HISTORY: The Origin Of Ikale

In about 1502, there was a development in Benin Kingdom, Oba Esigie was on the throne and since succession to the throne was from father to son, he was worried that he had no male child to ascend the throne after his death. He married many wives so as to produce a male child. The premonition was that some forces were behind his not having male children. One of his wives conceived and went into hiding. He gave birth to a male child in the morning but at that time, many people had gone to their places of work. Automatically, the male child should reign after him. Before he could make an Oba, certain rites were to be performed. They put all the things: crown, sekere, horsetail, beads as a mark of an Oba before the child. Towards evening, when people were returning from their various places of work, another wife of the Oba gave birth to a male child and people were happy, and started jubilating to herald in the new Oba. News now came that a male child had been given birth to the Oba in the morning but kept in secrecy Abodi.

The two male children grew up in the palace. The Oba foresaw problems as to who was to ascend to the throne after him. He advised the elder male child to go across Owena River to establish his own kingdom. Abodi left with some chiefs in Benin and came to the western side of the Owena. He first settled at Arogbo–Ile. While leaving the place, he asked Larogbo to take charge of Arogbo–Ile. He proceeded to Irele and settled there for a while. This first Abodi is called Abodi Jabado. He reigned for a long period before joining his ancestors. His son, called Tufewa, reigned after him. People that were with the Abodi were called Abodi people. The settlement of Abodi in each of the places he settled was called Ikoya. Tufewa went to Ile–Ife to learn the art of governance because he had not learnt the intricacies of palace administration in Benin.

It was also recorded that Esigie sent him to Ooni in Ile–Ife. He was there for three years. At the end of his third year, the Ooni gave Abodi benedictions. He made him to kneel down in a circle marked with white chalk and asked him to carry out these rites in his kingdom/Domain. Abodi came home with this chalk. This led to the use of white chalk (Efun) which is used to make inscriptions or marks on the ground (meaning) Ikale. That is what we bear today. Without prejudice to anybody, some people say we covered the land “a ka ile yi”. While some people claimed that a man was living beside the Owena River named Aale, and so his village was called Aale. From the three schools of thought, we presume that the act of using a white chalk to make an inscription on the ground to mean Ikale is the most acceptable. The Chiefs that accompanied him from Benin and those that joined him later were given districts to administer. These chiefs were called Olojas. They were given recognitions as Obas in 1979. meanwhile, Abodi gave them titles and they were responsible to him. Today, to a large extent they are autonomous in the administration of their areas. There is no time that the Ikales are nine or their rulers were nine. But the idea of Ikale mehan came during the colonial era. The reasons were best known to the colonial masters. Ajagba, Ujosun and Akotogbo were administered by Benin confederation. Two reasons were advanced for carving out the three: (i) They spoke Benin language (ii) They were too distant from Ikoya administration. One needs to say that if the colonial masters had understood the origin of the Ikales, they would not have carved out these three areas and put them under Benin Administration.

Originally, there was: Larogbo of Akotogbo; Oluhogbo of Ujosun, Ahaba of Ajagba, Laragunsin of Iyansan, Odogbo of Omi, Olofun of Irele, Halu/Lapoki of Ode-Aye, Jagun of Idepe, Obagberume of Igbodigo, Lumure of Ayeka, Orungberuwa of Erinje, Olura of Oloto/Igbinsin, Rebuja of Osooro, and Onipe of Ubu.

Some of the rulers mentioned above are offsprings of other royal fathers. For example, Jagun is an offspring of Larogbo, Rebuja is an offspring of Lumure. Due to lack of contact, Onipe was lost to Ijebu area. Today, in addition to the aforementioned Obas, we have: Norogun of Ayede, Olu of Igodan/Okunmo, Majuwa of Morubodo Kingdom, and Orofun of Iju – Odo. Ikoya is very important in the history of Ikale development. Abodi Jabado was asked to move out and found his kingdom. Esigie gave Abodi all the paraphernalia of office. Sword (Uda) was left out. Oba Esigie was confused with whom to give; either Oba Abodi or Orogbua. Oba Esigie then called his palace chiefs to consider whom to be given the sword. The palace chiefs made two of them to contest for the “Uda”. The sword was thrown up for them to catch. In the process, Abodi gripped the handle while Orogbua held the blade. Orogbua’s hand was cut and Abodi won the contest and had the “Uda”. Oba Esigie told Abodi to use the sword to ward off attacks, aggressions and insults. In other words, the uda was given to Abodi to ward off enemies (ki o fi ko iya) To confirm this, Abodi is the only Oba that bears the appellation, “Ogun Olugba uda…” Anywhere Abodi settles is called Ikoya. He settled in Atijere, Ode, Lagos, etc. It was Abodi Kugbayigbe who came to found the present Ikoya. Ikoya is a shifting settlement along with its civilization, culture, custom, ethics and norms.

In those days, there was a lot of human sacrifice. Only the relations of Abodi were spared. Strangers were used for these sacrifices. This made them move from Ikoya Kingdom because that time, to stay at Ikoya was between life and death. The Ikales because of their good administration, their neighbours feared them. There were two events when we had clashes. Alake wanted to override Onipe. Onipe called on Abodi and the force of Alake was forced to retreat. It was not directly between Alake and Ikale. It was later that Alake discovered that Abodi assisted Onipe but Abodi had already moved away from there. Ondos and Ikales fought wars though not with the entire Ikale but with some districts like Aye, Irele having boundaries with them. In each of these wars, Ikales always emerged victorious because the entire Ikale fought as a unit.

In one of the wars, the Ondo warriors were decisively rooted which led to the immediate death of the then Osemawe who could not stand the defeat (O si igba). Apart from external wars, Ikales had internal conflicts between Osooro and Idepe and Ayeka. We had no war with the Ilajes, Ijaws, and the Ijebus. The war we had with Larogbo was a very critical one in which Erinje was grossly affected which made them to hide in a place called Aluma. Apart from this, there were no serious wars like Kiriji and others. The present chieftaincy titles practiced in Ikale was brought by Abodi Tufewa when he traveled to Ile – Ife. The first set of Ijama were Ligha, Jomo, Petu, Yasere, Odunwo and Isowa, headed by Lema. They were established in all Ikale areas by the second Abodi. In most Ikale areas today, these six chiefs form the leadership of Ijama. It is not mandatory that you have all of them. In some towns, they are Egharepara. Ijama was banished in 1919 but resuscitated in 1930’s because Ijama is the organ of administration. The hierarchical setup is: Oba – Ijama – Ijoye – Omaja.

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