Historical Background

Ikole or Akole as it was originally called was founded by AKINSALE – one of the princes of Oduduwa, the progenitor of all the Yorubas – who migrated from Ile-Ife. Oduduwa blessed 16 of them at first – Akinsale being one of them – and sent them out according to his plan.

When Akinsale arrived on the present site of Ikole, he met the Asolo of Isolo who was living there with his people. This is why up till today, one of the cognomens (oriki) of Asolo is “Omo alale kere” meaning is the son of the owner of the land an important person. This oriki still refers to Asolo as the original owner of the land on which Akinsale who later became the ruler of Ikole settled.

Akinsale and his people first settled at Erijiyan near the Yeye stream. Later, legends say, the goddess of Yeye stream killed four out of the five wives of Akinsale on the charge that the (Akinsale’s wives) broke the calabash of her children. This led Akinsale and his people to move to OWA-OBAAFO at the present Idemo Quarter where he built the first palace. After some time at Owa-Obaafo, he moved to the present Aafin Elekole where he built the second and permanent palace.

Having arrived on the present site of the Elekole’s Aafin, he sent to his father to send to him rituals which he would perform in order to prosper where he intended to build his permanent house. An “Odu” – OSETURA – was sent with instruction that he should build the house on it. Legends say that in addition, Obalufon and his priests (the Iworos) plus 239 other deities were sent to him at first. Akinsale was not satisfied with this number until additional 120 were sent to make 360 (IJIDINRINWO). The significance of the number is that in those days a festival was performed a day in honour of each deity until a whole year rolled by. That was why it was a common saying in those days:

Edumare ti o mu egungun fun Ado, ti o fi Sango fun Ibadan oun ni o mu ojidinrinwo irumole fun Egbe-Oba” meaning “Olodumare who gave the Ado masqurades, gave the Ibadan Sango, it was he who gave the Egbe-Oba (Ikole District) 360 deities to worship.

Legends say that the name ELEKOLE was derived from two sources: Firstly that after obtaining the consent of his father to build a house, Akinsale was given the title “ALAKOLE’’ meaning he who built on the authority sent by his father (the Odu Osetura) sent to him from Ile-Ife by Oduduwa his father. Secondly, that because he was not satisfied with the 240 deities first given to him until additions were made (AKOLE), he was nicknamed “ALAKOLE” meaning he who adds more to what he is given originally. The name AKOLE was given to the settlement over which he reigned. As years rolled by, the name of his settlement was changed from AKOLE TO IKOLE and his title was also changed from ALAKOLE to ELEKOLE. Legends say that these happened when Akinsale came from Ikole Orun (Ikole of Heaven) meaning Ile-Ife to Ikole Aye (Ikole on Earth) meaning the permanent settlement of Akinsale after leaving Ile-Ife.

Legends also say that the Odu Ifa sent to Akinsale upon which to build his permanent settlement was OSETURA. The aim of this was to make him (Akinsale) a conqueror over his enemies in any contest. This, legends say, was the reason why Ikole was able to beat both the Benins and the Nupes back when they respectively came to attack her. This, again, was the reason why Ikole was the last place to be attacked by the Ibadan. Being the last place to be attacked by the Ibadan before the end of the ravaging Ibadan campaigns, Ikole was nicknamed “Apasiwo-ise Ibadan” meaning the last place of Ibadan’s campaign. Before the series of wars the Elekole had a very wide empire which covered about 165 towns and villages. This was the time when the Elekole was regarded as “o soko Ekiti soko Akoko” meaning the overlord of Ekitis and Akokos.

When the Ekiti Council for members of the Ekiti Confederacy (PELUPELU) was established in 1921, the name of the Elekole of Ikole was the first on the list of all Ekiti Obas and was thus the President of the Council. His name was followed by that of Oore of Otun, though the administrative Headquarters of the then Ekiti Division was at Ado-Ekiti.

Today, IKOLE-EKITI, is the Headquarters of the old Ikole District Council, the defunct Ekiti North Division and the Headquarters of defunct Ekiti North Local Government and now Headquarter of Ikole Local Government. Ikole is about 65 kilometres from Ado, the capital of Ekiti State of Nigeria. The town is situated on a very plain and well-drained land on the northern part of the State – about 40 kilometres from the boundary of Kwara State. The population of the town according to the 1963 census is about 52,000. The town is gifted with good fertile farmlands which ensure future expansion of agriculture and allied industries as well as a high swell in its population growth.

Hierarchical Setup

The hierarchical set up at Ikole is as follows:

  • ELEKOLE – The Paramount Ruler
  • IWARAFAMEFA – made up of:
    1. The Olotin – Head of Ilotin Quarter
    2. The Sajowa – Head of Imikan Quarter
    3. The Edemo – Head of Idemo Quarter
    4. The Asolo – Head of Isolo Quarter
    5. The Sagbale – Head of Omododo Quarter
    6. The Aremo – Head of Omodoke Quarter
  • The Iwarafamefa plus Olomodikole (Head of the Elegbes or War Chiefs) and Oisakole (the Ogun Priest) form the traditional cabinet or the Executive Council with the Elekole as Chairman.

IKANSE – This is the traditional Town Council made up of traditional Chiefs who ratify the policy presented to them by the Executive Council at their meetings held once in nine days.

Climate and Vegetation

Ikole is situated in the deciduous forest area of the State. Rainfall is about 70 inches per annum. Rain starts in March and peters out in November. The good drainage of the land makes it very suitable for agricultural pursuits. It is a common feature that trees shed their leaves every year during the dry season which begins in November and ends in February. The two seasons – Dry Season (November – February) and Rainy Season (early March – mid November) are quite distinct and they are very important to the agricultural pursuits of the people.


There are three distinct religious groups in the town. These are:

  • Christianity, which has many denominations such as Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, the Aladura Sects and Baptist. Christianity has the largest adherents among the three.
  • Islam has the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria as the only denomination. Since its inception, its influence has continued to expand among the townspeople. Only recently, there is the Nawa-Ud-Deen Sect.
  • The third group is made up of various traditional worshippers. This group continues to lose its adherents to both Christianity and Islam. Both Christianity and Islam have contributed immensely to the rapid socio-economic development of the town especially on the field of education while the traditional worshippers continue to remind us of our past and try to keep our cultural heritage alive.


The educational advancement of the town owes much to the efforts of various religious denominations in the town, Local Government as well as self-help spirit of the people.

The first Primary School in Ikole was founded by the Anglican Mission in 1926 while the Premier Secondary School (Egbe-Oba High School) which came through the Methodist Mission and funded by Ikole Community was founded in January, 1956.

The various Christian and Muslim denominations came with the establishment of Primary Schools. Later some of them founded secondary schools. For instance, the Anglican Mission has 4 Primary Schools, the Roman Catholic Mission 3; the Methodist 1; the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society 1; the African Church Organisation1; the Holy Apostolic Church1; the Local Authority 2 Primary Schools and 1 Nursery/Primary School maintained also by the Local Government.

In addition to these, there are four secondary schools, a technical secondary school and an agricultural training institute established some years ago by the defunct Ondo State Government.


The people of Ikole are predominantly farmers. About 80% of the male adult population engage in farming. The male adults have large plantations of food crops such as yams, cocoyam, cassava, maize, beans, rice and plantains. Some male adults have and maintain plantations mainly through hired labour. The farmers also plant cash crops such as cocoa which used to be the mainstay of the economy of this area. kolanuts, palm produce, coffee, cotton and tobacco are planted in smaller scales.

In addition we have some people who are Tailors, Traders, Carpenters, Mansions, Bricklayers, Goldsmiths, Blacksmiths, Shoe-makers etc by profession. The women-folk engage in various trades – selling of cloths, food stuffs etc.

Commerce and Industries

Within the last few years some industries sponsored by small scale industrialists have sprung up in various parts of the town. Such industries include block-making and lumbering industries and two big factories currently under construction. The first one is the multi-million Naira Electronic Bulbs Manufacturing Factory jointly owned by an indigenous industrialist and Polish foreign partners. The second one is a Wood Processing venture. It is jointly owned by an indigenous industrialist and foreign partners.


The following annual festivals, among others are celebrated at Ikole:

  • Eku Festival – The Eku festival which heralds the beginning of the Festival Season comes up in the month of April every year. It is celebrated in remembrance of preliminary training given the Ikole male youths in endurance and chivalry in preparation for military activities in those days. It is a contest between the two component parts of the town, that is, Oke-Ode and Odo-Ode. It is a contest in fighting with whips. The meeting places for the contests are Odo-Awode and Oke-Oja. After throwing words of challenges at each other, the two groups go into real fighting with their bundles of canes until one side surrender by retreating to their own section. Elders who stand by at a distance always decide the winning side.

    One interesting aspect is the Emu-ojo. The Oba puts down a big keg of palm-wine anybody either from Oke-Ode or Odo-Ode will come forward to drink it. As he drinks people who are experts in caning will move forward to rain numerous strokes on him. He will be a pride to his family if he does not show any sign of pain until the experts exhaust their canes and he too empties the keg. If he is declared a hero by the elders at last, members of his family and his section of the town carry him shoulder high and proudly lead him home.

  • Ogun Festival – The Ogun festival which is celebrated annually in the month of July is the most popular annual festival at Ikole. It is celebrated in honour of the military heroes of the town and to appease Ogun, the hero god of the weapons of war and implements of agriculture. If people went to the battle-field and won in those days and the farmers prospered, the belief was that Ogun favoured them. Even to-day, hunters, drivers, blacksmiths and, of course, all tradesmen who use tools made of iron still hold the belief. These various categories of people take active part in the festival.

    The festival lasts three days beginning with Oyigi when the Oba dresses in military type of uniform and dances round the town. The second day is for the war chiefs (the Elegbes.) On this day, the war chiefs come before the Elekole in the midst of a very large assembly of the town’people to make pledges of loyalty and service and pray for the Oba and the town. At the end of each assembly on the second and the third days respectively. The towns people led by the Oba and his Chiefs dance round the town.

  • Isemole Festival – The Isemole festival is another important annual festival at Ikole. It comes eleven days after the Ogun festival and lasts three days. As the name depicts, the women-folk irrespective of age and status are kept in ‘confinement’ throughout the period. The traditional belief is that during this period, some deities who must not see women and who women must not see go round important places in the town to perform some rituals for the protection and prosperity of the community.

    Legends say that any woman who sees them or the Iworos (Chief priests of the town) who go round the town physically would dry up on the spot like an electrocuted person. The story of one EYINJUEWA (a princess) who saw them and suffered this type of death many years ago is a household story at Ikole. It comes up during the time of plenty, thus friends, relatives etc exchange yams and bowls of iyan as presents.

  • Ebo-Odun Festival – The Ebo-Odun festival comes seventeen days after the Ogun festival. It is celebrated in remembrance of departed parents. It is the belief of the Ikoles that on this day, the departed parents would come to their respective homes. If their children make sufficient provisions for them and their friends who may accompany them to their respective houses, they would feel very happy and pray sincerely for their children. But if on the other hand no provisions are made for them, they would feel ashamed and angry and bitterly curse their children. This is why families make offerings of rams, he-goats, goats, chicks, dry fish etc. Plenty of food (mainly iyan) kolanuts, kegs of palm-wine at the graves of their departed ones on this day every year. Isemole and Ebo-odun festivals are celebrated when new yams are plentiful and people consume plenty of food during the two festivals.
  • Ifa-Owa Festival – The Ifa-owa (the oracle of the King) festival is celebrated annually about the months after the Ogun festival. Various families and individuals have their own oracles whose festivals come up also annually. The significance of the Ifa-Owa festival is that it must not precede any other one in the town, that is, after the king celebrates his own, nobody or family must do so again that year. Another significance is that ALL the Ifa priests in the town must participate in the Oba’s oracle’s festival.

    As experts, they will be able to interpret accurately what the Oba’s oracle has in stock for the town because its jurisdiction covers the whole town and the District.

    The king’s oracle predicts what will happen during the year and tells the king what sacrifices to make to appease the deities and different spirits for the peace, prosperity, protection and progress of his town in particular and his domain in general.