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THE UNTOLD STORY OF AN ANCIENT YORUBA TOWN, OBA-ILE (PART II) THE MAKING OF UGOBA (IGOBA) AND OTHERS

By: Dr Stephen Ayo Fagbemi
 Published December 6th, 2010

As the oldest town in the whole of both Akure North and Akure South Local governments, Oba-Ile and its people have been involved in the founding of many villages and settlements around it. Apart from the many towns that the Oloba or his sons went to found, such as Uso{wo} and Awo-Ekiti, the people of Oba-Ile have gone to found farm settlements in villages and hamlets around Oba-Ile, such as Ogbese where late Oba Amos Omodara was a prominent person among the first settlers before he became the Oloba of Oba-Ile in 1947. Other places include Araromi where the settlers from Oba-Ile had to initiate the establishment of an Anglican Church where they worshipped when they could not go to Oba-Ile to worship at weekends especially during cocoa season. As a chorister at St John’s Oba-Ile I remember our choir’s involvement in leading at its annual harvest celebration. I was later involved in organising revival services there just as I had also preached there. Others are Eleyowo, where the first settlers were Oba-Ile indigenes among whom were Chief Aribo of Oba-Ile, Chief Odoo Oluwajugba, Asosanyin and a host of others; other villages include Ago Abo (now Ilu-Abo), Oyin-Iloro, Okolereagbe where the likes of late Pa Aladeselu farmed and had his cocoa plantation; Bolorunduro where late Elder N.S Oluwatimilehin established a branch of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) and Igbatayo No I and No II otherwise known as Owode where late Pa Jeje settled. In fact, Ugbo-ona, another of those farm settlements was largely populated by Oba-Ile people among whom were my late uncle Chief Adejuwon Fagbemi, the Ologunde of Oba-Ile. It was the Oloba of Oba-Ile who also obliged that Akure people could farm on these lands, courtesy of Oloba Aladesaiye. For easy political administration all these formed part of what was then known as Akure Division. This was a convenient political rather than historical arrangement. But what made this arrangement much easier was the historical link between the Oloba and the Deji, which dates to the installation of the 11th Deji of Akure. We shall return to this later.

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Another settlement that is of importance to Oba-Ile and the Oloba of Oba-Ile is Ugoba. When the people of Oba-Ile moved to the present site with his base at Umogun Oladeye, a section of them moved to settle at the place now known as Ugoba (Igoba). But it was then known as Oba-Odo while the other Oba (now Oba-Ile) with base at Umogun became known as Oba-Oke. In fact, as a young boy, I knew that Ugoba was only a few miles away from my father’s farm. Many people walked the same path with us every day that went to Ugoba. The story behind Ugoba as an extension of, or satellite base for Oba-Ile’s is a very interesting one. When Oloba went on adventure, history records that he brought a man from a T-junction at Irun to be his (medicine man) herbalist and was called Otalogun. Because Ugoba was part of Oloba’s land, he stationed him there and appointed him the head of that community with the title of Odofin. It was from there, Oba-Odo that is, that he would come to answer Oloba’s call and attend any community meeting where he was needed. This meant that he then became the head of the Oba community resident there. The link was such that, at the crowning of any Oloba, he would be presented to the two communities at once. The High Chief Elemo would present him to Oba-Oke and Oba-Odo, Oloba rin re i o; se in a sin? That is Oba-Oke and Oba Odo, this is your monarch (Oloba), will you serve and honour him and the people would respond appropriately in the affirmative. Centuries since this tradition commenced and despite many changes and the semi-autonomy of Ugoba, this was the format at the coronation of the present Oloba of Oba-Ile, Oba Agunbiade Otutubiosun III, in 1987. But this also implies that the head of Oba Odo (Ugoba) was not only one of Oloba’s chiefs but also one of his Kingmakers.

As such, it means that Oba-Ile’s traditions and culture are to a great extent replicated at Ugoba (Oba-Odo). For instance, the famous Agbon festival of Oba-Ile is celebrated at Ugoba in pretty much the same way. There is only a 5 day difference between them. As a young boy, I recall that some people would leave Oba-Ile to join in this celebration at Ugoba. If there was ever any confusion about the date of Agbon’s celebration, one only needs to ask when Ugoba is celebrating.

Now history has it that a big row broke out between Odofin Otalogun of Ugoba and other chiefs at the Oloba’s palace and Otalogun threatened to leave. The Oloba called his bluff as though it was an empty threat. But Odofin Otalogun made real his threat and left out of anger. The Oloba refused to appeal to him. Eventually on returning to Ugoba, he left with many followers numbering up to 200, leaving Oba-Ile’s population further depleted. This crisis was going to change the course of history for Oba-Ile community, the Oloba and his traditional administration.

When Odofin Otalogun approached Ado-Ekiti with such a crowd of people with him, the Ewi of Ado came to meet him to know his mission. But on narrating his story and seeing the large crowd of people travelling with him, the Ewi was left in no doubt as to the importance of Odofin Otalogun. Thus Ewi persuaded him to settle at Odo Ado and become his next in rank which offer Odofin Otalogun accepted. Thus he settled with his group at Odo-Ado and became Ewi’s most senior chief. Even today, Odofin is the title of the chief next in rank to the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti just as it now is in Oba-Ile but not before that time. Why? When the Oloba of Oba-Ile heard of this, he decided that the successor to Odofin Otalogun would become his next in rank and should reside in Oba-Oke (Oba-Ile) from where he would be administering Ugoba. But 9 days before the Aeregbe festival the Odofin would be allowed to go to his farm and spend time at Ugoba only to return 5 days before the festival. Hence Odofin earns the praise Aeregbe disan Odofin roko, Aergbe dorun Odofin bo ‘aleo. In the modern day the head of Ugoba community no longer bears Otalogun but Obalogun of Ugoba. Nevertheless the Oba-Ugoba ties remain even though things have changed from what they used to be because of civilization to the extent that in a recent publication the Obalogun of Ugoba is seeking government recognition as a beaded crown oba (king). Yet I recall that the Obalogun of Ugoba was one of Oloba’s kingmakers. I remember seeing the Obalogun of Ugoba come to attend the Iare’s meeting at Oba-Ile before Aeregbe festival.

So traditionally Oloba’s land extends to as far as Ugoba and Ogbese while the Ala River is boundary between him and the Deji of Akure. Actually according to tradition the boundary is at Umojo, close to Fiwasaye Grammar School junction, Akure. According to the present Oloba, Oba Agunbiade Otutubiosun III, he and Deji Adelegan Adesida III had also met there to pray for the peace and progress of their two communities just as the Ojomo Oluda of Ijebu Owo has a meeting point with the Olowo of Owo during their Igogo celebration at the boundary of Ijebu and Oke-Owo. But there is a lot more to the relationship between the Deji of Akure and the Oloba Oodaye of Oba-Ile than many people would know. We shall turn to this next.



(To be continued)




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