THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF ILE-IFE

THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF ILE-IFE

 

THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF ILE-IFE

Located in Osun State, South-Western part of Nigeria, Ile-Ife, simply refers to as 'Ife' is known as the "cradle" of Yoruba race.This implies that all the Yorubas originated from Ife whether directly or indirectly. "Ile-Ife" literally means "the wide land/place". The history of Ile-Ife is more or less the history of Yoruba race itself. Geographically, some of its neighboring towns are Ilesa,Ipetumodu,Ifewara,Ifetedo, among others. The former Orunto Obalufe, late Oba Omisakin Solomon opined that nobody can tell the exact time Ife came to existence.However, many authors have 500BC as the approximate time it came to being. The history of Ile-Ife is very interesting as a school of thought believes that Oduduwa Atewonro (meaning Oduduwa, "the one who descended via a chain") who was the first king, came from Israel while another school of thought claims that he came from Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

However, the latter school of thought is more famous. Likewise, some claim that he landed in Ife after the inability of his father Lamurudu to continue with his journey leaving Oduduwa and his brothers to scatter and settled as founding ancestors in different locations notably Kanuri, Nupe, Acipu, Gobir, Jukun, Yauri and Borgu tribes in Nigeria. Another version of the history opined that Oduduwa came from Edo state but with a different name but the Lamurudu version seems to be historically potent. Oduduwa was a very strong and powerful man.He had only one son named Okanbi who had seven prominent children that scattered and founded their own kingdoms. They were the first child, Olowu of Owu(in Osun State), Alaketu of Ketu(Lagos State), Oba(king) of Benin (Edo State), Orangun of Ile-Ila also known as Ila-Orangun(Osun State), the Onisabe of Sabe( now in Benin Republic, Olupopo of Popo(also in Benin Republic), and Oranmiyan, the youngest son who later came back and overthrew the sitting king in Ife.

Irrespective of Oduduwa's origin, Oduduwa Atewonro met the Yorubas in Ile-Ife. Prior to his arrival, Ile-Ife had "districts". Prominent among the Ife people were Agbonmiregun who was the oldest in the land and Obatala.  Agbonmiregun led the people as they were preparing to make Obatala their first indigenous king but it was recorded that the people of Igbo invaded and killed several strong men in Ife and took away their families and belongings. It is imperative to note that the Igbo or Ugbo people were residents of the forest and never the current Igbo in the Eastern part of Nigeria. It was obvious Ife warlords could not withstand them. Agbonmiregun then consulted the oracle and consequently informed the people that the Olodumare(God) was going to send someone to help conquer their tormentors. Then, Oduduwa descended and was confirmed their "saviour" by Agbonmiregun. As foretold, Oduduwa helped them to defeat the Igbo warriors but crisis later ensued as Oduduwa demanded to be the king instead of the already warming-up Obatala. He also introduced constitution and formal "government" which Obatala opposed. Obatala felt cheated, though younger than Oduduwa, believed that he had the right to the throne being an indigine than Oduduwa.The powerful Obatala was later defeated by Oduduwa who also had the support of some indigenes after Obatala took palm wine and was drunk; that is why Obatala worshipers do not take palm wine till date. Oduduwa then became the first king of Ile-Ife while other district heads were kings while the second in command to the king was Orunto Obalufe. Among other "district" heads were Oba of Ijugbe (now Obalejugbe),  Oba Ijio(Obajio), Obaloran, Obalufon, Obamoro, among others. All these districts and thrones exist till date. Oduduwa was the first Ooni of Ife while one of his grandsons, Oba Oranmiyan had difficulty defeating the ever-rampaging Igbo warriors too. He however, overcame them through his pretty and brave Olori(Queen) Moremi who, after contacting Esinmirin Goddess, allowed herself to be captured and spied on the dreaded Igbos in the forest as a wife of the Igbo leaders. Moremi later escaped back to Ife and exposed their secret. Therefore, Ife warriors just set ablaze the Igbos who were dressed in grasses. The current Ooni of Ife is HRM Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II.

Ife is rich in gold, vast forest reserves, timber,cocoa,kola, extremely big and coloured local yam called"Dagidagi"palm oil, among others. Ife is famous for a sculpture, bronze, brass,stone and terracotta and notable among Ife art works are Ori Olokun, Osupa Ijio, among others. The most important indigenous food in Ife is breadfruit locally known as "gbere butu or gbere" , a fruit, when pounded looks like pounded yam. They normally eat it with a vegetable soup known as "efo worowo". Ife people, just like other Yorubas wear "iro ati buba" that is a wrapper and blouse for women while the men wear "agbada,buba and soro" with caps called "fila". Ife has its own dialect a bit like a "twisted" Yoruba language. The most popular festival in Ife is Olojo festival but there is Edi festival too. It is believed that Ife has four hundred and one deities called "irunmole" while they do "Oro" rituals everyday in a year except a day known only to the Ooni alone. Ife people like their indigenous folk music. Most indigenes of Ife are farmers, traders and artisans.There are many masquerades in Ife and each celebrates it's festival annually. Notable among the shrines and historical sites are Opa Oranmiyan(Oranmiyan staff/shrine), Oduduwa Atewonro shrine, Boji Moremi(Moremi's grave), among others. The University of Ife (now Obafemi AWOLOWO University), Ife Museum, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex are all located in Ile-Ife.

Ife is a peaceful and very interesting town to be basically because it is very rich in culture and history.


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