Igede-Ekiti

Historical Background and Geography

Igede-Ekiti lies within latitudes 70 391 and 7 0 411 North of the Equator and Longitudes 50 71 and 50 81 East of the Greenwish Meridian. It is the Headquarters of Irepodun / Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ondo State. It is bounded in the North by Awo-Ekiti, in the South by Ilawe-Ekiti, in the East by Iyin-Ekiti along Ado-Ekiti side, and in the West by Aramoko-Ekiti. It is at a distance of 64 kilometers from Akure, the capital of Ondo State. It covered land area of about 3.8 square kilometres with a populatoin of 31,041 people (1966 census). Igede-Ekiti belongs to a group called ‘Ekiti’. The Ekitis settled in the Eastern part of the old Western State of Nigeria now known as Oyo, Ogun and Ondo State.

The people speak Ekiti dialect which is often mixed with standard Yoruba language. The culture of the people with respect to mode of dressing, eating habits, housing, marriage, burial and naming ceremonies follow the same pattern as practised in Yorubaland.

Igede is a nodal settlement. It is situated on a relatively high ground with the highest point at Esu hill, and an out-crop at Okeaga in Odogede quarter. This topography makes Igede a watershed region. River Osun, otherwise worshipped and adorned as “Osun Oshogbo” takes its source from Igede at a portion between Igede and Awo-Ekiti. There are other rivers and streams such as Elemi, Ogbese, Inansi, Ogangan and Ogburuu. Gully erosion has adversely affected parts of the town at Irona, Odo-Uri and Ilamoye. Igede falls within the rainforest belt of southwestern Nigeria.Its vegetation is therefore evergreen rainforest type. This type of vegetation favours agricultural practices. More than 90% of the inhabitants are farmers.

The farm products include cocoa, accounting for more than 80% of the income of the farming population, kolanut (both Acumulata and Nitida), oil palm, yam, cocoyam, maize cassava, vegetables and to some extent, rice, Palm wine is Igede’s all the year cash earner and popular beverage “OGORO IGEDE”. The location within the humid tropics makes the town and its environs enjoy tropical hot and wet type of climate. There is a rainy season from April to October and a dry season from November to March. The rainfall regime is of the order onset, advance and retreat. On the average, the rainfall is about 1,450mm/year. If not for recent weather changes, Igede enjoys a short spell of little rainfall in the month of August (August Break) and harmattan in December to January months.

Origin and Tradition

Like a typical Yoruba town, a lot of stories, legends, myths and oral tales abound with respect to the origin and tradition of Igede-Ekiti.

Ake, a hunter and herbalist founded Igede. Erindo, his wife and Awota, his servant migrated from Ile-Ife. They settled at Okesu. Ake and his wife were blessed with sixteen (16) children, eight (8) boys and eight (8) girls. Among the children were Osun, Elemi, Orunro, Ogbese, Elerinmo and Okunsusi.

Immediately after the death of Ake, there was a struggle for leadership among the children. This led to a civil war where a high degree of metaphysical might through the use of incantations was displayed. Eventually, the most elderly ones destroyed themselves and thus, Okunusi, a younger but highly intelligent and courageous member of the family took over the mantle of leadership. He became the first king of Igede at Okesu because his father, Ake was never appointed a king.

With increasing population, the number of settlers at Okesu outgrew the total land space and hence the need to move to a more relatively plain area to settle at Odogede. This was the origin of the saying “Odo, Baba Igede”. Oba Obirimoko was the first Onigede to settle at Odogede. However, he lived a horrifying life and left a bad record and hence, his reign was ruled out of order and never to be listed as an Oba of Igede-Ekiti.

The name IGEDE was a derivative of the term “OGEDE” meaning incantations. This name was given to the settlement when the civil war was fought with a lot of incantations. Incantations were a powerful weapon of war in those days as a display of metaphysical knowledge.

The other story that the daughter of Alara of Aramoko-Ekiti who married the son of Ewi of Ado-Ekiti gave birth to a baby called Ige on her way to Ado-Ekiti at Odegede was not authenticated as the basis for deriving the name of the town – Igede (Signifying that Ige has arrived).

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.

Political Organization

The Onigede of Igede is the paramount ruler of Igede-Ekiti. At present, there are three ruling houses from which a king is presented on rotational basis in Igede-Ekiti. The three current ruling houses are Onaowuro, Olaribiti and Oborolada. From time, since there were no written laws, the Oba stood at the apex of the hierarchy of administration in conjunction with his council of chiefs to maintain and enforce the unwritten laws of the town.

The Onigede is the head of the Oba’s council. At present, there are twenty four (24) Enumos in the council. The Onigede supervises the town with the help of the Enumos and other chiefs, but specifically through the Odofin (second in rank to Onigede), Aro, Alamoye and Oluri (The four quarter heads). The sharing of amenities in the town thus follows this order – Odogede, Irona, Ilamoye and Odo-Uri at ratio 9:8:7:6.

Apart from the Enume council which is closest to the king, there are other hierarchy arranged politically groups. These include the lare, Elegbe, Egiri, Ohunkan, Ero and Sisirigun. These are arranged alongside line of age grouping and movement to the next higher grade involves some rituals and initiation. These groups are generally involved in the social and political development of the town in those old days.

The modern political arrangements has however started to de-emphasize the traditional roles of these groupings.

The institution of chieftaincy has been very prominent in the political life of Igede like any other Yoruba Community. The seniority list of the chieftains is accepted and respected. The chiefs settle minor disputes.

Women have always been involved in Igede affairs. The women head chief is Ajakade usually appointed from Chief Saade’s house-hold at Odogede. She is supported by the various women hads of the quarters. These are Chief Oluleore from Irona, Chief Orangun from Ilamoye and Chief Osemoe from Odo-Uri in that order. There are other title holders who are responsible to the quarter (women) chiefs.

Igede in Modern Politics

Just as Igede was not insulated from the Ekiti wars of the past century and the intermittent Oyo slave raiding (both events which had adverse political consequences on Igede), the modern political arrangement has not left Igede behind. From the 1940s, Igede has been represented on the Ado District Council. Much earlier, the Ekiti Obas held regular meetings and had contacts, and the Onigede had participated effectively in all these. For instance, Onigede Adefolaju was secretary of the District Council of Chiefs (Igbimo Lobaloba), while Onigede Olubusi was a member of the Divisional Customary Court of Appeal for Ekiti Division.

In 1954, two wards were created for the purpose of electing two councilors to represent Igede. Today, the wards have increased to three – A, B and C. Until 11 th June, 1989 when a new local government area was carved out of the former Ekiti Central Local Government Area (formerly known as Ado District Council) Igede was represented by three (3) councilors in that council. With the creation of Irepodun / Ifelodun Local Government with the headquarters at Igede, the town has assumed greater political role caring for all the paraphernalia associated with the council.

Igede enjoys a relatively high literacy base and therefore, a high political awareness and consciousness. Consequently, the citizens have been involved in partisan politics since its inception in Nigeria. In 1979, one of her illustrious sons was elected from Ekiti Central Constituency IV (Igede and Iyin) into the Ondo State House of Assembly. Similarly, another illustrious son was elected in 1983. The 1983 political upheavals in Ondo State had its own mark in Igede in the Wanton destruction of properties of political opponents which led to social and economic disturbances. Ever since the love of our fatherland has united us more than ever before.

Igede Progressive Association (IPA)

It is just air to mention that Igede Progressive Association has immensely contributed to the political and conomic progress of Igede. It has, since its inception as Igede Progressive Union in 1938, served as an advisory body to Onigede in all political and social matters. It has championed progressive ideas and undertaken a number of projects in Igede. The Association has brought under it the various social chaos and the Town Committee for the purpose of developing Igede.

Economic Life of Igede-Ekiti

Traditionally, Igede engages in a mono economic activity, that is, farming. Igede land has been very suitable for the production of both cash and food crops. Cocoa does well just as kolanut and banana. More than 90% of the inhabitants are engaged in this business.

The women-folk are engaged in trading. There are two recognized periodic markets operating on rotational basis at five-day intervals. They are Moba and Atiba markets. There are various Co-operative, Credit and Thrift Societies. Igede has a branch of the Union Bank of Nigeria Limited fully operational in the town. The economic life of Igede is potentially buoyant, because industries are expected to spring up with its new status as Local Government headquarters while IGEDORA, a poultry farming concern expands and the saw-mill industries thrive.

Among other developments are the installation of pipe-borne water in 1967 and electrification of the town in 1970. A Postal Agency was established with late Mr. S. A. Fajemilehin as part-time Postal Agent. The Postal Agency grew rapidly to a sub-post office. The present post office building, built through self-help by the Igede people was commissioned as a Departmental Post Office in 1968.

Traditional Religion

It is of great significance to have a look at the nature of the religion of Igede people ever before the colonial administration and thereafter. The Igede people worshipped super-natural beings and man-made gods and goddesses. According to oral traditions, Igede people before the coming of the Europeans worshipped Orisa at Ilogbo Orisa was assumed to be the father of all the other gods.

Second in rank to the above god in Igede was the Obanifon. Initial name was Olofin. Its Chief priests included Oloro and Oloye. Palmwine, Kolanuts, Salt, Palm-oil were used as sacrifice to the god. Prayers were offered to it in a festival called ‘Iromo’ otherwise known as Iromo festival till today. Elejoka, Oisangann, Eruku and Sapaye usually appease the past warrior, Aribaja during the festival. The meeting place for the celebration of Iromo festival is Atiba market centre at Odogede quarter. Other gods include Osun, Elemi and Ogbese among so many others.

The gods and goddess acted as a common bond of Unity in the town. It was during the festival celebrations that the Chiefs pledged their loyalty to the Oba and the Oba also offered his prayers for the peace and progress of his subjects. Predictions were made by consulting the Ifa Oracle. This is still in vogue. The Ogun festival is also well celebrated. The Olulogbo performs Ogun-Ilogbo during the month of August while the whole town performs Ogun in September. Masquerades make the festival interesting during this period. It should be noted that Masquerade (Egungun) was brought to Igede-Ekiti from Ado-Ekiti in 1908.