The Staff of Oranmiya or Opa Oranmiyan as the locals often call it is a legendary staff which was installed by Oranmiyan, the son of Oduduwa who is the progenitor of the Yoruba race. The legendary Oranmiyan Staff was installed many centuries ago remain intact and has maintained its size and shape for centuries.
The staff which has now become a popular tourist attraction in Ile has an amazing story behind it.
Who is Oranmiyan?
Firstly, you may be wondering who is Oranmiyan and why the big deal about a staff. Oranmiyan was a Yoruba prince, who later became the sixth King of Ile Ife. Ile Ife is the home of the Yoruba people, it is the place where the Yoruba race started.
The Legendary Oranmiyan is the last born of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race. Though he was the last son, he became the heir to the throne. He played a remarkable and significant role in the history of Yoruba and its neighbouring cities. His reign was felt in from Ile Ife to the Benin kingdom, down to Ibadan, Ilorin and Benin Republic.
He was a strong warrior, he invaded Benin and was crowned the first Oba of Benin, Oranmioyan left Ile Ife and founded the Oyo Empire where again he became the first Alaafin of Oyo.
Man of Two Fathers
According to legend, Oranmiyan had two fathers, Oduduwa and Ogun. His mother’s name is Lakange Anihunka, she was a slave captured by Ogun during one of his battles. Her beauty, however, led to Oduduwa and Ogun having a sexual relationship with her. She produced a son who was said to be two-toned, half of his body was light skin just like that of Ogun and the other half was dark-skinned like that of Oduduwa. This was the origin of his name Oranmiyan which means the child has chosen to be controversial. Truly, he became very controversial.
Oranmiyan is also known as Oranyan, he also bears Odede which means a great hunter. Just like his fathers, he was a hunter and a warrior. He was so powerful that he led the first military formation in Ile Ife. No wonder he was the first Odole Oduduwa (The youth of the house of Oduduwa) and the first Akogun of Ife due to his battle skills.
He was A Warrior
During the earliest cold war that happened within the Ile Ife region, Oranmiyan and his trained warrior was sent by the fouth Ooni of Ife Obalufon Ogbogbodirin, to invade Igodomigodo (Now Benin City) with the son of Ogun named Okanbi. This expenditure was supposed to be a death trap for Oranmiyan and Okanbi to allow the reigning King to rule in peace. This was because Oranmiyan is known to be very troublesome and notorious. Oranmiyan accepted the task, he invaded, attacked, conquered and subdued Igodomigodo with his armies. He camped with his men at a place called Use which means making of a city.
Oranmiyan – The First King of Benin
Upon conquering the city, he decided to be King, he became the first Oba of Benin. His foreign style of rulership didn’t go well with the people of Igodomigodo and they started spying on him with the plan of killing him. Oranmiyan got to know about their plans, this didn’t go well with him. He felt only an indigene of Igodomigodo can successfully rule these people. Therefore, he decided to leave the city and he named the place Ile Ibinu that is, the land of anger. Over time Ile Ibinu became Ibini and which was corrupted and converted to Benin by the Portuguese who couldn’t pronounce Ibini. Before leaving Ile Ibinu, he went to Egor where he took the beautiful daughter of the Chief Enogie of Egor as a wife. The union produced a boy names Eweka.
Due to the issues in Benin, Oranmiyan continued his expenditure and he never returned to Benin. His son, Eweka became the second king of Benin Kingdom. Because Oranmiyan was the product of a god, this is why the King of Benin is known as the god-king and the belief still holds till date.
Oranmiyan became so powerful as his army grew so large, he went north which is now the present Oyo State. He founded the Oyo Empire and named it Oyo Ile. He went to war with his neighbouring town and conquered them. Then took the daughter of the King of Tapa as a wife.
Oranmiyan went as far as Ilorin down to Ogun River, Osun and even to Dahomey, the present Benin Republic (Benin republic is a country different from Benin State).
The Legendary Oranmiyan staff
The Oranmiyan staff is about 18 feet tall, it is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. This is due to the history, story and the myth surrounding the Oranmiyan Staff. Oranmiyan played a vital role in connecting Ile Ife to Benin and the Oyo empire. He was a great traveller, a warrior who loves taking territories.
After his so many conquests, he came back to Ile Ife and told the reigning King is he back to take the position of his fathers. He told the incumbent King that he wants to rule. Because he was a powerful warrior, the incumbent King had to leave to another town. He was highly feared because he was a warrior. After so many years of peaceful reign, he decided to go on another journey. Oranmiyan promised if they ever needed him they should make some incantations and he would come back. He was gone for a long time and the people expected him to come back. He never showed up.
Then the enemies heard of his absence. Ile Ife got attacked. The people of Ife decided to cry out to him. Just like he promised, he came from nowhere and was attacking everything on its path. With his sword, he unleashed so much terror that he killed the invading army and some of his people, including his best friend. Seeing what he had done, he got depressed and couldn’t help it. Legend has it that in anger, he hits the sword on the ground and rode his horse away never to be seen again. The place where he hits the sword into the ground became the Oranmiyan staff that we all see today.
Over time the place has become sacred ground and a tourist attraction. All newly crowned King must visit this location to get their staff of office.
Another claimed the staff was made on the location where he was buried by his family.
Location of the Staff of Oranmiyan
The staff of Oranmiyan is located at Oroto street, Mopa Ile Ife.
This place opens from Monday to Sundays between 8 am to 5 pm.
Facts About the Staff of Oranmiyan
- The Staff is about 5.27 metres high about 18 feet high
- The staff is made of granite and iron studs used to make some inscription
- It is located at Mopa Area, Arubidi Ile Ife
- It the place where a new King received his staff of office