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Yoruba community tells Nigerian embassies to stop installation of Obas in diaspora

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The Yoruba Obas Forum, on Sunday, condemned in strong terms the installation of Yoruba Obas in the diaspora and appealed to all Nigerian embassies around the world to stop the practice immediately.

“We appeal to all the embassies to stop this trend in their respective countries. We are also appealing to all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora to rise against the trend that has been tarnishing the image of our race and causing unnecessary tension both within and outside the country,” the monarchs said in a statement.

“We have written several letters to the Ministry of External Affairs, but it is now time for the public to know that the Yoruba Obas Forum is not in support of having a Yoruba Oba in the diaspora, and we totally condemn the bad practice as it is a complete fraud and disrespect to the traditional institution,” the Forum added.

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Th Forum also appealed to all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora to rise against the trend, which it said had been tarnishing the image of the race and causing unnecessary tension both within and outside Nigeria.

The community said such practice is fraudulent and it is alien to Yoruba culture and tradition. The Forum, comprising prominent Obas across the South-West region insisted that having a Yoruba Oba in a state like Dallas in the United States of America, USA, and countries like France, Holland and Ireland is nothing but a complete denigration of Yoruba culture and tradition.

The Forum gave this stand in a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Oba Asunmo Ganiyu Aderibigbe, who doubles as the Paramount Ruler of Odo Ayandelu Kingdom, stating also that having a Yoruba Oba in a state like Dallas in the United States of America (USA) and countries like France, Holland, and Ireland was nothing but a complete denigration of Yoruba culture and tradition.

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YOF, comprising prominent Obas from across the South-West region, in the statement made available on Sunday to newsmen, also maintained that Yoruba tradition clearly specifies the procedures for installing an Oba in Yoruba land, adding that the law gives the state government the legal backing to give the final approval (with the support of the state legislatures) for the official installation of an Oba in the state across the region.

The monarchs said the traditional institution remained the only sacred institution that had endured the rigours of civilization, stressing that there was always a successive plan for the installation of an Oba in Yoruba land in order to avoid anarchy from the traditional institution.

“In Yoruba land, there are royal houses that are mostly qualified to appoint an Oba traditionally, and there are procedures that must be followed to sustain the culture and tradition of our race.

“The need to condemn the ugly trend became pertinent for us as traditional rulers in order to restore the lost glory of our race and that of the traditional institution.

“Nobody can duplicate our sacred culture abroad. It is never done anywhere in the world. It is very bad when some people masquerade as an Oba in a foreign land, and as the custodians of Yoruba culture and tradition, we would not allow them to misrepresent us to the world.

“However, it must be stated that there are other nationals in Nigeria, like Arabs, Indians, and Chinese, that are residents of Nigeria and don’t have an Oba in Nigeria,” YOF stated.

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The monarchs, while further condemning the practice, said having a Yoruba Oba in the diaspora was despotic, unfortunate, and an open door for anarchy among Yorubas in the affected places, adding that the practice was “an aberration to our traditional institution.”

“We condemn it totally because such practice is an aberration to our traditional institution, and we are also appealing to other leading and prominent Obas in the South-West to rise against the ugly trend.

“We appeal to all the embassies to stop this trend in their respective countries. We are also appealing to all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora to rise against the trend that has been tarnishing the image of our race and causing unnecessary tension both within and outside the country.

“Having a Yoruba Oba in the diaspora is despotic, unfortunate, and always opens the door for anarchy among Yorubas in the diaspora.

“We condemn it totally because such practice is only an aberration to our traditional institution, and we are also appealing to other leading and prominent Obas in the south-west to rise against the ugly trend.

The Forum, however, restated the need for unity across the South-West, saying the unity of all stakeholders was key to actualizing peace, progress, and the development of the race both in Nigeria and in the diaspora.

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History

Yoruba, one of the three largest ethnic groups of Nigeria, concentrated in the southwestern part of that country. Much smaller, scattered groups live in Benin and northern Togo. The Yoruba numbered more than 20 million at the turn of the 21st century. They speak a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

Yoruba kneeling female figure, wood sculpture attributed to Areogun of Osi, Nigeria, late 19th or early 20th century; in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Most Yoruba men are farmers, growing yams, corn (maize), and millet as staples and plantains, peanuts (groundnuts), beans, and peas as subsidiary crops; cocoa is a major cash crop. Others are traders or craftsmen. Women do little farm work but control much of the complex market system—their status depends more on their own position in the marketplace than on their husbands’ status. The Yoruba have traditionally been among the most skilled and productive craftsmen of Africa. They worked at such trades as blacksmithing, weaving, leatherworking, glassmaking, and ivory and wood carving. In the 13th and 14th centuries Yoruba bronze casting using the lost-wax (cire perdue) method reached a peak of technical excellence never subsequently equaled in western Africa. Yoruba women engage in cotton spinning, basketry, and dyeing.

The Yoruba have shared a common language and culture for centuries but were probably never a single political unit. They seem to have migrated from the east to their present lands west of the lower Niger River more than a millennium ago. They eventually became the most urbanized Africans of precolonial times. They formed numerous kingdoms of various sizes, each of which was centred on a capital city or town and ruled by a hereditary king, or oba. Their towns became densely populated and eventually grew into the present-day cities of Oyo, Ile-Ife, Ilesha, Ibadan, Ilorin, Ijebu-Ode, Ikere-Ekiti, and others. Oyo developed in the 17th century into the largest of the Yoruba kingdoms (see Oyo empire), while Ile-Ife remained a town of potent religious significance as the site of the earth’s creation according to Yoruba mythology. Oyo and the other kingdoms declined in the late 18th and 19th centuries owing to disputes among minor Yoruba rulers and invasions by the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin) and the Muslim Fulani. The traditional Yoruba kingships still survive, but with only a hint of their former political power.

In a traditional Yoruba town, the large and elaborate palace of the oba lies at the centre, and grouped around it are the compounds of the patrilineages. The palace and the compounds are now often modern structures.

There is much diversity in social and political organization among the Yoruba, but they share many basic features. Inheritance and succession are based on patrilineal descent; members of the patrilineage live together under the authority of a headman, share certain names and taboos, worship their own deity, and have rights in lineage lands. The Yoruba also have several kinds of voluntary associations, including the egbe, a male recreational association; the aro, a mutual-aid association of farmers; and the esusu, whose members contribute a fixed amount of money and from which they can receive loans. Political authority is vested in the oba and a council of chiefs; constituent towns each have their own ruler, who is subordinate to the oba. The oba is also a ritual leader and is considered sacred.

Many Yoruba are now Christians or Muslims, but aspects of their traditional religion survive. The traditional Yoruba religion has an elaborate hierarchy of deities, including a supreme creator and some 400 lesser gods and spirits, most of whom are associated with their own cults and priests. The Yoruba language has an extensive literature of poetry, short stories, myths, and proverbs.

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