HISTORY OF IGBAJA PEOPLE

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HISTORY OF IGBAJA PEOPLE

Igbaja is a community in Ifelodun Local Government Area, Kwara State, Nigeria, at an elevation of 349 m. It is about 40 km southeast of Ilorin, and is in Igbomina country.

The Ilorin Provincial Gazetteer (1918) dates the settlement of Igbaja as late 17th or early 18th century, while the Igbaja District Gazetteer (1933–35) puts it about 1750 AD.

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The wet season lasts from April to October, with 50–100 cm of rain. In the dry season from November to March there is 0–13 cm of rain. The natural landscape is Southern Guinea savanna, or open woodland. The soils are deep and red, often with clayey subsoil, suitable for pottery making.

The Irese (igbaja) people is an autonomous community within the Igbomina -Yoruba people. It is ruled by its great king, Elese. The Igbomina is a distinct clan of the Yoruba people sharing some features with the Oyo yoruba on one hand, and Ekiti yoruba on the other hand.

Our knowledge of the Irese people which forms the basis of this talk is derived principally from aspects of Yoruba folklore namely : Oriki Orile and proverbs. These are in themselves aspects of Yoruba oral tradition. This is a primary source of a permanent timeless nature which we consider superior to written sources which are handiwork of political masters.

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One major reason for our sole reliance on oral tradition is that the story we are to talk about is the story of a great cultural heritage that was, of a glory and splendor that has been lost through generations of neglect caused by subjugation of the Irese people by superior external forces – military, political and socio-cultural.

Modern Igbaja first caught the attention of the world through Radio ELWA, the radio broadcasting outfit of the Sudan interior mission, and latter through the theological college belonging to the same Christian mission.

Irese land is referred to in folklore by several names viz: Iran Ajisola, Oko Irese, and Iran Elese all of which seem to be cognomen of the ruler of the kingdom which Irese land actually was. It is he that was called severally as Ajisola Omokele ori Ogun, Okoalake ajiboronle oba Igbaja. It appears to us that Irese land was composed of several towns, among which were Ora, Erin, Oko Ode, Isale Owo and Igbaja itself.

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The names are used in out source and variously that it seems to us that Oko is synonymous with Igbaja. Indeed although there is only one known Igbaja, there are several Oko such as the one near Omu-Aran and the one near Ogbomosho. There is another in Egbaland , Ago Oko. It is evident that the Elese had a very close link with the Alaafin the ruler of the Oyo empire. Irese people were best known for their excellent works of art, Igba finfin

It was such a predominant occupation of the people that it remains a proverb till this day that : “Bi onirese ko tiko fingba mo, Eyi toti fin koleparun” meaning “even if Onirese refuses to carve patterns on calabashes, the ones he had already carved will never perish”. From the sale of the carved calabashes, they made lots of money:”Igba finfin Olora egbeje, finfintaifin olora egbefa”

The Igbaja people were also great farmers, planting mainly garden eggs (Ikan) ,okro (Ila) , and yams. It was from the sale of okro and garden egg that they got the riches which earned them their fame.

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The present traditional ruler is the Elese of Igbaja, Alhaji Ahmed Babalola Awuni arepo III.

The Irese (igbaja) people is an autonomous community within the Igbomina -yoruba people. It is ruled by its great king ELESE. The Igbomina is a distinct clan of the Yoruba people sharing some features with the oyo Yoruba on one hand, and ekiti Yoruba on the other hand.

Our knowledge of the irese people which forms the basis of this talk is derived principally from aspects of YORUBA folklore namely : oriki orile and proverbs. These are in themselves aspects of YORUBA oral tradition. This is a primary source of a permanent timeless nature which we consider SUPERIOR TO WRITTEN SOURCES WHICH ARE HANDIWORK OF POLITICAL MASTERS. We seem nit to have much choice other than oral tradition because the written sources available to us yield

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scanty information on the great heritage of the Irese people. Or of what use to us are archival information on Irese as a subjugated people which recorded Elese as a head of a district under another superior ruler!

One major reason for our sole reliance on oral tradition is that the story we are to talk about is the story of a great cultural heritage that was, of a glory and splendour that has been lost through generations of neglect caused by subjugation of the Irese people by superior external forces – military, political and socio-cultural.

Modern igbaja first caught the attention of the world through Radio ELWA, the radio broadcasting outfit of the Sudan interior mission, and latter through the theological college belonging to the same Christian mission.

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Ireseland is referred to in folklore by several names viz: Iran Ajisola, Oko irese, and Iran elese all of which seem to be cognomen of the ruler of the kingdom which Ireseland actually was. It is he that was called severally as Ajisola Omokele ori Ogun. Okoalake ajiboronle oba igbaja.

It appears to us that Ireseland was composed of several towns, among which were Ora, Erin, Oko ode. Isale owo. and igbaja itself.

The names are used in out source and variously that it seems to us that Oko is synonymous with igbaja. Indeed although there is only one known Igbaja, there are several Oko E. G the one near omuaran and the one near ogbomosho. There is another in egbaland , ago Oko. It is evident that the elese had a very close link with the Alafin the ruler of the oyo empire.

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Irese people were best known for their excellent works of art. Igba finfin.

It was such a predominant occupation of the people that it remains a proverb till this day that:

Bi onirese ko tikofingba mo

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Eyi toti Fin koleparun.

Meaning : “Even if Onirese refuses to carve patterns on calabashes. The one he had already carved will never perish”

From the sale of the carved calabashes, they made lots of money

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Igbafinfin olora egbeje

Finfintaifin olora egbefa

They were also great farmers, planting mainly garden eggs (Ikan) ,okro (Ila) , and yams. It was from the sale of okro and garden egg that they got the riches who h earned them their fame.

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“Baba wa nifowola reru

Iran irese nifiwokan yawofa

Iran elese nifowokoko fobinrin ”

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There was a big Market place at IGBAJA. The true ownership of which was initially disputed

”Odajandaja

Babawa daja nigbaja

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Odajandaja

Babies daja nirese Elerin

Elerin sopoja baba awonni

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Ara isale iwo, wo loja baba awon ni

Aseyinwa Aseyinbo

Oja naa wadoja nigbaja

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Oja naa wadoja nirese Elerin

Lojude baba tobiwon lomo

Odagedegudu oba igbaja ”

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As can be seen in the end, the true owner of the market was no longer in doubt. They did their buying and selling at the market but they were very careful and meticulous as to the quality of any item, including slaves, they wanted to buy.

”Oko irese omowoyira Komabareru keru

Erukeru abilala lenu

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Oko irese omowoyira Komaba ragbakigba

Igbakigba ni keke so”

Their women folk were usually very beautiful but they were very jealous and could be very sexy. They could not tolerate sharing their men with a second woman. They go to any length to eliminate their co-wives.

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“Oko dara

Okowumi

Owu jije won losumi

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Omo ajowu Yoko lenu

Omo Amugburu Amugburu Korogun re ribumu Amugburu Korogun re ribuwe

Komilebatan

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Koko le ran orogun re lodo loru

Kejo le San orogun re lese ni

Korogun lebaku

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Kokoun nikan loode oko

Oko jowu jowu

Oba ofanjowu nipepe

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Oni Ajisola asolale laja kinloni kinwale babayinwase

Eesepe molale laja

Eku lasan nidun nipepe

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Oko jowu, obelulu jowu ninu oko

Oni Ajisola asolale legan

Kinloni kinwoko babayinwase

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Kiisepe molale legan

Eye Oko lasan nidun kisokiso

Omo Alake temile mioba teniwa

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Ohun timobawa Jori enilo.

It was therefore a source of great trouble for one man to marry two Oko woman.

”beniyan Gboko Meji Sile, Bi Igbati oluwa re nwa Oran ni”

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The land was ruled by a great king, rich in splendour and magnificent in his glory.

Oriki

Baami lelese moko

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Ajisola nimi

Omo kele Ogun

Oko Alake omo ajiboro nigbaja

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Alake mobelese more

Alake mobolora momiora

Mobajisola alake jebe tioniru

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Ajisola

Omo agbe sobolobomonitan

Ofinkan moinimoin bo nkan moinmoin

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Babawa nifowola reru

Iran Irese nifowokan yawofa

Iran Elese nifowo koko fobinrin

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Eyele kosun okoriooo

Adaba kosun okaya

Eyele irese okosun lese odapasi

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Won yiosemon peyele soge abi kosoge

Ajisola

Omo oba kele oju Ogun

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Oko weku idie weku

Oko Alake omo ajebioroyo

Ara gedegudu oba igbaja

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Owu ojekinle foko lobinrin

Ajisola jowu jowu jowu jowu jowu jowu

Oko alake omo ajowu yoko lenu

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Omo amu gbururu, amu gbururu

Korogun re ribumu

Amu gbururu korogun re ribuwe

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Amu gbururu korogunre ribuboju

Tomi batan

Kosofoko lale

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Kokole baranrogun re lodoloruni

Kejoleborogun re lesejeni

Korogunlebaku kokoun nikan loode oko

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Oko jowu

Olobofan jowu nipepe

Ajisola asolale laja, kinloni kinwale babayin wase

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Kese pe molale laja

Eku las an nidun loripepe

Oko jowu, olobelulu jowuninu oko

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Olajisola, ase olale legan , kinlonikinwoko babayin wase

Kise pemolale legan , eye oko lasan nidun kisokiso

Oko alake , omowoyira komabaragbakigba

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Igbakigba keke niso

Oko alake omo woyira komaba rerukeru

Eru keru abilala lenu.

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Oko temile miobateniwa

Ountimobawa ojori enilo…

Bonirese ofingba Mon iyitotifinsile komaparun

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