Brief history of IJESHA and IJEBU-JESA: the origin
Ijebu Jesa which hitherto before now was known and called Ijebu Egboro is the ancient historic town in the east of Osun State, Nigeria and it occupies a strategic position in Ijesaland. In Ijesa division, it is the next most important town politically and in terms of history to Ilesa. Her Oba is the next to the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland. The town is situated eight kilometers north of Ilesa and about 128 kilometers east of Ibadan. It lies approximately on latitude 7.45 degrees north within the rain forest belt and so offers opportunity for farming on a large scale. The people are the core of Ijesas and are noted for their dogged industry. Ijebu jesa was founded by Oba Agigiri Egboroganlada (first Onijebu Egboro) – a son of Oodua Olofin Aiye who was also an elder brother of Owa Obokun Ajibogun.
Agigiri means “the battle or war waves hot (A de k’ogun gbona girigiri)”. Ajibogun is interpreted as one who meets war (Ade ba ogun). Both Agigiri and Ajibogun were brought up by their grandmother known as Ijasin at Ilode in Ile Ife as twin brothers. Legends have it that Ajibogun and Agigiri were very close during their lifetime. When their father was becoming old he became blind. The Ifa worshippers consulted the oracle and it was revealed that he would regain his sight if certain ingredients including among others sea-water and the pod of palm kernels could be procured. Ajibogun and his brother Agigiri went for the sea-water through Ijebu-Ode and got it from Eleke near Epe where the Awujale of Ijebuland then Obanita, worshipped the sea annually, the brothers collected the water and brought it home to Ile-Ife. Their father was treated and he regained his sight. In about early 12th century, Agigiri and Ajibogun together left Ile Ife after procuring the sea water with which Oodua’s partial blindness was cured to found a kingdom of their own like other sons of Olofin. Before leaving Ile Ife, Oodua gave Owa Obokun a sword of conquest (Ida Ajasegun) and a bigger crown as the original procurer of the sea water. Oodua gave Onijebu – Egboro another crown for accompanying Owa to procure the sea water. He also gave Elegboro a calabash of mysterious juju objects in terms of spoken words of blessing or curse (Igba Ase), hence the Oriki – “Onijebu Egboro, Omo awure fase banu.” The two sons of Olofin later journeyed through the vast jungles conquering numerous settlers and subjecting the conquered territories under their control.
In the course of this, they conquered Igbadae, Ilowa, Ilemure and other smaller communities like Ijaregbe, Eesun, Oke ogun or Oke Aganun, Agbegan, Ijiku, Odo etc. They were at Ilowa when Oodua died. It was only Agigiri and Ajibogun out of all the children of Oodua who went back to Ile Ife to perform the burial of Oodua. Agigiri splited kolanut at the tomb of their father. It therefore became a traditional function of the Elegboro to be at Ile Ife every year during olojo festival to slit kola at Oodua’s tomb before any Arole Oodua-Ooni of Ife-can go into seclusion of communication with his ancestors. After the burial, Agigiri and Ajibogun came back to Ilowa and then to Ilemure, renamed Ibokun. According to history, they settled for a long time at Ilemure, the need arose for the founding of new settlements and hence they were both rulers by birth.
They sent their Lumo-ogun (olori ogun) a great hunter and leader of their warriors to get more lands within their surroundings. The lumo-Ogun left them at Ibokun and did not return. Owa and Agigiri then put some powerful men to be Lojas, Baales and village heads of towns they conquered along the route. Some of the people they brought along from Ile Ife had died in the course of the journey. They left Ibokun and Agigiri first settled at Edudu and finally at the present day Ijebu jesa, near and under the shade of an Iroko Tree, hence the ‘Oriki’ – “Omo onijebu kole owo firoko yori re reterete. Omo uroko ko gbojo odun, gbaja aso funfun l’Egboro.” He then sent emissaries to look for a suitable location for Owa towards the western part. They got to the present Ijesaland with about fifty men excluding other Royal Ifa priest and consultant. They divided the men into ratio 3:2 (Ajibogun had 30 and Agigiri had 20) hence another line in the Oriki – “Ijebu ogun Ulesa Ogbon, K’ogun se a ra mo’ogbn lara; Ogun ni a ika, ki a to ka ogbon”.
Their Royal Ifa Priest and consultant cannot be divided into two for he belongs to both as royal Priest and Spiritual Adviser. He was then asked to stay in between the two and a sacred place at Yaragbo was given to him where he built his palace as Royal Priest and spiritual consultant and adviser to Owa an Elegboro Onijebu hence the ‘Oriki’ “Omo Oba Adifawise Alaafin ni Yara Ugbo bi Oba Ibomirin Omo Oba Adifawise k’ese pin l’ugbi han k’ogun k’ogbon. L’ugbi onijebu k’ogun t’iroko l’ugbi owa k’ogbon la b’obanla l’ulesa l’ugbi ouro.” Owa Obokun with his group (30 men) then settled where he met Obanla or Banla. They later learnt that Lumo-gun who was left them at Ibokun had established his own kingdom at Ipetu area. Some powerful warriors and Princes of Owa and Agifiri also left later to establish their own towns and villages that later formed part of Ijesaland. Some villages that are territories of the Onijebu-Elegboro are: Eesun, Ijaregbe, Iragbiji-Ijesa, Ido Ajinarere now called Ido Ekiti and Ido Oko.
Both Owa and Elegboro Onijebu have a common boundary domain at Yaragbo till today. Because of their close birth relationship, they usually visited each other and they formally meet at Yaragbo (a sacred and restricted area) for consultation of “Akokodaifa – Ogbomuyegeyege Orunto Oodua” for directives, guidance and to carry out sacrifice of safety, Unity and Progress for Owa and Onijebu-Elegboro and other Obas in Ijesaland. The “Akokodaifa Ogbomuyegeyege Orunto Oodua was the first Ifa Oracle that must be consulted by Oodua before doing anything at all in those days. When the creator of that Ifa (Oracle) priest (Asedaifa) who was the first consultant recommended seawater for curing of Oodua eyes, Oodua used the seawater with other concotion as recommended by the Ifa Priest and his eyesight was restored.
In a loud voice, Oodua acclaimed “Akoda – Asedaifa – Oba Adifawi ose.” “Loni ni mo de o l’Ade Ifa Oba Adifa gidi”. Oodua then crown him with a spiritual Ifa crown as “Oba Adifa wi se”, hence the special greetings of “Iba Akoda Iba Asedaifa” by other Ifa (oracle) Priest and consultants in Yorubaland and diaspora. Oodua later instructed the Royal Priest and consultant to follow Owa and Elegboro-Onijebu to be their royal Priest and Spiritual Adviser as he, Oodua was very old and in appreciation of the procuring of seawater. Oodua then gave “Ewodi Oodua” later known as “Ewodi Oodua Obokun” to the consultant and the royal Priest as a weapon of setting quarrels between the two royal Obas (Owa and Elegboro) whenever such quarrels occur. The Ewodi was to be used in reminding them about their birthcord relationships-paternally and maternally. When Agigiri who lived for 183 years and who was usually referred to as “Oba-Agba” by Owa became very old to walk about, and because of his power and love in spiritualism he moved the Royal Priest consultant and the Ifa Oracle from Yaragbo to the consultant family House at Atiba near Obaloye in Ijebu-jesa.
Since the Palace of the consultant and Royal Priest was moved to Ijebu-jesa by Agigiri, all royal Obas who were descendants of Oodua in Yorubaland, mostly especially in Ijesaland must come to Ijebu-jesa to consult the Ifa Oracle for directives and consultation before doing anything at their kingdoms. Even the Owa Obokun, the supreme King in Ijesaland cannot do anything or pronounce or execute death penalty at Ilesa without coming to Ijebu Jesa for confirmation and sanction through the Ifa oracle, hence the Oriki “Owa ki da ni pa ki Ijebu-Jesa ma mo.” It is only the Onijebu-Elegboro that can carry out actions, pronounce or execute death penalty at Ilesa without going out of Ijebu-Jesa, since he has the Ogbomuyegeyege Orunto Oodua at his domain, hence the oriki “Omo Oludarahanrahan”. With the royal Priest and consultant at Atiba near Obaloye who is also a sacred king under the control of Onijebu, there was concentration of power for Onijebu-Elegboro at Atiba (Akoda, Obaloye, Olori-Awo).
The Onijebu-Elegboro became so powerful that other Obas in Yorubaland feared to wage war against him because they knew that the Royal Priest of Ogbumuyegeyege Orunto Oodua will leak the secret of their plans to him, hence the Oriki- “Onijebu Elegboro nibi gbodo de. Ko ni jebu ba ji a fowo luya a i e su un an se”. Both Obas normally joined hands to guide against any danger in Ijesaland. Another significant aspect of the relationship is that because of Ajibogun and Agigiri’s birth relationship, during a sacrifice of safety at Ilesa in those early days, the first son of Owa and Agigiri’s first daughter were buried alive standing at the right and left Gate’s wall of Ilesa. The Ijebu-Jesas escorted that first daughter – Omolaadan to Agoja and they started crying, hence the “oriki-Agba Ijebu sin Omolaadan d’agoja nwon pojurogo, nwon bu sekun, nwon pelemere”. The paternal and maternal relationship, the birth, the upbringing, the journey and the establishment of Ijesaland together shows the importance of Owa and Elegboro in Ijesaland. Elegboro is older than Owa by birth but the bigger crown was given to Ajigbogun, qualifies Owa as supreme Oba in Ijesaland. It is therefore needless to say that after Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, The Elegboro is the next in Ijesaland having brought his crown from Ije Oodua, and in his capacity as co-founder of Ijesaland.
The town – Ijebu Egboro – which was first ruled by Oba Agigiri had a number of communities around it that were conquered and submerged as the one distinct entity to become EGBOROLAND. Egboroland consist of eight settlements. Odogo, Igede, Ijiku, Odo-Eki, Ojumu Oke – Ogun, Edidu with Ijebu Jesa as the capital or headquarter. The settlements are now quarters or “adugbo” in Ijebu Jesa. Thus, the Elegboro of Egboroland. In the administration of the town, the Elegboro is assisted by a close council of senior chiefs headed by Odofin. There are other lesser chiefs who are representatives of their quarters and see to the day to day administration of the areas with directives from the Oba through the most senior chiefs. These set of chiefs are called Looguns. There are four Looguns in Ijebu Jesa representing the four most distinct areas in the town. Each Loogun has twenty one supporting chiefs under their authority. At the head of the Looguns however, is the Lomode Ijebu Jesa. He occupies the position not by age but by traditional seniority.
The four Looguns and their areas of jurisdiction are:
1. Loogun Odo oja
2. Loogun Ogbon Iloro
3. Loogun Odo Ese
4. Loogun Otaforijeja
The Odofin of Odogo also joins these set of chiefs in their meeting. There are five ruling houses in Ijebu Jesa from which an Oba is selected. They are:
Within limits of available records 23 Obas have reigned:
1. Agigiri 2. Ida-Ekun 3. Edun-Ide 4. Ajigiteri 5. Ayapaki-Efon 6. Oriasinwin 7. Ajifolokun 8. Ogbaruku (Kiriji war-time) 9. Ariyanloye 10. Agunsoye 11. Ariabon 12. Atobatele (1907-1910) 13. Erinfolajura 14. Arojojoye I (1910-1929) 15. Abon 16. Amolese (1929-1946) 17. Laguna 18. Arojojoye II (1947-1973) 19. Nibaayo 20. Ajifolokun (1974-1996) 21. Itimo Ogbe 22. Ajigiteri (1996-date) 23. Oburookan
Source: A souvenir on the Coronation of Oba Taiwo Aribisala, Ijebu Egboro February 10 – 15, 1997