IKERE-EKITI: THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF A LAND RICH IN CULTURE, BLESSED WITH PROMINENT PERSONALITIES

Read also; How British Colonial Masters conned and deceptively converted historical artifacts from Ogoga’s Palace.

THE CREATION STORY
Existing for over 900 years, Ikere-Ekiti, according to history, was founded by Aladeselu (the first prominent figure). Ikere is of three major roots namely; Ila (from the origins of Orogun Ilela), the Olowus (from Ile-Ife), people of Odo-Oja.

Ikere-Ekiti has a boundary in the north with Ado-Ekiti, in the South with Akure in Ondo State having Iju/Ita Ogbolu as the closest towns in the south. The land also shares a boundary with Ise-Ekiti in her eastern flank while Igbara Odo/Ilawe are the next neighbors to her west. The first prominent person in Odo-Oja, which appears to be the centre of town, was Aladeselu who originated from Uselu. He consulted the oracle (Ifa) before settling in and Ifa told him the land is fertile and fruitful for his habitation.

“In those days, the influence of the Benin people in Owo, Akure, Ado, Ikere, and environs. So we have some settlers who originated from the Benin Kingdom as well. Aladeselu proclaimed that though he’s the first settler in Ikere the one who is to become the king of the land is yet to come. He also affirmed that the king will be of royal blood from another land.

“In the process of clearing the area to make tents and camps, the three clans of settlers discovered there were so many squirrels (Okere) in the land and so, therefore, the land was named after the squirrels as Ile Okere (Land of Squirrels) which is later rephrased as Ikere.

THE ADVENT OF OGOGA OF IKERE
A Tale of the Priests who paved way for the First King to Ascend the Throne
There were two prominent herbalists then namely; Ujagbofi (was reputed to have come from Ile-Ife via Ilawe) and Ojo-Olushumeta (one who had three mounts of hair on his head). Apparently, Oloshumeta was more powerful as he gave hunters different kinds of charms to enable them to hunt as many animals as possible. These hunters usually return to pay homage to him, giving him some share of the game and this created a serious rivalry between.
Ujagbofi conspired with the people of Ikere against Oloshumeta and planned to kill him. This happened at a time when the annual festival was around the corner. Ujagbofi and some other people of the community set a death trap for Oloshumeta as the object for rituals to commemorate the annual festival. He eventually evaded the trap and sought refuge in the caves. Oloshumeta eventually placed a curse upon the land, ceasing rain to fall and causing famine and pestilence.

Afterward, the villagers consulted the oracle on how to appease the gods. Oloje (a foreigner who hailed from Ise) became an intermediary between the people and Olushumeta. Oloje performed the rituals to appease Oloshumeta and he accepted the plea. Olushumeta, therefore, declared that a festival must hold annually in his honour to mark the incident that sent him into the caves. The point of rituals close to the cave where he inhabited became a spot where the people pay obeisance to him, rendering all kinds of farm produce and livestock as gifts.

Oloje, because of his role as a priest to the people in the cause of the incident and popularly known for farming ‘ukerekere’ (an extinct fruit became the Olukere of Olosunta (Oloshumeta). Barren women will come to him for help. A woman who birthed a male child will name him Egosa (of Benin origin) and would carve the baby’s hair in three folds in honour of Oloshumeta. A female child is called ‘Ado’.

Oloje, therefore, lives on the offerings from adherents of Oloshumeta and he was told to remain indoors due to his deformity. This became a taboo for other subsequent Olukere after him. They are only allowed to come out in the day time during the annual Olushumeta Festival.

THE STORY OF OGOGA AGAMO, THE FIRST KING IN IKERE
Shortly after this, history had it that Deji of Akure (Ajapada) had a brother (Ogoga Agamo) and they are both of Benin origin. In those days in Yoruba land, only a child born to the king while on the throne can succeed the king as heir apparent and is called Omo Ori Ite. However, this changed after the 17th Century. In the Benin Kingdom, it was a taboo to have a child in the palace in the morning or even at night. Ogoga was birthed at night and so, therefore, was outlawed. It was the rivalry between Ogoga and the son born immediately after his birth in the early morning that resulted to the Chiefs advising their mother to leave Benin as this was the only option to save the lives of the children (Ogoga Agamo and Deji) and she started a journey not having an idea where she was going to with her kids. On arriving Akure, the bead on Deji disbanded at that point and that was where the town (Akure) derived its name from. Bead is called Akun in Yoruba land and’ means cut so the land where the incident happened is called ‘Akun-mi-re’ (meaning my bead has cut). Deji settled in Akure and became king eventually.

Ogoga went to Agama (a place close to Ikere) and settled temporarily there. He trained people in hunting and engaged in the business of livestock. He was hunting elephants one day when he came across a rock popularly called ‘Otamurajoerin’ (A rock in the form of an Elephant). He usually hunts around this rock for more elephants and other animals. One day, during one of his hunting periods, he stood on a hill and saw a cloud of smoke from afar, approached the location (Ikere) and he was taken to Aladeselu for consultations. When asked about his mission in the land, he said he was in search of an elephant he has been trailing. Aladeselu referred him Oloje to help Ogoga consult the oracle on the whereabouts of the elephant. After consulting the oracle (Ifa), Oloje told Ogoga that the elephant can be found in Iro (in Ikere). He eventually found the elephant in Uja-Ogbolumode (within Iro in Ikere) in held a feast with the people of Ikere.

Aladeselu invited Ogoga for discussions, telling him a prophecy has been foretold about the coming of a king who will do something significant to warrant his ascension to the throne as king in Ikere. Ogoga eventually lived in Aladeselu’s house for seven years before becoming the king of Ikere. Today, that very house Aladeselu hosted Ogoga is the starting point for the right of passage for every king that has reigned in Ikere. Ogoga became king and had the backing of his roots (the Benin Kingdom) and that is why Ikere-Ekiti was never conquered in any war.

IKERE-EKITI: LAND OF DIVERSE SETTLERS
Ikere-Ekiti for many years served as a fortress for many places in Ekiti State. Undefeated during every war, Ikere built a strong was around its boundary to protect the people. As a result, many indigenes of other towns and villages settled in Ikere temporarily while others stayed to date.
Securing as many towns, in those days, Ikere actually overran Ado, Are, Afao, Ilu-Omoba (formerly Igbo Omoba), Agbado among others. During the time of Oba Ogrilala I (the 17th Ogoga of Ikere) in 1815, Ise-Ekiti also sought protection from Ikere. People from Ikoro-Ekiti, Ijan, and Ise-Ekiti also settled in Ikere before returning to their various homes after the war (initiated by Ogedengbe). Ikere-Ekiti also has the presence of; Oyo, Fulani, Egba and Osun communities.

A LIST OF KINGS WHO HAVE REIGNED IN EKERE-EKITI
Ikere, with a long monarchical history has seen 27 kings graced the throne. The list below;
Oba Ogoga Agamo (Osege Akemugami) Ogoga I
Oba Aporokun (Ogoga II)
Oba Aporokun Oriyamolode (Ogoga III)
Oba Pamusa
Oba Olugbogbo
Oba Anikanjeun
Oba Olokitikiti
Oba Olojukan
Oba Kibi
Oba Ojokogijasoye (Ogoga of Ikere 1618-1643)
Oba Akika Elewuabe (Ogoga of Ikere 1643-1673)
Oba Okisi (Ogoga of Ikere 1673-1694)
Oba Onijagbo (Ogoga of Ikere 1694-1711)
Oba Otutubiosun (Ogoga of Ikere 1711-1732)
Oba Oloko (Ogoga of Ikere 1732-1779)
Oba Olowuro (Ogoga of Ikere 1779-1796)
Oba Agrilala I(Ogoga of Ikere 1796-1829)
Oba Agunsoye (Ogoga of Ikere 1829-1832)
Oba Akayejo I (Ogoga of Ikere 1832-1861)
Oba Agabaola (Ogoga of Ikere 1861-1877)
Oba Obiti Ogbenuotesoro (Ogoga of Ikere 1877-1893)
Oba Obosoro Alowolodu I(Ogoga of Ikere 1893-1928)
Oba Olokungboye Amudipote (Ogoga of Ikere 1928-1937)
Oba Solomon Adewumi Aromolaran (Alowolodu II) Ogoga of Ikere 1937-1949
Oba Samuel Fabikun Adegoriola (Ogoga of Ikere 1950-1969)
Oba Samuel Adegoke Adegboye (Akayejo II) Ogoga of Ikere 1971-2014
Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu Alagbado (Agrilala II the Paramount Ruler of Ikere Kingdom) Ogoga of Ikere 2015 to date.

HISTORICAL FESTIVALS IN IKERE-EKITI
Olosunta Festival
Olusunta Festival is held annually to commemorate the incident that sent Oloshumaeta into the caves. Olukere also is known as Oloje (priest to Olosunta and the people of Ikere) performs rituals close to the cave where he (Olosunta) inhabited. People of Ikere pay deference to Olosunta, rendering all kinds of farm produce and livestock as gifts. Oloje, therefore, lives on the offerings from adherents of Oloshumeta.

Erepopo (Aladeselu) Festival: A Festival that commemorates the Rite of Passage for the new King
This is a time when the new king receives blessing from Olukere (the chief priest) Kolanuts and other condiments are offered to the priest for prayers at Erepopo, the historical house of Aladeselu where the first Ogoga of Ikere lived for seven years. The King then proceeds to Iwoye to receive the Igba (calabash) that interprets the reign of the new Oba.

Ujero Festival (formerly Ijeshu) now Odun Oba
Ujero is the ritual that commences the Olosunta Festival and is done in the King’s palace. Seven days before the Festival, the king will be in seclusion. The priest will come to the palace afterward to pray for the king. The king is dressed in a white garment accompanied by a virgin youth holding a sword of victory in his hand. Olukere will visit the grave of all the Obas that has reigned in Ikere and invoked their spirits to pray for the new king. The head of a cow is offered also in the process of rituals. This festival also ushers in the New Year marked with the eating of the new yam. This signifies the harvest of farm produce in the land.

HOW THE BRITISH COLONIAL MASTERS STOLE the HISTORICAL OGOGA OF IKERE PALACE DOOR

In the past, the palace of Ogoga of Ikere was the best around such that renowned kings from near and far (including the then Alake of Egbaland) would visit the palace to imitate the architectural design of the palace.

A man called ‘Olowe’ (a carver) who is a native of Ise designed a unique door for the palace of Ogoga. In 1924, the British Colonial Masters then, during their visit to the palace, asked the king to permit them to display the door at an exhibition in Lagos saying that it will further expose the history of Ikere to the world. After carting the door to Lagos, they offered the king a sum 40 Pounds Sterling in exchange for the door, saying that the queen would like to have the door in England but the king rejected the offer.

After the exhibition, they reported to the king that the door has been damaged and so they presented a Monarch Seat in place of the ‘damaged’ door on behalf of the Queen of England. This door was later found in a museum in London.
NEW DEVELOPMENT IN OGOGA OF IKERE PALACE

THE NEWLY CONSTRUCTED OBA’S PALACE
For many years, the palace of Ogoga of Ikere remained old-fashioned. However, a masterpiece structure was constructed by the reigning king, Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu Alagbado (Agrilala II) Ogoga of Ikere. The palace is designed and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE BLOCK
Donated by the Otunba of Ikere Kingdom, Chief Sola Adewumi FCA, the Administrative Building (Palace Hall and King’s office inclusive) is fully equipped for official dealings in the palace. The edifice is constructed with a taste of class to suit royalty.

THE IKERE-EKITI HALL OF FAME
The idea for the Ikere-Ekiti Hall of Fame was conceived by the reigning (27th) Ogoga of Ikere Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu Alagbado and was donated by Bobagunwa of the Ikere Kingdom, Chief (Engr.) Dimeji Isiaka and his wife Yeye-Bobagunwa of the Ikere Kingdom, Chief (Engr.) Mrs. Toyin Isiaka.

The Hall of Fame parades the Monarchical history of Ikere Kingdom, featuring the portraits of the first Ogoga to the most recent which is the current Oba. The Hall also features prominent personalities in Nigeria who are indigenes of Ikere-Ekiti such as Chief (Asiwaju) Wole Olanipekun, Professor Dele Jegede and Professor Olu Longe who is the first Professor of Computer Science in Africa amongst others. The Hall also hosts the ancient seats of the Oba, portraits of the stolen ancient door, the oracle (Ifa) and sculptures designed by prominent indigenous artists.

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