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Why Tourists Can’t Touch Oranmiyan Staff in Ile -Ife

By Sodiq Lawal

Ile-Ife is an ancient city with many historical records of culture and tradition. One of the top attractions in Ile-Ife is the Oranmiyan Staff (Opa Oranmiyan).

The staff is above 18 feet and has some intricate designs on it. It has myth, history and culture around it. It is a must-see for tourists.

The Oranmiyan Staff can be seen at the Oranmiyan Shrine at the Arubidi quarter of Ile-Ife. Although certain traditional rites are performed there, but there are some parts of the shrine that could only be accessed by the initiates.

On entering the shrine, the staff could be seen just about 40 feet away.

It has a square shaped elevated demarcation made with stones. From atop the demarcation, there are three steps to walk down and get to the staff. It is further demarcated by a metal chain.

The base of staff is covered with white clothes. On the left is a small grove with tall trees shielding it from visitors, behind the staff will lead to the inner sanctum said to be for only the initiates.

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The Oranmiyan obelisk is hundreds of years old and has history behind.

Opa Oranmiyan symbolizes the essence of Ile Ife, first as the traditional source of the Yoruba people because Oranmiyan is a descendant of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race.

He was the grandson of Oduduwa. As at the time the other Yoruba towns were being established, Oranmiyan played a prominent role in the establishment of traditional rulership in these new locations in Yorubaland.

It was Oranmiyan that established dynasties in Benin and Oyo. Benin was first before Oyo.

Although the Oranmiyan staff is said to have been used by Oranmiyan, the round obelisk does not look a Staff a human being could carry.

Oranmiyan was a great warrior and he had a sword. At the point of his death, he dropped the sword and it transformed into the staff as we see it today.

The marks you see on it are letters that some scholars said have close relationship with Greet letters.

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Although tourists to the shrine are allowed to stand at the elevated demarcation and take pictures, but they are not allowed to go near and touch the obelisk.

According to the guard of the shrine, Mr Lawrence Omidiora, the obelisk still has strong supernatural powers and it is a belief that the staff is a Living soul and must be appeased. That is why members of the two families, Eredumi and Akogun, are involved in its worship up till today.

In the period of the inter-tribal wars, the staff was always consulted before wars and the power from the staff helped to secure victories over enemies,” he said.

Despite its age and history, the staff still plays an important role in the installation of traditional rulers of some towns and cities.

He said: “Before some kings are installed, the sword of office for each of these kings must be removed from the the Oranmiyan Shrine and given to them.”

Also, according to the guide, the Oranmiyan Staff plays a role in the installation of a new Ooni of Ife since the staff, an embodiment of not just the spirit of Oranmiyan, but of all the other Ooni that had ruled Ile-Ife.

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The guide further said: “The attributes of Oranmiyan must be embraced by the Ooni. He needs these to effectively function.

“Some of these attributes are within the shrine and with the staff of Oranmiyan. So it is important for a person ascending the throne of Ooni to be familiar with the shrine and staff