ODIDIMODE ROGBEESIN
- 12TH AWOROKOLOKIN
- 13TH EKUN
- 14TH AJIMUDA
- 15TH GBOONIJIO
- 16TH OKANLAJOSIN
- 17TH ADEGBALU
- 18TH OSINKOLA
- 19TH OGBORUU
- 20TH GIESI
- 21ST LUWOO (FEMALE)
- 22ND LUMOBI
- 23RD AGBEDEGBEDE
- 24TH OJELOKUNBIRIN
- 25TH LAGUNJA
- 26TH LARUNNKA
- 27TH ADEMILU
- 28TH OMOGBOGBO
- 29TH AJILA-OORUN
- 30TH ADEJINLE
- 31ST OLOJO
- 32ND OKITI Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade Okunade
- 33RD LUGBADE
- 34TH ARIBIWOSO
- 35TH OSINLADE
- 36TH ADAGBA
- 37TH OJIGIDIRI
- 38TH AKINMOYERO 1770-1800
- 39TH GBANLARE 1800-1823
- 40TH GBEGBAAJE 1823-1835
- 41ST WUNMONIJE 1835-1839
- 42ND ADEGUNLE ADEWELA 1839-1849
- 43RD DEGBINSOKUN 1849-1878
- 44TH ORARIGBA 1878-1880
- 45TH DERIN OLOGBENLA- He was a powerful warrior! 1880-1894 46TH ADELEKAN (OLUBUSE I) 1894-1910
- 47TH ADEKOLA 1910-1910
- 48TH ADEMILUYI (AJAGUN) 1910-1930
- 49TH ADESOJI ADEREMI
- 50TH OKUNADE SIJUWADE- (1980-2015)
- 51st Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11 (2015-Till date)