BRIEF HISTORY OF IRAGBIJI TOWN IN OSUN STATE
For those steep in the tradition and history of Yorubaland, the mention of Iragbiji always evokes the people’s traditional praise them: “Iragbiji oloke meji tako tabo lori agba”. It means Iragbiji made up of two rocks male upon the female. The modest town with a rather slow laid back mien common to most small towns in the semi rural areas, is scenic. It has one major road from Ikirun meandering through the town heading to Igbajo, Ada and other towns. There are other small roads.
The towns visage is greatly influence by the rocky hills that form a kind of arc round it. But the hills are not austere. Trees, shrubs and other economic plants fight with the igneous rocks fro space. It is as if they have reach a kind of mutual agreement that but the trees and the rock should co-exist side-by-side for the sustenance of the community.
Here man and nature, most especially the hills, have come to co-exist that one can hardly be mentioned without the other. Although hills are the basis for the aesthetic beauty of this town, but it actually one of the hills, Okanyilule that has become the symbol of the town.
Okanyilule spectacular hill is at the back of the town towards the boundary between the Iragbiji people and Obaagun town. The rocky hill juts out high into the sky. Right on top of the rock another one is delicately place as if a superhuman giant had picked the rock and balance rock on top. It is a spectacle and marvel for many. It is from this rock that Iragbiji people got cognomen. Moving inside hill area is difficult with rocks and shrubs blocking the way. But finally one managed to make the it to the hill of course with scratches from plants. The site was worth the trouble. But according to the naitves, there was more to the hills than the aesthetics.
Oba Abdul-Rasheed Olabomi is the traditional ruler of the town. Cultured and well educated, talking about the tourist endowments of Iragbiji, most especially the famous Okanyilule hill seems to bring the out him. He has deep knowledge about his town’s history and talks about it like a history professor lecturing university students. He occasionally laced his speech with Yoruba songs in praise of his town. He talks about the Okanyilule hills: “The Okanyilule Hill is historical to Iragbiji. It is a monument that really depicts and connotes what Iragbiji is. Part of our cognomen says ‘Iragbiji owners of double hills, one fell down, while the other is still standing.’ Okunyilule has a history dating back to about 200 years ago.
There was a dispute over the ownership of the hills area and the land around it. It involved the then monarch of Obaagun, a neigbouring town to Iragbiji. The monarch of Iragbiji then was Oba Oloyede Dada. Then there were no policemen, there were no soldiers and there were no courts; but traditionally, when issues like that arose, our people in the past had their own method of settling such dispute. What was then was to invite all the Obas around Iragbiji area. It involved the then Timi of Ede, the then Ataoja of Osogbo, Oragun of Illa. All of them went to the foot of the hills and asked each of the monarch to prove that their ownership. Eventually the Aragbiji said, to prove that he was the owner of the land and the hills, that within seven days, the two hills, Tako-Tabo, one male and one female standing on each other, one will roll down within seven days. The then Oloba Agun said nothing of such would happen. To the glory of Almighty God, on the third day, the small hill sitting on the other one, one of them rolled and fell down.
Since then, Iragbiji has considered the Okunyilule hill a monument. In fact every year, people go there salute the courage of our forebears who were able to stand by the truth, uphold and also say the truth. We also commend the gods who allowed the truth to manifest in the rolling down of one of the hills. Today, it is the symbol of Iragbiji on our letter head. Anything we do, we would always allude to the Okanyilule hill. It is one of our prime monuments. We are proud of it.”
So, what are some of the things to attract a tourist to Iragbiji. The Oba has an answer: “Around the Okanyilule Hils, we have about four sites. There is a source of water at the Okayilule Hills. There is the site where the earliest migrants to iragbiji, called Iledesi,. That was where they settled. There is also a source of water we call Oloti. It was not Oloti from source, it became Oloti down the stream. If you get in there, you will see the marvels of the work of Almighty God, how water is gushing out from the base of the rock. It is as site to behold.
“When you leave there, you want to visit Oke Iragbiji itself, which has its own historical connotation. It started with the establishment of Iragbiji, about 600 years ago.
“History has it that our great grandfather, Sokungbade, was a great man, a hunter . when he arrived here, he went on hunting expedition to the pick of the hill, Oke Iragbiji. He was chasing an antelope and the antelope entered a hole on top of the hill. History has it that he entered and and the antelope and the hunter came out in front of what we now have as the palace. We cannot prove the veracity of that claim, but that is in our oral history. In those days, so many things did happen that we will see now and feel they are unbelievable. Since that time, our people have been celebrating the hill annually in what we call, Oke Iragbiji Odun rioke. We normally celebrate it last week of July every year. On top of that hill too, we have the Ayeye stream.
The stream has its source, on top of the hill. The water is always very clean and chilled. Then it was forbidden for anybody who was not a prince to go there draw water or have anything to do with it because it was sacriligoues. The water, before now, was said to be highly medicinal for barren women. The beleive3 was very strong that taking a cup full of that water, a barren woman would conceive. During annual festivals, people go to the stream to make a lot of pledges, the barren, sick and so on. history has it that about 100 years a go, there was an outbreak of small pox all around the then Yoruba land, if not Nigeria. That it was the water from Ayeye stream that was taken to heal the ailment. So, the water is regarded as highly medicinal and spiritual.
“We leave that place, we have the traditional wall fence, Odi. We have tow types: the earth wall fence and the rocky wall fence. According to our history, the two types were put up by extra-terrestrial beings. That our fathers in those days were so powerful that they invoked the spirit to help them construct the two traditional wall fences. Today, we still have relics of the fences. The earth fence has collapse, but we still preserve some of them. Leaving Iragbiji, one is left with the feeling of having been to a town where the people and nature are at peace.