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Oduduwa, Olofin Adimula, Emperor and First Suzerain of the Yoruba, was the King of Ile-Ife with the tithes "Olofin" and "Olufe". His name, phonetically written by Yoruba language-speakers as Odùduwà and sometimes contracted as Odudua or Oòdua, is generally ascribed to the ancestral dynasties of Yorubaland because he is held by the Yoruba to have been the ancestor of their numerous crowned kings.[1] Following his posthumous deification, he was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name.

Ife bronze head (British Museum)
Ife Kings Head.jpg

About Oduduwa[edit]


  • Oduduwa is the power of the womb.
  • Oduduwa represents omnipotency, the ability to affect and reconstruct the physical reality at will.
  • Oòdua first appears as one of the divinities of the Yoruba theogony.
  • The narrative indicates that Oduduwa denotes “the essence of reality” (Odu-ti-o-da-Iwa) or "the reservoir of existence"(Odu -ti-o- du Uwa).[2]



Main article: Yorubaland

Oduduwa is generally ascribed to the ancestral dynasties of Yorubaland.

According to an Oyo account, Oduduwa was said to have come from the east, sometimes understood by some sources as the "vicinity" true East on the Cardinal points, but more likely signifying the region of Ekiti and Okun sub-communities in Yorubaland, Nigeria.[3]

Later years[edit]

Upon the ending of Oduduwa's time on Earth, there was a dispersal of his children/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 or grandchild fashioning his or her state after Ile-Ife; This contributed a great deal to the Urbanization of Yorubaland above anywhere else in Subsaharan Africa.

After the princes had left Ife leaving Orunto - the illegitimate first son of Oduduwa through an illicit affair with a slave; the Family of Obatala rose again, to relegate Orunto and make Obamakin the King with the new title of "Oonirisa". Today, Orunto is the ancestor of the families that hold the "Obalufe" title - Secound in command to the Ooni.

Obamakin's grandson Obalufon II Alayemore was on the Throne when Oranmiyan return from his sojourn and threatened for the Kingship to be given to him and hence back to the Family of Oduduwa, Oranmiyan's son Lajamisan is the progenitor of all Ooni in Ife from his time till now

Ife Traditions[edit]

Ife traditions though not the most popular, is considered by competent historians as the most reliable. Oduduwa is said to have been an emissary from the community of Oke-ora(Ora mountain), the easternmost part of the Ife cultural area. At that time, a Confederacy existed between the 13 communities of the valley; such names as "Otu-Ife", "Ile-Ife" have been ascribed as the designation of the Confederate Identity.

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, then evolved the palace structure with its effective centralized power and dynasty. Going by the tribal records, he is commonly referred to as the first Ooni of Ife and progenitor of the legitimate Kings of the Yoruba people.

Oduduwa and the line of Olowu[edit]

Main article: Owu kingdom

First Child of Oduduwa, Iyunade marries Obatala and later gives birth to the future crowned king of Owu. He is believed to have acquired his crown as a toddler while crying on his grandfather's laps.

Oduduwa and the line of Alaketu[edit]

Main article: Ketu (Benin)

Omonide, Oduduwa's favorite wife gives birth to Sopasan, the father of the future crowned kings of Ketu. Sopasan was the first to leave Ile-Ife with his mother and crown. Soposan settled at such temporary sites as Oke-Oyan and Aro. At Aro where Soposan died and was succeeded by Owe, the migrants stayed longer and broke camp in the reign of the seventh king, Ede, who revived the westward migrations and founded a dynasty at Ketu

Oduduwa and the line of Omo N'Oba[edit]

Main article: Oba of Benin

The son of Oranmiyan is crowned king of Benin...It is said by some quarters of Benin city that oduduwa is an exiled prince of Benin(then Igodomigodo) who sent his son to settle the leadership problems in Benin after many years of kinglessness.

Oduduwa and the line of Òràngún[edit]

Main article: Orangun

Ajagunla Fagbamila Orangun is crowned king of Ila.

Oduduwa and the line of Onisabe[edit]

  • A prince is crowned king of Sabe.

Oduduwa and the line of Onipopo[edit]

  • A prince is crowned king of Popo.

Oduduwa and the line of Alaafin[edit]

Main article: Alaafin

Oranyan founds Oyo-ile and his sons Ajaka and Sango rule Oyo.While his last son, Olalomi-Olofagangan founded the Ibolo Kingdom.


Main article: Oranmiyan

Oranmiyan was the grandson and the most adventurous of the members of Oduduwa's household; taking the title of Alafin, he succeeded in raising a very strong army and his descendants expanded his kingdom to an empire. Regarded as being founder of the Oyo Kingdom, some accounts state he was also the third ruler of Ife. Ife list of kings place him as 6th

Moremi and The Ugbo[edit]

After the dispersal of the family of kings and queens, the aborigines became ungovernable, and constituted themselves into a serious threat to the survival of Ife. Thought to be supporters of Obatala who had ruled the land before the arrival of Oduduwa, these people turned themselves into marauders. They would come to town in costumes made of raffia with terrible and fearsome appearances, and burn down houses and loot the markets. It is at this point that Moremi Ajasoro, a princess of Offa, of the lineage of Olalomi Olofagangan. The founder of Offa-Ile and the paramount head of Ibolo region of old Oyo empire, of Ooduan dynasty by Oranmiyan, is said to have come onto the scene; she subsequently played a significant role in restoring normalcy back to the situation through a spying mission.By allowing herself to be captured and taken away with them. She got married to the king who wanted pleasures from her but she wouldn't give in because she was married and was on a mission. She told him to tell her the secret of the marauders, he didn't want to tell her but after so much pressure he gave in. He told her that the only thing they fear was FIRE, if they saw fire they would run. After this information she plotted an escape plan. She asked for some oranges and made the juice have a sleeping effect on the palace people. but when they woke up she had gone to tell her people and they were prepared for the marauders.[4]

Alternative views[edit]

Oduduwa and his role in creation[edit]

Main article: Yoruba religion

Some oral traditions claim that Oduduwa was Olodumare's favourite orisha, and as such was sent from heaven to create the earth upon the waters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ *Obayemi, A., 'The Yoruba and Edo-speaking Peoples and their Neighbors before 1600 AD', in JFA Ajayi & M. Crowder (eds.), History of West Africa, vol. I (1976), 255-322.
  2. ^ OPC's the History Of Oodua
  3. ^ Article: Oduduwa, The Ancestor Of The Crowned Yoruba Kings
  4. ^ Yoruba Alliance:Who are the Yoruba!

Further reading[edit]

  • Ojuade, J. S., 'The issue of 'Oduduwa' in Yoruba genesis: the myths and realities', Transafrican Journal of History, 21 (1992), 139-158.