Saturday 18 May 2024


This argument coming from the Benin quarters is indeed one of the most absurd arguments we've encountered. Let's explore their position that no one bore the word Ọba in Yorùbá land before 1897, albeit temporarily for the sake of argument. What then are the key facts to consider?

(1). Historical meetings between the Ọba of Benin and Yorùbá rulers date back to 1937, during which the Ọba of Benin was not positioned as the chairman or presiding king. This setup implies a recognition of all participants as kings regardless of their specific titles. Otherwise, it would be illogical for a king like the Ọba to attend a meeting with others as equals in the House of Chiefs.

(2). The Ọba of Benin attended these meetings voluntarily, without coercion or persuasion. His actions reflected a belief that he was meeting with equals who shared a common heritage.

If we accept that the Ọọ̀ni, Aláàfin, Awujaale, and others held the same title as the Ọba of Bini, meaning they were all Kings, we must question why their titles differ linguistically if they share the same essence. How can "Aláàfin," "Ọọ̀ni," and "Awùjalẹ̀" all mean "king" in the same language? If this linguistic discrepancy is not plausible, then there must exist a unifying title, and that title is "ọba."

In Yorùbá culture and across Africa, kings are often addressed using epithets that highlight their grandeur and unique attributes. These epithets, such as "The owner of the palace," "The owner of all the gods," "The owner of the coveted land," "The great leopard in its den," "The great archer that spits fire," "The one who everybody must honor," and so on, emphasize the distinctiveness of each king. This practice doesn't negate their status as Ọbas; rather, it amplifies their greatness and sets them apart from other rulers.

It's important to note that all these rulers are indeed ọba, but they embody different types of kingship. A king known for shooting flammable arrows would naturally command more reverence and awe than a mere ọba. This collective understanding reflects the nuanced hierarchy and respect within Yorùbá culture, explaining why these rulers were not merely categorized by their office titles.

Note: Picture shows Ọba of Bini in the 1937 meeting tagged with red pin

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