According to Yoruba mythology, it is the garden of Eden for the Yorubas; where civilisation began. It was at Ile-Ife that the gods descended into the earth.
The history and importance of Ile-Ife to the Yorubas
When it comes to the historicity of the Yorubas, Ile-Ife is very important.
This ancient city dates back to 500 B.C and it is the oldest Yoruba city in the world located currently in Osun State, Nigeria.
Ile-Ife means the land of expansion or dispersion. Ife was believed to have been founded by the sons of Olodumare; Oduduwa and Obatala. Obatala reportedly created humans on the earth.
Although Obatala was the actual first king of Ife, he was deposed by his brother Oduduwa, who became known as the first king of Ife and who established it as the seat of the Yoruba kingdom.
However, history has a different story to tell. It is believed that the area now known as Ile-Ife was first inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group but Oduduwa and his people came in, fought them and caused them to move to the east.
Historians also believe that Oduduwa came from Egypt or Mecca and did not descend from heaven.
Ile-Ife is also important because it is believed to be the seat of the Ooni of Ife, who many believe to be the traditional ruler of all Yorubas. The ruling seat is believed to have gone on for eight centuries.
Even though Benin City and Old Oyo kingdom and their kings rose in prominence and military strength they could not usurp the important position that Ile-Ife held in Yoruba history and mythology because its reverence is more spiritual and religious.
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