Prince Ekaladerhan of Bini, popularly known as Oduduwa, is touted as the father of the famous Yoruba race but that exemplifying trait he wields does not overshadow the many controversies that have characterized his original place of origin.
Oduduwa is believed to have entered Yoruba life about 900 years ago. According to early historians, Oduduwa was an exiled prince of a foreign people who left his homeland with a retinue and journeyed south, subsequently settling among the aboriginal Yoruba at some point in the 12th century.
Oduduwa is said to have brought the Yoruba religion with him when he came. This faith system was so important to him and his followers that it is said to have been the cause of their exodus in the first place.
Historical accounts say that the time and length of his reign are not certain but the Oduduwa is believed to be as old as time itself.
Oduduwa was not only the first ruler of a unified Ife, but also the progenitor of various independent royal dynasties in Yorubaland, and is today venerated as “the hero, the warrior, the leader, and father of the Yoruba race”.
Oduduwa had only one son whose name was ‘OKANBI’ alias ‘Idekoserake’. Okanbi, in turn, gave birth to seven children: the first of them being two princesses after which came five princes.
The location of Oduduwa’s land of origin is a matter of some debate. The popular opinions of a number of the Yoruba claim that he was a prince of Mecca. It was supposedly the persecution of the Muslim elite of the city that caused him and his fellow animists to leave Arabia.
However, there is another school of thought among some Yoruba historians claiming that Oduduwa came from the East. These Yoruba historians are more specific and claim that Oduduwa first settled on a hill East of the valley over-looking the native Yoruba settlements.
Bini would appear to be more East of Yorubaland than any Arabian country.
Either way, it is now considered a historical fact that Oduduwa and his fellow settlers were outsiders from elsewhere that were absorbed by the aborigines of Ife.
Through war lasting many years, Oduduwa was able to defeat the forces of the 13 indigenous communities of Ife led by Obatala (the powerful and sweetest god) and formed these communities into a single Ife state.
He held the praise names Olofin Adimula, Olofin Aye and Olufe. Since he is held by the Yoruba to have been the ancestor of their numerous crowned kings, his name, phonetically written by Yoruba language-speakers as Odùduwà and sometimes contracted as Ooduwa, Odudua or Oòdua, is generally ascribed to the ancestral dynasties of Yorubaland.
Following his posthumous deification, he was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name, historical accounts state.