Friday, 16 September 2016


Scientific History
A closer look into Yoruba-Igbo Linguistic Relations Using Scientific Parameters

Yoruba and Igbo belong to the same Niger-Congo group of languages, which separates them from the Afro-Asiatic and the Nilo-Saharan languages (Wikipedia encyclopedia online and chambers encyclopedia online). The huge Niger-Congo is further subdivided into the Kwa – here belongs ethnics like Ijaw, Yoruba, Idoma, Igala, Igbo etc (Adejubee & Kammelu 2014).
Who are the Igbo?
The Wikipedia encyclopedia defines Igbo as both the people and the language of those who speak Igbo. They are found in South-Eastern Nigeria and they form a minority in Equatorial Guinea. Some groups – Ika, Ikwere and Ogba(Rivers State) are sometimes considered a dialect of Igbo , sometimes they are considered as Igboid(Igbolike) rather than Igbo. Ekpeye in Rivers state is the most distant of those dialects or languages.
Who are the Yoruba?
Wikipedia says “Yoruba (English pronunciation: /ˈjɒrʊbə/;[3] Yor. èdè Yorùbá) is a language spoken in West Africa, mainly in Nigeria. The number of speakers of Yoruba is approaching 65 million. It is a pluricentric language spoken principally in Benin and Nigeria, with communities in other parts of Africa, the Americas, and Europe. A variety of the language, Lucumi, is the liturgical language of the Santería religion of the Caribbean. Many Yoruba words are used in the African-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé. Yoruba is most closely related to the Itsekiri language (spoken in the Niger Delta) and to Igala (spoken in central Nigeria)”. Yoruba, Isekiri, Igala form the Yoruboid cluster of languages.
Similarity of Yoruba and Igbo languages can be seen clearly from the selected words on the table

Stretch out
Tear apart
To know
Olise , Orise some dialects
Metal gong

Source inspiration
Bolaji Aremo How Yoruba and Igbo became separate languages (2009).Ibadan: Scribo Publications ; Honsbira and St.Ifa2008

The linguistic similarity between Yoruba and Igbo will pose many questions. Are Igbo from Yoruba? Do Yoruba descend from Igbo? Did one group colonise the other in antiquity? Moribund oral traditions will not be used to determine these questions. Any group can easily form traditions and use that as bases for their claims. There are many such traditions making the round for non-scientific readers, but as we say, we will only place our claims on what is totally scientific. Our claims will be based on purely scientific perspectives – linguistic analyses, archaeological findings, DNA mapping, demographic shifts and mapping etc.
Linguistic Analyses
Language contact in prehistory
It is evident that as both people are Kwa language speakers, their language pattern are related from antiquity. Some words that are similar in Yoruba and Igbo languages are words that are not easily transferable. They belong to the eternal syntactic symbols that are in every language; a good example is imi and imu(o) nose, kini , ogini (what)  in both languages, these words seem to be words that would have evolved by the people as they leave the Niger-Benue confluence area . The confluence area is seen as the separation place of most Kwa speaking people (Obayemi 1977). Some of these words, however, when looked at from the etymological and morphological levels will reveal that proto-Yoruboid or what has now become proto-Yoruba-Isekiri-Igala(PYIG)(Omamor 1988) reached the present Igbo area and made a colony(ies) in the area. Let us pick a word that belong to the eternal syntactic symbol used by both Igbo-Yoruba for God – Orise, with its variants(olise, Oyise, Orise, Osa) – in both languages . Bolaji Idowu(1980) gives the meaning of Orise(head source – ori (head) se (source of creation, or to create). In the Igbo dialects – mostly Western and Northern towards Igala – we find the Igbo using this word. These border the Yoruboid of Igala and have intrants of Ogugu, Iyenghele and Olukumi. The story of a ritual man like Nri who was of Igala origin goes a long way to authenticate the claims of colonization. The identical word for a god in these languages, have no morphological rendition in any Igbo dialect. The simple meaning of this is a ritual man such as the first Eze Nri migrated from a region with the Yoruboid language – Igala in this instance, or proto-Yoruboid – and came to a core speaking Igbo area. This ritual man must have introduced many loan words, but definitely since he was mostly a religious leader, the word for the divine essence will remain in his language.
Language contact in historical period
In historical period, there seems to be more language contact. If the tale of Eze Chima(Orisema?) and the Benin emigration is taken as a basis for our work, then many things will come into view. Eze Chima from all sources left Benin in the Eweka dynasty; perhaps after the reign of Esigie in 1516AD (Egharevba 1948) .Isichei believes the Ogbaru left Benin during the upheaval in Benin between the late 16th century and the early 17th centuries. It is important to warn here that migration theories should be taken with a pinch of salt. The Igbo of Ogbaru stock are not Bini, neither are they Yoruba, but a few elitist group from Benin(or Isekiri) must have come there in antiquity, or even a movement of ideas without really a transference of personnel was possible (Obayemi 1977).   When the Eweka period was established in Benin till 1897, when the last independent king of Benin ruled, Yoruba was the court language of the Oba of Benin. If that is taken cognizance of and if we consider the spread of Benin in the Igbo area , especially the Ogbaru group – Aboh, Onitsha, Osomari, Oguta, Asaba, Aguleri(Ifediora 1999) – we might come to understand some of the preponderance of words which are cognate in Yoruba and Igbo languages especially in this area.  The Ogbaru dialects have many chieftaincy titles from Benin – Ologbosere, Iyasere, Uwangue, Oliha, Ezomo etc. A more thorough study of the Ogbaru dialects will show that they are more Yoruba than Benin. Perhaps the nearness of Isekiri to these states and the rise of the Isekiri state were instrumental in the formation of their languages in historic times. Isekiri is a Yoruboid and their influence through trade and religious contact would have reached these regions.  Now compare Onitsha dialect and Isekiri
Give birth
Blow away/go away
To know

Some sentences are cognates:
E.g. Egho oyingbo ada ni ale (Onitsha).
Ogho Igbo e da nale (Isekiri).
Ogho Igbo e da si ile (Ilaje).
Ogho ibo ko da sile (CY).
The money of an Igbo doesn’t fall.
A cognate proverb in all the languages.

The story goes further with the Aboh dialect
Age group
O tu
O tu
Group of chiefs/youth

Old men/authority
Source Ifediora 1999
Warri (Isekiri) rose to a kingdom in 1480 and the Ogbaru groups got their kings from Benin between the late 16th and early 17th centuries(Isichei) . Thus these languages could have moved from Isekiri to Aboh and to Onitsha. Alagoa 1977,1989, Talbot 1926, Roth1903 etc mention Aboh and Warri as the only two kingdoms in the Niger delta region, thus they are most likely having cultural exchanges among themselves than they had with the circumjacent mini states in the area . The Ogbaru people – Onitsha and and Aboh , more precisely – have more cultural contact to Isekiri than to Benin. They use the same wrapper which was introduced by the Isekiri Kingsley 1898, Eve 1976). They use catafalque (Agban) for burial. These practices are definitely not Bini. The word for prostitute (Igbiraja) in Igbo has no morphemes. But when you come to Isekiri the morpheme is clear – one who carries her wares about the town – igbe re aja (Igbe  = carrying, re = go/round; aja = town); in South East Yoruba (SEY) it is ( Igbe = carry , re =go or round, oja= town ). The south East Yoruba include – Ilaje, Ikale, Owo, Ondo, Apoi(claiming a Ijaw origin)etc.  It is clear.
Archaeological Findings
Both Yoruba and Igbo have demonstrated some important archaeological findings. Bronze materials have been seen in both places. Ife and Igbo-Ukwu are great examples (Shaw 1965, 1977). The oldest human from Nigerian geopolity was discovered in Iwo-Ileru(about 15000 years ago) in Yoruba land near Akure. No such thing was discovered in Igbo land. The oldest mines were discovered in Igbo land, Opi near Lejja in Nsukka 1445-2005 BC. Iron mines are also discovered in the Igala periphery down to the North-East of Yoruba land in great antiquity also, but not as ancient as those of Lejja.(Obayemi 1977).  It is important to note that the Igbo of today have no oral tradition or cult of worship for the mines in their area. The scientists who made the discovery then concluded that strangers rather than the present Igbo living there made the invention (Ikechukwu Okpoko2011; Obatala 2010). Where could the iron workers come from? They came from Proto-Yoruboid, of course. Since it lay in the borderline between Igala and Igbo, it would be logically to imagine that proto-Yoruboid penetrated that area deep in antiquity. Even in historic times, many people have been displaced from their original homes. The Yoruba for example bordered and lived in most towns that Nupe are now occupying along the Niger River (Alagoa 1977; Obayemi 1977). So, it is not unthinkable that proto-Yoruba penetrated the Opi –Lejja district in ancient times. The cult of iron (Ogun) is still highly venerated in Yoruba. The Yoruba iron mines have traditions for their iron mining industry. They still venerate an iron god, so also the Igala. This, unfortunately is absent among the Igbo.

Proto Yoruba and the Igbo flank.

Proto Yoruba began separating from each other some 2000 years ago. Before this time they had developed the art of iron mining which spread along the confluence and to areas around Nsukka (Opi near Lejja) about 4500 years old, the oldest iron mines so far discovered on earth (Obatala 2010). To show that the present inhabitants of Opi are different  from the ancient miners, there are two archaeological layers separated by thousands of years. The present inhabitants also have no knowledge or any tradition concerning the ancient mines. (Obatala 2010) Yet the mining industry is a run-on process into Igala, Yoruba, Kabba in the area of the confluence. In all these places there is indication of strong knowledge orally transmitted about the mining complex. To cap it all, there is evidence of the god of the smithies (Ogun) as a major deity, corresponding to the ubiquitous mines in these areas (Obayemi 1977). This will indicate that the area of the mines was first inhabited by the proto-Yoruba. Some disaster of magnified proportion must have happened, at the low end of the archaeological time scale – perhaps famine, war, epidemic etc – which would have made the miners to flee back towards the confluence, where the mining industry continued a little later when the ore was again discovered. Iron working reached other Igbo areas much more later, but it continued in a constant flow in the Igala-Yoruba areas along the confluence bordering Opi-Lejja, which shows the owners of the ancient mines went north, not south.

DNA mapping
The MILA of Yoruba shows them to be pure Negroes. The MILA of Igbo is similar to that of Efik-Ibibio. The Ibibio are clearly semi-bantuid with a Bantuid language (Olubunmi2007).Olubunmi (2007) shows that The Centre for blood research , Harvard Medical School , Boston , USA,  that there is  MILA  HLA-B haplotypic variation between Yoruba and Igbo; on the other hand,  the MILA  allele and HLA-B- MILA frequency and CD (chord distance of allele)in Efik and Igbo are similar. The Efiks are pure Bantuid.      Igbo have a Kwa tongue with a Bantu blood line. This bloodline shows they are now speaking the language of a stranger Kwa element. The blood work shows clearly that the Igbo (Bantuid) are speaking an alien language of the Kwa group to which Yoruba belong. This is evidence of colonization. Yoruba or Yoruboid colonized Igbo in prehistory, at a time when language was still forming.
Demographic shift and configuration
There are many Yoruboid groups in Igbo land – Ogugu – spoken in Eastern Kogi State, Northern Enugu State, Uzo Uwani, Igbo Eze North, Nsukka Local Government Areas; Olukumi: these are Isolated within Edoid languages in Edo and Delta states, and some Igbo areas in  Oshimili North and Esan South-East Local government Areas.  There is no single Igboid language in Yoruba land. This could mean when some Yoruboid colonialists came to Igbo land, most of them are absorbed by the Igbo but a few are left in their original form, with their original Yoruboid languages. Olukumi is very similar to Isekiri (Manfredi 2005)
Religion Ifa(Afa)
Ifa (Afa) oracle exists among the Igbo and also among the Yoruba. The oldest Yoruba archaeological finding Igbale Aiye had the art impression of the Ifa oracle. IgbaleAiye is about 450000 years old(Amosun, Aregbesola, Soyinka visit 450,000-year old Igbale Aiye (origin of mankind)
Read more at:

. The archaeology of Iwo-Ileru also shows signs of the Odus of Ifa. Iwo-Ileru is about 15000years old. These archaeological finds clearly show that the Igbo copied Afa from Yoruba. There is no old archaeological find about Ifa(Afa) in Igbo. There is no known religious founder like Orunmila (Yoruban Christ) found in their mysticism or mythologies, there are no beautiful poems like in Yoruba (Manfredi2005). These points clearly show that the Igbo got Afa from Yoruba – more likely Isekiri – through the Isekiri – Ogbaru relations from late 16th centuries and early 17th centuries (Honsbira and St.Ifa 2008)
A clear look at genetics, archeology, linguistic consideration, shows that Yoruba or Yoruboid are the colonizers of Igbo land in antiquity.
Bolaji Aremo How Yoruba and Igbo became separate languages (2009).Ibadan: Scribo Publications
Ikechukwu Okpoko. A. “early metal using communities in West Africa in “foundations of civilization in Tropical Africa: special Book issue of West Africa Journal of Archaeology” “Eds” Bassey W. Andah and A. Ikechukwu Okpoko).

Elizabeth Isichei(1973) The Ibo people and the Europeans : The Genesis of a relationship till 1906. London: Faber and Faber Ltd.
Obatala J. K. (2010) Excavation Africa’s Golden Era: “The Guardian Nigeria January 24th 2010.

Ifediora I. T. (1999) The Western Niger Delta to 1900: Society, Polity and Economy. Warri: COEW

Amosun, Aregbesola, Soyinka visit 450,000-year old Igbale Aiye (origin of mankind)
Read more at:

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Augustine Oritseweyinmi Oghanrandukun Olomu (St.Ifa)