History of igbaja people

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HISTORY OF IGBAJA PEOPLE

Igbaja is a community in Ifelodun Local Government Area, Kwara State, Nigeria, at an elevation of 349 m. It is about 40 km southeast of Ilorin, and is in Igbomina country.

The Ilorin Provincial Gazetteer (1918) dates the settlement of Igbaja as late 17th or early 18th century, while the Igbaja District Gazetteer (1933–35) puts it about 1750 AD.

The wet season lasts from April to October, with 50–100 cm of rain. In the dry season from November to March there is 0–13 cm of rain. The natural landscape is Southern Guinea savanna, or open woodland. The soils are deep and red, often with clayey subsoil, suitable for pottery making.

The Irese (igbaja) people is an autonomous community within the Igbomina -Yoruba people. It is ruled by its great king, Elese. The Igbomina is a distinct clan of the Yoruba people sharing some features with the Oyo yoruba on one hand, and Ekiti yoruba on the other hand.

Our knowledge of the Irese people which forms the basis of this talk is derived principally from aspects of Yoruba folklore namely : Oriki Orile and proverbs. These are in themselves aspects of Yoruba oral tradition. This is a primary source of a permanent timeless nature which we consider superior to written sources which are handiwork of political masters.

One major reason for our sole reliance on oral tradition is that the story we are to talk about is the story of a great cultural heritage that was, of a glory and splendor that has been lost through generations of neglect caused by subjugation of the Irese people by superior external forces – military, political and socio-cultural.

Modern Igbaja first caught the attention of the world through Radio ELWA, the radio broadcasting outfit of the Sudan interior mission, and latter through the theological college belonging to the same Christian mission.

Irese land is referred to in folklore by several names viz: Iran Ajisola, Oko Irese, and Iran Elese all of which seem to be cognomen of the ruler of the kingdom which Irese land actually was. It is he that was called severally as Ajisola Omokele ori Ogun, Okoalake ajiboronle oba Igbaja. It appears to us that Irese land was composed of several towns, among which were Ora, Erin, Oko Ode, Isale Owo and Igbaja itself.

The names are used in out source and variously that it seems to us that Oko is synonymous with Igbaja. Indeed although there is only one known Igbaja, there are several Oko such as the one near Omu-Aran and the one near Ogbomosho. There is another in Egbaland , Ago Oko. It is evident that the Elese had a very close link with the Alaafin the ruler of the Oyo empire. Irese people were best known for their excellent works of art, Igba finfin

It was such a predominant occupation of the people that it remains a proverb till this day that : “Bi onirese ko tiko fingba mo, Eyi toti fin koleparun” meaning “even if Onirese refuses to carve patterns on calabashes, the ones he had already carved will never perish”. From the sale of the carved calabashes, they made lots of money:”Igba finfin Olora egbeje, finfintaifin olora egbefa”

The Igbaja people were also great farmers, planting mainly garden eggs (Ikan) ,okro (Ila) , and yams. It was from the sale of okro and garden egg that they got the riches which earned them their fame.

The present traditional ruler is the Elese of Igbaja, Alhaji Ahmed Babalola Awuni arepo III.

The Irese (igbaja) people is an autonomous community within the Igbomina -yoruba people. It is ruled by its great king ELESE. The Igbomina is a distinct clan of the Yoruba people sharing some features with the oyo Yoruba on one hand, and ekiti Yoruba on the other hand.

Our knowledge of the irese people which forms the basis of this talk is derived principally from aspects of YORUBA folklore namely : oriki orile and proverbs. These are in themselves aspects of YORUBA oral tradition. This is a primary source of a permanent timeless nature which we consider SUPERIOR TO WRITTEN SOURCES WHICH ARE HANDIWORK OF POLITICAL MASTERS. We seem nit to have much choice other than oral tradition because the written sources available to us yield
scanty information on the great heritage of the Irese people. Or of what use to us are archival information on Irese as a subjugated people which recorded Elese as a head of a district under another superior ruler!

One major reason for our sole reliance on oral tradition is that the story we are to talk about is the story of a great cultural heritage that was, of a glory and splendour that has been lost through generations of neglect caused by subjugation of the Irese people by superior external forces – military, political and socio-cultural.

Modern igbaja first caught the attention of the world through Radio ELWA, the radio broadcasting outfit of the Sudan interior mission, and latter through the theological college belonging to the same Christian mission.

Ireseland is referred to in folklore by several names viz: Iran Ajisola, Oko irese, and Iran elese all of which seem to be cognomen of the ruler of the kingdom which Ireseland actually was. It is he that was called severally as Ajisola Omokele ori Ogun. Okoalake ajiboronle oba igbaja.

It appears to us that Ireseland was composed of several towns, among which were Ora, Erin, Oko ode. Isale owo. and igbaja itself.

The names are used in out source and variously that it seems to us that Oko is synonymous with igbaja. Indeed although there is only one known Igbaja, there are several Oko E. G the one near omuaran and the one near ogbomosho. There is another in egbaland , ago Oko. It is evident that the elese had a very close link with the Alafin the ruler of the oyo empire.
Irese people were best known for their excellent works of art. Igba finfin.

It was such a predominant occupation of the people that it remains a proverb till this day that:

Bi onirese ko tikofingba mo
Eyi toti Fin koleparun.
Meaning : “Even if Onirese refuses to carve patterns on calabashes. The one he had already carved will never perish”
From the sale of the carved calabashes, they made lots of money
Igbafinfin olora egbeje
Finfintaifin olora egbefa

They were also great farmers, planting mainly garden eggs (Ikan) ,okro (Ila) , and yams. It was from the sale of okro and garden egg that they got the riches who h earned them their fame.

“Baba wa nifowola reru
Iran irese nifiwokan yawofa
Iran elese nifowokoko fobinrin ”
There was a big Market place at IGBAJA. The true ownership of which was initially disputed

”Odajandaja
Babawa daja nigbaja
Odajandaja
Babies daja nirese Elerin
Elerin sopoja baba awonni
Ara isale iwo, wo loja baba awon ni
Aseyinwa Aseyinbo
Oja naa wadoja nigbaja
Oja naa wadoja nirese Elerin
Lojude baba tobiwon lomo
Odagedegudu oba igbaja ”

As can be seen in the end, the true owner of the market was no longer in doubt. They did their buying and selling at the market but they were very careful and meticulous as to the quality of any item, including slaves, they wanted to buy.

”Oko irese omowoyira Komabareru keru
Erukeru abilala lenu
Oko irese omowoyira Komaba ragbakigba
Igbakigba ni keke so”

Their women folk were usually very beautiful but they were very jealous and could be very sexy. They could not tolerate sharing their men with a second woman. They go to any length to eliminate their co-wives.

“Oko dara
Okowumi
Owu jije won losumi
Omo ajowu Yoko lenu
Omo Amugburu Amugburu Korogun re ribumu Amugburu Korogun re ribuwe
Komilebatan
Koko le ran orogun re lodo loru
Kejo le San orogun re lese ni
Korogun lebaku
Kokoun nikan loode oko
Oko jowu jowu
Oba ofanjowu nipepe
Oni Ajisola asolale laja kinloni kinwale babayinwase
Eesepe molale laja
Eku lasan nidun nipepe
Oko jowu, obelulu jowu ninu oko
Oni Ajisola asolale legan
Kinloni kinwoko babayinwase
Kiisepe molale legan
Eye Oko lasan nidun kisokiso
Omo Alake temile mioba teniwa
Ohun timobawa Jori enilo.

It was therefore a source of great trouble for one man to marry two Oko woman.
”beniyan Gboko Meji Sile, Bi Igbati oluwa re nwa Oran ni”

The land was ruled by a great king, rich in splendour and magnificent in his glory.

Oriki

Baami lelese moko
Ajisola nimi
Omo kele Ogun
Oko Alake omo ajiboro nigbaja

Alake mobelese more
Alake mobolora momiora
Mobajisola alake jebe tioniru

Ajisola
Omo agbe sobolobomonitan
Ofinkan moinimoin bo nkan moinmoin

Babawa nifowola reru
Iran Irese nifowokan yawofa
Iran Elese nifowo koko fobinrin

Eyele kosun okoriooo
Adaba kosun okaya
Eyele irese okosun lese odapasi
Won yiosemon peyele soge abi kosoge

Ajisola
Omo oba kele oju Ogun
Oko weku idie weku
Oko Alake omo ajebioroyo
Ara gedegudu oba igbaja

Owu ojekinle foko lobinrin
Ajisola jowu jowu jowu jowu jowu jowu
Oko alake omo ajowu yoko lenu

Omo amu gbururu, amu gbururu
Korogun re ribumu
Amu gbururu korogun re ribuwe
Amu gbururu korogunre ribuboju

Tomi batan
Kosofoko lale
Kokole baranrogun re lodoloruni
Kejoleborogun re lesejeni
Korogunlebaku kokoun nikan loode oko

Oko jowu
Olobofan jowu nipepe
Ajisola asolale laja, kinloni kinwale babayin wase
Kese pe molale laja
Eku las an nidun loripepe
Oko jowu, olobelulu jowuninu oko
Olajisola, ase olale legan , kinlonikinwoko babayin wase
Kise pemolale legan , eye oko lasan nidun kisokiso

Oko alake , omowoyira komabaragbakigba
Igbakigba keke niso
Oko alake omo woyira komaba rerukeru
Eru keru abilala lenu.
Oko temile miobateniwa
Ountimobawa ojori enilo…

Bonirese ofingba Mon iyitotifinsile komaparun
 

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