The first thing to note is that Ado is the name of a political society, as a matter of fact, a kingdom, on account of its size and development, was the largest in Ekiti. In its heydays, the kingdom covered all of the present-day Ado Ekiti Local Government Area, Irepodun/Ifelodun and Aiyerire Local Government Areas, Ekiti Southwest less Ogotun and part of Ido/Osi Local Government Area. Traditions assert that at the height of its power in the 18th and 19th centuries, about 200 years ago, Ado kingdom consisted of 150 (ewadojo) communities. The metropolis of the kingdom was Ado-Ekiti, Ewi was the sovereign head, his palace was (and still is) situated in the Chief city. All the high Chiefs lived in the city. These Chiefs were patron Chiefs of all the subordinate towns and villages.
|Ewi Adewumi Agunsoye||1910 – 1936|
|Ewi Anirare Aladesanmi II||1937 – 1983|
|Ewi Adeyemi George, Adelabu I||1984 – 1988|
|Ewi Adeyemo Adejugbe, Aladesanmi III||1990 – Present time|
Where Ado-Ekiti is situated is a land that has been continuously inhabited/occupied by human communities from time immemorial. Available research shows that human societies of unknown antiquity occupied this neighbourhood about (11,000) years ago. These ancient inhabitants were probably the same or progenitors/ancestors of Igbon near Ogotun, Erijiyan, Ijero, Ulesun and Asin (near Ikole) who were probably autochthones because available traditions shows that they had lived in and near their abodes from time immemorial. As a matter of fact, no one knows where, if any, they came from and for how long they had lived in those ancient sites. Ulesun appears the most well-known apparently on account of its size, the number of its subordinate communities especially Aso, Ulero, Isinla, Ilamoji, Ukere and Agbaun (near Igbemo), its well-organized traditional religion including its festivals etc and its location at the heartland of Ekitiland. These ancient people were the ancestors of Ekiti, they played hosts in the 7th and 8th centuries, about 1,200 years ago, to waves of immigrants from the basins of the rivers Niger and Benue; these settled among the ancient Ekiti, and were fewer in number and so, the hosts culturally absorbed them. Eventually,the people fused as aboriginal people by and by.
After many generations, a new wave of immigrant groups penetrated this homeland; their leader as Ewi, second succesor of Prince Biritiokun, Son of Oduduwa, on account of his wanderings all the way from the Benin forests, the leader was nicknamed Awamaro. Ulesun people welcomed them warmly and neighbouring committes came together to assist their settlement (built homesteads for them) at Oke-Ibon in Odo Ijigbo. Eventually, Ewi and his people overthrew the existing political arrangements, conquered Ulesun community, displaced its ruler Elesun and established a new town, Awamaro named Ado, meaning ‘here we encamp’. Ewi Awamaro and his successors conquered villages and cottage in the neighbourhood, replaced their rulers with thier own loyalists, stalwarts and scions of the royal family. The important citizens of these conquered communities were relocated in Ado. Ewi supplanted Elesun as sovereign ruler of the aboriginal and settler population, many of Elesun’s Chiefs were confirmed in their offices but they swore oaths of allegiance to the Ewi. Many of the succeeding Ewi expanded the kingdom by force of arms, annexed territories and gave these territories to scions of the royal families, these assumed titles which became hereditary.
The expansion and growth of Ado-Ekiti and the kingdom of Ado lasted over 400 years. In the course of this expansion, Ado became associated with certain traits. Citizens of the kingdom in general and those of the mother town, Ado-Ekiti in particular were reputed for great attention to cleanliness. A popular lyrical description of Ado citizenry depicts:
Ira Ule Ado m’etipise fifin seree (Ado citizens with their usually clean heels)
Ado people were, by local standard, tough and brave warriors. Traditions preserve numerous brave citizens of each Ado community, the best known were Ogbigbonihanran of Idolofin quarters, Ogunmonakan of Okelaja, Fasawo, a.k.a Aduloju of Udemo quarters, and Eleyinmi Orogirigbona of Okeyinmi quarters – all of Ado-Ekiti and Ogunbulu, a.k.a Ala l’oju Osoru of Aisegba. The exploits of Ado tough in many parts of Ekiti formed the basis of the popular orature:
Ikara s’eji s’inu agbagba t’emi ukoko (Of two balls of cake in the frying-pan, heinsists his share is one)
Folk, traditions are replete with fond references to Ewi’s relationship with some other Ekiti traditional rulers. Ewi’s antecedents are depicted as:
Elempe Ekiti (mightiest man in Ekiti) On k’emu ‘kan o mu meji Oloju k’enu ‘kan gba kete re (He is entitled to one, he took two he has a disposition to take everything) Ewi i pe mi udiroko Onitaji i pe mi esunsu…… (Ewi invites me for his udiroko festival Onitaji invites me for his esunsu festival)
Folk traditions of this nature vividly portray the towering position of Ado-Ekiti. In the first place, Ado-Ekiti is situated at the heartland of Ekiti and is thus less exposed to crossborder attacks or non-Ekiti influences. Consequently, over many centuries, waves of immigrant groups seeking haven settled in Ado-Ekiti and several other Ado communities. Many of these immigrants were refugees, they left thier old homelands in parts of Ekiti, Akoko, Owo etc. where their leaders lost out in chieftaincy contests. Some were war captives, these were brought in droves by Aduloju and his lieutenants from their slave wars of the 1870s and 1880s in parts of Owo, Ose and Akoko. They were settled in Ado communities where they increased the local population, and enriched the culture with thier lineage names and festivals in similar circumstances, citizens of Ado communities left their fatherland and settled in a few places in the neighbourhood up to Ijesaland. Ibadan sacked many Ado communities in 1873 and made a huge haul of prisoners of war and other captives who eventually settled in Iwo, Ibadan and some Remo towns such as Iperu and Makun Sagamu. However, Ado communities especially the mother town offset part of their losses with a large number of slaves and prisoners of war from Owo, Ose and Akoko.
From the 1880s, agents of the British, especially Christian missionaries penetrated the Yoruba interior in an endeavour to end the wars, in particular, the wars of liberation Ekitiparapo communities waged against Ibadan since October, 1879. In June, 1886, political-cum-military officers got the belligerent parties to sign a truce and in March, 1893, Governor Carter of Lagos visited Ibadan and Ekitiparapo camps of Igbajo and Imesi-Ile and terminated the war, got the leaders to sign treaties which prohibited slavery and slave trade, human sacrifices and the use of weapons to settle conflicts. The British administration in Lagos (which had authority over Yoruba interland from 1893) proclaimed a general emancipation for slaves and ordered slaves who so wished to return to their former homelands. As a result, numerous citizens of Ekiti in general and Ado in particular returned from captivity forth with. The British established its colonial rule on vast territories and in 1900, a number of districts became Nigeria. Eventually, further reorganizations led to the creation in January, 1913 of Ekiti District, with headquarters in Ado-Ekiti. That was a landmark from where to begin the discussion of today, modern times, a period characterized by the emergence of new things, phenomenal growth and development of old kingdom and its Chief city, Ado-Ekiti.
Among the most conspicuous of the great changes were the introduction and expansion of Christianity and Islam. Christian missions especially of the CMS, Roman Catholic, Baptist, African Church and Methodist, later the Cherubum and Seraphim and Apostolic Church took root and expanded during the 20th century. Each of these Christian communities established numerous churches such that by 1970, the CMS (Anglican) and the Roman Catholic had grown so fast that they had become dioceses with their headquarters and seats of bishops in Ado-Ekiti. The two missions had three grammar schools, the number increased to five in 1990. The growth of Christian communities was very rapid between 1970 and 2000; new missions and denominations Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical and Episcopal arose, swelling up existing communions. Altogether over one hundred churches were recorded in the city in the year 2000.
The Muslim community did not lag behind, the faith spread. The central mosque was built about 1930 and thereafter, a number of mosques were built in Idemo, Umayo, Isato (Irona), Ogbonado, Okesa, Oke-Ila etc. The Ansar-Ud-Deen emerged in the early 1940s. As a matter of fact, the number of mosques and the number of Muslims who have performed the Hajj can readily come to hand as indices of expansion. The number of mosques increased substantially with the growing number of well-to-do muslim who build mosques as annexes to their private homes; by the year 2000, more than forty mosques could be counted in the city. By 1960, only Alhaji Akorede had performed the Hajj but the number of Alhajs increased in the 1970s and steadily increased in the 1980s and 1990s.
In contemporary times, western education had been the vogue throughout Ekiti. Ado-Ekiti took the lead with the number of educational institutions.
In March 1896, Old Emmanuel School was established at Odo Aremu. In 1917, the Roman Catholic Mission established St. Patrick’s Primary School. By the 1950s, the number of primary and secondary modern schools had increased very substantially. By 1974, the CMS alone had 104 primary schools, 8 secondary schools, and a teachers’ college.
In the early 1930s, the Rt. Rev. H. Dallimore superintendent of the CMS mission established a pupil Teachers Institution. It was raised by the priest to a Middle School and finally towards the end of the 1940s it became a full fledge Grammar School. In the early 1950s, the Ekiti Progressive Union built a second grammar school at Ido-Ekiti. Soon after the CMS built a Girls’ Grammar School (Christ Girls’).
Thenceforth, communities took it in their strides to raise funds and establish a number of community grammar schools. Ado-Ekiti established its own in 1960 and another one towards the end of the 1970s. The number of Grammar Schools kept increasing and by the year 2000, there were twelve pupil grammar schools, private grammar schools numbered six, a total of eighteen. The Federal Government established its polytechnic at Ikewo, Ado-Ekiti, the defunct Ondo State University established its University at Ilewu, Ado-Ekiti.
Within a period of 50 years, much development in western education had taken place in Ekiti in general and Ado-Ekiti in particular. What a leap! Chief E. A. Babalola, a native of Oye-Ekiti was first University graduate in Ekiti. He was a high school master in 1947 and he took over the management of Christ’s High School, Ado-Ekiti when Archdeacon Dallimore retired and left for Britain. Chief J. E. Babatola who graduated in 1952 was first University graduate in Ado-Ekiti. Today, Ekiti sons and daughters are found in large numbers in every academic and professsional positions, Ado-Ekiti has its fair share in this ‘industry’.
Tremendous development took place in the cultivation of economic crops, cultivation and collection of forest products such as kolanut (cola acuminata, Obi abata and cola nitida, gbanja) and oil palm produce, commerce and trade. Much of the impetus of all these came initially from Mr. Isaac Itamuboni (later Babamuboni) and a number of early Christians from Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan. These men introduced the cultivation of cocoa, maize, brown cocoyam etc to Ekiti. Wage earning labourers from parts of Ekiti who went to work in Ondo, Ijebu and Ife boosted the cultivation of these economic trees.
Ewi Aladesanmi II was a crusader in this sphere, he encouraged the cultivation of cash crops and establishment of trading and commercial enterprises among Ado citizenry. The Urhobo came into Ado communities in the early 1940s with their own mode of palm oil extraction. The Ebira came in large numbers in the 1940s and 1950s introducing the cultivation of their own specie of yams, cassava and beans. In the early 1950s, Igbemo, and Ado community started the cultivation of rice, the vogue spread to Iworoko in the 1960s and soon in the 1970s to other Ekiti communities such as Erio etc. These food crops boosted food production and contributed to the sustenance of the growing population of Ado communities, especially Ado-Ekiti, and by extension, other Ekiti and non-Ekiti communities.
The progress made in Western education, cultivation of food crop and of economic trees, as well as the establishment of commercial ventures brought great profit to Ado-Ekiti. In the early 1940s big time commercial firms (companies) such as U.A.C and in later years John Holt, U.T.C, C.F.A.O, established factories in the city. The Post and Telegraph now (NIPOST) established a station in this city in 1947/48 causing posting and collection of mails at the District Officer’s office at Ayoba to cease. In 1958, pipe-borne water facility was provided making Ado-Ekiti the first town in present Ondo and Ekiti States to enjoy the facility. Two years later, ECN (now NEPA) extended electricity to the city. These facilities enhanced/increased commericial activities and brought immense socio-economic benefit and improved standard of life to the people. From the 1950s, commericial banks, at first the National Bank, the Union Bank, and in the 1960s and 1970s Co-operative Bank and United Bank for West Africa, opened their branch offices in Ado-Ekiti.
Ado-Ekiti grew in size and in population. Some fifty years ago, the city began to grow/expand beyond its peripheries and ancient gates and ramparts. In 1963, the city was the largest urban centre in present Ondo and Ekiti States and its population of 158,000 at the census of that year represented it as the most populous urban centre in Eastern Yorubaland. The 1991 population count confirmed the primacy of the city, at least in Ekiti. The creation of Ekiti State in October 1996 and the establishment of state capital at Ado-Ekiti will further enhance the city’s physical development.
The phenomenal growth and development mentioned above have been due to many factors. God has used many people as instruments of His will to work out His purpose, many of these are citizens of Ado urban, some are citizens of Ado rural, some are stranger elements, a couple of them are even Europeans and other expatriates. The citizenry warmly welcomed these development. For example, when the main road from the National Bank junction, through Erekesan and Ereguru to Ojumose was tarred in 1952 and the major road from Ajilosun through Ijigbo, Orereowu, Okesa and Obada etc a section of Akure – Ilorin road, was tarred in 1956, the very welcome development was rendered in popular juju songs, one of which rang:
Baba wa te ‘ri oda l’ado (Our fathers walked on tarred roads at Ado) Ko o bi ko e e (what a delight, what a delight) e e o (very well so) Ko o bi ko e e (What a delight, what a delight)
Tuesday, February 19 2019, 4:10 pm