Who Are The Yoruba People? (Part 3)

– Femi Fani-Kayode

Up until 1292 BC and the ascension of King Menpehtyre Ramesses, all the Pharaohs of Egypt were black. These include some of the better known ones such as King Horemheb (who preceded King Ramesses), King Khafra (who was depicted by the Great Sphinx of Giza), King Tutankhamun (the young Pharaoh whose tomb was discovered with enormous riches and a terrible curse by a British archaeologist and explorer called Howard Carter), Queen Cleopatra (whose beauty was enchanting, who captured the emotions of Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, who divided the Roman Empire and whom this writer honoured with a poem titled ”The Nubian Queen”), Queen Nefertiti (who was the wisest of the wise and the most compassionate of all the Egyptian monarchs), King Piye (who was the conqueror of Egypt, the master of Nubia and the greatest of all the Cushite warrior kings) and the two Pharaohs that the biblical Moses and the biblical Joseph knew respectively and that had such a great impact on Jewish history and the fortunes of the Jewish people. All these Pharaohs were black African Nubians who were to be later referred to as the ”Sudanese”. The fact of the matter is that right up until the establishment of the 19th dynasty and the coming of King Ramesses in 1292 BC the rulers of Egypt were all Nubians and not the ”brown and olive-skinned” Euroasiatics and Arabs that the Ramessesian era ushered in.
The Nubians not only ruled Egypt for thousands of years but they also constituted the majority of those that made up the Egyptian middle class and intelligentsia including the clerics, theologians, artists, writers, poets, medics, artisans, builders, architects, astrologers, mathematicians and professionals. The Ancient Egyptians themselves referred to their homeland as ”Kmt” (which is conventionally pronounced as ”Kemet”). According to the celebrated historian Cheikh Anta Diop, the Ancient Egyptians referred to themselves as “Black people” or ”kmt” and ”kmt” was the etymological root of other words, such as ”Kam” or ”Ham”, which refer to ”black people” in Hebrew tradition. Diop, William Leo Hansberry, and Aboubacry Moussa Lam have argued that ”kmt” was derived from the skin colour of the Nile valley people, who they claim were black. And they were absolutely right. These are the facts though some western and Arab Egyptologists find it hard to accept and often seek to deny it. Yet whether anyone likes to accept it or not the fact remains that the greatest civilisation that the world has ever known, which is the Egyptian civilisation, was led and established by people of colour and those same people were the custodians of the deepest mysteries and secrets of our world and of the human race.
The final batch of ancient Cushites that remained in Arabia for thousands of years after all the others had left and that had refused to leave those lands for Africa with their Ethiopian brothers and sisters eventually migrated to the Egyptian Nile Valley from Mecca and Medina. Thousands of years later this last wave of Cushite migrants were to be referred to as the ”Yoruba”. Yet for thousands of years before the word ”Yoruba” was even conceived and after their arrival in the Nile Valley these same people constituted an essential and vital part of the ruling and middle class of the Sudan, Nubia and Ancient Egypt. The Cushite forefathers of the Yoruba were a learned and mystical people that were well versed in philosophy, the arts, history, the mysteries of the age, science, anthropology and the secrets of the spirit realm and human existence. Their contribution to Ancient Egyptian culture and art was second to none. Most importantly the pantheon of gods that they had worshipped, guarded jealously and served for thousands of years whilst in Mecca and Medina before their migration to the Nile Valley were accepted by the Egyptian ruling elite and were fully integrated and superimposed on the Egyptian religious stratosphere. As a matter of fact those gods were not only accepted but they eventually became the cornerstone and foundation of Ancient Egyptian culture and religion. That is the level of input that the Yoruba made into the affairs and development of Ancient Egypt.
In our quest to further explore the ancient Egyptian roots of the Yoruba permit me to quote copiously from an excellent contribution titled ”YORUBA- THE EGYPTIAN CONNECTION” which was written by Olomu and Eyebira. The write-up is utterly fascinating in terms of it’s depth and research. In the section titled ”The Oduduwan Revolution”. The authors wrote the following-
”In this chapter, we shall talk of a possible migration from ancient Egypt. Many traditions point to a fact that an alien group (Egyptians) immigrated to Yoruba land and mixed with the original population. Many oral traditions are replete with these stories. The Awujale of Ijebu land has shown that the Ijebus are descended from ancient Nubia (a colony of Egypt). He was able to use the evidence of language, body, scarification, coronation rituals that are similar to Nubians’ etc, to show that the Ijebus are descendants of the Nubians. What the present Awujale claimed for the Ijebus, can be authenticated all over Yoruba land. The Awujale even mentioned (2004) that the Itsekiri (an eastern Yoruba dialect) are speaking the original Ijebu language. Since the Nubians were descended from the Egyptians, the Ijebu, and by extension, all Yoruba customs, derived from the Egyptian as well. Many traditional Yorubas have always claimed Egypt as their place of original abode, and that their monarchical tradition derives from the Egyptians.
Apostle Atigbiofor Atsuliaghan, a high priest of Umale-Okun, and a direct descendant of Orunmila, claimed that the Yorubas left Egypt as a result of a big war that engulfed the whole of Egypt. He said the Egyptian remnants settled in various places, two important places being Ode Itsekiri and Ile-Ife. Chief O.N Rewane says “Oral tradition has it also that when the Yorubas came from South of Egypt they did not go straight to where they now occupy. They settled at Illushi, some at Asaba area – Ebu, Olukumi Ukwunzu while some settled at Ode-Itsekiri,.” (O.N. Rewane Royalty Magazine A PICTORIAL SOUVENIR OF THE BURIAL AND CORONATION OF OLU OF WARRI, WARRI 1987). Since these oral traditions are passed on by very illiterate people, we can augment whatever is recorded with written sources.
Concerning the migration of some of the Yoruban ancestors from the east, Conton says: ”The Yoruba of Nigeria are believed by many modern historians to be descended from a people who were living on the banks of the Nile 2,000 years ago, and who were at the time in close contact with the Egyptians and the Jews. Sometime before AD 600, if this belief is correct, these people must have left their fertile lands, for reasons which we can not now discover and have joined in the ceaseless movement of tribes west wards and south-wards across our continent. We can only guess at the many adventures they and their descendants must have had on their long journey and at the number of generations which passed before they arrived. All we can be certain about is that they were a Negro people and that one of the many princely states they founded on their arrival in West Africa…..was Ife”- Conton.
Although we agree with Conton that some of the Yoruban ancestors migrated from Egypt, we tend to toe the scientific line of Cheik Anta Diop, that the ancient Egyptians were pure Negroes. Aderibigbe, an indigenous scholar, also accepts that the Yorubas migrated from Egypt. He says: “The general trend of these theories, most of them based on Yoruba traditions, is that of a possible origin from “the east”. Some scholars, impressed by the similarities between Yoruba and ancient Egyptian culture – religious observation, works of art, burial and other customs – speak of a possible migration of the ancestors of the Yoruba from the upper Nile (as early as 2000BC – 1000BC) as a result of some upheavals in ancient Egypt”. (AB ADERIBIGBE 1976). Unlike Conton, Aderibigbe was able to pinpoint a cause for the Yoruban migration – war. Olumide Lucas did a lot of job to show similarities and identities between the ancient Egyptians and the Yoruban peoples. The date that Aderibigbe gave (2000BC – 1000BC) is much earlier than that given by Conton. Aderibigbe’s date corresponds to that of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt 2000-1500BC.
On the possible eastern origin of the Yorubas, Tariqh Sawandi says: “The Yoruba history begins with the migration of an east African population across the trans-African route leading from Mid-Nile river area to the Mid-Niger. Archaeologists, according to M. Omoleya, inform us that the Nigerian region was inhabited more than forty thousand years ago, or as far back as 65,000BC. During this period, the Nok culture occupied the region. The Nok culture was visited by the “Yoruba people”, between 2000BC and 500BC. This group of people was led, according to Yoruba historical accounts by king Oduduwa, who settled peacefully in the already established Ile-Ife, the sacred city of the indigenous Nok people. This time period is known as the Bronze Age, a time of high civilization of both of these groups. According to Olumide J. Lucas, “the Yoruba, during antiquity, lived in ancient Egypt before migrating to the Atlantic coast”. He uses as demonstration the similarity or identity of languages, religious beliefs, customs and names of persons, places and things. In addition, many ancient papyri discovered by archaeologists point at an Egyptian origin” (Tariqh Sawandi: ”Yorubic medicine: The Art of divine herbology).

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

 

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