HISTORY OF IKERE-EKITI

Brief history of Ikere-Ekiti

Ikere Ekiti or simply Ikere is an ancient Yoruba town in the present day Ekiti State, Southwest Nigeria. The town has a boundary in the north with Ado Ekiti, in the South with Akure [Ondo State]having Iju/Ita Ogbolu as the closest towns in the south. Ikere has a boundary with Ise Ekiti in her eastern flank while Igbaro Odo/Ilawe are the next neighbors to her west. Thus Ikere can be said to be the gateway to Ekiti State from the south. The paramount ruler goes by the title OGOGA OF IKERE KINGDOM.

According to oral history, Ikere was founded by a man named Aladeselu who is reported to have come from Uselu near Benin. As it was the practice in those days, itinerant immigrants moved from one place to another in search of suitable place to settle. In doing this they usually consulted the oracles to know the suitability of a place in terms of security, fertility of land for subsistence living and prosperity before picking a place for settlement. Aladeselu and his people consulted the oracle and were directed to a place now known as Ereja in present day Ikere. The oracle further revealed that a true royal blood and prince who will be the head and king of this new settlement will come later and that they will see the signs of royalty whenever the prince arrived. Aladeselu was to hold fort in the mean time. It was in the process of clearing the bush that a squirrel locally called Okpere or Okere was killed. Aladeselu called the site the place of OKERE WHICH GAVE BIRTH TO THE NAME IKERE AS IT IS KNOWN TODAY.

Others joined them and the place grew. There were three quarters namely Oke ‘Kere, Uro and Odo Oja where Aladeselu lived. Amongst those living in Ikere at this early stage were two powerful herbalists, one named Olosu or Sinsingurunsin and the other Ujagbofi and they were rivals. The more famous and powerful was Olosu [he always had his hair tied in three heaps-Osu] Sinsingurunsin or Olosu used his mystical powers to help all from hunters to farmers and this increased the jealousy of him by Ujagbofi who started planning how to get rid of the former.

Another itinerant immigrant that later came from Ise was a man named Oloje who was said to come from Ilodi quarters, Ife. He was a challenged individual. Oloje first settled at Olowu compound in Oke ‘Kere one of the first three quarters in Ikere. He had to relocate to Odopetu compound shortly due to inconvenience and hostility of Olowu people. Oloje stayed near Odopetu compound and because his children were being attacked by animals from the nearby bush, he was taken to Aladeselu at Ereja. He was then relocated to Ugbo Arosi where he could farm. At Ugbo Arosi again he lost some of his children to cold due to the swampy terrain of the new place. Aladeselu finally relocated Oloje to Ugbo Agbe now called Odo Ule which has been his place of abode ever since. Olosu was the one who helped Oloje to overcome his challenges and he also taught him Ifa divinations. Oloje became a diviner protégé of Olosu in addition to farming.

Periodically, propitiation would be made for the future of the settlement usually by the chosen elders in collaboration with the babalawos [herbalists]. Ujagbofi made his plan to use such an occasion to get rid of Olosu. Olosu after consulting his oracles advised that the propitiation this time would require a human being and he asked the people to prepare a hole deep enough to contain the human being to be used while he gets other materials. On the day of the ritual, the people tried to push Olosu into the hole for the sacrifice. He escaped and ran into the near rock. This rock is now known as Olosunta –Olosu to sun sinu okuta [Olosu that sleeps inside the Rock].

The people pursued and even made fire torch with dry palm front to smoke Olosu out but rather than him dying it was just water that came out of the rock and when they called him, he answered from inside the rock. The were afraid. Thereafter there started epidemics of various deceases such as small pox, death, famine and absence of rain in the land. To stop all the evils, the oracle was consulted which revealed that the people had betrayed and repaid their benefactor with evil and they would need to appease him in order to stop the epidemics. The oracle stated all that they would be required to appease Olosunta to include snail, kolanut cold water and rodent. They needed a priest to offer this special propitiation and Oloje, who had become Olosu’s protégé was chosen to do the appeasement. This was how Oloje became the chief priest of Olosunta. After this appeasement, Olosunta required this sacrifice be made yearly and that they must use the fire torch dry palm front so the people can experience what he went through when they tried to smoke him out of the rock. That was the beginning of Olosunta yearly festival. Immediately the epidemics stopped and rain fell. The first person to make heaps for yam planting was Oloje and that is why part of the cognomen is olukere lo ni ojo ikeran. Oloje was cultivating a local plant called Urere or Ukerekere and this resulted to people calling him baba olukerekere from where olukere was derived. This was how Oloje got the name olukere.

OGOGA COMES TO IKERE

After this Ogoga came into Ikere. The first ogoga was a prince from Benin who was the heir apparent to the throne in Benin Kingdom as he was the first child on the throne, but this angered the step mother who also had a son eyeing the revered throne. The step mother was looking for a way to eliminate him and this prompted Ogoga,s mother to escape with her two sons namely: Ogoga Agamo and Deji of Akure who is the elder brother but born before their father ascended to the throne. On their way from Benin, they got to the present day Akure and the beaded bracelet(AKUN in yoruba) worn by the Deji got torn and this place was named Akure, i.e AKUN RE(Bead cut) Deji together with their mother decided to settle there but Ogoga whose real name was Osege Akemugami, was a brave hunter, he decided to press forward and got to a place near Akure and decided to stay there and this place is named after him AGAMO. There was a day, he was hunting and shot an elephant but the elephant managed to run but he(Ogoga) started trailing the elephant with the blood gushing out from the shot elephant. He later got to a place around the site of the present State Hospital in Ikere and thought that the elephant had turned to a rock, because this rock is shaped like an elephant but that feature might not be vivid nowadays because of the effects of weathering. That place is known as Utamorajerin(Rock that looks like elephant). He was so disappointed and just decided to rest beside the rock. As he waited there, he looked southwestward and saw a smoke and started tracing the smoke and later met an old man. The old man took him to Aladeselu. On seeing him with his regal appearance and bearing he knew the expected prince who will become the Oba has arrived. Ogoga told him he was looking for the elephant he shot. Aladeselu sent for Oloje the priest to divine and find out where the prince could find his game. Ogoga gave Oloje kolanuts and on divination, Oloje told him where he could find the elephant. True to this oracle, the elephant was found at a place now called Uja Ugbolumode near where the present palace is located. Ogoga put one of his aids to to keep watch over the game. That aid was the first Chief Elemoso.

Ogoga returned to Agamo but Aladeselu later prevailed on him to relocate to town and live with him this was because, he had seen the sign of royalty in him in line with what was foretold by the oracle when Aladeselu first settled in Ikere. Ogoga was given many crowns and beads when leaving with the help of some chiefs.

Ogoga lived with Aladeselu for seven years. This is the reason that every Oba elect will have to commence the installation rites at Erepupu, Aladeselu’s abode and perform the first rites at Erepupu where the first Oba Ogoga stayed as the commencement of rites of passage to the palace.

The first seat or throne is in Erepupu. The Oba elect have to do this ritual seven times to mark the seven years the first Ogoga spent at Aladeselu compound. The current Ogoga, HRM Oba Adejimi Adu Alagbado, Agirilala II is the 27 th Ogoga to reign in Ikere.

Ikere started with three quarters namely Uro, Oke ‘Kere and Odo Oja. However, during the reign of the 17 th Ogoga , Oba Agirilala 1 st who reigned about 1796 -1841, others settlers came for refuge from the inter-tribal wars that was ravaging the Ekiti land at that period. Ikere was the only town that was never defeated in any of the war. This was attributed to the gallantry of her warriors who were also helped by the Binis, the homeland and origin of Ogoga himself. Oba Agirilala 1 st was very accommodation and wise. He accepted and resettled the following in Ikere: Are, Afao, Iluomoba, Agbado and Oyo. Today there is no difference between the first three quarters and the later settlers as Ikere is now known as a town of Nine [9] quarters fully integrated.