Usi-Ekiti

Historical Background

Usi-Ekiti is a Yoruba town in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Usi-Ekiti originated from Ile-Ife. The time of their departure from Ile-Ife falls within pre-history times since there were no written records. Historians depend on legends as their source of history of these times. According to legend, the progenitor of Usi people, Prince Usikorode, approached his father, Lafogido, the then reigning Ooni for his blessing as he and his follower prepared to leave Ile-Ife to found his own kingdom, just as his brother Princes had done. Lafogido gave him his blessing and in addition gave him the following paraphenalia of royalty – a beaded crown, a beaded walking stick, beaded horse tail, a sword, a brass cup and a piece of cloth which would be spread on his throne whenever he finally settled.

Usikorode left Ile-Ife with many followers were bent on carving a kingdom in a hilther to unoccupied land. The journey took them to parts of Ijesaland, particularly Imesi Ile and Ibokun where till this day, there exist similarities in the worship of certain deities in Usi, Imesi Ile and Obokun.

The migration of Usikorode and his party took a long time. Sometimes they kept up to a year or more in certain locations. According to the legend, the party moved on to parts of Igbomina staying for some time at Aran Orin. On leaving Aran-Orin, some of the inhabitants followed Usikorode and his party.Today at Usi, Egun-Elefon is said to have been brought from Aran-Orin.

Usikorode and his party continued their journey of migration passing through Otun and parts of Moba until finally they settled at Ipole on Usi/Ayetoro road and about two kilometers from the present site.

At Ipole, the people settled to do farming, blacksmithing, weaving, basket making, pot making and dyeing by the women. The peace of Usi people at Ipole was later constantly threathened with the coming of Ilorin Jihadists who continually assaulted the people. And so the people decided to move to the present site – a valley surrounded by hills to which they could run for safety in case of attack by their enemies. Another reason for the choice of the site was the availability of many streams and springs – Igemo, Apalogbo, Ogudu stream and spring.

At their new site, they began to acquire the modern forms of government and industry.

Another legend connects Usi and Ido – that they both originated from Ooni Lapogido migrated together under Usikorode and went through the and trails of their migration. The legend continues to say that when Usikorode (who was the older brother) and his party settled at Ipole, the Ido group, being younger, decided to continue with their migration. But having gone about five kilometer from Ipole, there was a sort of mutany. Majority decided to stay at their present site. The legend further says that the younger brother of Usikorode (the leader of Ido group) stole Usikorode’s beaded crown when he (Usikorode) was asleep, thus claiming to be an Oba with beaded crown, but it was later restored. It is noteworthy to observe that Ido and usi have almost the same dialect. In Ido and Usi, there are streets bearing the same name – Ijana, Imila etc.

Aims and Objectives

  • To foster the bond of unity, brotherhood, understanding and common aspirations among all the sons and daughters of Usi-Ekiti both at home and abroad.
  • To provide a common platform for the promotion of economic, social and educational development of Usi and her people.
  • To offer advice and guidance, where essential, and also financially possible, to offer loans or grants to needy and deserving sons and daughters of Usi in pursuit of learning at various institutions.
  • To be directly involved in the planning financing and execution of self-help projects in the town.
  • To be directly involved in the planning financing and execution of self-help projects in the town.

Geography

Usi-Ekiti is one of the major towns in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State. It is located in the North by Ayetoro-Ekiti, in the South by Ido-Ekiti, in the East by Ewu-Ekiti and in the West by Ilogbo-Ekiti. It is lying between longitude 50101 to 50111N and latitude 6051East. The town’s population according to 1991 provisional population census is 15,500, this figure must have been nearly doubled as at present.

The area is composed of lowlands and rugged hills. The numerous rivers include River Ero, Ogudu, Riveer Ofe. We also have Igemon and Areoyun lakes.

The climate of Usi-Ekiti follows the usual tropical pattern. There are two distinct seasons, the rainy season (April to October) and the dry season (November to March). Rainfall varies and decreases in amount and distribution. The winds are the South-west moisture carrying wind that brings rainfall and also the North-east trade winds that brings harmattan/dryness. The temperature ranges from 950f to 650f. The relative humidity is very high.

There is luxuriant growth in the vegetating tropical evergreen forest and tropical grassland are found at the area.

Traditional Administration

Executive council are elected into office among the elders to manage the affairs of the association. Though is not a competitive post but rather by merit i.e. the past contributions of such a person to the association and the community at large. But among other thing is the educational background, competent and ability to carry people along.

There is usually three years tenure for each administration in which new set of people would be elected like every other associations and as contained in constitution of Egbe Omo Usi, two term tenure is allowed.

The arrangement of the residential quarters in the town was originally and is still primarily along family lines, with members of an extended or group family, known as “EBI” occupying a particular section or the other of the town. The ebi is identified by ownership of specific areas of land inside the town as well as by ownership of specifically allotted farmlands with all the natural resources on the land. The familities are also known by specific common names and appelatons any by character peculiarities such as food habits.

More importantly from the standpoint of governance, and for some obscure reasons, the “Ebis” have an order of seniority; and even within each family there is a hierachy of smaller families of houses, more technically known as lineages, with a distinction between those entitled to the crown or the traditional chieftaincy title for the family. In large extended families, the sub-group families are also headed by lesser chiefs.

The various “Ebis” that make up Usi, in order of seniority as follows: Omo-Owa (Royal family), Ilesa, Idofin, Ijemu, Ijana, Ilotin, Idoba, Emila and Imije.

In Usi, each family head (Ebi) traditionally manage his family, assisted at the lower level by the individed parental family heads and extended family minor chiefs.

At the apex of the administrative hierarchy in Usi is the Oba (Olusi of Usi) who is the Chief Executive with the ultimate power. He governs in monarchic style, but with the assistance of a myriad of male and female chiefs, divided into seminal junior chiefs. The latter perform executive functions while the senior chiefs are in a hierarchy in accordance to their closeness to the corridors of power.

The elite group who are in regular consultation are the Iwarafa that is the big six males chiefs. These are Oisa, Odofini, Ejemu, Elsaba, Enurin and Saloro in descending order of seniority.The major duties of “Iwarafa” are essentially advisory to Oba, analogous to a cabinet, in formulating policies and programes and also judical in functions. The six “Iwarafa” chiefs are also the kingmakers.

Ever before the present special dispensation in recognizing the role of women in national affairs by the government of Nigeria, a hierachy of women chiefs has been handing women affairs in Usi. This is done in cooperation with their male counterpart and the oba for the promotion of peace and progress of the town. Like the male counterpart, there is a myriad of female chiefs only a few of which are very important in functional terms. These include Orangun, Alara, Agun, Alaragba, Ekole. Chief Orangun is the leader of the female chiefs.

Traditional Rulers (Past and Present)

The crown being worn by the Olusi is derived from Ile-Ife, as earlier stated, and specifically from the ruling house of LAFOGIDO. Hence, the Olusi started from the very beginning as the wearer of a beaded crown.

There was no record to really acertain the year of service of the various obas who have passed before western education in Nigeria. It is known that the first Olusi was the Usikorode who eventually founded Usi-Ekiti and almost 25 Obas have ascended the throne of Olusi. The 26th is presently on the throne.

Naturally without written records of the earlier times, the periods of reign of the earlier kings cannot be fixed with any degree of certainty. Either by conscious effort or chance, certain notable incidents occured during the reigns of the different kings.

Oba Martin Odeyemi (1918 – 1948)

Before ascending the throne, Olusi Martins Odeyemi had demonstrated leadership and patriotic qualities as a participant in founding the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches in US; and even though he was an illiterate by modern yardstick. Nevertheless, he was the first Babaegbe of the Catholic Church in Usi.

Oba F. D. Akinyele (1949 – 1954)

The next, on whom the mantle of leadership fell was Oba F. D. Akinyele, who was the first of his kind, a man of imposing personality and truly an embodiment of royalty. He was the first literate oba with the then highly prestigious qualification of Higher Elementary from St. Andrews College, Oyo. A highly disciplined and organized man and a disciplinarian, he was fearless but feared and highly respected far and wide. His reign was revolutionary, and epoch making in terms of novel ideas and development projects. In recognitions of his services on the first occassion of making awards for service to Usi community, he was posthumously given honours awards, the highest of all awards and immortalized by naming a street at Temidire after him. During that short reign, he broke the back of oppression and insult from one of our neighbbouring towns with which the chance of history brought the town into administrative association.

Oba R. W. Adebayo (1959 – 1975)

After an interregnum, and along one, Oba R. W. Adebayo ascended the throne. Having the same educational training as his predecessor, he unfortunately also enjoyed only a short reign, when notable achievement were also made, especially through his cooperative attitude with Egbe Omo Usi. He ascended at a fairly advanced age, after retirement as a career civil servant. He was in class for elegance sophistication and aristocracy. His obaship was a fitting climax to his dedicated service of earlier years as will be seen later.

Oba J. B. Olajide (1977 To Date)

Oba J. B. Olajide is of the same ruling house and of the same lineage as Oba F. D. Akinyele and as if divinely ordained to consummate the mission of his predecessor, he started off his tenure with the historic ceremony of being presented the beaded crown, a symbol of restored birth right. It was this industrious and highly enlightened oba; the first to have university qualification, even in the whole of the then Local Government Council Area (Ero), who painstakingly researched the entitlement of Usi to a beaded crown, even right to the root and spiritual source of the matter and explained to a court of law of the land how the Olusi had been a crown wearer from the origin and how in the terrible chaos and confusion of war, Usi was temporarily disposed of this symbol of spiritual adn temporal reverene.

Occupation

The main occupation of the people of Usi-Ekiti is farming which in most part of the state is still practiced with the traditional hoe and cutlass. With the improvement in the agriculture in the state, the age old method of farming is fast, giving way to mechanized agriculture.

The farm produce include the usual economic crop like the palm produce, rubber, tobacco, cotton, cashew and cocoa (though in a small scale). A wide variety of fruits like mangoes, grape, pawpaw, pineapples, banana and oranges are also cultivated or some could be found growing wild in the forest. Substitance crops include cocoyams, cassava, rice, plantains, beans, onions, maize, yams, pepper, tomatoes, vegetables and groundnuts

Resources

With the wide range of human and untapped natural resources, economic viability of the town (Usi-Ekiti) is assured. These resources include agricultural fertile land, luxuriant forests with economic trees, animal and birds, rivers, lakes. Mineral resources are lignite, coal, sands etc.

Religion

Christianity

The first mission to appear on the scene was the Anglican Mission (Church Missionary Society (CMS))with the evangelic work reached Usi in 1905. But in parts of Ekiti evangelism encountered stiff opposition, which took different forms of persecution of the christians by the adherents of traditional religion.

In Usi in particular, this persecution took a vicious and indirect form of trying to prevent the converts from procreation, by discouraging the bethrowal of daughters to them. Indeed, it would appear that christainity had made incursion into Usi at a most inauspicious time. As will be recalled, the youths were then seething with discontent, generated by a system that subjected them to servitude for the advantage of the elders. Their mental agony appeared so unbearable that, in the same year that christianity entered Usi, a revolt was staged though it proved abortive. It might then be feared that, as far as Usi was concerned, the sower’s seeds had fallen on a stony and barren ground; but events later proved that the stony top soil, if it ever existed was shallow and destined to be soon scrapped off to yield a futile and stable sub-soil by some conductive factors.

Part of these beneficial events were the effect of one Usi citizen, by name Olofintuyi later changed to Olofini, an intrepid man of boundless ambition and patriotic zeal. He had journeyed to Odogbolu, in Ijebu where as a laboare he acquired literacy at the age of 36 in 1906, when he also became a christian convert. In the same year of his conversion, Olofin participated in the successful revolt which probably benefited from his experience, acquired from education, and the outside exposure of himself and some of his colleagues, in planning their strategy for the revolt.

As if to build on his phychological victory over the powers that be, who were largely or all pegans, the christian converts in 1907, jubilated round the town, waving copies of “Iwe ABD” that were tied to sticks. Followed the successful revolt, the christian started meeting in the house of Mr. Faroyin. When the house of Mr. Faroyin could no more accommodate the christian, and on the encouragement of Olofin, it was decided to build the first church, a thatched roofed building in 1908. Olofin was the first Usi citizen not only to become literate but also baptised. The baptism was in early 1908, the year the first church was built, while later in the year the first eight converts, also able to read and write in yoruba were sent to Ijero for baptism.

In a related development in the history of religion in Usi was the roman catholicism mission an offshoot of the CMS mission, occuring in the heat and out of gallant resistance of christians against persecution by the pagans. The courageous men who went to Ibowon in 1912 to muite the Reverend Father took this step to stop incessant persecution. The presence of two missions at Usi set the stage for mutually advantageous healthy rivalry between them.

The Reverend father that was brought from Ibowon was by name Friess, who in 1913 said the mass that was the first in Usi as well as in the whole of Ondo and Ekiti. It was on February 4, 1915 that a teacher/catechist named Mr. J. B. Odumosu took charge of the RCM at Usi and he had the honour of standing the building of the first church, with thatched roof, in that same year Reverend father L. Erkens, probably the same man who received the elders at Ibowon, took charge of Ekiti area and on March 1, 1915 he visited Usi to bless the church.

The Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) came to use in 1940s; even though, the founder of the denomination, Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola had earlier paid a historic visit to Usi in 1928.

In Usi today, several gospel churches have established in the area due to the conducive embrace religion atmosphere. Among whom are: All Christian Faith Ministry, Touch of the Lord, Chapel of Solution, Deeper Lifew, Redeem Christian Church of God, Mountain of Fire and Miracle.

Islam

Fanatical tendencies formed part of the accusations and complaints against the early Anglican christian converts as justification for persecuting them by the pagans. This fanaticism if realm might probably manifest in the opposition of the christian converts to the introduction of Islam in Usi.

Infact, the introduction of Islam was practically hitch-free, even though it was rather lowkeyed and undramatic. It started with the coming to Usi of one trader from Kwara State, by name Tupuru. Malam Tupuru was such an impressible personality that he had since been proverbially identified with the founding of Islam in Usi. Nevertheless Islam never got established at Idofin where Tupuru resided even though the first Mosque was built in 1920. The arrival of Tupuru and the building of the first Mosque occured early in the 20th century.

When Islam found tertile ground in Usi was Ijisun-Ojuita compounds which witnessed a deluge of Muslim traders from Ilorin and environs in the second decade of the 20th century. They practised their religion in the open and what may regard as flamboyance; and in no time, a good number of their hosts at Ijisun became converts to Islam, and the religion spread Isimo and later to Iworo.

The first indigene to embrace Islam was Abu Bakare. It was Ijisun that produced this first indegenous muslim as well as the first indegenous imam in person of Mr Omojola. Initially services were just congregations which were without Jumat sermons (Khutbat). These were later introduced by Alpha Yusf Tupur, son of Mallam Tupuru even though not an Imam. The mosque at Iworo was built specifically for trhe Jumat Service.

In 1960, Usi produced the first indegenous Alhaji in person of Alhaji Musa Soji Aiyegbamigbe alias Alhaji Ekemode. He was follwoed in 1971 by Alhaji Suberu Abogunloko who then became the chief Imam. Others that followed thereafter on the basis of the Government financial largesse were Alhaji Adebayo, Alhaji Sule Amuda, Alhaji Bakare, and Alhaji Shittu.

Of the towns estimated population of 20,000, the muslim population is estimated to be 2,500 from an initial of about 25. The congregation joins world wide association of muslims such as the society of Alhajis, the Muslim Yourth Organisations(MYO), and the Muslim Students Society.

Festivals

Usi Day

The most spectacular festive celebration in Usi today is USI DAY – an institution of unrivalled popularity since its inception. It started in August 1981 as an avenue to garther together Usi sons and daughter home and abroad to cheer the joyful, peaceful and good living of us – our land of birth.

Both old and young particularly the latter look to its annual celebration with anticipation, for providing opportunities for the reunion of friends and family members. In this way, one objective of inauguration Usi Day is achieved, that is to familiarize citizens residing outside the town with their root. Though the ceremony is a cultural affair, its programmes usually include religious services in churches and mosque.

Usi Day celebration has become a whole week programme with the federation of Usi Students’ Union (FUSU) undertake various items of the programme.The cardinal of these items is witnessed on the week’s friday i.e. marathon race, table tennis competition, Usi day football match and Miss FUSU beauty contest in the night.On the Saturday, the main celebration begin with the congregation of indigenes and well wishers at the usual venue for the celebration.The venue now is St. Andrew’s Primary School playing ground, with allocated places for the different Ebis, Traditional and Honorary Chiefs, August Visitors and the oba and his queens.

On the day, usually the first saturday of every August, during that shout dry spell in the rainy season, events start with the oba emerging in full regalia from the palace and therefrom to the heart throbbing rhythm of ancient drums he moves majestically with his retinue to the venue where people had already seated.

Other features of the ceremony are the singing of the town’s anthem, the prayers, the review of the outgoing year, paying of homage and pledging loyalty to the oba and the joyous dance of the different families (Ebis) in turns.

The day ends with Usi Day night party dance with a great musician.

Would you be there to celebrate with us this August? It is exciting!

Ipaye Festival

This is the most culturally celebrated festival in Usi. It is celebrated by an age group usually between the age of 50 to 55years. Both male and female of the age group come togethr to accept the offer which is usually given by the Olusi. Ipaye use a period of 5years in office. The Ipaye group serve as warrior to Usi community to protect and maintain peace in the community.

Associations

Egbe Omo Usi

Egbe omo Usi is a socio-cultural, non-political organization embracing all Usi son’s and daughter’s and those daughters of hers by marriage for the progress and development of Usi-Ekiti.

The motto is “Unity is Strength”. It is set up to unite all of us to pursue this task of building a modern and virile town. Egbe omo Usi was born on December 27, 1967.