IFE BRONZES OR NUPE BRONZES?
The entire world have been deceived into believing that the so-called Ife bronzes and Ife terracotta were made by the Yoruba people and the people of Ile Ife in particular. But that is far from the truth.
The truth is that the so-called Ife bronzes and Ife terracotta were actually made by Nupe people and not by the Yoruba people.
Right from the beginning investigators into the matter immediately realised that two major problems stand against the claim that the so-called Ife figurines (bronzes, brass or terraccota) were made by the Yoruba people.
The first is that Yoruba culture in general and Ile Ife traditions in particular are completely unaware of these so-called Ife figurines.
The second, and more formidably, is the fact that these so-called Ife figurines were immediately proved by scientific investigations to be far older than the entire Yoruba civilisation itself.
First it was Professor Leo Frobenius who was shocked at the ease with which the Yoruba chiefs and kings were so ready to part with the so-called Ife figurines for gifts as inconsequential as a worthless bottle of wine.
If the Yoruba chiefs, kings and their oracles knew the real values of the Ife figurines they wouldn’t have exchanged them for bottle of wines from an European scholar.
In fact C.H. Elgee, who was among the first Europeans to discover the so-called Ife figurines, immediately realised that the Yorubas knew nothing about these figurines that were discovered among them.
The Yoruba traditions did not mention any bronze-casting or terracotta-making culture as integral to the Yoruba identity. Oduduwa, Obatala, Oranmiyan, Shango, etc, etc – none of the eponymous founders of the Yoruba was ever associated with bronze-casting or terracotta-making.
In his scholarly write-ups Professor Frank Willet remonstrated that the Yoruba people do not know and cannot explain the origin of the so-called Ife figurines that are found among the Yorubas today.
Then Professor Alan Ryder came up with his scholarly exposition to the effect that the so-called Ife figurines (from the bronzes to the terracotta) were definitely not made by the people of Ile Ife or by the Yoruba people for that matter.
Professor Alan Ryder, at that powerful 1962 lecture at the University of Ibadan, declared to the Nigerian academia and the world in general that the so-called Ife Bronzes were not made by the people of Ile Ife or the Yoruba people in general.
Professor Alan Ryder, an indubitable authority of world renown, demonstrated that Ile Ife never had, in the past and in the present, any tradition or culture of bronze or brass casting and Ile Ife is therefore not the producer of the so-called Ife bronzes.
Professor Alan Ryder then furnished Ile Ife traditions narrating how the people of Ile Ife actually arrive Ile Ife and settled there simply because they found cache of figurines abandoned by an earlier people in spiritual or shrine grooves in the forests.
And that led to the more weighty issue of the fact that scientific methodologies have been used to conclusively demonstrate the fact that the so-called Ife figurines actually predated the foundations of the city of Ile Ife.
Professor Frank Willet conducted a series of radio-carbon dating investigations that revealed that the so-called Ife bronzes and terracotta are actually far older than the foundations of the city of Ile Ife.
In fact the date of the so-called Ife figurines actually predated the emergence of the entire Yoruba race.
Professor Milan Kalous and Annemarie Hefel, among many others, have also conducted radio carbon datings and other scientific investigations that show that the so-called Ife bronzes are far older than Ile Ife and other Yoruba settlements of today’s southwest Nigeria.
These so-called Ife bronzes and Ife terracotta were actually made outside Yorubaland and were brought into Yorubaland by an earlier race of people traced by Professor Alan Ryder, and many others, back to the Nupe people on the Niger-Benue Confluence and the KinNupe general area.
Professor Alan Ryder readily pointed out that the Nupe traditions of origin recorded by Professor S.F. Nadel and others categorically emphasised that the tradition of bronze-casting was the leading cultural value that Tsudi (or Tsoede) taught his Nupe people.
In fact the Nupe traditions maintain, to this very day, that everything about Tsudi or Tsoede was centred on bronze-casting and terracotta figurines. The Tsudi regalia, with which his half-brothers pursued him across the River Niger, were all brass and bronze regalia. They included the famous kakati or Kakaki brass trumpets that we see in Nupe palaces as a sign of royalty to this very day…
… and, of course, the brass or bronze canoe sunk at the bottom of a river is worshipped at a village in the heart of KinNupe to this very day!
The truth of the matter, as Professor Alan Ryder forcefully pointed out, it is the Nupe people, and not the Yoruba people, who are know with the tradition of bronze-casting and terracotta making.
To this very day, on the authority of Professor Ray Ekpo, the most naturalistic bronze-casting ever to come out of Africa is the Tada Seated Figure of the Tsoede Bronze collections which were found in Central KinNupe and not in Yorubaland.
KinNupe was the centre from which the so-called Ife bronzes and Ife terracotta were made and distributed to other parts of ancient Nigerian and the entire Central Sudan
It was these bronze-casting and terracotta-producing ancient Nupencizhi who produced the so-called Ife figurines which were actually transported from KinNupe to Yoruba land by waves upon waves of Nupe warriors and Nupe colonialists who only go to war and settle colonies with caches of spiritual figurines they concentrate in shrines and grooves.
It was these shrines and grooves that were abandoned afterwards and when the Yoruba kingdoms emerged later they built their towns and settlements wherever they locate these ancient Nupe shrines and groves in modern Yorubaland.
Professor Alan Ryder remonstrated that these so-called Ife bronzes and the Maltese Cross were actually produced and distributed from KinNupe by the Ogane, the almighty Nupe Emperor who ruled over the whole of ancient Nigeria in former times.
It was these same Ogane, based somewhere around today’s Katcha-Gulu-Vatsa-Agaie general area, who was known in Nupe traditions as Yisa or Esa; and he was the same who was identified as Prester John the ruler of El Dorado KinNupe, to the outside world in Europe.
It was this Prester John and his legendary El Dorado empire of KinNupe that the early European explorers – Including Hahnemann, Mungo Park, Captain Hugh Clapperton, the Lander brothers – all came looking for under the silly guise of tracing the tide of the River Niger!
We have been told for so long that the Ife bronzes and terracotta were sculpted by the Yoruba peoples; that the Benin bronzes were made by the Edo-Benin people; that the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes were made by the Ibo people; and that the Nok figurines were carved by the peoples of the Jos Plateau area.
The world is being inundated today with flowing narrations of how the Ile Ife people are the most naturalistic bronze casters in ancient Nigeria. That the people of Ile Ife were in possession of an advanced art of bronze casting with which they produced the famous Ife terracotta and bronzes that litter reputable museums across the world today.
And the Edo-Benin people are said to be one of the most advanced bronze casters in Nigeria. Of course we are all familiar with the impressive bronze castings from ancient Benin kingdom – such perfect bronze figures the like of which cannot be found in any other part of Africa.
So, they said, the Ife and the Benin are the most advanced terracotta and bronze casters in the whole of ancient Nigeria.
The problem with this picture-perfect story of Ife and Benin bronze casters, however, is that there is hardly any unassailable evidence or proofs for the claims above. There is no any formidable evidence that the Ife and Benin people were in possession of any advanced bronze casting traditions in the past.
In fact, and as we shall proceed to demonstrate in the following paragraphs, there is hardly any evidence that the Ife people and the latter Benin people practice any bronze casting at all.
Ife Figurines Are Nupe Figurines
The current noise about Ife bronzes on the national and international scene has blindfolded everybody to the fact that there was never, and have never been, any Ife terracotta or Ife bronze at all. This is why nobody is even is even thinking of organising researches to investigate the fact that the Ife people might not be the casters of the so-called Ife bronzes that we see today.
In the past, however, unbiased and independent research workers, mostly Europeans untainted by the tribalism and ethnocentrism of modern Nigerian workers, have conducted objective researchers that have conclusively proven the fact that the people of today’s Ile Ife are not the people who casted and produced the famous Ife bronzes that were discovered and unearthed from the premises and environs of the modern city of Ile Ife.
The case of the Ife bronzes is weakened by the fact that as early as the time of the colonial historians of Nigeria there was already a glaring evidence that the Yoruba people were never a bronze-casting people and could never have been the people who casted the Ife bronzes.
How could the Yoruba people of the city of Ile Ife be the casters and producers of the Ife bronzes if the Yoruba people in general and the people of Ile Ife in particular have never known how to caste and produce bronze figurines?
To this very day the people of Ile Ife are never casters of any bronze figurines. And the people of today’s city of Ile Ife have no any traditions, whatsoever, of their ancestors or forebears being workers in or casters of bronze figurines. As a matter of fact the people of Ile Ife are completely ignorant of the art of bronze casting.
That the people of Ile Ife are, to this very day, ignorant of the art of bronze casting simply means that they, the Yoruba people of today’s Ile Ife, are not the ones who casted or produced the Ife bronzes that were found in the city of Ile Ife. Professor Alan Ryder demonstrated that the people of Ile Ife are not the producers of the Ife bronzes that were discovered at the city of Ile Ife.
The remonstration of Professor Alan Ryder is premised on the fact that the modern Yoruba people of the city of Ile Ife were not the founders of the city of Ile Ife. This, of course, Professor Ryder got from the fact that the Yoruba traditions themselves are categorical on the fact that the Yoruba people arrive Ile Ife at a time that Ile Ife was already a flourishing town inhabited by the Ubo or Igbo people whom the Yoruba said they drove out of Ile Ife with firebrands.
To this very day the most famous of the annual celebrations of the Yoruba people of Ile Ife is the Edi festival in which the pursuit of the Ubo out of Ile Ife is re-enacted with the celebrants and particularly the youthful faithfuls gallivanting about with burning torches of fires.
Professor Alan Ryder, and many other impartial authorities, are of the view that the so-called Ife bronzes must have been casted by these ancient Ubo people who were the original inhabitants of Ile Ife before they were chased out of Ile Ife by the immigrant Yoruba people in latter times.
And many archaeologists and research workers, working on the field in the city of Ile Ife and its environs, did observed that the very attitude of the Yoruba people towards the Ife figurines clearly show that the Yoruba people are not the casters of the Ife bronzes.
Professor Leo Frobenius was among the first to be startled by the ease and recklessness with which the Yoruba people of Ile Ife and neighbouring villages where the Ife bronzes are found are ready to part with the Ife bronzes – he obtained the famous Olokun head from an Oba for just six pounds and a worthless bottle of beer!
Professor Alan Ryder observed that if the Yoruba people of Ile Ife were the makers and casters of the Ife bronzes they wouldn’t have been so ready to part with them. They wouldn’t have even allow foreigners, like Professor Leo Frobenius, to come and carelessly dig at their religious groves anyhow all over their town and in the end take away the bronzes. But the Oba and the people of Ile Ife allowed Professor Leo Frobenius to do just that.
Furthermore Professor Alan Ryder also observed that the religious cult formed around these Ife bronzes are really not connected to the Ife bronzes in the spiritual sense of the word, that is, considering the fact that the Yoruba people of Ile Ife who built their religious groves around the Ile bronzes actually know nothing about the origin or spiritual significance of these bronze figurines.
If they knew the religious or otherwise significance of the Ife bronzes the Yoruba people of Ile Ife would not have so easily been ready to part with the bronzes the way did in the colonial era.
Professor Frobenius observed that the Yoruba people of Ile Ife were obviously not the makers of the so-called ‘Ife bronzes’. After all Esie and otherwise Yoruba traditions abound to the effect that the present people of Esie – in the Ilorin, that is KinNupe, Province – first settled at Esie when, in the process of their original wanderings, they came and chanced upon a groove full of ancient terracotta sculptures and bronze figurines in the depth of the forest.
Professor Alan Ryder was to, a couple of decades later, scholastically demonstrated that the Yoruba people were not the wroughters or casters or makers of the Ife bronzes.
Professor Ryder, at that famous ‘standing-ovation’ lecture he delivered at the University of Ibadan in December 1962, conclusively proved that the ‘Ife bronzes’ are not Ife bronzes. He demonstrated that the people of Ile Ife, and the Yoruba people in general, have never practiced the art of bronze casting and that the Yoruba people have never known the lost-wax method of bronze-casting.
Professor Ryder also pointed out that there have never been, and to this very day there does not exist, a traditional guild of brass-workers or bronze-casters in Ile Ife the way you see in Benin or Bida for instance.
Professor Ryder proved that the Yoruba people in general and the people of Ile Ife in particular were not the makers of the world-famous bronze heads and figurines that are today referred to as the ‘Ife bronzes’.
Professor Ryder also demonstrated that Esie traditions themselves categorically relate that the people of Esie came upon the Ife bronzes and terracotta in the forests and they settled beside them and begun to worship them. Professor Ryder demonstrated that the Yoruba religious cult that was consequently built around the Esie bronzes and terracotta have nothing to do with the origin of these bronzes and terracotta.
This story of a wandering Esie people settling beside and building up a town around heaps and rubbles of bronze and terracotta figurines is replicated throughout the length and breadth of Yorubaland wherever so-called ‘Yoruba’ bronze or terracotta remains are found today.
Even the Yoruba people of Ile Ife only discovered large cache of Ife bronzes all over the city after they, the Yorubas, have driven away the Ubo original inhabitants of Ile Ife. This was how the Yoruba people of Ile Ife first came across the Ife bronzes of which they know nothing about to this very day.
The Ubo People Were A Nupe People
Professor Ryder demonstrated that it is evident that a pre-Yoruba people, the Ubo, have originally settled, actually founded, the city of Ile Ife and that it was these pre-Yoruba people who made the Ile Ife bronzes and terracotta that are wrongly attributed to the Yoruba people of Ile Ife today.
So, who could these pre-Yoruba people have been?
For the answer to the above question we will still need to consult Professor Alan Ryder again who pointed in the direction of the Nupe people as the pre-Yoruba people who were the real and original makers and casters of the so-called ‘Ife bronzes’ that are wrongly attributed to the Yoruba peoples today.
As a matter of fact Professor Ryder categorically pointed out that Tsoede, the Founder of Nupe, was said to have been a master bronze-caster and a high priest of the cult of the worship of bronze and terracotta figurines. Of course, and as Professor S.F. Nadel tells us, Tsoede was pursued back to his Bini motherland in a bronze canoe which he later sunk unto the bed of the River Niger as a ruse to elude his pursuers.
S.W. Walker related that Tsoede left bronze or brass figurines in various parts of ancient KinNupe with the male and female brass figures at Jebba being the most notable ones.
And if be said that the foundations of the modern city of Ile Ife predated the times and reign of Tsoede, which is most probably the case, then it should noted that there are many Nupe kings and emperors who lived before the foundations of the present city of Ile Ife were laid. And, what is more, these ancient Nupe kings and emperors were master-casters of bronze figurines.
El-Bakri mentioned the Nupe kingdom of Ed-Denden which was located on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe and Professor Leo Frobenius collected Nupe traditions to the effect that the castles and palaces of the Ed-Denden kingdom were decorated with bronze figurines of casted by the ancient Nupe peoples.
So, the Nupe people have been the master bronze casters since time immemorial. In very ancient times, when KinNupe was always the headquarters of superpower Nupe kingdoms and empires that used to rule over virtually the whole ancient Nigeria, KinNupe used to be religious centre from which religious bronze figurines are casted and then distributed to all outlaying and vassal states in all parts of ancient Nigeria.
That is how bronzes figurines, as religious objects of veneration, were distributed, on a continuous basis, to all parts of ancient Nigeria. And that was how we came about the so-called ‘Ife’ bronzes that were discovered at the modern city of Ile Ife in colonial times.
The truth of the matter, as many research workers are now realising, is that the Yoruba people are not the people who made the so-called Ife bronzes and terracotta. The entire network of bronzes and terracotta for which the Yoruba Nation is today famous on the international scene were actually made by the ancient Nupe people.
The ‘Ife bronzes’ are actually Nupe bronzes!
The Ife bronzes and terracotta, or the bronzes and terracotta found in Yorubaland for that matter, have been demonstrated by radiocarbon dating to have predated the arrival of the Yoruba people in Ile Ife. As a matter of fact many of these ‘Ife’ bronzes actually predate even the foundations of the modern city of Ile Ife itself.
In any case the modern city of Ile Ife have already be founded and established into a bustling town inhabited by the Ubo or Ibo people long before the arrival of the Yoruba people to Ile Ife. These Ubo or Ibo people were also the ones who were in possession of the Ife bronzes long before the arrival of the Yoruba people to Ile Ife.
The Ubo or Ibo original inhabitants of Ile Ife might have been the casters of the ile Ife bronzes or they might have brought the Ife bronzes with them from KinNupe. Whatever the case might have been the fact still remains that it was these Ubo original inhabitants of Ile Ife who were the owners and possessors of the Ife bronzes that are wrongly attributed to the Yoruba people today.
The Yoruba people came and chased the Ubo people out of Ile Ife with burning fires. In the process of their sudden flight from Ile Ife the Ubos never had the chance to pack their Ife bronzes and that is how they left behind their religious objects of the Ife bronzes.
The Yoruba people who came and took over the Ile Ife, however, never knew the religious or spiritual significance of the Ife bronzes and they subsequently built artificial and useless groves around piles of these bronze figurines which they collected from different and disparate places and pile together.
In any case, and before the time of the modern Yoruba people, the whole of today’s Yorubaland was populated by a variety of ancient Nupe peoples variously known as the Ubo, Ibo, Ibori, Bori, Bwori, Bwari, Gbwari or Gwari. Even the Yoruba traditions categorically narrated that when the Yoruba people first arrived Yorubaland they met the Ubo or Ibo people as the aboriginal inhabitants of Yorubaland.
These people were known as the Ubo or Ibo because they were a Nupe people who originally came from Central KinNupe. It is the Nupe people who were known in ancient times as the Ubo or the Ibo. Please read my book ‘Aro Chukwu Was Nupe: How the Ibo People Originated From Nupe’, for details how the Nupe people were the first to be referred to as the Ubo or Ibo in very ancient times.
Anyway, even a casual glance at the etymology of the ancient national name Ubo or Ibo will readily show us that it is an ancient national name associated with the River Niger right here in Central KinNupe. It is the River Niger that is known as the Koro and Bara in ancient times. In fact the Nupe People were also known as the Ibara in ancient times as Professor Roger Blench documented.
This ancient national name of the Nupe people as the Ibara is the same that is also pronounced as the Bwari of the Gbagyi people of the FCT general area. The Gbagyi and the Nupe people used to be a single and one and the same people until very recent times – until when the Fulani Jihadists came and separated them into separate peoples. But that is not what we are discussing here. Please read my book titled ‘The Gbagyi and Nupe Are One And the Same People’, for details on the fact that the Gbagyi and the Nupe peoples are essentially one and the same people even to this very day.
So, and as we discussing, the Nupe Ibara is the same as the Gbagyi Bwari and this is also the same as the Hausa Bori. All these ancient national names – Ibara, Ibari, Bwari, Bori – are one and the same ancient national names dialectally pronounced differently by different lects or tongues.
And Bori was also pronounced as Ibori or simply as Ibo. It is, of course, this Ibo that was also pronounced as Ubo.
So, we see from all these that the Ubo or Ibo aboriginal inhabitants of Ile Ife were after all one and the same people with the Nupe and Gbagyi peoples of Central KinNupe. It was from KinNupe that these Ubo or Ibo aboriginal inhabitants of today’s city of Ile Ife originated.
Professor J.E.G. Sutton did observed that these Ubo or Ibo people originated from KinNupe and spread all over ancient Nigeria to become the ‘bedrock stock’, in his own word, from which all other ancient Nigerian peoples were subsequently derived and descended.
It was these ancient Ubo or Ibo or Gwari Nupe people who were the makers and casters of the world-famous ‘Ife’ bronzes that are being wrongly attributed to the Yoruba people today.
Benin Bronzes Are Nupe Bronzes
In the same vein it should be noted that the equally world-famous Benin bronzes of today were actually the work of ancient Nupe peoples.
We should note, as Professor Alan Ryder pointed out, that the Edo people were originally known as the Benin. As late as the 1480s, when the first White people visited this kingdom, these people were known as the Benin and not as the Edo.
In fact the first documented reference to these people as the Edo was in the eighteenth century. The simple implication here, of course, and as Professor Alan Ryder observed, is that the name of these people and their kingdom changed, at a time, from Benin to Edo.
The Edo people were originally known as the Benin. It was only in latter times that they changed their national name to Edo. But their Benin identity has continued and hence their being referred to today as the ‘Edo-Benin’ people.
In those initial days when these people were known as the Benin people they were a Nupe people through and through. In fact the national name ‘Benin’ is merely a corruption of ‘Bini’ which was the national name of the Nupe people and the Nupe Nation for centuries on end.
In the days when the Edo people were known as the Benin or Bini they were actually one and the same people with the Bini Nupe people. This is what Captain Hugh Clapperton was told in the 1830s when he visited both Benin kingdom and the Nupe Kingdom. Captain Hugh Clapperton was categorically told by the people of Benin kingdom themselves that the Benin and the Nupe are one and the same people.
Captain Hugh Clapperton was also told by the people of the Benin kingdom in those 1830s days that the Benin kingdom was vassal and servile to the Nupe Kingdom; that Benin paid yearly tribute to Nupe.
The bottom line of the information Captain Hugh Clapperton received from the people of the Benin kingdom in the 1830s is that the Benin kingdom was part of a confederation of ‘Bini’ states that was overruled by the Nupe Nation. This large confederation of ‘Bini Nupe’ states was what Professor S.F. Nadel repeatedly referred to as the ‘Bini Confederacy’ which was an amalgamation of states conquered into a Nupe-Bini confederacy by the almighty Nupe emperors of old.
Edo started as Bini Nupe. And in those days when the Edo people were a Bini people they were a Nupe people through and through. In fact, as Captain Hugh Clapperton discovered and Professor Ryder demonstrated, the Benin kingdom was originally just a southern extension of the Nupe Nation of Bini.
Professor Ryder even went ahead to demonstrate that in the beginning KinNupe extended directly from Central KinNupe down to the present location of the Benin kingdom. In other words the Benin kingdom used to be more or less the southern annexe of the Nupe Nation. There used to be the ancient Nupe kingdom of Kambaja located between Benin kingdom and Central KinNupe and it was this Kambaja that formed the continuum between the Benin kingdom and Central KinNupe.
It was with the fall and collapse of the inter-joining kingdom of Kambaja that the Benin kingdom gradually became isolated from the rest of the Greater Nupe Nation.
Whatever the case might have been the truth remains that the Edo people were originally a Nupe people through and through in those days when Edo was known as Benin.
Our modern term ‘Benin’ is actually a Latin corruption of the original ‘Bini’ which is the national name of a significant section of the Nupe people to this very day.
These ancient Bini Nupe people were the original founders and settlers of what we know today as the Benin Kingdom. It was also these original Bini Nupe people of the ancient Benin kingdom who are the casters of the Benin bronzes and terracotta or otherwise figurines for which the Benin kingdom is famous today.
Many of the Benin bronze figures clearly have the classical Nupe tribal marks while having the Maltese Cross, another peculiarly ancient Nupe motif, as pendants around their necks or waists.
Even the famous ivory mask of Queen Idia which was adopted as the official mascot of FESTAC 1977 was a Nupe mask made by Bini Nupe people in those days when the Benin kingdom was a Nupe kingdom through and through.
The famous Queen Idia, the mother of Oba Esigie of Benin, was, of course, a full-blooded Bini Nupe woman!
As a matter of fact the Benin traditions categorically relate that the art of bronze-casting was introduced to the Benin kingdom from Ife or Nyife – the ancient and aboriginal name of the Nupe Nation. Professor Alan Ryder demonstrated that the Ife mentioned in the Benin traditions was KinNupe and not the Ile Ife city in the Osun State of today.
The present city of Ile Ife in Osun State is the sixteenth Ile Ife from the original Ile Ife which, as documented by the Lander brothers, was an ancient Nupe kingdom located on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe.
So, the so-called Benin bronzes were actually Nupe bronzes after all!
It was not from modern Ile Ife that the art of bronze casting was introduced to Benin kingdom; and this for obvious reasons: Ile Ife never knew or practiced bronze casting.
And, as we have discussed in some details before, even the bronzes unearthed at Ile Ife and claimed to be ‘Ife’ bronzes today were not made or casted by the Yoruba people of Ile Ife; they were made and casted by the pre-Yoruba Nupe people of Ile Ife.
So, it is now clear that both the Ife bronzes and the Benin bronzes are actually Nupe bronzes made by the ancient Nupe people who were the first to respectively found and settled today’s Ile Ife and today’s Edo-Benin kingdom.
It is quite unfortunate that the bronze casting traditions and arts of the ancient Nupe people are now being wrongly attributed to the Yoruba and Edo-Benin people who were not the ones who casted these bronzes.
Both the Ife bronzes and the Benin bronzes originated from and were casted by Nupe people. In fact Professor Leo Frobenius have insightfully predicated, in the 1910s, that the origin of the Ife bronzes will be, one day, traced to and discovered in KinNupe.
Not long after the time of Professor Leo Africanus the Tada collection of bronzes, popularly called the Tsoede bronzes, were discovered in various Nupe villages in Central KinNupe and also at Jebba.
All scholars are unanimously agreed that the Tada sitting figure, discovered at the Nupe village of Tada, is to this very day the most naturalistic – that is most perfect and beautiful – bronze figurine ever to be produced in the whole of the African continent.
That the most perfect and advanced form of bronze casting on the whole of the African continent is being found in KinNupe and not at Ile Ife or Benin goes a long way in collaborating the fact that both the Ife bronzes and the Benin bronzes originated from and were made by the same ancient Nupe people who predated both the Ile Ife and the Benin kingdom peoples as the aboriginal settlers of these respective cities.
Nok Culture Is Nupe Culture
Professor Leo Frobenius also predicted that a more ancient and an earlier form of the Ife bronzes will be discovered in KinNupe. After Professor Leo Frobenius the Nok culture was discovered in the Jos Plateau area in the 1930s.
Interestingly the works of Dr. Ray Ekpu and many others show that the map of the general area of the Nok culture has been expanding out due to more and more research. And even the epicentre of the Nok culture have, incredibly enough, now shifted to the KinNupe area. In other words the Nok culture originated from KinNupe before it spread out to the Jos Plateau area where it was first discovered in the 1930s.
That KinNupe is now turning out to be the epicentre of the Nok culture is a resounding fulfilment of Professor Leo Frobenius’ prediction that an ancient origin of the bronze and terracotta arts of ancient Nigeria will one day be discovered in the general KinNupe area.
Professor Frank Willet have also confirmed the fact that the general area of the Nok culture have been expanding at that the epicentre, or origin, of the Nok culture is now realised to be not the Jos Plateau area in which the Nok figurines were first discovered in the 1930s.
In any case even the Kagarko-Kachia-Kagoro general, Southern Kaduna, area in which the Nok culture was originally assumed to flourished after the discovery of the Nok culture in the 1930s was itself part and parcel of the Nupe Nation in former times.
Kagarko is just some 50 miles from Izom which was a Nupe settlement in ancient times. And Kagarko is just some 80 miles from Lapai a major Nupe settlement. While Kagarko is just some 120 miles from Bida right here in Central KinNupe. In those days Kagarko, Kafanchan, Kagoro, Kachia and all the other Southern Kaduna settlements were part and parcel of a Greater KinNupe. In fact we can readily see that names like Kagoro (Kagara) and Kagarko (Kagarako) are merely variants of Kagara, the ancient national name of KinNupe.
This Southern Kaduna area was, at one time, the location of the Nupe Kingdom of Wapa which Professor Michael Mason referred to as the Nupe kingdom of Kaduna.
It was in this Wapa or Nupe kingdom of the Kaduna that the Hausa language emerged as a syncretism of Old Nupe language and Arabic. The Gwandara language that we still see in this Southern Kaduna general area to this very day is actually a latter, and highly corrupted form, of the Old Nupe language from which the Hausa language originated.
But more importantly is the scientific, archaeological, discovery that the Nok culture actually flourished some 1000 BC to 500 AD.
Professor Frank Willet then went ahead to say that while the Nok culture was flourishing here in the KinNupe general area, the Kisra refugee people begun to exodus into KinNupe somewhere around the middle of the first millennium. Professor Willet then wrote that these Kisra people then syncretised their foreign culture with the Nok culture to give rise to a new form of brass-casting art that eventually gave us the Ife bronzes.
The interesting, but subtle point, here is that the Nok culture that have then been flourishing in KinNupe since circa 1000 BC suddenly disappeared into history and became extinct at the very period, circa 500 AD, when the Yisa Kisra Nupe people became resident in KinNupe and after the Kisra Yisa Nupe people have adopted and syncretised the Nok culture into their own and other indigenous Nupe cultures on the banks of the River Niger right here in Central KinNupe. The result was the more refined ‘Nupe culture’ that the world refers to today as the ‘Ife terracotta’ and ‘Ife bronze’
What we should note in Professor Frank Willet’s observations is that both the Nok culture people and the Kisra refugees were resident here in KinNupe, and were in fact both a Nupe people, by the time they merged their different cultures together to produced the Ife bronzes. It was here in KinNupe that the Ife bronzes were produced and subsequently distributed to other parts of ancient Nigeria.
All the bronze and terracotta cultures of ancient Nigeria originated from KinNupe. It was not just the Ife bronzes and terracotta, the Benin bronzes and the Nok figurines that can be traced to KinNupe as their origin alone, even the Igbo Ukwu arts and the Ikom monoliths are of ultimate Nupe origins.
The Igbo Ukwu brass figurines have been dated to the 9th century – the same period that Professor Frank Willet, willet discussing the Ife bronzes and the Nupe connexion, said the Yisa or Kisra Nupe people arrived the Central Sudan. And this was also the same period, the 9th century, that the Nok culture reached its zenith in KinNupe. That these three – the arrival of the Kisra Nupe people, the emergence of the Nok culture and the emergence of the Igbo Ukwu all fall roughly within the same 9th century cannot be coincidence; the three are linked to one another.
Whatever the case might have been, and as we discussed in some exhaustive details in my book titled ‘Aro Chukwu Was Nupe: How the Ibo People Originated from Nupe’, the fact still remains that by the 9th century there was not a definitive Ibo people, as we know them today, in today’s Iboland. In those days the inhabitants of today’s Iboland were not today’s Ibos but a proto-Ibo people who originally came from KinNupe. It was these proto-Ibo KinNupe, or Nupe, people who were the makers and casters of the Ibo Ukwu brass that were to be later on discovered by Professor Thurstan Shaw et al.
That the Ibo Ukwu culture was not an Ibo culture is evidenced by the fact that many of the cultural features of Ibo Ukwu are completely not seen among the Ibos of today. Most glaring is the fact that the Ibos of today have never been a brass or bronze casting people. The modern Ibo people simply came and are now occupying a land that was, once upon a time, inhabited by a proto-Ibo Igbo Ukwu Nupe people. It is the same story of today’s Ile Ife that is being re-enacted here.
We can go on and on demonstrating how, once upon a time, an almighty Nupe culture flourishing here on the banks of the River Niger right here in Central KinNupe, dominated the cultural values and produce of the whole of ancient Nigeria. It was this ancient Nupe culture that produced the so-called Ife bronzes, Benin bronzes, Ikom monoliths, Igbo Ukwu brass, Nok culture, and so on and on.
Picture: The Olokun Head is one of the most famous of the so-called Ife Bronzes. The Yoruba people now claimed that the Olokun Head is theirs for the simple fact that it was discovered by the White men in Yorubaland. The fact, however, is that the Olokun Head was casted by an ancient Nupe people here in Central KinNupe. The Olokun Head was then taken to Yorubaland for the Yoruba people to worship as the head of a Nupe king who ruled over the Yoruba people in those days. The very word ‘Olokun’ is actually a Yoruba corruption of the original Nupe military title ‘Nnakun’ which was the official title of the Nupe War General who used to be an Amazon. Nnakun is a Middle Nupe term which translates into English directly as ‘Death One’ or ‘The Inflicter of Death’ a title of reverence to the Nupe War General from whom the enemies in the battle field should expect nothing but death.