Like twin infants exchanged in their cots in a maternity ward at birth, groups of ethnic nationalities in my African country act like strangers to one another. Whereas, if they were a bit more careful, they would know that there is a supernatural bond of common patrilineal ancestry tying them together. If they had carefully studied these so-called strangers’ family pedigrees, their peculiar animal totems and traces of lexical commonalities between their two languages, they would have probably fathomed that they and the strangers descend from a common ancestor. Truth be told, our multiple ethnicities are inter-connected by history, culture and, sometimes, language, as this post attempts to explain.
Kwararafa Multi-Ethnic Confederacy (1500 – 1657)
Africa is central to the story of mankind, as evidenced by the marvels of its antiquity and evolutionary movement – from Ape Man to homo sapiens. Most mystifying is the sheer cognitive capacity of its earliest intelligentsia that powered the foundational knowledge upon which the building of the pyramids was anchored. In our quest for Igala origins, it appears the scope of investigation has been limited as it did not involve other ethnic groups that shared a past with the Igalaa in ancient and medieval times. It is becoming increasingly clear that Igala ancestors were an integral part of the maelstrom of migratory movements that took place in that epoch. These stories of migration have, more or less, opened our eyes to the web of relationships that socialization fostered in the simple but amazing world of our ancestors, from the era of the Ape Man till date
War, Diplomacy and Trade
In the medieval time, between A.D. 1300 and 1600, there existed a large confederation of traditional ethnicities under the collective name of ‘Kòróròfá Empire,’ (corrupted in Hausa language as ‘Kwàráràfá’). The empire was ‘peripatetic,’ as it was always on the move, warring and changing capitals from the Sudanic zone to the Benue Basin. Robert Arthur Sargent’s Economics, Politics and Social Change in Benue Basin: 1300 – 1700 (1984), recounts the story of Àbùtù Ẹ̀jẹ̀, the “leader of the Leopard (Igala) community,” a component of the confederacy. From this account, we are able to know more about this popular figure who had earlier been represented as a Jukun noble man who came to Ídá with his family and later founded the ruling Third dynasty. Àbùtù Ẹ̀jẹ̀’s biography is a story for another day.
Migration of the Yoruba and its Kindred Out of Egypt
Many historians are unanimous in the claim that a good number of Nigerian language groups came from Ancient Egypt. According to Olomu and Eyebira (2007), the Yoruba might have left Egypt between 639 and 646 A.D. Similarly, Professor Gabriel Audu Oyibo, an Igala scholar of repute, believes that Igala ancestors had travelled alongside the Yoruba group on the migratory journey from southern Egypt, where they lived on the banks of River Nile. Igala oral tradition, supporting Oyibo’s tradition, has it that both groups separated at Ìfẹ̀ District in the present-day Ọ̀málá Local Government Area, north of the Igala Kingdom. They Yoruba refugees were further said to have rested, thereafter, at another riverine village, also called Ìfẹ̀, in Biraidù District, north-west of the kingdom. They continued their movement to Ílé Ìfẹ̀, which, eventually, became the cradle of the Yoruba race. The date of the Igala-Yoruba separation is put at about 2000 years ago; while the Idoma were said to have separated from the Yoruba around 6000 years ago.
Linguistic Link to Ancient Egypt
It is no longer news that the Ígáláà, Yorùbá and Ìtshẹ̀kírí are kindred languages; hence, the trio are categorized in the Yoruboid sub-group of the Kwa language family. One of the factors establishing the Egyptian origins of the Yoruboid languages is linguistic similarities between them and Ancient Egyptian language, as shown in the examples below:
Similarities Between Ancient Egyptian and Yoruboid Languages
Stunning Research Revelations
Professor Catherine Obianuju Acholonu, a Semantics Scholar and Director/Proprietor of Catherine Acholonu International Research Centre, Abuja, was at the vanguard of investigations into the global migration and origins phenomena. One of the findings of the 21-year-long research undertaken by the Centre was that, migrations were not into but, rather, out of Sumer, located on the River Niger in West Africa. In the author’s estimation, the research offers “a better understanding of Nigeria’s early history, through the myth of origins and legends of its various tribes, while helping the people to reclaim their ancient heritage in the global historical context.”
Sumer’s Indigenous Ancestral Base
In her publication, titled: Eden in Sumer on the Niger: Origins of the Arians of Eri-land, Hebrews, Moors and Vedic Indians (2012), Acholonu points out O. E. Erim’s treatise, “Traditions of Origins of the Idoma-Yala People (Alagoa, 1990), which claims that “the Yoruba, Benin, Igbo, Idoma, Yala, Igala, Edo and other smaller tribes were all descendants of a common ancestor. The author identifies the ‘common ancestor’ as an influential king called Iduu Eri, described as “the putative ancestor of all Kwa-speaking peoples of West Africa, including the Ashanti, Akan and Ga of Ghana.” The word, ‘ídúù,’ in Igala language, means ‘wealth or fortune,’ while ‘éri’ is an archaism for ‘elephant.’
The research also revealed that there was a “consistent and conclusive evidence that Sumer was an ancient Nigerian Kwa civilization, with some of its cities located in the Jos plateau, the Niger Delta, Yorubaland, Benin and Igboland.” It further asserts that “Most of the ancient cities of Nigeria, such as Borno, Kano, Oyo, Benin, Igbo Ukwu, Calabar were surviving cities of Sumer.” The author alludes to a “Nubian,” from Sub-Saharan Africa, who, in 100 B.C., had gone north, conquered the ancient Egypt and annexed it to his kingdom in the south, adding that “That man was called Menes…and that that Menes might, in fact, have hailed from the ancient Nigerian throne-house of Iduu Eri, in Igbo land – the single ancestral base of the Kwa family of West African tribes.”
Ape-Men of Darwin’s Evolution Acholonu’s book further revealed that, in June, 2012, Sidney Louis Davis, a US ex-Marine, Judaic Scholar and Fellow of the Acholonu Research Centre, carried out a scientific examination of stone rubbings on ancient stone inscriptions etched on monoliths in Ikom (pronounced /Í-kọ́m/) in Cross River State, Nigeria. The examination “surprisingly revealed that the anthropomorphic features on the carved stones were not of humans, but those of Apes and Ape-men! These rubbings leave no doubt that these were the very Apes of Darwin’s Evolution – the primeval ancestors of humankind!\
Hausa and Yoruba Links to Egypt! Through Professor Acholonu, we also learn that a notable Muslim Scholar and researcher, Laoualu Yahaya from Niger Republic, has been on a research to establish linguistic connections between Hausa language and culture and those of ancient Egyptians. Similarly, according to Olomu and Eyebira (2007), “a host of Yoruba scholars have successfully demonstrated Yoruba cultural, religious and linguistic links with ancient Egypt.” This information, more or less, suggests that both the Hausa and the Yoruboid groups (Yoruba, Igala and Itshekiri) might, indeed, share common roots in ancient Egypt. Kwararafan Successor States
In the 17th Century, a number of successor kingdoms sprouted from the ashes of Kwararafa multi-ethnic confederacy, including those in Igala, Jukun, Doma, Awka, Nri, Ugboju, Idoma, Egede and others. We have also come to know that, once upon a time, there were prehistoric Nigerians who bequeathed so much to us in terms of the language, customs and traditions as well as the core values that we cherish and underline our common humanity.
Observance of Sound Principles and Moral Universals
Igala traditionalists believe that when a man or woman dies, he or she reincarnates into the family of a kinsman, in form of a newborn baby as its personal god, ọ́jọ́, a kind of spiritual guardian for the child, watching over its growth. Observance of these moral universals by the Modern Man, on the one hand, and adopting the Kwararafa’s sound principles of administration and egalitarianism, which is the only way to bring about unity, peace and progress in pluralistic African countries like Nigeria.