Ife ( _yo. Ifè, also "Ilé-Ifẹ̀") is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. Evidence of settlement of the city has been discovered dating back as far as 500 BC. It is located in present day Osun State, with a population of 501,952.


Today a mid-sized city, Ife is home to the Obafemi Awolowo University and Natural History Museum of Nigeria. Ife people are of the Yoruba ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Ife has a local television station called NTA Ife, and is home to various businesses. Ife is also the trade center for a farming region. Yams, cassava, grain, cacao, and tobacco are grown. Cotton is grown and used to weave cloth. Hotels in Ilé-Ife include Hotel Diganga Ife-Ibadan road, Mayfair Hotel, Obafemi Awolowo University Guest House etc. Ilé-Ife has a stadium with a capacity of 9,000 and a second division professional league football team.The meaning of the word "Ife" in Yoruba language is love. Ife is also a name.


According to Yoruba legend, Ife is where the founding deities Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount deity Olodumare. Obàtálá created the first humans out of clay, while Odùduwà became the first divine king of the Yoruba. The Oòni (King) of Ife claims direct descent from the god Oduduwa, and is counted first among Yoruba kings. To this day many of the surviving traditional religious groups of the city celebrate the creation of the world during the Itapa festival.

Mythic Origin of Ife

The Yoruba claim to have originated from Ife.Stride, G.T. and C. Ifeka: "Peoples and Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000 - 1800" page 288. Nelson, 1971] According to Yoruba mythology, Olorun, the supreme god, ordered his son, Oduduwa, to climb down from the heavens on a chain with three things. Oduduwa scattered a handful of dirt over the ocean creating Ile Ife, then put a cockerel on the land which dug a hole.Stride, G.T. and C. Ifeka: "Peoples and Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000 - 1800" page 290. Nelson, 1971] Oduduwa planted a palm nut in the hole and from there sprang a great tree with sixteen branches representing the families of the early Yoruba states.

Migratory Origin of Ife

Another origin story from the Yoruba is that they were the product of intermarriage between a small band of invaders from the savanna and the indigenous inhabitants of the forest. According to this version, Oduduwa was the son of Lamurudu, a prince from the east (possibly Mecca). The Yoruba chafed under Islam, and Oduduwa and the natives left the land. After wandering for some time, they found and settled the state of Ife. Oduduwa then had a son call Okanbi, Okanbi then had seven descendants who founded the Yoruba states of Owu, Sabe, Popo, Benin, Ila orangun, Ketu and Oyo.

Ife Kingdom

Between 700 and 900 A.D., Ife began to develop as a major artistic center, and the city was a settlement of substantial size between the 9th and 12th centuries, with houses featuring potsherd pavement. Ilé-Ifè is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A.D. After this period, production declined as political and economic power shifted to the nearby kingdom of Benin which like the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, developed into a major empire.

Bronze and terracotta art created by this civilization are one of the earliest and most significant instances of realism in art, dating back to before the European Renaissance. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/4chapter7.shtml The Story of Africa: Ife and Benin] — BBC World Service]

ee also

* Niara Sudarkasa



* Akinjogbin, I. A. (Hg.): "The Cradle of a Race: Ife from the Beginning to 1980", Lagos 1992 (The book also has chapters on the present religious situation in the town).
* Bascom, William: "The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria", New York 1969 (The book mainly deals with Ile-Ife).
* Lange, Dierk: "The dying and the rising God in the New Year Festival of Ife", in: Lange, "Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa", Dettelbach 2004, pp. 343-376.
* Willett, Frank: "Ife in the History of West African Sculpture", London 1967 (The book also deals with some oral traditions of Ile-Ife).

External links

* Lange, Dierk: [http://dierklange.com/pdf/lange_vitality.pdf "Preservation of Canaanite creation culture in Ife"] , in: H.-P. Hahn and G. Spittler (eds.), "Between Resistance and Expansion", Münster 2004, 125-158.
* Wyndham, John: [http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/ife/index.htm Myths of Ífè]

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  • IFÉ — est une ville du Nigeria, située à environ deux cents kilomètres au nord est de Lagos, et à la même distance, au nord ouest, de la cité de Bénin ; des découvertes archéologiques ont mis en lumière le passé culturel étonnant de cette cité. Pour… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • Ife — Ife,   früher Ile Ife, Stadt in Südwestnigeria, östlich von Ibadan, 296 800 Einwohner; Sitz des Oni (geistliches Oberhaupt der Yoruba) und einer Universität (gegründet 1961); Museum; internationale Buchmesse; Kunsthandwerk, Kakaoverarbeitung …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • ife — ife; na·ife; …   English syllables

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