AN EPOCH IN THE HISTORY OF IJIO YAYI TIMOTHY OPEYEMI It is interesting that the history of Ijio has become a potent area of human endeavour which must not be relegated. It accounts for a dramatic transformation of the society and indeed creates an history of reference not only for the indigenes but the world at large. Critically speaking, the knowledge of history equip us particularly the history of one’s town. My life was a two way traffic before; church and my place of residence.
I went by this for some years because of my naivety but alas was rescued from the ocean of isolation as I found solace in the words of Cicero who says that:” Not to have known what happen before you were born is to forever remain a child”. The semantic meaning of the expression may be blurred but elements of truth still stand clear. Babs Fafunwa in his opinion remarks that history is to a people, what memory is to individual. A person with no knowledge of their past are a victim of collective amnesia, a groping blindly into the future without guide-posts of precedence to shape their course.
Individuals, communities, societies could scarcely exist if all the knowledge of the past were wiped out. Locating the trends of activities that characterizes the history of Ijio reveals the fact that the town was plugged into a scientific hole. A lot of events that culminated form the present day Ijio that rivaled the neighbouring towns. A synchronize and garbanize discovery of Ijio reveals that the town could be dated back to the early 18th century when an immigrant, Adam Baba Olukan came from Ogbooro (Atisbo Local Government).
No trace of Potassium argon dating technique and radio carbon dating is established yet, but what we depend mostly on is the oral history which is subject to alteration. It is evident that the ancient Ijio started with three (3) settlers. The second settler was Sabiowusu from Sabee in the Republic of Benin. Abogunrin who happen to be the third settler came from Oyo town. These trios lived happily at Ogbase. A tent was pitched at Samo where water was derived. This accounts for Samo being part of Ijio.
Gradually, the population increased drastically and the need to have a head chief arose. Following this trend, Abogunrin was chosen as the first Amunijio of Ijio. It is pertinent to note that the pure motive of their coming together was the zeal to found a town. Consequently, the three settlers settled under a shea-butter tree which is today regarded as the cradle of Ijio town. The name Ijio etymologically is derived from two Yoruba words: Ije-Iwowo. This is quite shortened to Ijio. It thus means eating pieces of fish.
Till today the slogan that accompanies the word Ijio is often synonymous or narrowed towards hospitality. The town moved at a higher pace and this draws the attention of enemies rallying round. Arising from the foregoing, the increase in population speedy up the activities of the enemy soldiers trying to dominate. The soldiers came from Sabee around the year 1804 when Uthman Dan Fodio was launching his Jihad in the Hausa states then. The town dwelling people as a result of this occurrence scattered to many towns like Iseyin, Ipapo, Ile-Ife, Okeho, and others.
It was believed following an unconfirmed source that Abogunrin as the name suggests: “went with the war” died during the period of the canter attack. Many hid in caves and most especially a mountain named Kotobawo. Near this mountain lies a heap of stones which they used during the revolution. According to history, the two prominent mountains, Kotobawo and Ilele have great significance to the masses. Kotobawo’s heart is said to be stony, so they don’t worship it. It only serves as refuge and place of abode against the invading soldiers.
Ilele is worshipped yearly with a very big black goat and food. It has a priest who has an esoteric knowledge and usually robed in his regalia every festival day. The rock is worshipped during the dry season. Children, toddlers and adults always go up with the Abore whenever the rock is to be worshipped. It could be alluded that the spirit residing in the rock is full of idealism in which blessings are conferred on people during dancing. The god confers on people magnetizing mind, over-whelming accuracy and magnificence blessings just like Olokun the primordial divinity of the Edos.
Songs are often being rendered in the village market square forming a cyclical ring. When there is scarcity of rain, whenever the spirit mountain is invoked, definitely rain will fall. Old and young are obliged to dance round a big stone in the market representing Ilele. In return, the god ameliorates the condition of the people by remunerating them with blessings dashed out. A critical appraisal of the mountain’s significance clearly points to the god as being a god of fertility. Pregnant women approach the spirit for the fruit of the womb. Hunting practices is also carried out on the mountain
Apparently, a story is connected to the mountain Ilele. On the top of the mountain is situated a well called Itan. It is believed that anybody that enters will come out dead at the market. An European man at a time wanted to disprove the theory of the people that anybody that enters the river would not come out. He entered and was said to be out in the market mysteriously. It was named Itan because of the shape of the river. The well is ambidextrous i. e. good and bad. It is good in the sense that people do wash there thereby also serving domestic purposes.
After the victory the survivors recorded over the enemy soldiers, the people came together again to discuss on how to install kings. Those that scattered over a large expanse of land still came back. These Diasporas now came to the present location. They settled under the Igi-Emi after the dispersal and installed Adeola the Amunijio. It is important to note that nine(9) kings have been deposed in succession before the present Oba Gabriel Adegoke Okunade was installed on the 20th of December 1997 when Mr. Bayo Ige was the then Iwajowa Secretary.
Abogunrin happened to be the first leader, followed by Aberekere, Ladooye, Apojo, Laguda, Oyekan, Akangbe, Adam Oyewobi, Lasisi Olatunji, and lastly Gabriel Adegoke who reigns till date. Similarly, Ijio has a pantheon of gods aside the spirit of the rock. Panteon is derived from the Greek word “Pan” and “Theon”. Pan means many while theon means gods. This thus explains the meaning of pantheon as many variation of gods in the province of Ijio. In other words, it is a conglomeration of gods in a particular locality. It needs not re-enforce that these gods are sub-servient to the real God.
The original religion of Ijio town was Ogun because “Osa to ni toogun o si yoo fi enu re gun isu je”. This assertion demonstrates that Ogun is pivotal in his role of community building. Ifa, Oro, Sango, and Egungun festival are celebrated annually. “Akedi” was also among the gods but with the age of modernity it seems to have been forgotten. There are other gods that are prominent nut need not mention. To give it a pause, a particular god reside in the market square that get annoyed whenever it sees a pig. That is why pigs are not reared in Ijio because they won’t survive it.
In reality, the people of the book i. e. the revealed religion have made all these indigenous practices to die down a little but there are still traces of such. Some in their thousands still go to the diviners in the night like Nicodemus in the Bible. That is why Mbiti and Dopamu assert that:” the coming together of the old and the new cannot be swallowed up by recent events bus as long as the old is still meeting the yearning of the new, definitely is bound to survive”. Gyekye supports this earlier presumption in his poem which states: My gods are angry
My father gods are angry Shedding clayed tears over calico For those that should rebuild the fallen walls have joined The dawn marchers Finding their way to Gethsemane The harmattan drink is dried up and The fetish priest is dressing up for Easter. This illustrates that all these traditional practices are dying down and that is what we advocates for. If the effort of the people of the revealed religion could be intensified, all these practices will be forgotten and be a thing of the past not crawling into the future.
In a nutshell, it is believed that the above paragraphs have succinctly x-railed and carry out an appraisal of the transformation in the history of Ijio a closed society now a point of attraction for all and sundry. YAYI TIMOTHY OPEYEMI REFERENCES Awolalu and Dopamu, West African Traditional Religion. 1977,Macmillan Press Ibadan Doctor A. G Alamu 200 level note on African Pantheon Journal of Religion, The place of African Ancestors in the age of modernity