How well do you know the history of your land and your people? What do you know about the history of Ijebu Ode? For all the curious folk out there, we will tell you about the Ijebu Ode land and some interesting facts about its history. Learn more about the famous Ijebu Kingdom and its people in our article.
Before going into detail about the Ijebu Ode land itself, we think it is important to talk a little bit about its inhabitants, who they are and where they have come from.
Who are the Ijebus?
Ijebu people are considered to be the first among the Yoruba speakers to come into contact with the Europeans, who came to them in the beginning of the 14th century. Ijebu Empire has always been (and still is) an organized and strong nation that was able to protect itself from harm. The nation was divided into five parts: Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-Ife, Ijebu-Ososa, Ijebu-Ode and Ijebu-Remo. Now, it remains the largest ethnic group among all Yoruba people.
What is curious - Ijebus were the first Yoruba-speaking people to invent money. The empire was big on metal work and metal production, so it is not surprising at all that it decided to create their own coins. They were called Owo Ijebu, and many nations in Africa and Europe accepted the coins. There was also money made out of cowry shells that were called Owo Eyo. It was also accepted in many Yoruba kingdoms.
There is a lot of origin legends of the Ijebus. Many claim that the origin of Yoruba people and Ijebu in particular are related to the Jebusites and other biblical people. However, it is not very likely. Among other legends, there is one that connect Ijebu to Mecca. According to it, the legendary ancestor of the Yoruba, Oduduwa, had to leave Mecca, so he went and created Ijebuland where today’s Lagos and Ogun State stand.
We can recite all of these legends for hours, but it will get too boring. Therefore, here are the most famous ones we haven’t touched on:
★ Ijebu came to their current place of residence from Waddai, Sudan;
★ The ancestors of Ijebu migrated from Owodaiye Kingdom, Ethiopia;
★ Ijebus share traditions and rites with the Nubians, Tigrians and Axumites.
There are about as many opinions on the matter as there are people. However, nobody can know for certain where the ancient Ijebus actually came from. Therefore, without further ado, let’s talk about Ijebu Ode.
What is Ijebu Ode?
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Ijebu-Ode is a historic Yoruba town in Ogun State, which was established in the 16th century. It is about 15 minutes away from Ijebu Igbo. The city is located between Benin City and Shagamu. It is considered to be the largest town where Ijebus live. It is also known for being the capital of Ijebuland. The Ijebu Kingdom ruler or Awujale, as he is called in Ijebuland, has his residence there.
Today, it is a quiet and cozy city in southwestern Nigeria, which lures people in with its history, culture and tranquility. Below, you can find out about top 5 facts about Ijebu Ode history.
Top facts about the history of Ijebu Ode
1. The origin of Ijebu Ode title
It is traced to two names of original founders, Olode, who was a relative of the first Awujale, and Ajebu. Some people said that these two men existed at different times. However, as the legend went, they encountered a third man, Ajana in a dense forest, which is now Ijebu-Ode. Together, they asked Ifa (oracle) for advice on where to build their homes. The oracle sent Ajeba to the place now known as Imepe. The other two men ended up staying together and settling in the place of today’s Ita-Ajana.
2. The historical division
Ijebu-Ode had an interesting division system. The town was comprised of two wards, Porogun and Iwade, and the latter was further divided into North and South Iwade (Oke and Isale). Wards, in turn, were subdivided into Ituns (quarters). There were 25 Ituns in total, each with its own head called Oloritun. Together, all of the heads were called Oloritun Medogbon, and they represented the ancient council of the Ijebu-Ode.
3. Economic and political importance of the city
Back in the day, Ijebu-Ode used to be a very big deal, both in the economy and the political life of the region. As it was the capital of a large empire, it was a prominent figure on the trade market at that time. It oversaw the trade between Lagos Lagoon and the Yoruba periphery. However, when the Yoruba civil war struck in 19th century, Ijebu closed the trading routes as a way to oppose Ibadan. But then the British came in 1982, defeated the Awujale and destroyed the trade monopoly the Ijebus had.
4. The Ojude-Oba festival
One of the main attractions of Ijebu-Ode is its traditional festival. Starting about 100 years ago, it is still held annually on the third day after Eid al-Adha. On this day, people celebrate the king, the traditions and culture of the Ijebus and honouring the founders of the Ijebu-Ode. The festival usually attracts people from all over the world.
5. The current Awujale
Today’s Awujale comes from a royal ruling family of Anikinaiya. His name is Sikiru Kayode Adetona. He was born on May 10, 1934 and became the Awujale on April 2, 1960 during a formal ceremony. Sikiru has been an Awujale for 57 years now, and the 83-year-old king still rules strong. However, these days, his post is mostly ceremonial.
Yoruba history and culture are vast and beautiful. It was just a small peak into one of its many peoples’ history. Now you (hopefully) know more about Ijebu-Ode, its history and traditions. And you might even have a new holiday destination!
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