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Stats: 2,565,607 members, 5,933,104 topics. Date: Thursday, 22 October 2020 at 09:52 AM
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|Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Ctorch: 3:20pm On Oct 18|
Itshekiri are Yorubas and benin kingship is yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor
Ayodele Joseph Oritsegbubemi Oritsejafor, fondly called Papa Ayo Oritsejafor by many of his numerous admirers is the founding and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, located in Warri, Nigeria. He became the national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) on the 7TH February 2005, a position he held for five years.. He was elected President of CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria. As a result of this, he became the first Pentecostal leader to hold the two positions simultaneously. He is married to Hellen Oritsejafor and they are blessed with many children in the Lord. In this interview, he speaks about the history of Itsekiri people and other topics:
what would you say is unique about the Itsekiri people of Warri kingdom?
First of all, it is very important to establish the fact that Christianity started in Nigeria in Warri kingdom. It is what the average Itsekiri man or woman knows but they don’t talk about it. One of the reasons they don’t talk about it is a lack of spirituality. The first church that was built in Nigeria was not in Abeokuta, Badagry or anywhere. It was built here in the 16th century. The ruins of it are still here.
The first Christian missionary that came here was the Roman Catholic. In fact, the first contact with a white man was here. The Itsekiri people are the first contact with the white man in Nigeria.
By the way, the second thing that many people in Itsekiri may not elaborate on is that Itsekiri is Yoruba. The Itsekiri language is a dialect of the Yoruba language. Itsekiri people migrated from Yorubaland. Some of them migrated directly from Ife. Some migrated from the riverine areas of Ijebu, and some migrated from Ondo. Some of them especially the ones that migrated from Ife, they migrated with the Ilaje. The Ilaje stopped at a point but the Itsekiri continued and they ended up here in Warri.
Now, a few of them came from Benin Kingdom. The Benin connection came from the palace. The palace connection is still Yoruba at the end of the day because the first Oba of Benin was a son of Oduduwa.
The first Olu of Warri was a first son of the Oba of Benin. That’s the Benin connection. The Itsekiri, when they moved here, they came with their Ife. The upland Yoruba called it Ifa. We are the waterside Yoruba. Our people will call the other Yoruba, Iroke. They called the Oyo people Iroke and other Yoruba Iroke but the Yoruba called them Ara Oke. This history is very important because they are dying away. In those days, the Ife which the mainstream Yoruba will call Ifa was the god of divination. The Ife had told the Itsekiri people that a prince would come and become their king. Therefore, they stayed without a king for a very long time, in fact for many years.
They were waiting for that prince, eventually this prince who was the first son of the Oba of Benin was a grandson of Oduduwa. He was very proud so he had a lot of problems with Benin chiefs. They were going to kill him. His father who was the Oba of Benin, you know he was supposed to be the Oba of Benin after his father, but for his own protection, his father had to get him out of Benin Kingdom. He gave him about 70 chiefs. They smuggled him out, put him in a boat and they performed all kinds of rituals. They put him in a boat then sailed to Warri. When he ended up here, remember our own people were waiting for a prince, they have been waiting for years. When he arrived, they consulted their Ife again and the Ife says, “This is the prince”. So, that was how he became the first Olu of Warri. That was how the first Olu of Warri came about.
In those days, in the palace, in Warri kingdom, they used to speak Yoruba. The palace was 100% Yoruba. Don’t forget the Itsekiri language is a dialect of Yoruba land and therefore a Yoruba language as it is to this day. The Benin are not Yoruba; they are descendants of Oduduwa but the palace is Yoruba.
· History says Benin people came from Yoruba land?
That can’t be disputed. Some people will argue it but I don’t want to get into that, because that is not the point of discussion. We are discussing Itsekiri. However, it was the son of Oduduwa that moved to Benin and became king, according to history. It’s almost like our own history too. I don’t want to get into that side of it.
In fact, before the late Ooni of Ife passed away, some years back, they did this their Ifa and the Ifa lead him to an Itsekiri village, not far from here and gave details of it and they traced it and came to the village, the village is called Omadina. I am partially from there myself. The people already knew that they came from Ife. The people from Ife traced them to the village and got to them and there was a great re-union.
I was told that the Oni of Ife has a permanent chamber in the palace?
Yes, because we are the same. Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s last outing was here. Shortly before he died. His last outing was here when the late Olu of Warri was crowned. When he left here, he went home and passed away.
· Yes, I read it in his wife’s autobiography that when he wanted to go on the trip, he complained of being tired. His wife advised him to send people to represent him. He insisted that he must go there himself.
Yes, He came himself and it was the last outing after that, he passed. So, the connection was very strong. The Ooni of Ife came here and the Olu of Warri went there as well. You see the Itsekiiri made a big mistake by not emphasizing their Yorubaness. It’s unintentional though, they have down play their Yorubaness. The reason is because they migrated here and other peoples came and they mixed with them and they have almost forgotten who they are. They almost lost their identity. They are many Itsekiri today who don’t even know they are Yoruba. They have been here so long here, the Itsekiri have unintentionally almost lost their Yorubaness. They lost their identity when you move to a place and you are mixing with other people you start losing your identity. To a large extent in my opinion it as affected them. They needed to highlight that fact and this why I like what you are doing right now. I was very, very impressed years ago when Chief Abraham Adesanya who was the head of Afenifere, he knew all this history and he used to come out strongly in defense of the of the Itsekiiri. I was really very touched by what he would do and say personally, I don’t play with my Yorubaness. I am very proud of it.
· Maybe if you give us a little information about yourself that the public may not know.
My grandmother was originally from Owoh, from my mother side. My grandmother from my father side is partly from Ilaje. My wife is from Ado Ekiti. I was born in Lagos. I was born along Moloney Street. I am a real Isale Eko boy. I did my elementary school at Holy Cross. So to a large extent, I am a Lagosian. I have a church funny enough around Moloney, about 2 blocks from where I was born, where my parents lived, where I was raised. The church didn’t know when they acquired a property there, so when I went to preach in that church and because I was very rascally as a young boy, the very bad boys in that area, once they know that I am around, they will all come to church. They will gather around me. I am like one of their own. I always feel right at home. My people will try to drive them, I will say no, no, no don’t. I was exactly like them. They were certain names they used to call me then. I see myself as a Lagosian. But later I finally moved back home. I went to secondary school not in Warri here. I was so messed up in my ways until I gave my life to Christ. Then I went to study Theology at Baptist seminary at Ogbomosho. I went back to the west. My father even went to school in Ilesa he was an old boy of Ilesa Grammar school. I am Yoruba in every way. My mother also went to school in Abeokuta. Itsekiiri is Yoruba, everything about me is Yoruba. Let us look at the Itsekiiri language when you listen you will know that is Yoruba. If you want to say Good morning, I will say. Iro- Owuro Good afternoon, Ire-Osan Good evening, Ire Ale.
· That is Yoruba o.
Yes that is pure Yoruba. It’s just like any Yoruba dialect, just like Ijebu, Egba, Awori, Ijesha, it’s just different form of Yoruba, just a little deeper than the general Yoruba we all speak in Lagos.But, we all have our own dialect.
· It Is just like my people the Awori – they are the original settlers in Lagos. They came from Ife and migrated to Lagos, some of them went to Ado-Odo, Ota, Sango, they speak the general Yoruba language but they also have Awori dialect which is different from other dialects but still Yoruba language.
Yes, Other Yoruba may not be able to speak it but they will still be able to know and pick it, that this is Yoruba language. For example, my surname is Oritsejafor. In the upland Yoruba, you will say Oritsa alright which you call an idol. In Itsekiri dialect we will say Oritse. Oritse means Oluwa (lord) The Almighty God. He is not referring to an idol. In most Itsekiri name, you will see Oritse. My surname is Oritse-jafor. Now if you follow it very well, oritse-ja-for, je – ka – fo (laughter). Now you are getting it. It’s a Yoruba word. It means the lord allows us to speak. When you first hear it, you won’t know it’s a Yoruba word. God has allowed me to speak, that’s what it simply means. So it’s a Yoruba word. My name is a Yoruba word.
· Why is this so important sir?
Yes, it is very important for the world to know who the Itsekiri are. They are Yoruba. For example, in the whole of the Niger – Delta, we are the only people that has the title the Olu of Warri. “Olu” is a Yoruba title. If you are not a Yoruba king, you can’t answer that kind of title. You will never see another Olu in the whole of the Niger Delta.
· The Portuguese have some connection with the Itsekiri as well, can you throw more light on this sir?
Yes, the Portuguese were so close to the Itsekiri, so close to the extent that the king of Portugal who lived in Lisbon, 15th, 16th century ago was so close to the Olu of Warri. That he asked the Olu to send his son to him. He sent his son to Lisbon and he lived in the king’s palace. You know the white man looked down on the black man in those days, the white man felt every black man was inferior to him, but they didn’t treat the Itsekiri that way. If you read some of the Portuguese writings about the Itsekiri, they will tell you how well cultured they were. You will read some things; you will be shocked. Now when the prince got there, this is where I am going to shock you with this. The first African graduate was an Itsekiri. He was this prince.
· He was a graduate?
Yes, he went to the university while he was in Lisbon. He was to have gone to a seminary to become a Catholic priest but he could not handle that because of women issues. So he had to go to a regular university and he got a degree. When he finished, when he was coming home, the crown that the Olu of Warri uses today was made by the king in Lisbon in the 16th century and he put a cross on it. He made two; one for the king and one for his wife, the Olori. You the upland Yoruba call it Olori, we call them Olori here too.
He gathered the bishops and they prayed for him. They told him to go and evangelize his people. He came home, his Portuguese name was Dondomingo. But his Itsekiri name was Atuwase I, Now Atuwase II just passed. He was the elder brother of the present Olu. He was my very good friend; we were very close. The first Atuwase, his Portuguese name was Dondomingo and we have a Dondomingo school here. It was named after him. The school is there today to immortalize him. The crown the Olu of Warri is wearing now, the Olus have been wearing it since the 16th century.
· It must have been made of Gold?
No, it was made of precious stones and cross. This shows the connection with Christianity. When the prince got back and later became the Olu, he came with a Portuguese wife. He was killed, they didn’t like his Portuguese wife. In the 16th century that’s why I am telling you that Itsekiri had the first contact with the white man in Nigeria. He had children with his white wife. You know time has changed now and they’ve become very dark. For example, that my father’s photograph, you can see he is not dark skinned like me. My mother was very, dark. Itsekiri language also have a very strong connection with Portuguese, For example, the Portuguese called shoes sebatu. That’s what the Itsekiri call it till date. So there are some words that entered the Itsekiri dialect from there but they still kept the language, they did not lose it. In the general Yoruba language, you call rice Iresi, in Itsekiri it is Eroso, which is more Portuguese than Italian. The word Gold in Itsekiri is called Oro which is of Portuguese and Italian origin. They have some Italian connection too but Portuguese mostly. Historically, our people were heavy slave traders. They became middlemen to the white men, selling slaves. At a point the Olu of Warri became too powerful for the white man. In fact, one of the Olu was exiled to Calabar. Chief Nana was exiled to Ghana by the British. He lived in Kumasi. The Ghanaian, the Efik and Cross River had some connections with the Itsekiri because the Olu was exiled there for many years.
· let’s talk about you now. (laughter)
These are the many things that fascinates me. It’s an insight into who we are as a people.
· When did you give your life to Christ?
I gave my life to Christ in 1972, I had an incredible encounter that changed my whole life. I stopped drugs, my family couldn’t believe what had happened to me. In fact, one of my uncles drove from here to Ogbomosho just to see me to be sure. They called me out of the class one day and they said, your uncle is looking for you. He used to be a police commissioner. He looked at me and said “is this you?” He cried and I cried myself. He said “you mean God can do this?” I was studying theology in Ogbomosho as a changed man. He said “you in a seminary? Studying Bible? Studying theology, how on earth?” It was just too much for him. That was a lesson for him that God can change anybody. It taught me something too. Till today I never give up on anybody, I learnt that in my own life.
If God didn’t give up on me and was still able to change a man like me, then I don’t think there is anybody God cannot change. He can change anybody. Sometimes you read the Bible and you don’t think that those things were things that happened. You know until you meet people that it actually happens to. I mean it happened to me. You wouldn’t believe this but some of my friends of those days were shot by firing squad.
You know in those days, you must be very young, in the military times, if you are caught in armed robbery, you are shot by firing squad. The first group that were killed in Warri here were my friends. That should tell you the kind of life I had lived as a youngster. God has a plan for me. I can’t ever explain how I escaped that period. So many times I have ended with Jesus preaching the Bible. And then became the leader of all Christians in Nigeria from that humble beginning. It’s hard to comprehend.
When I was growing up in Lagos, only Carter Bridge was there, we have all kinds of bridge now. There used to be a place close to the whole Kingsway. We had a place we called key side. I lived right there with all kinds of people.
Where you have all those bridges now. There was nothing like that. I am just trying to tell you how lost I was. I was totally lost. That God will take a man from the streets and show forth the glory in him, some times when I think about it, it’s hard for my mind to comprehend but it all happened to me.
· What are some of the experiences you had in CAN and PFN as president of both Organizations that you will like to share with us? And how do you think CAN and PFN can be more effective in the society?
There is a huge problem in Christianity today and it has been there. That problem is disunity. It’s a huge problem. It has been that way for them not just in Nigeria. Why? I just can’t explain. Across and around the world, that is what gave Islam an inroad into so many places. Do you know that Turkey was 100% Christian? It used to be called Constantinople. Today Christians in Turkey are 0.02. It’s now a Muslim nation and that 0.02 percent are under serious persecution. It’s horrible. Do you know that Egypt was a Christian nation for over 1,000 years before Islam got there? In fact, as that time, the Christians scholars, the most important city for studying scripture was Alexander in Egypt. It was the center of Christian study in the world at that time the pharaohs were not Arab. They were African for a thousand years Christianity thrived. What happened? Division, they were fighting each other, jealous of each other, all kind of petty squabbles’ and the Arab moved in.
· When you were CAN president I actually interviewed a man of God who spent half of the interview attacking you. It was obvious that he wished he was in your shoes and was very jealous.
That’s the problem. It was the problem even before then. We go on with disunity. I can’t sit here and condemn all Muslims. There are good people among them. They take advantage of our disunity and they still take advantage of it till today. Christians just refuse to come together. This is why it is so difficult to answer your question, what can be done to make these organizations better and be more effective and be more productive. The most difficult problem is disunity. If the church in Nigeria and all over the world can find unity, the church will become more effective, stronger and much more productive.
You know that hospital come through the church, schools came through the church. All the good things of life came through the church. So what happened? What happened in the church? It Is this, you are working for a way to pull me down and I am working for ways to pull you down. I am looking for your fault and you are looking for my faults. So we have no time to concentrate on doing things that will bring progress.
If we can put aside our differences and come together we can begin to concentrate on how we can improve the society and our lives, we can impact this nation much more. We bring in better things and greater things. One person may be Anglican the other person may be Pentecostal, who cares? The belief in Jesus that is the issue. If they can remember that something brings them together, make them one. When Boko Haram was killing people in the North, they don’t care which denomination you belong to, they will kill you all the same. They only need to know you are Christian that will be enough to kill you.
Jesus said, by this shall all men known that ye are my disciples if ye have love, one for another. If we don’t practice that we are fake disciples. If we are real disciples, we will love each other in spite of denominational differences. There is no perfect human being, there is only one perfect God. He is able to bring two imperfect people together. We all come to him with our imperfections. I will always have faults, you will always have fault, but God doesn’t have any faults. If we can put our eyes on him- and take our eyes from my fault and your faults, This world will become a paradise for all to live in.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by SmartPolician: 3:24pm On Oct 18|
This one long oh
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by helinues: 3:25pm On Oct 18|
What is this one saying?
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by VirginFinder: 3:25pm On Oct 18|
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:26pm On Oct 18|
Papa Ayo definitely knows the truth.
Sometimes I wonder what all these small children do argue here always.
So Ayo has now put all issues to rest.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by VirginFinder: 3:26pm On Oct 18|
What are you finding so difficult to understand
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Newman20: 3:26pm On Oct 18|
If you didnt fully read what the OP wrote please gather here.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by helinues: 3:27pm On Oct 18|
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:28pm On Oct 18|
Moreover Ayo is not your age mate to be referred to as this one.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by VirginFinder: 3:29pm On Oct 18|
Everything means nothing...
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by helinues: 3:29pm On Oct 18|
What is this one also saying?
What's your business with Nigeria matter?
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by gasparpisciotta: 3:31pm On Oct 18|
We are one big family after all
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Kaxmytex(m): 3:32pm On Oct 18|
Juliusmalema:it is disrespectful to just write ayo, why u no add daddy?
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:33pm On Oct 18|
helinues:There is nothing like Nigeria.
It is a misrepresentation and insults to us.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:35pm On Oct 18|
I have my own dad.
His name his Ayo and I am right addressing him as such.
if you are ones that leave your dad to call another person daddy then Sorry for you.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by CodeTemplar: 3:35pm On Oct 18|
They have elements of Yoruba in the language. That's all I can deduce.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by helinues: 3:36pm On Oct 18|
Are we not saying the same thing?
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:37pm On Oct 18|
There is nothing like Nigeria. It is a misrepresentation and insults to u
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by helinues: 3:37pm On Oct 18|
See as your hypocrisy has been displayed on same thread
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by OwenJesse27(m): 3:40pm On Oct 18|
Juliusmalema:Go mind your business leave Nigerian issue along for us ....xenophobia republic people
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Kaxmytex(m): 3:45pm On Oct 18|
pesin wey talk sey pesin no get respect, but the respect sef no dey hin post...
u no see hin mouth like "his name is ayo"... because the man no be ur church pastor abi...
u fit call ur pastor by hin name...
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:45pm On Oct 18|
Who are the nigerians. Nigeria that so many want to move and have their own country..
Just keep quiet.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:46pm On Oct 18|
Yes because I am not hypocrite.
You are a full Yoruba.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Guestlander: 3:52pm On Oct 18|
There was a friend of mine his last name was Airiri. One day I asked him the meaning of his name, he laughed and said it means something that has never been seen before.
I told him that is exactly what it means in Yoruba. I believe the Itshekiri language is just another dialect of Yoruba.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by OwenJesse27(m): 3:55pm On Oct 18|
Juliusmalema:Leave us alone go to ur xenophobia republic.... Nonsense
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 3:59pm On Oct 18|
Allow those who wants to leave to go and form their own country.
Why holding them down in your dead Nigeria.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by OwenJesse27(m): 4:19pm On Oct 18|
Juliusmalema:Fool....am from the south ...your really a fool at ur age ....wicked south Africans killing fellow Africans and worshipping ur white people .....xenophobias
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Juliusmalema: 4:27pm On Oct 18|
How you coming from south my business?
Who asked you or who cares where you from?
Who knows you?
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by 1Sharon(f): 4:44pm On Oct 18|
He can go and suck a diсk
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Truvel(m): 5:14pm On Oct 18|
I Don't Doubt D Fact Cuz, D Name Itshekiri Has Similar Meaning In Yoruba. And Itshekiri People Do Bear Yoruba Names Like Alero, Bidemi Etc.
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by AkinwaleJJ: 5:30pm On Oct 18|
|Re: Itshekiri Are Yorubas And Benin Kingship Is Yoruba- Ayo Oritsejafor by Bodexman(m): 6:31pm On Oct 18|
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