Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The history of Yoruba is certainly not complete without reference to Oranmiyan, a direct descendant of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the race. Oduduwa was believed to have descended from heaven and landed on Ile-Ife, Osun State, and from where he founded other Yoruba towns.
Oranmiyan was a warrior who fought many wars and never lost any. He is today remembered for all he did for the Yoruba race, and Ile-Ife in particular with a staff he erected at Mopa, Ile-Ife, after he returned from a war where he captured a whole town. The staff known as “Opa Oranmiyan,” erected over four centuries ago is still being celebrated as Yoruba and foreigners from all walks of life pay homage to the staff.
One significant feature of the Oranmiyan staff is its consistent size despite its long age, as it does not increase or decrease in size or shape. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), and the Osun State Government have also developed the site where the staff is located, turning it into a tourist site. It is being managed by the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
A recent visit shows that the site has been decorated with various antiquities from the entrance to the groove. The antiquities were placed at the groove and the staff with a white rapper covering part of it is positioned strategically for all eyes to behold.
Chief Ereyinmi Eredunmi, the Owa Eredumi of Ile-Ife is the direct custodian of the Oranmiyan staff. He said the staff is as old as Ile-Ife. He also informed that the
Oranmiyan staff is held in trust for the Ooni of Ife by the Eredunmi family of Ile-Ife:
“Oranmiyan staff has been existing at its present location before the present Ile-Ife. Oranmiyan was a son of Okanbi and Okanbi was the only son of Oduduwa. Oranmiyan was a Yoruba warlord and he fought and won all the wars he went in his life. Through out his lifetime, he never lost a single war and that is why he remains a reference point in Yoruba land.
“Oranmiyan staff was a weapon Oranmiyan used to fight wars. Whenever he went to war, he always went with what we now call Oranmiyan staff, which was like a stick always put in his hand. He eventually erected it in front of his house after he returned from war and went inside. That was the end of his life because he went inside and never came out till date.”
He insisted that the staff possesses strong spiritual powers and gives power to those who request from it. He stressed that the mythological power of the staff cannot be compared with any of the gods in Yoruba land as it grants immediate answer to the requests of everyone who believes in it and requests from it.
The chief custodian disclosed that the Ooni of Ife occasionally visits the Oranmiyan staff to pray for the peace of Ile-Ife and the Yoruba land in general, saying that the traditional ruler is accompanied with his chiefs whenever he visits to offer prayers.
He maintained that the staff prevents crisis in Ile-Ife, the way Oranmiyan prevented war from entering the town when he was alive: “The Oranmiyan staff is our refuge in Ile-Ife. We rely on it for the security of the town and it always prevents famine, war, crisis, disaster and other negative things from happening to us in Ile-Ife.” He also informed that the staff works for all indigenes of Ile-Ife in the Diaspora, especially those who believe in it and identify with it.
A devotee of the staff, Chief Iregbure Eredumi, described Oranmiyan as his father: “I have received so many things from Oranmiyan staff and I have absolute confidence in it. My father worshiped it till he died and I will also worship it till I die, so also my children and grand children will do the same.
“I have received a number of things from it and so many people have been blessed by Oranmiyan staff. Politicians from different parts of the country come here during the day and at night to make request from the Oranmiyan staff and all their requests are always granted with ease.
“We don’t receive money from anybody who comes here to make requests from Oranmiyan staff and we don’t ask them to worship it. All they need to do is to just kneel down before Oranmiyan and make their requests known to it and with faith. In less than 21 days, all the requests would have been granted by Oranmiyan, our father.
“Sacrifices are not made at the groove of the Oranmiyan staff, only prayers are made. Traditionalists are denied opportunity to make sacrifices to the staff, likewise visitors are not allowed to take any object into the groove or take any from it.”
Another traditionalist, Chief Olawale Awofisoye, explained that the Oranmiyan staff is visited by the Ooni during the annual Olojo festival: “The Ooni will a day before the Olojo festival which is celebrated yearly wear the traditional ‘Aaree’ crown. It was the same crown that Oduduwa wore during his lifetime.
“The crown is worn by the Ooni once in a year during Olojo festival. It is with the crown that the Ooni will go to the Oranmiyan shrine to offer prayers on behalf of the Yoruba across the world.
“The Oranmiyan staff has no negative effect on the people or the town itself. All it represents is goodness. The only thing is that no individual should curse any one or say negative things at the premises of the staff because whatever said there will come to pass in no distant time.
“Every Ooni must visit the Oranmiyan staff before installation and coronation to receive spiritual powers to rule the town. The Olojo festival is celebrated to honour Oranmiyan.”
Eredunmi insisted that the celebration of Oranmiyan by any other town in Yoruba land is an aberration and a misconception of the history of the Yoruba race: “We are, however, not ready to join issues with any individual or town on this matter. All we know is that history cannot be thwarted or re-writen by anybody or group of persons.”
On the position of the staff, he said: “The psotition has remained like this ever since time immemorial. We met it like this and it will remain like this forever. It cannot increase beyond this present size, which was the same size it has always been since the days of our fore fathers.”
He commended the state government for the facelift given to it and for the improvement on the status of the groove. He recalled that Governor Rauf Aregbesola visited the site before his emergence as governor and promised to develop it to an international standard. A promise he said was gradually being fulfilled.
An indigene of Ile-Ife, Mr. Moris Awofisayo, stated that the Oranmiyan staff is a blessing to Ile-Ife and the entire Yoruba race, as thousands of people from all parts of the world visit the ancient town to behold the staff, which he claimed is as old as the world itself. He disclosed that government has earmarked huge amount of money to develop the groove and other tourist centres in the state to make them compete with others across the world and in turn boost its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR.)
Mr. Abimbola Daniyan said local tourists and their foreign counterparts would soon turn the place to a beehive of activities with the arrangement in the oven by government.
Also, a renowned Ifa priest and tourist, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, is a professor of Ifa Mythology at the Chicago State University, USA. He confirmed the veracity of the myth of the Oranmiyan staff. He pointed out that the staff contains spiritual powers that could grant the requests of any individual that believes in it: “If well developed, the site of Oranmiyan staff is capable of generating good resources for the state government.”