As with many traditions of origin of the Yoruba people, the traditions of origin of Ikare come in variants. This has in the past and even now generated some form of stoic and psychological but silent tensions. Through the analytical method, this paper clarifies the perceived doubt about the theme and concludes that the traditions, albeit different in narration, features some key Characters which in itself dispels the multi-content narratives.
RAJI Afeez Tope
Ofatedo (Osogbo) Nigeria
The origin of the Yoruba nation is involved in obscurity. Like the early history of most nations the commonly received accounts are for the most part purely legendary. The people being unlettered, and the language unwritten all that is known is from traditions carefully handed down.1 It is also instructive to note that all the various tribes of the Yoruba nation trace their origin from Oduduwa and the city of Ile-ife.2 as evident from the above, Ikare-Akoko in the present Ondo State of Nigeria is not an exemption to this “universal claim” of the Yoruba. While admitting Ikare Ile-Ife origin (leaning on available evidences as would be presented shortly), series of recent development in the town has placed a traceable tradition of origin on a zigzag mode. In whichever case an attempt shall be made to straighten the theme in this engagement.
As Akintoye indicated, our knowledge of the North Eastern part of Yoruba nation where Akoko North East belongs and of which Ikare is the Headquarter remains very poor. 3 It is therefore against this backdrop that the accounts of Ikare origin shall be based to a larger extent on oral traditions as a resultant effect of the lack of reliable documentary evidence.
Ikare is about 105 kilometers from Akure, the state capital. It is located in North Eastern part of the state between latitudes 40-50 North of the equator and longitudes 30-40 East of Greenwich meridian. The town, with an annual rainfall of 0.6 meters, lies mainly in the thick forest area and spreads towards the grassland belt of Arigidi, Akungba, Ogbagi and Ugbe-Akoko to the North South, West and East respectively.4
There exists two major stories of origin of Ikare, but as differed as these views were the dominant theme in both is Ikare emigration from the cradle of Yoruba civilization, Ile-Ife. In fact, credence is lent to Ikare’s Ile-Ife migration in that Agbede ( smithery ) was the pre-occupation of Agbedegbede in Ile-Ife and Igbede in Ikare, and going by linguistic similarity (at least in the name). it is plausible that the names Agbedegbede and Igbede may have stemmed from their indigenous craft of Agbede, this is better said in the words of Oyemitan5 ; “Agbedegbede in Ife is directly linked to Igbede in Ikare. The names is coined from our fore-fathers’ indigenous craft of of Agbede (smithery). Its practice in Ife is replicated here in Ikare on arrival of early settlers.”
A proper understanding of this migration views can best be situated within the context of the present “Royal Tussle” between the “Two Heads” of this Akoko town, a link which in my own estimation cannot be detached from this discourse, as it is synonymous to the two principal traditions of origin. This, as I shall demonstrate shortly played a pivotal role in peoples’ understanding of Ikare origin in the past and even now. With Ikare emigration from Ile-Ife established, the questions that should follow are; who led the emigrating crew and consequently founded Ikare, with whom did he emigrated, is there anything he was given or brought from Ile-Ife depicting royalty, where was his first settlement, how did the name (Ikare) came about, who was the first ruler. These questions are what this study seeks to address.
Traditions of Origin of Ikare
According to a version of Ikare origin, Ikare was said to have been founded by an Ife prince named Batimehin, a direct descendant of Oduduwa who left “Ilare” quarter at Ile-Ife in the second half of the 14th century, with an entourage made up of some of his immediate family members, hunters, farmers, and tent builders on an expedition for a new found land for permanent settlement. A versed Ifa diviner named Okunrinde was said to have accompanied prince Batimehin to search for a permanent place of abode. Every morning, Okunrinde would consult his Ifa Oracle to brief prince Batimehin on the number of days they would keep at a spot.6
The tradition furthers; Batimehin and his team finally reached a spot near the present site of Ikare later known as Oroyo farm7 or Ilumoba (Igbo Olukare) as Oyelade supposed.8 The leader of the expedition was advised to advance a little further, whereupon Batimehin called on Okunrinde, the Ifa consultant for further directives. Ifa thus proffered that the area of destination had been reached, but, for peace, comfort and development, a cowry, some blood of cock9 and an Albino were needed to appease the gods of the land.10, 11, 12 Batimehin therefore, called the attention of his people to the requests of Ifa oracle and the migrants began to wonder where and how to get those materials. Fortunately, Adunlu, a member of the entourage who was an Idol worshiper13 and hunter 14 volunteered to give one of the cowries tied on his hair to Okunrinde.
Also, the issue of the blood of a cock became a problem as there was nowhere they could get a cock.15 After serious deliberations however, one Bashoro from the crew volunteered to behave like a cock (Akuko in Yoruba and Aiko in Ikare dialect) and crew loudly whilst his blood was sapped as a constituent of Ifa’s request. Consequent upon this, Bashoro was given the title Akuko or Aiko.16 One other unidentified member of the crew according to Ibiwumi17 and Toyin18 lured his Albino friend into being sacrificed to the gods in appeasement for their permanent settlement. It is believed in some quarters that it is from this incident that the name Ikare or Ika Ore (a treacherous friend) stems19 while others presumes its coinage from “Ilare”(the quarter to which this tradition clings its Ile-Ife origin) to Ikare their arrival at this new abode.20 this argument might have perhaps been borne out of tonal-linguistic proximity.
It is worthy of note that according to Ikare tradition, Adunlu and Akuko in reverence of the “favour” done to the community were exempted from prostrating to the leader of the expedition. Up till today, these (two) chiefs do not prostrate before the Olukare.21
In the same development, the incumbent Olukare, oba Akadiri Saliu Momoh (IV) asserts that they migrated during the dispersal period around 1382AD. After several years of traveling, Batimehin and his group finally arrived at the present site and he became the first ruler of Ikare with a beaded crown as a result of a kolanut which he received from Oduduwa when leaving Ile-Ife. During the migratory and transitional period, between 14th and 15th centuries, Ikare is said to have been traditionally ruled by the Olukare dynasty, the fist of whom was Batimehin.22 After him came Atiba, Ayikere, Aokerese and Alila, in that order. It is instructive to note that Alila’s reign was said to have witnessed series of wars. He was succeeded by Etimigbo, Atamagha, Ilekalu II, Ata Elegbe, Olono-Ola, Ajagunna, Momoh I, and Adu Jubril. Adu ruled the town between 1956 and 1976, and upon his exit, the incumbent Oba Akadiri Momoh (IV) did not succeed him until 1984.23
The Olukare Dynasty 24, 25
9. Ata Elegbe
11. Ajagunna Died 1925
12. Momoh I 1925 - 1927
13. Momoh II 1927 – 1952
14. Ajagunna II 1952 - 1956
15. Momoh III 1956 - 1976
16. Momoh IV (Oba Saliu Akadiri) 1984 – present
Another school of thought on the historical origin of Ikare believes that Prince Agbaode was the founder and the first Oba of Ikare. He was one of the many children of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race. About six hundred years ago, approximately during the 13th century, Agbaode left Enuowa quarters in Ile-Ife with members of his family and nine others who later became his chiefs.26 This was during the dispersal of other Yoruba Princes out of Ile-Ife, to found their own town/settlement.27 It was around this same period that Olowo of Owo and Asin of Oka left Ile-Ife. They moved together for a long time and each of the group decided to establish different settlement.28
After many years of journey which took them through Ifon, Ikere-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti and with a brief stopover at Iluomoba. Agbaode, due to several reasons prominent among which was insecurity, moved North-Eastwards through Imesi, and later settled in a transit place called Okagba, very close to the present day Ikare.29 Perhaps, the Agbaode – owa Ale group as Oripeloye and Akeredolu30 called our attention to, got to a spot known as Owa-Ale hill or Oke-Iba i.e. the hill of our progenitor/forefather,Ale.31 The place is hilly and for obvious reasons they had to settle there. It was the Ifa divination that told them earlier that a location, they would find a brook on top of a hill. When they got to this location, they discovered a brook, Omi-Atan (water that does not dry).32 This hill is where Ikare derived her first cognomen; “Omo Oloke Meji Takotabo” meaning “The one with two conical hill tops”33
When Agbaode and his people got to the top of the hill, they stayed under a tree where there were some “weaver birds” or Akeere among the people. This tree is called Igi Akeere because of the presence of these birds. It is from this that the name Ikare was derived.34 The presence of the weaver birds signifies peace and unity; and the people easily identified the location each time they had to go out as the centre knob.35
It is worthy of note according to this tradition that there are in the words of Aletile36 “ten persons who originally migrated from Ile-Ife as led Ale (Agbaode)”. This, as Oripeloye and Akeredolu37 suppose, are; Akuko, Adunlu, Olona, Asii, Afen, Ajirere, Olisa, Olotun and Oshodi.38
The tradition furthers, three of these person (who later became chiefs) as playing a defining role in their exodus from Ile-Ife and consequent founding of Ikare.39 Olona (the pathfinder) was the one that cut footpath for them as they proceed in their journey.40 Akuko’s role at the time was to (first) help in time keeping as there were no watches or bells. He therefore functioned as a cock to alert the people about the time everyday.41 A cam wood substance was placed on his head and would crow to tell the time whether it was dark, morning or noon.42 Moreover, when the Oracle requested a cock and a cowry for the appeasement of the gods, it was Akuko that disguised as a cock, he crowed and his blood was tapped for the purpose,43 while Adunlu whom is both the diviner and a hunter according to Aletile availed the cowry.44
Upon settlement on the new found land, Prince Agbaode took the title Owa Ale of Ikare. Owa Ale literally connotes an Owa or Oba that would never succumb to problems and will always assert his right in the face of tribulations. This is because Prince Agbaode confronted his brother princes who migrated from Ile-Ife to found their respective domains while sharing their father’s (Oduduwa) properties; the most important of which were crowns. The original crown shared to Owa Ale is(said) still in Owa Ale’s palace till today. It is called “Iya Ade” ( mother crown).45 Owa Ale Agbaode is said to have ruled Ikare with his chiefs numbering up to twelve until his death.46
The Owa Ale of Ikare Dynasty 47
1. Oba Agbaode (Founder of Ikare) 1382 – 1405
2. Oba Rotoye 1404 - 1443
3. Oba Olasun 1444 - 1453
4. Oba Ademoye 1453 – 1490
5. Oba Diromoye 1491 - 1502
6. Oba Agbole 1503 – 1527
7. Oba Amungbirigidi 1528 – 1549
8. Oba Ameyinpa 1550 - 1578
9. Oba Orukusuku 1579 - 1649
10. Oba Adetiba 1650 - 1725
11. Oba Ojugbo 1726 – 1802
12. Oba Gbodi 1804 – 1869
13. Oba Owajimite March, 1871 – May, 1871
14. Oba Aranja 1872 – 1814
15. Oba Ajiboye 1875 – 1918
16. Oba Olotu Adegbite 1922 – 1962
17. Oba Samuel Kolapo Adegbite Adedoyin (JP) 1972 – till date
Regarding the question which this discourse seeks to address as outlined in the introductory part, it is pertinent to observe that the two principal versions of origin of Ikare have triggered a controversial dust on the leadership of early settlers and the basis of rulership in the town. Thus, the Owa Ale Family and Olukare Family have conflicting claims to have founded the first settlement in Ikare48 It is against this backdrop that it need be stated that the commonality in these account of origin suggests either an evidence of borrowing and duplication of character (s) or better still, clever diffusion of information obviously to suit certain course.
With the fore as a basis, it is obvious to thoughts that, the said group of nine comprising Bashoro who later took the title Akuko, Okunrinde who subsequently became the Adunlu, and Olona, Asii, Afen, Ajirere, Olisa, Olotun, and Oshodi came with one of these “heads”, probably in the Owa Ale Agbaode crew leaning on available evidence. This is in the words of Aletile; “ten persons originally migrated from Ile-Ife as led by Ale”.49 suffice it is to even suppose that Agbaode and Batimehin may be the same character i.e. Batimehin might have been another name of Agbaode. Oyelade50 even calls our attention to the fact that, “Batimehin might have moved have moved from Okorun (where Agbaode and his crew landed) being a hilly place down to Oke-Ila (around Ikado where his settlement might probably be attributed) where he eventually expanded”.51
It need to be borne in mind that both tradition claims an “important” divination did occur which is supposedly to appease the spirits of this new abode.52 None of it however, points out the exact location of the divination. This might perhaps be Oke-Ibaa (the hill of our ancestor) under Igi Akeere (Akeere Tree), since this is where tradition claims the founder and his people settled. This might be more plausible as the purpose of the divination and sacrife is to appease the spirit of this new settlement.
1. S. Johnson, The History of the Yorubas, from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate, Lagos: C.M.S. Bookshops, 1921, 1.
2. Ibid. 2.
3. S. A. Akintoye…. Cited in S.A. Fele “A Biography of Oba S.K.A. Adedoyin: the Owa Ale of Ikareland”, an Unpublished B.A project submitted to the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, 2004, 9.
4. S.A Fele, A Biographical Study of Oba S.K.A. Adedoyin, The Owa Ale of Ikare. An Unpublished B.A Project submitted to the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, 2004, 7.
5. Oral interview held with Chief Aminu Oyemitan, 71 years, on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, at his residence in Ikare-Akoko.
6. S.A Fele, op.cit, 10.
7. D.E Tanimola, The Traditional Marriage System in Ikare-Akoko, An Unpublished B.A Project submitted to the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko,2012, 14.
8. Musa Eniola, Ikare community, Historical Background, its Land and Strangers, Ondo: Marvelous Publishers, 1998, 14.
9. Oral interview held with Chief G.O. Oyelade,73 years, on Thursday, April 14, 2016, at his residence, Ikare-Akoko.
10. Musa Eniola, op.cit. 14
11. Oral interview held with Chief Jegede Eleho, 57 years, on Friday, April 8, 2016, at his residence, Ikare-Akoko.
12. Oral interview held with Olori Ibiwumi Momoh, 65 years, on Monday, April 11, 2016, at Olukare’s palace, Ikare-Akoko.
13. Oral interview held with Ms. Omotola Toyin, 28 years, on Monday, April 11, 2016, at Ilepa, Ikare-Akoko.
14. Oral interview held with High Chief Aletile Lasisi, 65 years, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at Oyinmo, Ikare-Akoko.
15. Oral interview held with Chief G.O. Oyelade…. Op.cit.
16. D.E. Tanimola, Op.cit, 15.
17. This is in tandem with oral information obtained from, Okunade, Oyelade, Aletile, Akuko, Ibiwumi, Ogunyeye, Jegede and Oyemitan on different occasions.
18. Oral interview held with Olori Ibiwumi Momoh…. Op.cit.
19. Oral interview held with Ms. Omotola Toyin… Op.cit.
20. Ibiwumi and Toyin are of this opinion
21. Oral interview held with Olori Ibiwumi Momoh…. Op.cit.
22. This is a common knowledge about these chiefs. It has enjoyed a sacred trait from twelve prominent interviewee, I have engaged on the theme.
23. S.A Fele….10
24. D.E. Tanimola,…16.
25. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,Adimula Ti Ikre: A Biography of HRM Oba Samuel Kolapo Adegbite Adedoyin, The Owa Ale of Ikareland, Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited, 2010, 15.
26. Chiefs Akuko and Adunlu were strong Advocates of this opinion.
27. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,…op.cit. 15.
28. Ibid. 16.
29. D.E. Tanimola,…12.
30. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 16.
31. This hill is presently behind Owa Ale’s palace.
32. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 16
33. They are two hills or a stretch of hills with two conical tops, and between them is a valley. The taller one is the male while the lower is the female, hence, this cognomen. On top of the female is where Omi Atan subsides, and for this reason, it has to be a female in people’s cosmology.
34. This view is held by majority of those I engaged on the theme from different quarters of Ikare.
35. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 16-17.
36. Oral interview held with High Chief Aletile Lasisi,.. op.cit
38. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 16.
39. Oral interview held with High Chief Okunade Rafiu, 48 years, on Friday, April 15, 2016, at Okorun, Ikare-Akoko.
40. This view is supported by Okunade, Akuko, Aletile, Oripeloye and Akeredolu.
41. Oral interview held with High Chief Akuko, 67 years, on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at Ilepa, Ikare-Akoko.
42. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 17.
43. Oyelade, Okunade, Aletile, Akuko, Ibiwumi, Ogunyeye, Jegede, in separate interview shares this opinion.
44. Oral interview held with High Chief Aletile Lasisi,.. op.cit
45. Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 16.
46. S.A Fele… 10.
47. Unique Chieftaincy Celebration Programme, May 2, 2009. Cited in Henri Oripeloye and Olusegun Akeredolu,… 193.
48. This is a whole new research vista which has been cleverly shelved in this discourse, though its needful relevance is brought to bear on the present theme.
49. Oral interview held with High Chief Aletile Lasisi,.. op.cit
50. Oral interview held with Chief G.O. Oyelade…. Op.cit
51. Oke-Ila is around the present day Ikado.
52. This is in reference to earlier discussions on the said divination