Oduduwa, phonetically written as Odùduwà, and sometimes contracted as Odudua, Oòdua, is generally held among the Yoruba to be the ancestor of the crowned Yoruba kings.

Oral history of the Oyo-Yoruba recount the coming of Oduduwa from the east, sometimes understood by Muslim sources as the "vicinity" or direction of Mecca, but more likely signifying the region of Ekiti and Okun sub-ethnics in northeastern Yorubaland/central Nigeria. A strong theory among the Yoruba is that Oduduwa came from the region of Egypt or Nubia and may have been fleeing from religious persecution or invasion. Oduduwa is presumed to have entered the Ekiti-Yoruba and Okun-Yoruba region. This region is near the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, and is where the Yoruba language is presumed to have separated from related ethno-linguistic groups like Igala, Igbo, and Edo.

Most importantly is that King Oduduwa was one of the founding rulers of the kingdom of Ife in 1100 CE. The kingdom of Ife is the original Yoruba kingdom and thus all crowned Yoruba kings claim descent from this historic figure.

The Ife oral traditions, on the other hand, tell that Odùduwà was the son of the supreme god Olodumare or Olorun, and was sent by him from heaven to create the earth. (Another version of this myth ascribes these episodes to Obatala, casting Oodua, as an usurper). Descending from the heavens via a chain let down to Ile Ife, Obatala brought with him a cockeral, a pigeon, and a calabash full of dirt. After throwing the soil upon the waters, he set the cockeral and pigeon on the pile of dirt who, in turn, scratched and scattered it around to create the rest of dry land that became the Earth's surface.

Odùduwà subsequently became one of the first kings of Ife, and then sent his sons out with crowns to rule over all of the other Yorùbá kingdoms, which is why all royal Yorùbá lineages claim direct descent from Odùduwà and refer to the Ooni of Ife as first among equals (popularly rendered in the Latin phrase primus inter pares in Nigeria).

Ile Ife continues to be considered the spiritual capital of the Yoruba.,,


  • Ojuade, J. 'Sina (1992) 'The issue of 'Oduduwa' in Yoruba genesis: the myths and realities', Transafrican Journal of History, 21, 139-158.
  • Obayemi, A. 1976. The Yoruba and Edo-speaking Peoples and their Neighbors before 1600 AD, in JFA Ajayi & M. Crowder (ed.), History of West Africa 1: 255-322

External links

  • Baba'Awo Ifaloju, showcasing Ifa using web media 2.0 (blogs, podcasting, video & photocasting)

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