History of Ife/Modekeke Crisis
HISTORY OF MODAKEKE Modakeke is a town in Osun State, South West Nigeria, with a population of close to three hundred thousand people. The Modakekes are also known as the “Akoraye” and have a history of valor at war and are prosperous farmers. With the fall of the Oyo Empire to the Fulani, the Yoruba kingdom was thrown into confusion and the inhabitants of the Old Oyo were dispersed and started new settlements all around Yoruba land. Fleeing southwards in search of new abodes after the fall of the Oyo Empire, the Oyos started settling among the Ifes in 1834.
As the Romans of old, they were soldier-farmers. They were hardy as soldiers and industrious as farmers. Having lost all their possessions in their hasty flight, they started life in Ife by doing menial jobs to enable them eke out a living. The reigning Ooni of Ife, Oba Akinmoyero was said to have received them well. They started growing and producing different types of food crops on farmlands given to them by their hosts. A good number of them got recruited into Ife’s weak army and it was through their gallantry that Ife had its territory extended to Alakowe, its present boundary with Ilesa.
Prior to the arrival of the Oyos, Ijesha land extended to the present location of the Palace of the Ooni of Ife. This is why the Palace area is known as Enuwa (Enu Owa) until today. Ooni Akinmoyero gave the displaced Oyo an expanse of land to stay outside the walls of Ife,the place given to the Modakekes was hometo a species of bird called Ako (Stork), Hence the origin of the appellation AKORAYE(The stork has a place). It was also customary for the storks at the location to chirp and sing the rhyme “Mo-da-ke-ke-ke-ke” which was most of the time heard by the Ifes and it was decided that the new settlement would be called MODAKEKE.
HISTORY OF MODAKEKE Modakeke is located in the tropical forest, South West of Nigeria. It is about 45 kilometres from Osogbo, the Osun State capital and 90 kilometres from Ibadan, the capital of Oyo a neighbouring state. Also the headquarters of Ife East Area Office is about 75 kilometres from Ore, Ondo State. The founding of Modakeke in 1845 was as a result of the fall of the Old Oyo Empire as a result of Fulani invasion. Many people migrated southwards to look for settlement, among them were those that came to Ile-Ife. The name Modakeke was adopted after consultation with oracle which directed them to o to Ebu Alako near Oke-Owu where they met a swarm of Ako (Stork) birds. The name derives from the cry of the storks in a large tree Mo-da-ke-ke-ke-ke, and where “Ako ri aaye duro si” now know as Modakeke Akoraaye and since the founding eighteen traditional heads known as ‘Ogunsua’ had ruled the town. POPULATION Modakeke town is a growing semi-Urban centre which is developing rapidly. Suffice to say that it is also experiencing a rapid increase in population. This increase in population is attributed to natural increase and immigration of people to the town.
According to 1991 census, Modakeke population was put at 60,735 although the figure appears questionable because of the natural and other factors identified necessary for population growth. Modakeke, the Oyo sub group of the Yoruba, mainly inhabits Ife East Area Office, Modakeke-Ife with influx of large number of people from various ethnic groups across the country, e. g. The Igbos from Eastern Nigeria, Hausa from the North and Igbiras from Kogi State form the bulk of the Labour supply for farm work to the local farmers. OCCUPATION
Many economic activities take place within the Ife East Area Office, which include, trading, carpentry, Motor mechanic, blacksmith, lumbering etc, but the major one being agrarian. Agriculture and forest resources form the backbone of the economy in Modakeke. The Area is well known for food production and cash crops. There are various location of fruit orchard in Modakeke and its environs. Modakeke is endowed with various spices of woods which promote lumbering activities in the town. There are numerous valuable natural resources found across Modakeke and its environs, which include – Steel depot at Afijagba, and Odo-Okun, Granite at Oke D.
O. , Koola and Adesiyan all these resources are in abundance but yet to be tapped. The Modakekes are known nationwide as one of the highest producers of cash crops such as Cocoa, Kolanut, Palm Oil etc. PEOPLE AND CULTURE Ife East Local Government Area Office, Modakeke-Ife was created as a child of necessity following the recommendation of Chief Olabode George committee set up by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to broker peace between the people of Ile-Ife and Modakeke Communities. The Area Office formally took off on 1st April, 002 and made up of what is historically known and addressed as Modakeke Akoraye. The Area Office Modakeke-Ife is centrally placed amidst the neighbouring towns and villages that comprised the defunct Oranmiyan Local Government in Ife Land. There are numerous towns and villages in the Area Office. Some of them are: Alabameta, Koola, Odole, Ajagunna, Doya, Asabi, Ijugbe, Awoye, Aba-Oke, Olooyo, Fagunwa, Asarogun, Oyan, Aba Lemomu, Jatina. However, Ife East Area Office shares boundaries with Ife Central, Ife North, and Ife East Local Governments.
Hence, it has three political wards. The indigenes of Ife East Local Government Area Office, Modakeke-Ife are predominantly Oyo speaking people bounded with the same custom and culture. However, non-indigenes from all parts of Nigeria and foreigners reside in the Area Office, living together in harmony. Yoruba and English are the languages of the people for official and business transactions. The Area Office is endowed with a highly literate and articulate populace who constitutes a virile and productive workforce.
Traditionally, the people of the Area Office are very hard working farmers while some engage in other commercial activities such as Soap making, Palm kernel crushing, Feed mills, Sawmill etc. The Area Office has a rich cultural heritage which is eloquently demonstrated in all areas of their lives. HISTORY OF IFE Ife is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. Evidence of urbanization at the site has been discovered to date back to roughly 500 AD. It is located in present day Osun State, with a population of 501,952. With coordinates of About
Today a mid-sized city, Ife is home to the Obafemi Awolowo University and Natural History Museum of Nigeria. Ife people are of the Yoruba ethnic group, one of the largest ethno-linguistic groupings in Africa. Ife has a local television station called NTA Ife, and is home to various businesses. Ife is also the trade center for a farming region. Yams, cassava, grain, cacao, and tobacco are grown. Cotton is grown and used to weave cloth. Hotels in Ile-Ife include Hotel Diganga Ife-Ibadan road, Mayfair Hotel, Obafemi Awolowo University Guest House etc.
Ile-Ife has a stadium with a capacity of 9,000 and a second division professional league football team. The meaning of the word “ife” in the Yoruba language is ‘sprawl’ or ‘expansion’; ‘Ile-Ife’ means ‘The House of Expansion’ (the city is regarded as the origin of Yoruba culture, industry and of people of Yoruba descent. ) History According to the Yoruba people, Ife is where the founding deities Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount Deity Olodumare. Obatala created the first humans out of clay, while Oduduwa became the first divine king of the Yoruba.
The Ooni (King) of Ife claims direct descent from the god Oduduwa, and is counted first among Yoruba kings. To this day many of the surviving traditional religious groups of the city celebrate the creation of the world during the Itapa festival. According to anthropologists, its habitation can be traced as far back as 350 BCE. Mythic origin of Ife The Yoruba claim to have originated in Ife. According to their mythology, Olorun, the supreme god, ordered his son, Oduduwa, to climb down from the heavens on a chain with three items.
Oduduwa scattered a handful of dirt over the ocean, thus creating Ile Ife, then put a cockerel on the land which dug a hole. Oduduwa planted a palm nut in the hole and from there sprang a great tree with sixteen branches representing the families of the early Yoruba states. Migratory origin of Ife Another origin story from the Yoruba is that they were the product of intermarriage between a small band of invaders from the savanna slightly to the North East and the indigenous inhabitants of the forest. According to this version, Oduduwa was the son of Lamurudu, a prince from the east , possibly related to the ancient Nok culture of the savanna.
Oduduwa and the natives left their homeland at some point between the first and the seventh centuries A. D. After wandering for some time, they found and settled the state of Ife. Oduduwa then had a son called Okanbi. Okanbi in turn had seven children who founded the Yoruba states of Owu, Sabe, Popo, Benin, Ila orangun, Ketu and Oyo. The best of the stories of Ile-Ife as told and partially confirmed states that Lamurudu left the East around the 7th century, and wandered around Africa for a long time before settling at a place around present day Edo.
The Lamurudus were accepted into the society as a highly respected family. Eventually they were accorded the royal status but not the position of king or ruler that they demanded. As a result the head of the Lamurudu family, a man by the name of Oduduwa, left in anger to settle at a place where he and his people would be recognized and accorded the status they had been seeking. Eventually they reached Ile-Ife, where the oracle had told Oduduwa his journey would end before his party left for their long journey with fanfare.
The people of Ile Ife had also been told to await the arrival of their future king. As a result, when Oduduwa and his entourage reached Ile-Ife, the acceptance was mutual unlike the previous city that scorned them. Oduduwa had six sons and one grandson who went ahead to found their own kingdoms and empires, namely Ila Oragun, Owu, Ketu, Sabe, Popo, Oyo and Benin. Oranmiyan, Oduduwa’s last born, was one of his father’s principal ministers and overseer of the nascent Edo empire after Oduduwa refused the plea from the Edo people for his governance.
When Oranmiyan decided to go back to Ile Ife after a period of service in Benin, he left behind a child named Eweka that he had had in the interim with an indigenous princess. The young boy went on to become the first legitimate ruler of the second Edo dynasty that has ruled what is now Benin from that day to this. Oranmiyan later went on to found the Oyo empire that stretched at its height from the western banks of the river Niger to the Eastern banks of the river Volta. It would go on to serve as one of the most powerful of Africa’s medieval states. Ife Kingdom Between 700 and 900 A.
D. , Ife began to develop as a major artistic center. Important people were often depicted with large heads because the artists believed that the Ase was held in the head, the Ase being the inner power and energy of a person. Their rulers were also often depicted with their mouths covered so that the power of their speech would not be too great. They did not idealize individual people, but they tended rather to idealize the office of the king. The city was a settlement of substantial size between the 9th and 12th centuries, with houses featuring potsherd pavements.
Ile-Ife is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A. D. After this period, production declined as political and economic power shifted to the nearby kingdom of Benin which, like the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, developed into a major empire. Bronze and terracotta art created by this civilization and those related to it are amongst the earliest and most significant instances of realism in art, dating back to before the European Renaissance.
The royal dynasty of Ife is over 800 years old. The present ruler (Ooni) is Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, styled His Imperial Majesty by his subjects, who ascended the throne in 1980. A major exhibition entitled Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures of West Africa, displaying works of art found in Ife and the surrounding area, was being held in the British Museum from 4 March to 4 July 2010. Latitudes 7o 28l 0N Longitudes 4o 34l 0E References • Akinjogbin, I. A. (Hg. : The Cradle of a Race: Ife from the Beginning to 1980, Lagos 1992 (The book also has chapters on the present religious situation in the town). • Bascom, William: The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, New York 1969 (The book mainly deals with Ile-Ife). • Lange, Dierk: “The dying and the rising God in the New Year Festival of Ife”, in: Lange, Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa, Dettelbach 2004, pp. 343–376. • Willett, Frank: Ife in the History of West African Sculpture, London 1967 (The book also deals with some oral traditions of Ile-Ife) Ooni’s Naked Coup Against Ogunsua
MODAKEKE, a prominent town in the South-Western part of Nigeria, is not only newsmen’s delight as anything having to do with the ancient town which population was between 50,000 and 60,000 as far back as 1884, will not pass the eagle-eyes of a news editor who is worth his professional salt, it is also a veritable zone for any politician in the state who desires victory in his political pursuit because of the block-vote nature of the people inhabiting the community. This socio-political posture of the town is borne out of the fact that they always work in unison to achieve their desired communal goals.
Some of the social infrastructure that can be found in the community today are products of self efforts of the people of the area who had suffered untold neglect and hardship because of their nearness to the cradle of the Yoruba which leadership has never hidden its desperation to arrest the development of the town under an excuse that the Modakeke progenitors were refugees from the old Oyo Empire who sought refuge southwards when the Fulani jihadists were hell-bent in dipping the Holy Quoran into the Ocean.
History however, has it that it was Ooni Adegunle nicknamed ‘Abewela ila gbagada gbagada’ (one whose okro leaves are very broad) who appointed the Oyos as the Modakeke people were then called, a settlement outside the walls of the city of Ile-Ife. It was one Adeworo whom Ooni Adegunle asked to lead one Wingbolu, an Oyo man who was a smelter of iron, who was conferred with a title of Ogunsuwa, meaning – one whom Ogun, the god of war has blessed with fortune which has become the title of all traditional rulers of Modakeke to date.
BASED on the above explanation which has historical backing in ‘The History of The Yorubas’ by Reverend Samuel Johnson, it is however strange and unbelievable that a compound out of over 200 compounds making up Modakeke that had existed for almost two centuries, can wake up overnight and be laying absolute claim to the title of Ogunsua. With the successive travails of Modakeke in the hands of its predators and persecutors, it is an act of God that the town still remains an entity till today.
The latter day contention of a certain family that when this chieftaincy title of Ogunsua was conferred on Wingbolu by Ooni Adegunle, it must remain a permanent property of his descendants is not only wicked but a calculated attempt by a group of people to reap where they did not sow. It becomes treasonable against the Modakeke community when the insignificant percentage of the people who are clamouring for winner-takes-all solicited the effort of an external force known not to want peace for the community to hanker after what is the legitimate property of the entire people of the community.
It is saddening that some people are exploiting their closeness to the government of the day in the state to wage war against their community. The contents of available correspondence from them to their emergency royal godfather and those from the superfluous aggrieved elements are not only offensive but any true born of the community will find such unbelievable to have emanated from some supposed subjects to their traditional ruler before and after the 5th September, 2009 coronation and presentation of staff of office to Oba Francis Olatunji Adedoyin, Olaogbin 1 because of the displayed arrogance therein.
The people of Wingbolu compound in Modakeke should know that a part can not successfully fight the whole. What happened to the defunct Republic of Biafra should be fresh in their memory. It was sad that the protagonists of the civil war that caused untold hardship to some innocent people of the South-East of Igbo extraction for thirty months were themselves not victims of the needless war. It was the innocent and common ones among them that suffered. No single man can fight over 200 others.
Even if the case is won in any court of law, how about the moral implication aspect of it especially when those who are beating the drum of war in the 21st Century will not be monarchs over the people of their compound alone. Those who are being used against their people should desist from being willing tools in the hands of avowed enemies of Modakeke, taking into cognizance the fact that it is the people that choose their ruler; presentation of a staff of office by a government functionary is a mere formality.
WHAT is the plight of Ibadan and Ode-omu that is not applicable to Modakeke? The tradition and history of Modakeke predated the stool of Ogunsua because unlike the ruling houses arrangement, the community is made of an aggregate of people who have agreed (ogun-suwa-po) to have an orderly succession by promotion in order of seniority of the entitled holders, a process that produced the past traditional rulers and the present Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Adedoyin.
The orderly succession by promotion in order of seniority of the entitled holders is exactly like that of Ibadan in Oyo State and Ode-omu in Osun State. The Wingbolu compound which is just one of the over 200 compounds in Modakeke had also benefited from the agelong promotional arrangement.
If the Ooni Sijuwade had not wanted to deliberately cause confusion in Modakeke, why did he present, under a questionable circumstances, a hurriedly prepared ‘Amended Declaration Made Under Section 4 (2) of the Chiefs Law, 200, of the Customary Law Regulating The Selection of the Ogunsua of Modakeke-Ife’ on the 5th day of September, 2009, made by the chieftaincy committee of Ife East Local Government, signed by the Ooni himself, the council chairman, secretary of the chieftaincy committee in the local government, the commissioner for local government and the permanent secretary, ministry of local government and chieftaincy and community development?
I was one of those who doubted the earlier intention of the Ooni to give accent to the Ogunsua as a beaded-crowned monarch because of the antecedents and pathological hatred the Ile-Ife monarch has for the people of Modakeke. It was on the coronation ground that the Ooni executed his perfected coup on the entire people of Modakeke by presenting what the Ogunsua thought to be ‘a coronation gift’ from the father to his son in a well-covered and decent case that looked like that of a perfume. Sources close to the Ogunsua’s palace disclosed that the brand newly-crowned oba could not open the case until the night of Monday, the 7th of day of September, 2009 after his numerous visitors and well-wishers that trooped to his palace had departed.
It was after the Ogunsua had opened the case, the third day after the coronation that he discovered the Ooni’s Greek Gift which turned out to be the illegal amended declaration of the chiefs law. The Ooni should know that he is only courting anarchy by planning a coup against the entire community of Modakeke through imposition of the illegal chieftaincy declaration law which was signed on a Saturday on the unsuspecting people. It will not last; it’s a question of time. It is needless to tell the royal father that such cannot work in this 21st Century. It was a pity that what the Ooni could not achieve through the normal channel; he thought he could do it through the back-door by adopting the system used by the British imperialists who were using the natives against themselves.
In this case, it is visible to the blind, audible to the deaf and tangible to the idiot that the unconventional route through which the Ooni wants to create confusion in Modakeke is via the Windolu compound, the people who are referring to ‘the people of Modakeke’ in their numerous correspondence to the Ooni and the state Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola. In order to add salt to the injury of the people of Modakeke, the Ooni’s secret amended declaration of the laws regulating the selection of the Ogunsua came up with a seven-member kingmaker, the chairman of which is an Ile-Ife indigenous chief, the Lowa of Ife while three members are to come from representatives of Balogun Ruling lineage and the remaining three members are to come from the Ooni’s self-styled and imposed representatives of ‘Wingbolu dynasty’ in Modakeke! This is a ruse which can neither stand nor fly.
What right has the Ooni to select kingmakers for Modakeke? How many Modakeke indigenes are kingmakers in Ile-Ife? It is an insult which the Ooni should stop forthwith. This development simply shows that the Ooni Sijuwade is not attracting genuine peace to Modakeke. He’s only paying a lip service to ensuring peaceful relation between Modakeke and Ile-Ife. While other obas are attracting meaningful developments to their domains, Ooni’s stock in trade is importation of confusion and policies that can not stand the test of time. Whoever advised the Ooni to toe this present path is basically not interested in peaceful co-existence between the Modakeke and Ile-Ife.
The Ooni’s intervention in the obaship affairs of Modakeke is selfish, bogus, controversial, needless, provocative and arrogant, the eruption of which, if not properly managed, is capable of shaking the two communities to their foundation. The Ooni should be patriotic enough to leave a worthy legacy in Ifeland; enough of bloodshed in the area. The ubiquitous rubbles from the crises of the recent past are enough reasons for him to adopt the path of peace. That fiery human rights attorney and humanitarian, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), died in Lagos recently and his demise has been attracting glowing tributes both from within and outside the shores of this nation simply because of his good deeds while alive. People in the position of authority should know that everybody will give an account of his stewardship in the great beyond.
THE only way the state government can help to sustain peace in the area is for the state governor to have the will power to refuse the approval of the Ooni’s bombshell because it is against the letters and spirit of peace between Ile-Ife and Modakeke communities; it is only when a sitting oba is on the throne that a declaration is made or amended; Ogunsua stool is a non-ruling house stool as rightly depicted by the instrument and staff of office which the governor presented to Oba Adedoyin on 5th of September, 2009; the imposition of unilateral issuance of an amended declaration was without the knowledge and inputs of Modakeke community as the stakeholders and their oba; the purported amended declaration is at variance with the tradition, custom, aspirations and wishes of Modakeke community with its over 200 compounds and almost 200 years of existence and the amended declaration seems to have assumed that the stool of Ogunsua is a minor chieftaincy under part three as against the recognized chieftaincy that is under part two of the 2002 chiefs law of Osun State.
Some of the other reasons why the amended declaration should not stand are because neither the Ogunsua Adedoyin nor anybody else in Modakeke has demanded for alteration, amendment or cancellation of the community’s orderly succession by promotion in order of seniority of the entitled holders; it is intended to cause disaffection between Ile-Ife and Modakeke on the one hand and within Modakeke community on the other hand; it is against the provisions of the current chiefs law of Osun State, cap 25 which means that only Modakeke community can lawfully and legally make declaration for itself and that the chieftaincy committee wrongly composed of Ifes cannot legally declare the Wingbolu family a ruling house among others. Where was the latter day ‘Wingbolu dynasty’ when the enemies of Modakeke were ceaselessly working against the corporate existence of Modakeke?
The present scenario on the affected compound which is now seeing heroism in the avowed enemies of the land in another neighbouring community amounts to corner-cutting and royal ambush which should be resisted by genuine sons and daughters of Modakeke. What the Ooni is working towards is to create confusion and anarchy in the peaceful Modakeke community, scheme for deposition of Oba Adedoyin and enthrone his lackey from the self-styled ‘Wingbolu dynasty’. On this note, a new slogan among Modakeke youths and progressive oldies alike henceforth should be “NO TO WINGBOLU DYNASTY”. GOD BLESS MODAKEKE. RECOMMENDATIONS Ife are people living in Ile-Ife. Ile-Ife is the home town of the Ife. The Ile-Ife are times is refered to as Ife. Ile-Ife is believed to be cradle of Yoruba (among most Yorubas).
Another prominent feature that history and prosterity will never forget is incensant fightings between Ifes and Modakeke. Particulary whenever one talks about any Olubuse reign in Ile-Ife. The mark and torch of the wars between Ifes and Modakekes has become indelible in Ile-Ife and may live to be there for ever untill when people of the same blood learn to accommodate each other, love not to cheat each other. Our prayer is that may Ile-Ife know peace, may Modakeke know peace, may there come to end, cheating among people of the same blood. Amen. HOW TO WRITE YOUR SOURCE Pa G. O. Adegbenro, Abiala’s son-in-law, age 82, interview by author, April 8, 2007, Olufi Area, Gbongan, Ayedaade Local Government Area, Osun State, Nigeria.