The following is a simple and clear contribution to the “Yoruba/Yariba” debate and in my view the highly acclaimed, well-respected and distinguished author, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, got it absolutely right.
The purveyors of falsehood, mendacity, historical revisionism, lies and perfidy in our midst do not want the sons and daughters of Oduduwa, the Aku and the Anago to know the truth about the history of the name that they were given by the Fulani 100 years ago and they are desperate to suppress that truth and cover it up.
Unfortunately for them, the cat is out of the bag and the 100 dark years of bearing a name that is not ours, that has questionable roots and that has a malevolent and deeply insulting meaning will soon come to an end!
Is it any wonder that when great sons of Ooduwa, the Aku and the Anago, like Sir Adeyemo Alakija and Chief Obafemi Awolowo established the paramount and leading southwestern socio-political and cultural organisation in history, they named it, “Egbe Omo Oduduwa” and not “Egbe Omo Yoruba”.
A renowned traditionalist and the Araba of Osogbo, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, said prior to contact with the Hausa/Fulani, the race was known as the people of Ife, saying it is unfortunate that the people failed to coin a word to call the race before coming into contact with the Hausa.
According to him, the Yoruba race is usually referred to as ‘aku’ in the very early stage because of the way the people greeted one other.
He agreed that the race was given the name “Yariba” from which it became Yoruba, saying the earliest leaders of the race failed to have a collective name.
Elebuibon added that the race ought to be called the people of Ife, saying that was how Ifa referred to the race.
He said, “We are Ife people, it is rather unfortunate that we didn’t have one word to comprise all Yoruba before the Fulani or Hausa gave us yariba to become Yoruba. ‘Aku’ is the word they used for us in the beginning because we used to greet each other by saying ‘Aku owuro’, ‘Aku asaale’; it is the Aku people or Anago that other Africans referred to you.”
He opined that since the people originate from Ile-Ife, the race ought to be known as the people of Ife.
“Actually since Yoruba origin is at Ile Ife; ‘Eni fe abi ara Ile Ife Loye ka ma je’, we are indigenous people of Ootu Ife”, he added. (Vanguard Newspaper, October 25, 2019)
Let those who refuse to accept the bitter truth, no matter how scholarly, elderly or eminent, reflect on Elebuibon’s insightful and incisive counsel and words.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following.
It was not only in the South that the Fulani gave those they viewed with disdain and contempt and that they sought to conquer strange and insulting names.
In the Middle Belt, they tried to call the Tiv “Munchi”; the Ham/Nok people “Jaba”; the Baju “Kaje”; the Gbwagis, “Gwari” etc.
It is actually their stock in trade to either adulterate or give people derogatory names instead of the actual name of the person or place.
We would all do well to learn the wisdom in rejecting such names because more often than not they are loaded with toxicity and they carry heavy baggage.
Remember: We ARE what we CALL ourselves.
The greatest weakness of the sons and daughters of Oduduwa, the Omo Karo Jire and the Omooluabi is our kind, trusting, generous, charitable, liberal and accommodating disposition. Many consider this to be a strength but in a jungle and the dog-eat-dog geographical expression like Nigeria where only the strongest can survive, I consider it to be a weakness.
We forgive and forget past hurts easily and we open our hearts and doors to anyone and everyone and love them even more than we love ourselves.
This is especially so with the Fulani. We love them to high heavens and constantly and consistently tolerate their excesses, their greed, their manipulations and their sheer cruelty. We commend them when they hurt others and we keep silent and act as if it is no big deal when they hurt us.
We love them so much that we even allowed them to give us a derogatory name, “Yoruba”, which was never ours.
First, they gave the Oyo that unfortunate name and then 100 years later, despite strong protestations from the other kingdoms of the South West, it was used to describe us all!
And sadly we accepted it with a smile on our faces! It is our ignorance, our child-like naivety and our gullibility that allowed that to happen and we MUST address the issue and right the wrong.
I am a student of European and indeed world history and I can confirm that throughout history and indeed up until today, the English have used the insulting words “Frogs” when referring to the French and “Krauts” when referring to the Germans.
Can you imagine the French or the Germans ever accepting either as being their real name? This would never happen because they know who and what they are and they know that they are far better than “frogs” and “krauts”.
They certainly would not take kindly to anyone referring to France as “Frogland” or Germany as “Krautland”.
Yet, we in the South-West are so naive and gullible that we accept “yariba” or “Yoruba” as our name even though deep down, we know its deeply derogatory and insulting meaning and even though we have identified and established its foul, dubious and nebulous Futa Toro and Futa Jallon origin and source.
Some eminent and respected scholars have even suggested that we should wear that awful name with pride! NOT ME!
It is this constant fawning over the Fulani and the desire for validation, acceptance and support from them that led to the loss of Ilorin in the first place and that, if care is not taken and if we do not retrace our steps quickly, will lead to the total and complete destruction of our people and race.
The Ooduwan, the Aku, the Anago and ALL the people of the South-West are proud and noble warriors with an illustrious history and great heritage: we do not need the Fulani or anyone else to endorse us, support us, encourage us or tell us who we are. And we certainly do not need them to give us a name.
We are masters and leaders and not slaves and followers. Education came to us before any other in Nigeria. So did Christianity. So did Islam.
The old Oyo Empire and numerous kingdoms and nation states all over the South-West flourished and operated sophisticated systems of commerce, barter, trade and governance with clearly defined laws, rules and regulations for thousands of years before the Fulani Caliphate was even established.
Why on earth should we then bow to them? Why should they give us our name and why should we accept that name without question and even defend its usage?
For hundreds of years, our history has been replete with great acts of chivalry, honour, wisdom, excellence, courage, gallantry and nobility.
For God’s sake, what more evidence do we need to prove to ourselves who we are? We were born to lead and to rule and so we shall. We were born to chart our own course, develop at our own pace and have our own nation.
Sooner than later, the Oduduwa nation shall rise up like a colossus and she shall fight the battles, serve the purpose and protect the interests of the Ooduwa people.
And when that time comes, the usage of the insulting Fulani word “Yoruba” which was used to describe our proud and noble people for 100 long years will be a thing of the past.
Chief Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation