Thursday, August 28, 2014

IJEBU PEOPLE: SHREWD BUSINESS-LIKE SUB-YORUBA ETHNIC GROUP WHO WERE THE FIRST YORUBA TO HAVE CONTACT WITH EUROPEANS

THE Ijebu People are very enterprising, shrewd business-like and agriculturalist Yoruboid-speaking people that forms a sub-set of the larger Yoruba ethnic group, inhabiting the South-Central part of Yorubaland in South-Western Nigeria. The Ijebu people who constitute the largest ethnic group in the Yoruba land reside particularly in parts of Ogun and Lagos States of Nigeria.

Ijebu women of Ijebu-Ode with their awesome hairstyle at annual Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Ode local government area of Ogun State.

The Ijebu territory is bounded in the North by Ibadan, in the East by Ondo, Okitipupa and the West by Egbaland. The Southern fringe is open to the sea with the coastlines of Epe, Ejinrin and Ikorodu. Despite the political division which has these three towns in Lagos while the main part of Ijebuland remains in Ogun State, the people have always regarded themselves as one entity even when the immigration legends which have often been cited point in different directions. The Ijebu nation consisted of 5 divisions: Ijebu-Ife, Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ososa and Ijebu-Remo.
The Ijebu people are identified with four types of oriki ({Ijebu}, a very important oral poetic genre among the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria): Apeja (oriki soki or name version), Orufi (oriki) ulu praises of towns, Orufi gbajumo (praises of distinguished personalities), Orufi orisa (praises of gods) and Orufi Oba (praises of obas). The orufi establishes that the Ijebu people are a veritable link in the relations of the Yoruba people and the world.
The name “Ijebu” was derived from the expression: “Ije-ibu” (food of the deep). The Ijebus themselves claim to have descended from “Oba-nita,” thus, referring to themselves as “Ogetiele, eru Obanita” (that is, “Ogetiele, servants of Obanita”).

However, the people, unlike other Yoruba groups seems to have different migration legends. One school of thought tend to link the Ijebu with the biblical Jebusites and Noah (hence Omoluwabi -- omo ti Noah bi -- the children of Noah), the other legend also trace the origin of Yoruba people, and by implication, the Ijebu to Mecca where Oduduwa, the legendary ancestor of the Yoruba, was said to be the son of King Lamurudu. Oduduwa, according to the legend, had to be expelled from Mecca when he resorted to idolatry. With the third school of thought, the Ijebu traditional historians tend to stick to the migration legend that the people migrated to their present territory from a region of Sudan called Waddai which means that the Ijebu had a parallel migration wave just like other Yoruba who believe they came to their present abode via Oduduwa. That claim seems to be corroborated by a publication by one Haile Mariam which states that "the most powerful people that the Negede Orit (ancient Ethiopian immigrants into Africa) met in East Africa were the Jebus." Their King was claimed to be so influential that he appointed the governors of Yemen. If that king was the same Olu-Iwa, the legendary first Ruler of Ijebuland, we do not know.
Whatever be the case, most of Africans were once settled in Mesopotamia and they all left to Egypt and, Ethiopia Sudan (Kush/Meroe). These place was the convergence point of most African ethnic groups before their dispersion or migration to their current settlements.

Ijebu people founded an ancient city Ijebu-Ode which archaeological evidence has proved to be in existence from A.D. 900.  By the 15th century, Ijebu was a highly organized and powerful nation, and defended itself against enemies.  Ijebu Empire was second to Oyo’s empire in the 15th century.
There was already reference to it in the 16th century by Pereira, who noted that “twelve or thirteen leagues up this river [the Lagos lagoon] is a very large city called Geebuu, surrounded by a great moat. The ruler of this country in our time is called Agusale [Awujale], and the trade is mainly in slaves ...but there is some ivory” (Pereira trans. Kimble, 1937: 123). By the 18th century, statements about the coastal trade of the Ijebu placed greater emphasis on the traffic in craft products. John Barbot (1732: 354), for instance, noted it as a place “where good fine cloths are made and sold by the natives to foreigners, who have a good vent for them at the Gold Coast…”

Annual Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Ode local government area of Ogun State.

More than the other Yoruba people, the Ijebu people have had a long time relation or the first Yoruba people to have contact with the Europeans in the early 14th century. This is because the Ijebu are the erstwhile coastal traders/ middle-men for the European goods, variously acknowledged by historians (Ajayi & Espie 1965), and as further proved by Biobaku (1972) ...Until the nineteenth century, European activities were restricted to the coast, and the only Yoruba states of which Europeans had any first-hand knowledge were Ijebu and, later, Lagos..." An evidence of Ijebu trade with European is found in excerpts from orufi Ijebu -Ode:
"Omo A-b’oyinbo jogu owo."   (One whose forebears traded with Europeans
 Omo Oyinbo Iyonro                Offspring of the European at Iyonro
 Ee mi gu’de ko mi gu’ba          The brass and copper smith
 Ko n gu naaaro                        If he did not smith in the morning
 Ee gu n’ale"                            He would smith at night)
Iyonro is a sub-quarter of Uwade in Ijebu-0de. Odusino (2004: 10) says that Iyonro was the home of the first set of Ijebu people who learnt gold-smithing from Europeans. It was these Ijebu people who in turn taught the trade to others whence it got diffused to the other Yoruba people and other Nigerians.

                         Ijebu elders

 Ijebu as a prime brass importing kingdom highlights the early importance of metalworking in Ijebuland.  They were the first set of people to manufactured gears of wars in history of Nigeria.  The Ijebu are the first Yoruba to have invented money made from cowrie shells called “OWO EYO”, which was accepted throughout the kingdoms of Yoruba land until the European culprits came and destroy it.  After that they made legal tender coins called “PANDORA” made from silver materials, which were acceptable throughout Africa and Europe.  These coins were popularly known as “OWO IJEBU” in Yoruba language.
 The Ijebu are rainforest belt people and therefore, the people are agrarian and predominantly farmers. They also engage in vocations like lumbering, weaving carving, printing, dyeing, fishing, schooling and other modern days educational services. According to common Yoruba sayings, no known profession could be mentioned without the presence of an Ijebu man, as an average Ijebu man engages in any trading activity just to make money. Being a people with early access to western education next to their Egba neighbour, (Ayandele 1982:1-25), the Ijebu people also do combine western education with commerce and trading which takes them to far distances. The geographical positioning of the Ijebu as a Yoruba people living very close to the coast put them at a vantage position of coming across the Europeans on the latter’s arrival on the African soil in the early 19th century, thus establishing the relations between them.

Ijebu celebrates a number of festivals including the annual Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Ode local government area of Ogun State. This particular festival is an annual occasion where the ancestral lineage of the first converted Muslims of the Ijebu people pay homage to their King, the Awujale, for allowing their ancestors practise Islam. It takes place on the third day of Eid-el-Kabir, displaying the rich cultural heritage of the Ijebu people, and attracting tourists from across the globe and Ijebu indigenes in the diaspora. The festival witnessed Ijebu sons and daughters including the Baloguns, age-groups (Regberegbes), societies and various groups paying homage to the Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba II, at his newly constructed edifice directly opposite his palace.

L-R Olori Adenike Adetona, His Royal Highness, Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Awujale Of Ijebuland and Member, Sub-planning Committee, Otunba Ayodeji Osibogun at the official commissioning of Ijebu National Museum to celebrate the King’s 80th birthday which took place in Ijebu Ode today, 8th May, 2014


Geography and Climate
The Ijebuland is bounded on the North by Ibadanland, on the East by Ondoland, on the West by Egbaland and on the South by the lagoon. Oduw[bi (2004:1-3) says the Ijebu territory, in pre-colonial times, constituted a single kingdom under the Awujale, who was their ruler and the titular ruler of Ijebu -Ode, the capital of the kingdom with a land area of approximately 8,130 km (3139 square miles). The Ijebu territory covers the eastern section of both the Ogun and Lagos States of modern Nigeria. The Ogun State section is the larger of the two and is made up of about 6,360 Km2 (2,456 square miles) (Oduw [bi 2004:1-2). In terms of present day local government arrangement, the Ijebu section of Ogun State comprises nine local government areas: Ijebu –East (Ogbere) Ijebu -North (Ijebu - Igbo), Ijebu North –East (Atan) Ijebu -Ode (Ijebu -Ode), Ikcnne (Ikenne), Odogbolu (Odogbolu), Ogun Waterside (Abigi), Remo-North (Isara) and Sagamu (Sagamu). The Ijebu -speaking local government areas in Lagos State are Epe (Epe), Ibeju-Lekki (Akodo), and Ikorodu (Ikorodu). The Local Government areas of Ikenne, Remo-North and Sagamu in Ogun State and Ikorodu in Lagos State are the Ijebu -Remo (Remo) parts of Ijebuland.

Located some 7oN latitude, Ijebu-Ode lies squarely within the tropical lowland rain forest region. The natural vegetation consists of a great variety of species arranged in a complex vertical structure with an emergent layer of large trees (up to 60 meters high) including mahogany (Khaya entandrophragma), obeche (Triplochiton), afara (Terminalia), iroko (Chlorophora), african walnut (Lovoa trichilioides), and ekki (Lophira alata) which form the basis of the major timber industry in the vicinity of the city. The forest structure protects the fragile soils from erosion in the high rainfall regime of the region. Traditional uses of the forest essentially maintain this protective function, by permitting long fallow periods and using mixed cultivation practices in which trees are allowed to remain. Increasing population densities, however, have caused the shortening of fallow periods and are leading to problems of soil erosion in parts of the region (NEST, 1991: 146).
The most significant ecological factor in the city region is, however, the deep, ferralitic soils characterized by friable consistency, low silt content, low base exchange capacity, low pH and generally low content of plant nutrient. Consequently, the region has not been very successful in cocoa production or in cultivation of yams (other than water yam). In traditional terms, therefore, Ijebu-Ode is not situated in a major agriculturally rich region. Kola nut (Cola nitida) is grown in parts of the region and the secondary regrowth of oil palms provide very valuable products (palm oil and palm kernels) for export and local commerce.
The introduction of cassava (Manihot escutenca) in the 16th century from South America provided the region with a crop whose productivity is remarkable on sandy, sandy loamy, and even exhausted soils unsuitable for other crops.
The Ifa divination ritual known as Imori, Ijebu-Ode, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, July 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III.
The Yoruba ifa divination ritual known as imori is performed within the first three to six months of a child’s life in order to "know the head" that is, to discern something about the child's ori inu (inner head)—especially whether the child 's prenatal destiny is associated with the mother’s side of the family or the father’s, and/or with a particular orisa (deity). Imori is the first stage in a series of rites over a nine-year period in which the individuality of a person is slowly discerned and acknowledged. At the beginning of the rite, the child 's forehead, the place where the ori inu resides, is touched to the iyerosun dust on the surface of the divination board as a sign of the identification of the child's personal destiny with the particular odu disclosed during the ritual. When casting ifa is performed simultaneously for two children, the variation in the marks on the boards for the babies is taken to refer to the different groups of ifa verses relevant at this stage for understanding the distinctive nature of each child.

Language
Ijebu people speak a distinct Yoruba dialect that is akin to both Central Yoruba (CY) and South-East Yoruba (SEY) dialects. Central Yoruba (CY) dialect is spoken in Igbomina, Yagba, Ilésà, Ifẹ, Ekiti, Akurẹ, Ẹfọn, and Ijẹbu areas, whilst South-East Yoruba (SEY) dialect is also Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ondo, Ọwọ, Ikarẹ, Ṣagamu, and parts of Ijẹbu.
The Ijebus are found in large concentration in Epe, Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki, apart from those who have long settled in Lagos Island especially in the area of Idumagbo and Ebute Ero. Traditions of the origin of the group link them with Ijebu-Ode and Iremo quarters in Ile-Ife. Most of the Ijebu Village settlements in Lagos state were established during the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Central Yoruba forms a transitional area in that the lexicon has much in common with NWY, whereas it shares many ethnographical features with SEY. Its vowel system is the least innovating (most stable) of the three dialect groups, having retained nine oral-vowel contrasts and six or seven nasal vowels, and an extensive vowel harmony system.
 South-East Yoruba was probably associated with the expansion of the Benin Empire after c. 1450 AD. In contrast to NWY, lineage and descent are largely multilineal and cognatic, and the division of titles into war and civil is unknown. Linguistically, SEY has retained the /gh/ and /gw/ contrast, while it has lowered the nasal vowels /ịn/ and /ụn/ to /ẹn/ and /ọn/, respectively. SEY has collapsed the second and third person plural pronominal forms; thus, àn án wá can mean either 'you (pl.) came' or 'they came' in SEY dialects, whereas NWY for example has ẹ wá 'you (pl.) came' and wọ́n wá 'they came', respectively. The emergence of a plural of respect may have prevented coalescence of the two in NWY dialects.
History
There are immigration legends which tend to link the Ijebu with the biblical Jebusites and Noah (hence Omoluwabi -- omo ti Noah bi -- the children of Noah) but these are farfetched. Other immigration legends trace the origin of Yoruba people, and by implication, the Ijebu to Mecca where Oduduwa, the legendary ancestor of the Yoruba, was said to be the son of King Lamurudu. Oduduwa, according to the legend, had to be expelled from Mecca when he resorted to idolatry. This is another unacceptable story in that it implied that the Yoruba must have come into existence as a group after faithful Muslims expelled Oduduwa some 1,500 years ago.
Ijebu traditional historians tend to stick to the migration legend that the people migrated to their present territory from a region of Sudan called Waddai which means that the Ijebu had a parallel migration wave just like other Yoruba who believe they came to their present abode via Oduduwa. That claim seems to be corroborated by a publication by one Haile Mariam which states that "the most powerful people that the Negede Orit (ancient Ethiopian immigrants into Africa) met in East Africa were the Jebus." Their King was claimed to be so influential that he appointed the governors of Yemen. If that king was the same Olu-Iwa, the legendary first Ruler of Ijebuland, we do not know.
There is a lot of evidence in support of the fact that the Ijebus migrated into Nigeria from Sudan. The most obvious is the Sudanese tribal mark which, though varied, is duplicated all over Yorubaland. In particular, the three vertical marks on both cheeks are the national marks in Ijebu. Moreover, in the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia, the original language which Arabic language has superseded is very similar to Ijebu dialect. Names of people such as Saba, Esiwu, Meleki (corruption of Menelik) and many others are still common in Ijebu and the South of Sudan.
A kind of flute which was formerly used during the coronation ceremony of the Awujale is still used in Ethiopia and South of Sudan. In the second place, the passage quoted from 'Ethiopian History' by Haile Mariam at the beginning of this essay shows that Negede Orit which entered Ethiopia several centuries before King Solomon and the famous Makida, Queen of Sheba (about 900 B.C.) met the Ijebus on the east Coast of Southern Sudan.
The ancestors of the Ijebus who now inhabit Ijebu-Ode and districts came into Nigeria from the ancient Kingdom of Owodaiye of Ethiopia which came to an end as a result of Arab supremacy in Middle East and the Sudan where Owodaiye was situated. The Kingdom of Owodaiye was bounded in the North by Nubia; in the East by Tigre and the Kingdom of Axum; in the West there was no clear boundary, while along its South-Eastern border, it was bounded by the land of Punt. With these people the Ijebus share their culture and religion. With the Tigrians and ancient Axumites the Ijebus share their tribal marks which are made up of three vertical marks on the cheeks while with the Egyptians, the Nubians and Puntite people, the Ijebu share many of their funeral rites, the Agemo cult and the Erikiran.
The Yorubas in Nubia were the nearest people to the Ijebus in Owodaiye. Even the Ijebus differ from the Yoruba in many respects. For example, while the main Yoruba group practice circumcision on both male and female members of the family, the Ijebus never practice it on the female members; the Yorubas used to bore the lower part of the ear in both male and female while the male never bore in Ijebu.
The first major wave of Sudanese that entered Nigeria was led by Iwase who came to Ife several centuries before the major Sudanese immigrations under Oduduwa and Olu-Iwa. The Iwase group of immigrants came during the reign of Esumare of Ife Erinrin. The next groups of Sudanese immigrants were the Ijebus and the kindred peoples under Olu-Iwa, who entered the country at about the same time as the Yoruba under Oduduwa. There are many reasons to believe that they arrived before the main Yoruba group. The most important reason was stated in a Yoruba tradition that when Oduduwa was alive, he became partially blind and went to consult Agbon-niregun, an Ife Priest, with a view to finding out what he must apply to his eyes to regain his sight. Agbonniregun recommended brine and so Oduduwa had to send one of his sons, Owa Obokun, to the sea to bring him sea water.
The latter wandered for many years in vain until he came to the King of Ijebu for help. This king sent a messenger to guide him to the sea and on Obokun's return to Ijebu, the King of the ljebus (Lewu Legusen) gave Obokun medicines for Oduduwa's eyes. And when Oduduwa applied the brine and the medicine, he regained his sight. The above tradition shows that the ljebus were in Nigeria before the main Yoruba stock because the king of Ijebu referred to was the fifth Awujale. In appreciation of this service, Oduduwa determined to visit the King of Ijebu, but he died about fifteen miles east of Ijebu-Ode. His followers settled down at Idofe, a town which has now become extinct.
The Ijebu legend tracing their origin to Waddai must have brought the known rivalry between them and other Yoruba people. If, indeed, Lamurudu and Oduduwa descended from Omu, the younger brother of Olu-Iwa, there is some sense in the claim that the Ijebus are senior to other Yorubas and cannot, therefore, accept the junior position that put them under the Ooni of Ife or Alafin of Oyo.
The bulk of Yoruba people regard the ljebus as peripheral Yoruba while the ljebus themselves do not hide the fact that the cohesion between them and others who call themselves central Yoruba has been the result of cultural and political interaction over the centuries. Time itself has taken care of these legends as the various groups of people in Western Nigeria have come to accept a common Nationality as Yoruba, be they Ekiti, Ijesha, Egba, Ondo, Ijebu, etc.. Even among the Ijebus, there are conflicting claims to the source of origin depending on the political intention of those concerned.
Irrespective of these claims, the Ijebus are united under the leadership of the Awujale of Ijebuland and this unity is the strength of the people as exhibited by their achievements in the past 40 years of the reign of Oba Sikiru Adetona, Ogbagba II.


Economy
A study of the city in 1998 (Odugbemi & Oyesiku, 1998) found that less than 20 per cent of the population are wage-earners in the public or private sector; over 60 per cent are engaged in petty trading whilst some 8 per cent are subsistence farmers, whilst the remaining operate in the informal sector as self-employed artisans and providers of a wide variety of services. There are a few small- and medium scale industries in the city and its environs mainly concerned with sawn timber milling, furniture-making, brewing and fruit-juice production and a pharmaceutical industrial establishment. Informal sector activities are usually associated with low productivity and low incomes, and 70 per cent of the household heads earned less than N8,000 (US$80.00) per annum whilst only 10 per cent earned above N16,000 (US$160.00) per annum. Consequently, without the remittances from sons and daughters abroad, 90 per cent of the people of Ijebu-Ode lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.00 per day.



ORIGIN OF THE NAME "IJEBU-ODE"
The name “Ijebu-Ode”, according to history, is a combination of the names of two persons namely, AJEBU and OLODE who were conspicuous as leaders of the original settlers and founders of the town. OLODE was said to be a relative of OLU-IWA, the first Ruler of Ijebu. It is difficult to say for certain which of them (AJEBU and OLODE) preceded the other, but tradition has it that Ajebu, Olode and Ajana met on this land, which was uninhabited dense forest. They consulted Ifa Oracle to determine the actual spot on which each one should make his place of abode. The Oracle directed that Ajebu should go and settle on a spot now known as IMEPE. OLODE and AJANA were to remain together at a place known today as ITA AJANA. The grave of Ajebu is still marked by a tomb erected by his descendants at Imepe, near Oyingbo market on the Ejinrin Road. Olode's grave is also marked at Olode Street at Ita Ajana Quarter, Ijebu-Ode. The two persons more conspicuous among the original settlers being AJEBU and OLODE, the town derived its name from their names, hence "IJEBU-ODE."
Ijebu-Ode town was divided into two main wards namely, Iwade and Porogun. Iwade was divided into two -- Iwade Oke (also called Ijasi) and Iwade Isale; that is, Upper and Lower Iwade (North and South). By this division, there are three wards in Ijebu-Ode town. That was why the town was spoken of as "Iwade, Porogun, ljasi seketa ilu" unto this day: Iwade oke, lwade Isale and Porogun. Each Ward was divided into QUARTERS known as "Ituns.” Iwade Oke has four quarters (Ituns); Iwade Isale has thirteen Ouarters (Ituns) and Porogun has eight Quarters (Ituns), making a total of twenty-five (25) Quarters.
Each Quarter had its own Quarter Head, who was known as 'Oloritun" -- the head man of the Quarter. All of them combined were spoken of, or referred to, as the 'Oloritun Medogbon" (twenty-five Olorituns -- Quarter Heads) and they constituted the ancient and traditional IJEBU-ODE TOWN COUNCIL. Each Quarter Head represents and expresses the views of the people of his Quarter with whom he holds regular meetings to discuss matters affecting general public interest. The meetings also serve as tribunals in settling minor civil matters.
The traditional twenty-five Quarters of Ijebu-ode are:
A. Iwade Oke, four (4) -- ljasi, Ita Ntebo, Odo Egbo and Ita Afin
B. Iwade Isale, thirteen (13) -- Idomowo, lyanro, Idele, Imepe, Ijada, Ipamuren, Ikanigbo, Isoku, Odo Esa, Agunsebi, Imupa and Ita Ajana.
C. Porogun, eight (8) -- Idewon, Mobayegun, Mobegelu, ltalapo, ldogi, Isasa, Idomowo-Muja and Ojofa.
GOVERNANCE
There were no political parties as known in modern democracy, and yet the ancient administrative set-up which ruled ljebu in those days was democratic in principle. There were political groups which had functions each in the administration of town. The administrative pattern in Ijebu-Ode was the same in all other towns under the sovereignty of the Awujale, in some cases with slight variations.
The Societies were:
1. The Pampa - the people;
2. The Osugbo - the executives;
3. The Ilamuren - the high chiefs;
4. The Odis - palace assistants (officials) and servants; and,
5. The Parakoyi - equivalent to the Chamber of Commerce.
1. THE PAMPA
The Pampa, though the lowest in rank in Ijebu society, was the mother and spring board of the other groups. The Pampa was the people to whom we refer as the electorate in modern democracy and from them the others derive their authority. Without the Pampa, the Osugbo and the Ilamuren, even the Oba did not exist. The Pampa was the voice of the common people which must be heeded in the administration of the town. Titles in the Pampa Society were as follows:
1. The Agbon whose area was lwade Isale;
2. The Kakanfo whose area was Porogun; and,
3. The Lapo-Ekun whose area was Iwade Oke (Ijasi).
These three are equals in their respective Wards. There were also two other chiefs of lower rank. These were:
1. The Jagun for the whole of Ijebu-Ode (attached to Agbon in Iwade Isale); and,
2. The Likotun for the whole of Ijebu-Ode (attached to the Kakanfo Porogun).
Other Chiefs lower in rank to the Jagun and Likotun were the Ashipas -- one for each Ward: Iwade Isale, Iwade Oke and Porogun. Their functions were to be the medium of information between the mass of the people - the "Womparis"- and the higher chiefs. Matters of any kind from the outlying districts (the farms attached to particular wards) came through them; but there were however, certain villages which come only through the Olisa and some through the Egbo.
2. THE OSUGBO
This is a Cult - a Fraternity of Chiefs and Elders which was also the Executive Authority of the town. It has also a religious character. Two brass images known as "Edan" was the center of worship in the Osugbo Cult. It was the highest group and Cult and commanded the respect and obedience of all. Women were admitted into it by initiation but such women must have passed child bearing age. Titles in Osugbo in order of precedence were:
1) Odele Olurin;
2) The Oliwo;
3) The Apena; and,
4) The Akonoran.
They had different functions in the Osugbo, the Apena being the Chief Steward in the Society. There was an inner circle known as the Iwarefa consisting of only six members as the name implied including the Apena and the Odele Olurin. The Oliwo and the Akonoran were not in the Iwarefa Circle. The Osugbo was the Legal Executive - they enforced the law and executive judgement in capital crimes. They were also members of the “Owa” - the King’s Court.
Aso iborun-nla (a large wrapper), Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.
Ijebu women weavers manufacture the ritual attire that all oshugbo members must wear. The Ijebu Yoruba refer to such cloth as aso olona, meaning “cloth with patterns.” Oshugbo dress calls for a large wrapper made up of four foot-wide panels sewn together along the selvage and worn toga-style on the body. It also includes a single-panel of cloth called an itagbe, which they wear both over the left shoulder (left is the sacred side in oshugbo) or as a turban on the head. Oshugbo members wear this ensemble of cloths for the purposes of public display.

3. THE ILAMUREN
The Ilamuren is the class of High Chiefs under the headship of the Olisa. Other chiefs in this class are the Ogbeni-Oja, Egbo, Olotufore, Apebi and other Chiefs that may have been initiated into the class having fulfilled all the conditions of initiation and provided “Eran Iboje” (a feast of ram or goat.
The seat of the Ilamuren is ILISA. But when it comes to the (Aafin) Palace of the Awujale, the Ogbeni-Oja takes precedence over any chief. The "Oja" in the Ogbeni-Oja title is not "market" - (its common meaning) but the PALACE (AAFIN AWUJALE).
The Ogbeni-Oja title had remained vacant for a long time in Ijebu history. Not much was known about its relevance and importance until Chief T. A. Odutola became the Ogbeni-Oja. The position of the Ogbeni-Oja in the society became clearer and recognized during the reign of Awujale Gbelegbuwa II. The highest title (not hereditary) a free born Ijebu can aspire to is that of Ogbeni-Oja.
Professor E. A. Ayandele confirmed this in his book: The ljebu of Yorubaland, 1850- 1950: Politics, Economy and Society (Heinemann, Ibadan, 1972); part of last paragraph page 11, he wrote:
"Final reconciliation was effected when Odutola was able to purchase the highest title available to a commoner - that of Ogbeni-Oja; a position that put him defacto next in rank only to the Awujale."
Again Foluso Longe in 1981 and in his book: A rare breed - The story of Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola last paragraph of page 13 wrote:
"Little is known in the country about Adeola Odutola's political activities, yet he dominated the politics of Ijebuland from about 1945 to the present time where, in his position as Ogbeni-Oja, he is in his own chieftaincy line next in rank to the Awujale as his Prime Minister and a moving force in Ijebuland."
Ogbeni-Oja Odutola enjoyed very high and dominant position in the Royal Court of the Awujale. When Awujale Gbelegbuwa II acceded to the request of the Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo and granted him permission to wear beaded coronet 1950, it was Ogbeni-Oja Chief Odutola who, as representative of the Awujale presided over the ceremony in Ijebu-Igbo and presented the beaded Crown to Orimolusi Jewel Adeboye.
When Oba Adesanya, Gbelegbuwa II, joined his ancestors in January 1959, it was Ogbeni-Oja Chief Odutola who became the Chairman of the Regency Council, and presided over the affairs of Ijebu-Ode during the interregnum.
The Western Region Government also accorded the office of the Ogbeni-Oja deserved recognition, in the official letter to the Local Government Adviser announcing the appointment of the new Awujale Adetona on 4tn January, 1960 (Ref. CB41/333), the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government directed:
"I am to request that Chief Odutola, the Ogbeni-Oja be informed that for the same reason, the Minister regrets that he was unable to notify him of the appointment before the publication of the press release."
Chief Odutola presented the new Awujale, young Oba S. K. Adetona to ljebu people at Itoro, Ijebu-Ode on 14th January, 1960.
Historians must however note the consolidation and modernization which have been effected in the hierarchy of the High Chiefs of ljebu-Ode in recent years and during the reign of the present Awujale. By 1995, Oba Adetona had evolved and established an orderly and traditional system of succession among this class of High Chiefs.
4. THE ODI SOCIETY
This was composed of the Oba’s attendants. Their descendants also come into this rank. They were employed as messengers of the Oba. They were first styled "Agunrins" and later became "Odis" by promotion. Another category in this class are the refugees (asaforiji) who sought refuge under the Oba because of one reason or the other from their homes and/or countries. From this Odi rank some were promoted and then they could leave the Oba's Palace and occupy land allotted to them by the Oba on which they lived with their own family. They farmed in the Oba's land for their living, but were always at the Oba's service whenever he needed them. But the land will never pass to them.
5. THE PARAKOYI
This is a Society which was more of a commercial nature than political. It was the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. Members looked into anything pertaining to trades and market disputes. They have Olori Parakoyi (Head) and his Ashipas in running the organization.
6. THE ANCIENT TOWN COUNCIL
What could be described as the Town Council in those days was the Council for Olorituns known as "Oloritun Medogbon" that is the twenty-five Quarter Heads in ljebu-Ode. For example, there were twenty-five Quarters and each had its own Quarter Head called "Oloritun" whom the people respected and was recognized by the Awujale. The people of the Quarter met regularly in his house and dealt with petty matters among themselves. There, other matters of general public interest were discussed. All these Quarter Heads also met to discuss all matters affecting the common interest of the town.
Each Oloritun represented the people of his Quarter: This organization formed the link between the people and the governing authority.


Religion
DEITIES IN IJEBU
AGEMO
Foremost among the deities in Ijebu is the Agemo which is jointly celebrated by Ijebu communities in June/July of every year. The Agemo is a rallying factor among the communities that make up Ijebu state. It is believed that the idea was initiated by the Obanta himself as an annual assembly of his priests (Alagemos) at Imosan to curb an unusual incidence of recalcitrance during the dispersal of townships. He was said to have summoned the Agemo priests from 16 different locations to Ijebu-Ode for heart-to-heart (frank) discussion.
Imodi Ijebu, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, June 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III.
Ositola and Omosese, Yoruba priests of ifa in Imodi Ijebu, gather with other devotees every five days to worship Orunmila, the orisa (deity) of wisdom, through prayer, song, and casting ifa. Ifa may refer to the rite of divination or to Orunmila, who was present at the time of creation and gave his children ikin ifa (the sacred palm nuts of ifa) by which to communicate with him. Hence, it is orisa Orunmila who knows ori inu (the inner head or personal destiny) that each person chose and was granted prior to entering this world.

Obanta prepared well for his visitors whom he feted and had discussion (oro awo) with. These priests too, as it was normal with them, came with their instruments of power (and defense). And to prevent a possible attack on the people, Obanta made the meeting more business-like so that none of their powers could filter to the people.
The Agemos (in the order of dancing at Agbala Imosan & Ijebu Ode) are:
1. Tami (Odogbolu);
2. Olumoro (Imoro);
3. Serefusi (Igbile);
4. Posa (Imosan);
5. Moko (Okun);
6. Alofe (Ijesa-Ijebu);
7. Onugbo (Okenugbo);
8. Iju (Imosan);
9. Lapen (Oru);
10. Magodo (Aiyepe);
11. Bajelu (Imuku);
12. Lubamisan (Ago-lwoye);
13. Petu (Isiwo);
14. Ogegbo (Ibonwon);
15. ldobi (Ago-Iwoye); and,
16. Nopa (Imushin).
Other fetish Agemo Priests that do not perform dancing rites are:
1. Onijagbori (Imosan);
2. Adie (Ago-Iwoye); and,
3. Ogi (Idogi, Ijebu-Ode).

The Agemo festival has since followed the format with people celebrating it with pomp and pageantry. The Alagemos usually follow a permanent festival route during which women are compelled to stay indoors. The Awujale is the one that now receives the Alagemos through their head (Tami) whom he, Awujale, will receive at Ipebi before the usual "ee ke ee" is chanted to signify the arrival of the other Alagemos.
Babalawo Kolawole Ositola performing a divination rite known as Idafa-Ilu, Ijebu-Ode, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, June 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III. 
Holding the ikin ifa (palm nuts) in his lefthand, the priest grasps them with his right hand. If one palm nut remains, he makes a single mark in the iyerosun dust. If two remain, he makes a mark. Two parallel rows of four marks indicate the signature of one of the sixteen odu ifa.

ORO
Oro festival is also common to Ijebus. It is used to cleanse the communities of bad omen. It usually comes up before the Agemo festival as a strategy of preparing the ground for the Alagemos to ensure that the communities have been rid of evil spirits as well as epidemics. It is believed that communities are safe after Oro festival (Igbalu) and so "Eiye a ke bi eiye and Eran a ke bi eran.” Women are not allowed to witness Oro worship which is usually a seven-day programme. In Ijebu-Ode, the Oro comes out in the night when women must not only stay in-doors, but must equally not attempt to peep at all, while in some Ijebu villages women are kept in-doors throughout the day.
EBI
Also celebrated is the Obinrin Ojowu (Ebi) which usually falls between February and March of every year (beginning of planting season). The Olowu is priest of Obinrin Ojowu who directs the rites and takes responsibility for its worship. Before the Obinrin Ojowu celebration, the Olowa would have had to consult with the Awujale and secure his consent on three different occasions. He will then pass death sentence on dogs that have no palm fronds around their necks.
The Iroko tree at Odo -Esa is very important to Obinrin Ojowu festival as some rites are performed under it and a dog is usually killed and hung on it throughout the year. Also associated with the festival is the Woro carnival (which usually takes people round the community) and the practice of youths testing might and level of endurance with cane competition. They engage themselves (in twos and beat each other until one gives up (by hanging his cane).
LEGURU
The month of August is usually devoted to the worship of Leguru (although this is no longer popular) in remembrance of the bravery of the Onisemu Leguru. He was said to have volunteered to sacrifice himself to save Ijebu Ode from being taken over by the lagoon which overflowed some areas of the township. Unconfirmed reports have it that the town was then faced with the threat of the Lagoon taking over the whole place, and as was predicted, the town would only become a port (not as currently habitable).
The man, it was said, was a foremost priest who decided to brave the sacrifice when Ifa talked about the grave implication of retaining the water in the town. Reports have it that Leguru himself performed the divination and was then not prepared to change or twist the facts as revealed by Ifa that he (Leguru) was the one that could save the town by sacrificing himself. People still claim to hear him perform divination (under water) around a portion of the Lagoon at Epe.



ORIGIN OF THE YORUBAS {IJEBU} (PART II)
The origin of the Ijebus has been variously given. One account makes them spring from the victim offered in sacrifice by the King of Benin to the god of the ocean. Hence, the term “Ijebu” from “Ije-ibu” (that is, the food of the deep). The Ijebus themselves claim to have descended from “Oba-nita,” thus, referring to themselves as “Ogetiele, eru Obanita” (that is, “Ogetiele, servants of Obanita”). But who was this “Obanita?”
Tradition says he also was a victim of sacrifice by the Olowu or King of Owu. It was said that the Olowu offered in sacrifice a human being where two roads crossed; this was termed “Ebo-ni-ita,” a sacrifice on the highway. This was a situation where this particular victim of sacrifice was mangled and left for dead at the crossroad (“orita”). However, at night, the victim revived from the ordeal and crawled away into the forest, where he subsequently recovered and survived. He lived on fruits, and did a little bit of farming.
King of Ijebu-Ife, Yoruba peoples, central Ijebu area, Nigeria, 1982. Photo by H.J. Drewal and M.T. Drewal. 
 The Ijebu are ruled by awujale (a divine king) based in Ijebu-Ode and a series of lesser-crowned rulers located in neighboring Ijebu towns. A separate but not unrelated system of Ijebu rule is the judiciary society called oshugbo (ogboni by other Yoruba subgroups). Oshugbo is made up of male and female elders who decide on criminal court cases and who oversee all affairs concerning the king.

With population growth over time, and being the oldest man in most of the immediate area, he was regarded as the “father to all,” and subsequent generations called him their ancestor. Thus, the Ijebus were formed, and the term, “Ebonita” (a sacrifice on the highway) was converted to “Obanita” (a king on the highway). A forest is still shown near the village of Aha (or Awa), where he is annually worshiped, and from whence he was supposed to have ascended into heaven.
Actually, legend had it that when Obanta became very old and was contemplating his mortality, he inquired from the “Ifa” oracle how his legacy would be after his demise. Ifa told him that if he did not want the township to be in disarray after his death, he should leave town and die outside. Shortly after this revelation, Obanta disappeared and left town without notice, thus leaving people to speculate that he must have ascended into heaven. This was how the phrase: “Obanta, the one who wages war from heaven” became coined. But “Lawa,” after he relocated to a new settlement, testified that the forest near his new abode was also in close proximity to that of Obanta, near Awa or Aha. It was as a result of this testimony that people developed the belief that whatever statement came out of the mouth of Lawa was directly from Obanta!

It is rather curious that both accounts of the ancestral origin of the Ijebus point to the incidents of being victims of human sacrifices. The latter account narrated above is reconcilable with the former, which states that the name “Ijebu” was derived from the expression: “Ije-ibu” (food of the deep). It is also safe to infer that the population over which “Ebonita” was the head, may have been largely influenced by the victims of the ocean so as to give the name “Ije-ibu” to the entire populace. There are also other important facts and curious coincidences connected with the Ijebus which have strong bearings on this tradition of their origin.
The Ijebus, before the conquest, were the most exclusive and inhospitable of the whole of the tribes. Very few, if any, outsiders were ever known to have walked through the territory with impunity under any circumstances whatsoever. Many of those who attempted to do so were never seen nor heard from again! Commercial transactions with outsiders were carried on at the frontier or at the borders with neighboring towns.
It is also important to point out that even if the latter account of the origin of the Ijebus, through being a victim of the Olowu were true, it is very singular indeed that it was mainly due to the Ijebus, with their firearms, that the Owus owed their fall and complete annihilation as an independent state to this day! Why so? Read on!
The original King of the Ijebus was known as the “Awujale”. His origin was thus given by authentic tradition, the event with which it was connected having occurred within authentic history. There were formerly two important towns called Owu Ipole and Iseyin Odo in a district between the Owus and Ifes. They were settlements from the cities of Owu and Iseyin, respectively. A quarrel was reported to have arisen between them on the matter of boundaries, and the dispute, having been carried on for many years, developed into open fights, thus degenerating into a crisis, which both the Olowu and the Owoni of Ife (both being interested parties) were unable to contain or resolve.
This led them into sending messengers to the King of Oyo to solicit his help and, in response, he (the King of Oyo) sent out a special “Ilari” and a large number of attendants to put an end to the strife. The “Ilari” by tradition, had an inviolable personality. Hence, he came and settled down between the two warring factions, and right in the middle of the disputed piece of land, thus compelling them to settle their differences amicably and keep the peace. The Ilari was named the “Agbejaile” or “Alajaile” (an arbiter of land dispute). This term was subsequently ‘softened,’ ‘coined,’ and ‘rounded’ into the term: “Awujale.” This event occurred during the reign of King JAYIN.
As it was customary to pay royal honors to the King’s messengers out of courtesy, this “Ilari” was accorded royal honors, as appropriate, and he remained there permanently and became the King of the region. The Ijebus, up to that point in history, had no king of their own because heretofore, they had preferred to hold themselves aloof from their neighbors. Subsequently, this “Ilari” who became the “Awujale,” moved to Ode. The Awujale ranks after the Oyo provincial kings such as the Onikoyi, Olafa, Aresa, and Aseyin
Imodi Ijebu, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, June 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III. 
The sixteen ikin ifa are kept in an agere ifa, a shallow bowl often skillfully carved depicting figures commending the ase (power or authority) of those who have followed the wisdom of Orunmila. This agere ifa depicts a kneeling female figure holding aloft the large bowl containing the ikin ifa. In her strength and physical beauty she images the ase (power or authority) of a follower of Orunmila and is surrounded by four female followers who lift their breasts in salutation to ifa.

The Ijebu Province
Among the Ijebus, the civil authorities are of three divisions: The Osugbos or Ogboni, the Ipampa, and the Lamurin. Without these bodies acting in concert, no law can be enacted or repealed. Of these bodies, the Osugbos are the highest because even the King himself must belong to that fraternity. The Lamurins are the lowest. Among the Egbas and Ijebus, the Ogbonis are the chief executive. They have the power of life and death, and the power to enact and repeal laws. But in the Oyo provinces, the Ogbonis have no such power. They are rather more of a consultative and advisory body, the King or Bale being supreme. Only matters involving bloodshed are handed over to the Ogbonis for judgement or for execution, as the King deems fit. The actual executioners at Oyo are the Tetus, amongst the Ibolos, the Jagun and in the Epo Districts, the Akodas, or sword bearers of the principal chiefs, all acting together.


IJEBU-REMO
SHAGAMU: Akarigbo is the head of all the Kings in Remo land. The first Akarigbo was Igbodein, child of Aka, who was married to Onigbo. Onigbo was one of those that followed Obanta into Ijebuland originally. King Igbodein’s poetic praise (oriki) was: “Owa Mojo-nmogun ofin.” After he settled down at Oke Iyemule, he was quoted as saying: “Ore mo!” This was because he relocated to the new home in anger around the year 1450.

It was Aroyewun Akarigbo who moved the people out of Iyemule and relocated them to orile Ofin. The other Akarigbos at this early time were: Luyoruwa, Radolu, Koyelu, Muleruwa, Tewogbuwa, Arioko, Liyangu, Otutu bi Osun, Erinjugbotan, Faranpojo, Igimisoje (who was renowned for leading his people (in 1872) to settle in the place now known as Sagamu, on a land owned by a man named Bammowu, after the Makun war of 1862. Shortly after this settlement, the people of Imakun came back from their hamlet and found Akarigbo, Alara, and Alado. After that, the Elepe, along with his friends, also arrived and settled. Shortly after, there was a dispute between Akarigbo and Elepe over crown and this resulted in war. It was during this battle that Akarigbo was quoted as saying: “Bi n ko tile ju osandie, emi ni Oloja Remo.”

                             Akarigbo of Remoland

This new settlement, at that time, was called Sagamu because it was close to a river. After this era, Deuja became the Akarigbo in 1880. In 1895, Oyebayo became the Akarigbo, and it was during his era that another war ensued between him and the Elepe (in 1903) over the ownership of a crown. This war was so fierce that then Governor, the Hon. William MacGregor, had to intercede and mediate. During the mediation, then Ooni agba Olubuse was called as a witness and he gave a testimony to the effect that he did not know who the Elepe was, but he knew Akarigbo, and as a matter of fact, he received fifty pounds (£50) from the Akarigbo before giving him the crown in dispute. The governor eventually settled the rift and seized the crown from the Elepe. It was later reported that one Mr. E.S. Ajayi (B.Sc.), on his return from studying abroad, affirmed that he personally identified the crown on display at a museum in London. It was not too long after this incident that there was a conspiracy against Akarigbo Oyebajo and he was removed from the throne and banished to Calabar in 1914. Then Oba Awolesi became the Akarigbo in 1916. It should be noted that Akarigbo Adedoyin I was enthroned in 1916 but his reign was short-lived. It was in 1917 that the Akarigbo colluded with Awujale Ademolu and agreed to annex all land in Remo with Ijebu-Ode so both can become one.

In 1924, the Akarigbo sent emissaries to the Ooni of Ife to request a crown for him. In response, the Ooni sent a crown through his emissaries. As the Ooni emissaries were entering Ijebuland, they stopped by the Awujale Ademolu’s palace to pay homage. They told the Awujale the purpose of their journey and on learning why, the Awujale became angry and promptly sent messengers to the Akarigbo, summoning him to come and explain the rationale behind his requesting a crown from the Ooni. Messrs H. D. Lamuth and T.B. Dew (then Counsel-General) chastised the Akarigbo for what he did and appealed to the Awujale to exercise patience and understanding.
Then, the Ooni emissaries were sent back to Ile-Ife and Akarigbo returned to Remo to undertake appropriate rituals for his crowning ceremony. In 1936, another dispute ensued and this led the Akarigbo to be quoted as saying: “Mo kunle mo fi apo ko; mo duro owo mi ko to mo.” This statement became so controversial that the government had to send the Hon. Martin Dale to investigate the matter. It was during this investigation that the Akarigbo retained a lawyer named Palmer. At the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Martin Dale recommended that Remo should be separated from Ijebu-Ode.

Additionally, he also recommended that Remo should be paying four hundred pounds (£400) annually as land royalties to the government of Ijebu-Ode. This agreement was signed in 1937 and Mr. R.T. Minne was made the District Officer for Remo area. However, on July 27, 1946, the Akarigbo Oba Adedoyin I, as well as Laperu, Ologere, Ewusi, Odemo, Alaiye Ode, Alalisan, Onipara, Alakenne, Onirolu and Elepe, all gladly visited then Oba Awujale Gbelebuwa II, who received them warmly. After a long discussion, Oba Akarigbo rose to say that all the misunderstandings of the past have come to an end, because, as he put it, all of them are Ijebu, and Remo should not be different.
Then according to custom, kolanuts were broken into pieces and all of them took pieces and ate. Others at this August meeting were The Rev. W.F. Mellor, Attorney Adeleke Adedoyin, The Hon. T.A. Odutola and other palace Chiefs of the Awujale. Finally, on January 9, 1952, the Akarigbo announced publicly at the send-off ceremony of the Hon. A.F. Richards that he (the Akarigbo) would henceforth refrain from being involved in any public discord or battle. This Akarigbo became deceased on March 21, 1952. A memorial service was held for him on April 20, 1952. Shortly after his death, his son, Prince Adeleke made himself the Akarigbo, but was promptly removed by the people through an order of the court.


IJEBU-ODE
As a city, Ijebu-Ode, like most old Yoruba urban centers, has an administrative system that is in part traditional and in part modern. The head of the traditional administration of the city is the Alaiyeluwa, the Awujale, Ogbagba II Oba Sikiru Adetona with his different categories of Chiefs. The city is organized into three wards - Ijasi, Iwade and Porogun. Each ward in turn is organized in quarters or neighborhoods referred to as Ituns whose affairs are overseen by the Olorituns. Modern expansion of the city has necessitated the demarcation of new Ituns which continue to be referred to as suburbs. There are thus presently 36 Ituns and 15 suburbs in the city. Modern local government, however, has the city straddling three local government areas (Ijebu-Ode, Odogbolu and Atan). The city itself is a major transportation node in the state and a sizeable commercial centre, mostly informal.
Within this dual structure, traditional basic identities have been preserved to facilitate community-wide coordination and cooperation as well as some degree of group competition within the city. These identities revolve around age, sex, occupation, community organization and rituals of solidarity, which the current traditional ruler has done much to sustain. For instance, he has attempted to preserve the age-grade system in which all individuals born within a three-year interval are encouraged to organise themselves into an age grade or egbe. Members of each age grade are meant to know one another fairly well, to choose a leadership group from among their members, to meet to discuss issues of mutual or communal interest, and be willing to help one another if the need arises. Thus they act in some ways as kin groups. More importantly, the traditional ruler has sought to involve the regberegbes (the institution of egbes) in the development of the city.

Sex is also a fundamental identity for the division of labor in the city. Women in Ijebu society have always had the prerogative especially of trading and marketing and have, therefore, established quite formidable organisations to this end. As a result, women in the society enjoy a substantial degree of economic independence and have a parallel but complementary institution of governance in the city. Thus, market women operate as occupational associations much like craft guilds. There are also many craft guilds in the city which, on their part, operate as closed professions often with centralized controls and hierarchies of rank and grade usually involving apprentices, journey-men and masters. Masters accept economic and quasi-parental responsibility in the training of apprentices and attempt to inculcate relevant moral codes in the discharge of the obligations of the guild to its clients and to the community.
Community rituals of solidarity have become a critical strategy for building up social capital in the city. Such rituals, tend to occur each year, usually at the beginning of the harvest season. In Ijebu-Ode, the agemo festival is perhaps the most notable although there are also the obinrin ojowu (the jealous woman) festival and the Ojude Oba (the palace square) parade of the age grades which takes place usually after the Islamic festival but which now involves even Christian members of the egbe. These various festivals bring the diaspora home for celebrations and thus serve to re-create and strengthen a sense of community solidarity and identity.
(http://www.hks.harvard.edu/var/ezp_site/storage/fckeditor/file/pdfs/centers-programs/centers/cid/publications/faculty/wp/102.pdf)

MAKUN
This was the name Ewusi named his settlement, and being a prince, because he was the son of Awujale Obaruwa, used that influence to become the King of Makun. It was the war that raged in his home town in 1862 that made him to settle at Imakun. Little is known about the names of previous Ewusis. However, history had it that Ewusi Sotinwa was dethroned in 1929 during the Folagbade disturbance. Olukokun came after him, but he was also dethroned. The next king was S. Asaye and he was well liked by then Awujale Daniel Adesanya Gbelebuwa II. It was out of this likeness that the Gbelebuwa presented him with Apete (coronet) in 1939. Oba S. Asaye became deceased on June 22, 1952.

ODE REMO
Alaiye Ode was one of the children of Awujale Geje. He was a sibling to the Onibeju of Ibeju. It was recorded in history that one of the Alaiye of Ode, by the name Oshinloye, was accused of murder in 1902 and was found guilty by the Sagamu court and fined £150. After Osinloye, Dipeolu became king, but was dethroned in 1928 with the charge that he opened the doors of his palace and made negative remarks about the town masquerades (Oloro).

IPERU
Alaperu, who founded this town, was a grandchild of Awujale Ofiran. However, historical records show that the Elepe argued, at some point, that it was him that founded Iperu. There is scanty information regarding previous Alaperus. In 1915, Alaperu Owokalade was crowned and it was him that Awujale Folagbade gave the “Apete” in 1926. Later, Soyebo became Alaperu until 1939 when he was deceased. After him, Abraham Okupe was installed as “omowe, borokinni olowo soke dile” in 1940.

OGEERE
Ogeere was a settlement established by Ologeere, child of Lipakata (Agbenimadehin). He was one of those who followed Obanta to Ijebuland, but later established his own domain at Ogeere. Every year, a cow is killed at Ogeere as part of a ritual for the Awujale. In 1945, Alfred Ashaye (Olowo soke dile) was crowned the Ologeere.

ISARA
The Odemo, who founded this town, was an important member of the entourage of Obanta to Ijebuland, and just like others, he also later established his own domain at Isara. There have been many Odemos crowned since the town was founded but the first popular Odemo; Oba Samuel Akinsanya-Saki was crowned in 1944. Prior to becoming the Odemo, Oba Akinsanya was a popular politician in Lagos.

IGBORE (ABEOKUTA)
Asa, one of the female children of Awujale Oba Jadiara Agbolaganju, with her husband, went to Abeokuta and established a new domain, now known as Igbore. The family-of-origin poetic praise (oriki) is as follows: “Asa ara Igbore omo Oba Ganju, Afota modi.”

ISEYIN (OYO)
Adaba, another female child of Awujale Oba Jadiara, went on a long journey out of town with her husband, Ebedi. Adaba was known to be heavily involved in cracking kernels (eyin) a lot. She used to crack kernels for long periods without rest (both day and night) to the extent that she was nicknamed “Aseyin,” which became Iseyin till today. This was how the people of Iseyin in Oyo were given the following poetic praise (oriki): “Omo Adaba ku osun sese da apa si; Omo Erelu Ijebu; Omo Ebedi-Moko.”

IFE-IJEBU
History of this town has been scanty because it was ritually decreed, in earlier times of its founding, that the history of the town must not be told. However, around 1920-1921, during the controversy between Chief Jewo Oropo and the Ajalorun of that time, as well as the later rift of 1932 between Balufo and then Ajalorun, some of the history of the town came to light.
Ekun Tete was the first King of Ife-Ijebu. He was known to like idol worshiping a lot, being the head of the “agbohun ona-orun” in Ile-Ife.
Adesima Adeyemi, from Ijebu-Ife. Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.
Adesima Adeyemi, from Ijebu-Ife. Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson. 
Adesina Adeyemi, from Ijebu-Ife, is dressed in his typical attire as head of the reformed oshugbo fraternity. It consists of an iborun-nla wrapper covering his body and two itagbe, one on his left shoulder (bearing the initials of the fraternity) and the other on his head. Elsewhere in Yorubaland, members of oshugbo (ogboni) tend not to use Ijebu woven aso olona as standard attire. However, cloths bearing identical patterns to aso olona are found in cloth collections among Ijo groups living at the eastern end of the Niger Delta proper, more than 100 miles from Ijebuland. Trade seems to have been the impetus for this spread. The Ijebu Yoruba have always been known to be active traders of cloth. European merchant accounts from the early 19th century mention “jaboo” cloths traded into the delta region. Aso olona may well have been among the cloths transported in this fashion.


Before he left town because of his idol-worshiping habit, it was he who asked Balufo Ijaogun to make sacrifice for “Aija ni orun.” This was how Ekun Tete became the Ajalorun, thus earning the poetic praise (oriki) of: “Ajalorun Ekuntete.” It was this Balufo whose name was changed to “Orunto Olufe” of Ile-Ife for which he is known till today. It was during the reign of Awujale Oba Moyegeso (1710-1725) that the Ajalorun came to Ijebuland.
However, in 1937, during the rift between Remo and Ijebu-Ode, then Ajalorun, Oba Olugboyega, was reported to have claimed that Ajalorun was the replacement to Oduduwa of Ile-Ife and also that he came to Ijebuland before Obanta. After Olugboyega, Asani Mabadeje became the Ajalorun in 1943. It was during the reign of Oba Asani Mabadeje that the ambitious claims of the Ajalorun were curtailed.

IJEBU-IGBO
Ademakin or Orimolusi, whose poetic praise (oriki) was “Adoro Oke”, was from the Osimore family and was a very strong hunter. It was while he went on a hunting expedition to the eastern area of Ijebuland that he met a man named “Ogu Ogun Elegi”, who was an “Olode” from Imusin. Both of them started hunting together and came across an elephant. Instantly and simultaneously, they both shot at the elephant, killing it. As they carved the elephant, a scramble ensued for some of the precious parts, but Ademakin exercised restraint and said: “Erin mo Olusi.” It was this incident that made Ademakin’s wife (Sopen) to advise him to relocate and he did.
So, after he relocated, the story was that whenever people from out-of-town came looking for Ademakin, Ogun Elegi would tell them as follows: “Orimolusi Ijebu, o wa ninu igbo lokankan.” - meaning Orimolusi Ijebu is in the forest ahead. This was how Ademakin became the Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo. Later, Ogunelegi left this forest and re-settled in an area known till today as “Idode”. The seat of Orimolusi is at “Oke Sopen”.
Over time, more people came to settle in the area, and among these people, some named their area “Ojowo”, while others named theirs “Atikori”, “Okeagbo”, and “Japara”. Total settlements in this forested area were five in number. Other villages like: Asigidi, Igboaire, Awa, and Odo Molu later merged with them. Each of them had their own village heads, but they all accepted the Orimolusi as the overall head.
It should be noted that some other people of Ijebu-Igbo origin had argued that a person named Onoyelu was the first to settle at Ijebu-Igbo, and that he was the “Oloja Igbo”. It was after him, this historical version stated, that Ikudeinde, Adefisibe, Ikupakude, Ojumiri and Adetuga, all became kings. Then, there came a long period when Ijebu-Igbo was without a king. During this period, Ijebu-Igbo was ruled by village chiefs (Bale) until a man named Shittu was removed as village chief (Bale) in February 1929, and a man named Adesemowo was crowned as the king in 1930.

ODOGBOLU
A man by the name “Elesi Ekun Ogoji” was credited to have first stumbled into this town while hunting, and settled at “Efiyan”. Then, one Chief Ogbolu was sent from Ijebu-Ode to be the overseer, and he settled at “Odo-gbolu”. But because of his lackluster attitude, another person named Chief Layanra or Madegun (a friend to one of the children of then female Awujale), was sent to replace him. Chief Layanra settled at “Odo Layanra”. Since that time, no other replacement was sent until 1943, when Onasanya was installed as chief.
One day, Elesi went hunting in the forest and ran into a man named Aderohunmu, who was a child of Oba Awujale Ajano (1642). Prince Aderohunmu was reported to have been banished from Ijebu-Ode for lying. However, the condition in which Elesi found him in the forest was so pathetic that on getting back home, he went directly to the Awujale and reported that while hunting in the forest, he ran into a dark complexioned man behind river “omen” (“okunrin dudu lehin omi omen”) who claimed to be the Awujale’s son, and pleaded for clemency for the prince.
The Awujale, apparently still bitter about what his son did, was not as sympathetic and even joked, saying: “O mo le da ni” meaning, that’s what you get for being a traitor. It was since then that this prince became known as: “Moloda” (Okunrin dudu ehin Omen). Elesi was so filled with pity for Prince Aderohunmu that he pleaded with the prince to leave the forest and come and stay with him. So, in 1850, Prince Aderohunmu obliged to leave his settlement at Orule Iloda, and relocated to Odogbolu, and named his new area “Iloda”, which later became one of the prominent areas in Odogbolu.
It was since this time that Odogbolu had known no peace. This was because of the claim that the area known as “Moloda” should be the center of leadership for the entire Odogbolu area, but Oremadegun disagreed, thus creating a tug-of-war over territorial supremacy. This rift dragged on till 1903 when General Reef Talker had to intervene. Also in 1915, General Moorhouse intervened. In 1916, Mr. Sawyer, the District Administrator also intervened; same in 1924 by General Major Rockson. It was at this time that the Moloda made up the story he received his crown form Ile-Ife. As a result of this apparently false claim, he was dethroned.
In March 1929, Oba Dagburewe of Idowa, Idi Mobulejo, accompanied District Commissioners Rowel Jones, and T.B. Dew, undertook an investigation into the records of Odogbolu indigenes regarding the Moloda matter. During the investigative proceedings, Oba Dagburewe advised the Odogbolu people to consider merging the three royal titles (then existing) into one and then rotate ascendancy to the throne among the three areas. This advice was rejected. Then in 1930, Awujale Fibiwoga decreed that the three competing areas (Remadegun, Elesi and Moloda) would form the leadership for Odogbolu. This was how Odogbolu became a town with three leaders! It was after this that James Idowu became the chief of Moloda. In 1939, Odogbolu became separated from Idowa and Eyinwa became part of Odogbolu. Then in 1944, Chief Mobaranku became the head of Moloda.
Source: Itan Ido Ijebu by Dr. Badejo Oluremi Adebonojo, First published in 1990 by John West Publications Ltd., John West House, Plot “2" Block “A”, Acme Road, Ogba, P.M.B. 21001, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. Some information also taken from an unpublished manuscript by the same author, who has since died.

source:http://ijebumn.org/uploads/The_Ijebu_People.pdf











Ijebu woman weaving at Itagbe, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.
The finished cloths can be anywhere between twelve and thirty inches wide, either left single or sewn together in threes or fours to create the finished product. Unlike the men’s narrow strip variety, the woman's loom is completely stationary and, for the sake of convenience, located close to her compound so that she is able easily to tend to her other domestic responsibilities. This Ijebu woman is weaving an Itagbe, the cloth worn on the shoulder or wrapped around the head. The red and yellow weft-float pattern on this cloth bears the image of an opolo (frog). Typical of many Ijebu patterns, it is seen from a bird’s eye view suggesting orientation for divine rather than human viewing. This viewpoint also recalls the horizontality of Ijebu masks representing water spirits.


Aso iborun-nla (a large wrapper), Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson. 
This is an example of the large wrapper known as the aso iborun-nla meaning “big covering cloth.” It combines the ooni (crocodile) motif with a shaki (shag) feature. The latter is created by weaving supplemental threads through a small grouping of warp threads, leaving the ends hanging in front. The shag is meant to be worn outward for visibility. It is associated with power, prestige, and things that are good. The word shaki means tripe, or inner lining of a cow's stomach, considered among the tastiest and most desired foods among the Yoruba. However, in oshugbo, shaki has the deeper metaphorical meaning of one's inner vulnerability and transparency to the spirits of the earth.
The visual effect of patterns, textures, and color communicates to the viewer that the individual has lived a long, full, and spiritually endowed life. The Itagbe headtie has particular significance. In public, oshugbo members wear it turban-style with the elaborate fringe hanging downwards. For the Yoruba, who view the head as the seat of spirituality, the visual effect of the full turban with the suspended fringe gives further visual form to this spiritual power.
The spiritual powers by which oshugbo leadership is exercised is also suggested by the weft-float patterns on Ijebu woven textiles. Several represent water spirits prominent in Ijebu cosmology. Included among them are the ooni (crocodile ), opolo (frog ), agbarieja (fish head), and ejo (snake). The crocodile is the animal pattern repeated throughout this particular oshugbo wrapper, identified as such by its elongated body and out-stretched limbs. The crocodile motif appears most frequently on Ijebu textiles in because of its all-encompassing role as guardian of the spirits. The fact that it is often represented with heads at either end, as seen here, is also suggests its all-seeing powers.

Africa | Adesina Adeyemi dressed in his official attire as a high ranking chief.  He wears an Itagbe over his shoulder | Ijebu-Ife, June 1978
 Adesina Adeyemi dressed in his official attire as a high ranking chief. He wears an Itagbe over his shoulder | Ijebu-Ife, June 1978


Africa | Adesina Adeyemi in his typical attire as head of the Reformed Oshugbo fraternity.  It consists of an Iborun-Nla wrapper and two Itagbe, one on his left shoulder (bearing the initials of the fraternity) and the other on his head | Ijebu-Ife, June 1978.
Adesina Adeyemi in his typical attire as head of the Reformed Oshugbo fraternity. It consists of an Iborun-Nla wrapper and two Itagbe, one on his left shoulder (bearing the initials of the fraternity) and the other on his head | Ijebu-Ife, June 1978.











The priest chants verses of the Odu, Ijebu-Ode, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, June 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III.
The priest then chants the verses of the odu, which provide a context for the subsequent discussion of the problems faced by the suppliants. Subsequent casting of ifa indicates the nature and extent of the sacrifices that must be made, and to which spirits and deities.


Photosource:http://topeorekoya.blogspot.de/2013/10/video-pictures-from-ojude-oba-2013-at.html
                   http://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/topic-essays/show/19?start=14

4 comments:

  1. My names Ọlaewe Ifasọnya, (ifasonyaolaewe@gmail.com) a native of Ijẹbu-Igbo, from Tọnrin Etikuwọ Dynasty, now known and called Atikori. I appreciate you for your time and efforts in compiling this story, because if not completely correct, there must be some facts embedded in the story that will be informational. However, you will agree with me that a half-truth is as deadly as false information.

    As student of history therefore, I would recommend that further research is made to get the correct history of the relationship between Ijẹbu Ode and Ijẹbu Igbo especially. For instance, another story had it that Orimolusi, and one of the past Awujalẹs were direct descendants of a king in Ijẹbu Ode. However, Orimolusi went on hunting expedition in area now known as Ijẹbu Igbo, but before his return their father joined his ancestors, and because it was thought that Orimolusi could have been consumed by wild animal in view of his staying for a long time in the thick forest, his immediate junior brother was made a king before his return.

    When he returned shortly thereafter, he was flabbergasted, to say the least, that his junior brother was installed as a king instead of waiting for his return, and that made him to retort to his junior brother thus "Ìwọ Mà Fírọ̀n o", meaning you were so daring, that how dare his junior brother become a king while he was still alive. The chiefs there and then prevailed upon him, that since he came back with a crown found in an elephant during his expedition he should please go back with his group of hunters and establish his own kingdom in the forest, and that is why Ijẹbu Ode is known as Ijẹbu Ode (literally Ijẹbu outside), while Ijẹbu Igbo is Ijẹbu inside the forest. From the information we were told, the king that was installed in Ijebu Ode then instead of Orimolusi was known as 'Ofirọn Oye' which may corroborate a part of the story you told about a king called Awujalẹ Ofiran. Another aspect we may need to check is if indeed Ijẹbu Igbo is part of enclaves under Ijẹbu Ode, is why was Ijẹbu-Igbo not part of the sixteen Alagẹmọs (as Ijẹbu Ode is recited as Alagẹmọ Mẹrindinlogun)? I await your sincere response.

    ReplyDelete