Erijiyan-Ekiti

Historical Background and Geography

Erijiyan-Ekiti, otherwise known as the Golden City is 30 kilometres North-West of Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State of Nigeria and 50 kilometres from Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba race, the source of civilisation and capital of Yoruba Nation. It is also 300 kilometres from Lagos, the commercial and financial atlas of Nigeria. Erijiyan-Ekiti is located on the latitude 7.350 N of the Equator, 5.050 E of the Greenwich Meridian and about 350 metres above the sea level.

Erijiyan-Ekiti in conjunction with its surrounding villages and hamlets is one of one hundred and forty Towns and Villiages that make up Ekiti State, fondly called and addressed “Fountain of Knowledge”. It is also referred to as “Land of Honour” and “Knowledge is Power”. Erijiyan-Ekiti is very unique in many ways especially speaking monolithic and Ekitic dialectic mother tongue.Itis very rich culturally, and have sound moral up bringing.

Political Administration

Before the advent of the colonial masters, Yorubas have been governing themselves through an African home-made democracy coupled with sophisticated administration, though without political parties. Erijiyan-Ekiti is not an exception. The Oba occupies the uppermost echelon of the traditional, spiritual and political pyramid. There are numerous but categorised collegial chiefs who assisted him in day to day running of the affairs of the town. They are:

  • The Iwarefa or Agba-ile (Agba-mefa Ile)
  • The Iarewa or Agba-ode (Agba-mefa Ode)
  • Olorimarun or Olori-jogbon (Head of the five Quarters)
  • The Iro group
  • The group of Olori Iare
  • The group of Oisinkin / Erinse
  • The group of Egbe

The Iwarefas are the six most Seniors Chiefs or High Chiefs in the town. They are called Agba-Ile headed by Chief Odofin from Ogunna Quarters. He is also the second in command to the Oba; others in order of seniority are: Chiefs Ejemu and Oloje from Iwaro Quarters; Chief Odigbo from Ogunna Quarters; Chief Sajiyan from Igemo Quarters and Chief Emila from Iwaro Quarters. The six High Chiefs constitute the “Upper House” an equivalent of the Senate.

The six Chiefs that constitute Iarewas are Eleki; Ajana; Odole; Olotin; Odoka; and Osorun. Others Chiefs that occupy pre-eminience position in the town are Ikeke; Arapate; Oloja-Aaye; Oloro; Aruwa; Salotun; Okunato; Ejelu; Obanla, Oisawe, Ojumu and so on. Also all various groups’ heads together constitute the Town’s “Parliament”, or the “House of Assembly” or “the Congress”.

Occupation & Industries

The Efon people are predominately farmers producing food crops like yams, maize, cassava, rice, fruits and vegetables. They also produce cash crops like, cocoa, kolanut, timber and palm oil. Efon is one of the major producers of upland rice in Ekiti State. The people are also traders.

The people are engaged in black smithing, wood carving, dyeing, weaving and dressmaking. Other pursuits include saw milling, block making and sand and stone quarrying.

Territorial Administrative Quarters

The five Quarters could be regarded as an equivalent of today’s State Government and their Quarter Heads are replica of the State Governors. They are:

  • Ogunna Quarters (comprising Inisa and Isansin) – Chief Isaro
  • Igbehin Quarters – Chief Ologbehin
  • Ilofi Quarters (comprising of Ilofi and Aaye)- Chief Osomo
  • Iwaro Quarters – Chief Oniwaro
  • Igemo Quarters – Chief Asaba

The six most senior Chief are not the Quarter Heads of their respective Quarter, this is a principle of separation of power where a member of the Senate has nothing to do in the administration of his state.

The Royal Families

There are three sons of Oba Atamoragi from whom the current three ruling houses had emerged. Some of the recent Obas are listed below:

Names Tenure Ruling House
Oba Adeyele 1804 – 1844 Odundun
Oba Ogbegun I 1844 – 1885 Ogbegun
Oba Osupa-Ogbegun II 1885 – 1891 Ogbegun
Oba Orubu 1891 – 1915 Agunsoye
Oba Adetule-Ogbegun III 1915 – 1937 Ogbegun
Oba Fabunmi-Ogbegun IV 1938 – 1978 Ogbegun
Oba Alade Adeyele 1989 – Present time Odundun

Family Structure

Erijiyan-Ekiti people like other Yoruba people is organised into patrilinal descent groups that occupied quarters, communities, clans and compound called agbo-ile, it began to coalesce into a number of territorial halmets in which loyalties to their clan deminish and subordinate with allegiance to the dynastic King Called Olohan of Erijiyan-Ekiti.

Occupation

The Erijiyan-Ekiti people like their counterparts in other parts of the Yoruba Nation are predominantly farmers. Their farm products are diversified crops such as yams for example ariro, ope, ewura, olo or agangan, dagi, isu ope, olonto etc. Others are local rice called ofada; corn; cocoyam; plantain; banana; palm oil. Cocoa, kola nuts and coffee are produced in large quantities for consumption and sale in the town markets and in surrounding towns and villages.

Education

Church Missionary Society (CMS) introduced formal education to Erijiyan-Ekiti in the early 20s. St. Paul’s Anglican Primary School played major roles in the educational development of the people. Normal educational Calendar was possible and it attained Standard Four and Six in 1944 and 1950 respectively.

Modern School followed in 1962 and finally secondary school in 1976. Many Erijiyan-Ekiti sons and daughters schooled within and outside the town. The Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, which is an elitist school and whose products formed the nucleus or what can be regarded as Western/Ondo/Ekiti mafia had over ten of Erijiyan-Ekiti sons in the mid-thirties.

Other schools attended were Annunciation School, Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti Baptist High School, Igede-Ekiti, C.A.C. Grammar School, Efon-Alaaye-Ekiti, Doharty College, Ijero-Ekiti. They also attended Teacher Training Colleges and Technical Schools. These youngsters distinguished themselves in sporting activities and they won many prizes.

Princess Christian Tunrinle daughter of late Chief Samuel Agbadaoje, the Arowa of Erijiyan-Ekiti was a shining star in track events. She came first in the Aramoko/Erijiyan District Sports Competition. However, in one of her brilliant outings she was disqualified for turning back having breasted the tape. An Oyinbo (English Missionary) wanted to pick her for coming first, but ran back because she has never had an opportunity of seeing/meeting an Oyinbo. So she was afraid and ran back.

Craft Works

During the British colonial administration, many sons and daughters of Erijiyan-Ekiti travelled to various parts of Nigeria: Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Ilesa, Ondo etc to learn various trades, such as dispensary, tailoring (fashion designing), carpentry, bricklaying, etc.

Culture And Tourism

During leisure or relaxation time, people play arin and ayo games, dancing, flogging (ijopa) and so on. In the nights, especially during the moonlight children are assembled in patio and are told ancients folktales usually centre around the legandary Tortoise (Ijapa tiroko oko Yanibo). There are traditional drums such as bata, agere, gangan, sekere, obele, emele, which people play at festivals and burial ceremonies with difference melodious tones. Marriages, festivals, coronations, burials and so on, each. Tourism play major role in relaxation of the people especially during festivals such as Erin Ayonigba, Igbo-Owa, Ogun; Olookun; Ijopa and odun Oba.