Learning is fun. I love learning about different cultures including mine, Yoruba culture. There are lots of stories to be told about the past based on artefacts.
I saw a BattaBox video showing us parts of Ooni’s palace today. The whole 11 minutes of the video is informative.
Here are a few areas that are new information I only learn today.
Starting from 3:20 to 6
A woman palm wine tapper:
On the wall carvings somewhere in the palace was a woman climbing a palm tree with igba (strong rope) around her waist. I am aware of men being ademu (palm wine tapper), this is not a job for the faint-hearted as ademu needs to climb high to the neck of the tree to get the juice. Our palm trees can grow up to 20m high, the taller they are, the thinner the tree trunk gets making it harder for foothold, normally I think between 8 and 10m likely to be a cut off for many tappers to be on safe side.
Anyway the important thing I have never heard as part of our history was that women, or to quote the guide in the video Iya ‘Mothers’ are the palm wine tappers in the past.
Isn’t that something? As the guide says, Ifes are known for loving their emu, it is intriguing that Mothers are the ones that brought the juice home.
Is this where Queen Luwoo 1770-1800, the only female Ooni got the idea from? She was known to be a doer. She perhaps didn’t have any problem with men enjoying emu, but Queen’s idea of making men use their hands to do other jobs in the community was not well received, hence we have never had another female Ooni.
History is fun.
Ooni do not ride horse:
Ooni of Ife is called Alesin ma gun, Ooni (One who owns a team of horse but must not ride on it).
On the same carvings on the wall, it shows how Ooni used to travel before cars. There were messengers on horses, these were hunters with specific roles to play on the road trip – mostly to protect Ooni. Many more messengers are on foot with loads of Ooni’s belongings. And a few had the trusted role of carrying Ooni seated in his special chair.
Now I wonder if there was a story behind the ‘Ooni must not ride a horse’ belief. Was there a time in the past that a Ooni fell off a horse and the said Ooni thought it was too difficult to grasp the sport of riding and just thought if he could not ride a horse then no Ooni should?
I would love to know the real reason behind this ‘ban’, even if to laugh it off. Past is what it is, not sure it should hold us captive forever.
Here I hear someone saying, that is why we don’t show the world stuff, people ask too many questions.
The last but not the least.
On the video, it is 7:56 to 8:50
Adé Arè – Oduduwa’s Crown
Arè crown is said to be same one worn by Oduduwa, the first Ooni of Ife. There are so many different versions about how Oduduwa came to be and when and from where, let’s just say, long time ago.
In today’s Ife, Ooni wears Adé Arè once a year during Olojo festival. So Ooni looks like this.
It is commendable that such a piece has been preserved for centuries. Now, one thing that I have always thought of is the weight of Arè crown. Each year during Olojo festival, emphasis is always placed on the weight of the crown and the Nigeria newspapers have never agreed on the actual weight, I have read 70kg, 75kg and I gave up on it when one newspaper wrote 100kg last year.
Now, the guide at 8:23 says the crown weighs ‘two bags of cement’ – as funny as this statement sounds, now I think this is probably where the said Nigeria newspaper got their weight of 100kg from, Nigeria cement bag comes in 50kg per bag.
Since ‘bags of cement’ isn’t universally accepted measurement of weight – I am begging Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi and the Palace to please weigh Adé Arè, our ancestors are already rejoicing that we are at a time that allows more of us to learn about information we didn’t know existed – I am thinking they (ancestors) would be pleased that we get this weight matter sorted.
All in all I am grateful to Battabox for this video and of course the Palace for sharing the wealth of knowledge and for speaking local language.