Ikere Ekiti: Tale of a city with two kings
Ikere-Ekiti is a city in Ekiti State, South West Nigeria. It is an agrarian community, known for production of Cocoa, Yams, Palm Oil and cassava. The 2006 National Census puts the population of Ikere-Ekiti to be 147,255. The Chairman Council of Obas in Ikere-Ekiti is His Imperial Majesty, Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu-Alagado, Agirilala-Ogbenuotesoro II, the Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti. He ascended the throne two years ago, and he is the government recognised Oba of Ikere-Ekiti. In that same town His Royal Highness Oba Obasoyin Ayodele Ganiyu, the 30th, Olukere of Ikere is also laying claims to the kingship of Ikere-Ekiti.
For 25 long years now, the battle for the soul of Ikere-Ekiti has continued unabated. The two Obas have different stories to tell.
According to Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu-Alagado, a man from the ancient Benin kingdom, who was then known as Alade-Uselu, founded the town.
Oba Obasoyin Ayodele Ganiyu, disagreed with that storyline. According to him, Oloje Origjijilowu, who hails from the Obaloran family of Ilode in present day Ile-Ife, founded Ikere-Ekiti.
He said the mother of his progenitors is Ooni Iuwoo Gbagida, who was the only recognised woman by Ooni in Ile-Ife, in accordance with the Yoruba history. He said; “It was Oloje who named the town Ikere, a named coined from the plant he cultivated and sold, called Ukerekere. He was a great farmer.”
The Palace Watch spoke with the two Obas in what turned out to be an interesting interview.
Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu-Alagado Kabiyesi: Obasoyin’s Lineage Are Not Obas, They Are Priests
HRH Oba Obasoyin Ayodele Ganiyu: Ogoga Was A Visitor To Ikere-Ekiti
How come two of you are laying claim to the kingship of Ikere-Ekiti?
Obasoyin cannot lay claim to the Obaship of Ikere-Ekiti, his linage are never Obas. They are priests. It is a pity that his family now wants him to be either recognised by government as Baale not an Oba. Obasoyin is a priest of the biggest deity called “Olosuka” in Ikere and because of ego; his family now wants him to be recognised as a leader or as a Baale or an Oba of that section of Ikere-Ekiti. I am sure; he will never say that he is the paramount ruler or the defector Oba of Ikere-Ekiti.
Now, as you might be aware, before anybody can be called an Oba, there are processes that have to be followed.
For instance, there has to be recognition by the state government. And there is a law in this state, which expressly states, that if you unlawfully call yourself an Oba or when somebody calls you an Oba, while you are not, such a person will go to jail for three years without an option of fine. But sadly, lawlessness is now the order of the day in Nigeria; hence an individual can stand up and call himself anything. So, this is exactly, what is happening now in Ikere-Ekiti.
Kabiyesi, the people you are referring to here are equally saying that you are a stranger in their land, that you traced your ancestral history to present day Benin. Who are your ancestors in Benin, and how did your ancestors come to Ikere-Ekiti?
The Oba of Benin as you might be aware, this is a very long time ago. If you go through history, you will find out that the bulk of the people in areas like Akure, Owo are most people from the ancient Benin Kingdom. The history is that a long time ago, there was a son that was born then to the then Oba of Benin. The mother of this particular son had him late in the night and his name was Ogoga. He was first known as Osaige Akemugamen, unfortunately his birth was not reported that night, because, usually, up till this very moment the wives of a sitting Oba “Olori’s” don’t have their babies in the palace. They normally have them outside the palace.
Another wife of the then Oba gave birth to another baby boy early that morning and that boy’s birth was immediately reported to the then Oba. Since, it was the second boy’s birth that was immediately reported, even though he was some hours junior to the first boy, he was recognised as the heir to throne.
In this instance, the then Oba even had some kids before he became the Oba of Benin Kingdom. So all of them were growing up, and it happened, that the mother of the boy that was reported first to the palace, was planning evil against Ogoga, so that her son becomes the Oba.
As you might be very much aware, at a point, the heir to the throne will have to move to a place called Uselu in Benin City. When the younger boy was now moved to Uselu, as heir to the throne, the mother of Ogoga as to be expected, became depressed, and felt threatened. She then decided to leave Benin. She left with her two sons; they are the present day Deji of Akure and Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti. Ogoga was the immediate younger brother of Deji of Akure. Ogoga was the one of the sons born on the throne of the great Benin Kingdom then. As they were departing Benin, some Benin Chiefs who were sympathetic helped them with some items. They gave them servants, food items, and people that could help them settle fully wherever they may choose. So when they got to Akure, the bid on the neck of Deji got cut mysteriously, in Yoruba, such an incident is called “Akure.” My bids have cut. That was how present day Akure got her name.
Ogoga on his part had always seen himself as an Oba. While they got to Akure, Deji decided to settle there, while Ogoga moved on saying he was not ready to stay under the command of anybody. So Ogoga travelled from Akure to a place called Agama, which is outside present day Ikere-Ekit.
If you go to Akure, you will still find a place called “Owa Ogoga,” in the palace of Deji of Akure?
This Ogoga was a good hunter, so he used to hunt with a lot of servants. So he shot an elephant. As it is usually the habit of elephants they rarely fall, at the exact spot they are shot. This particular elephant, struggled from where it was shot, and Ogoga began to trail the elephant. He got to a place and saw smoke afar. Ogoga said to himself, there must be people living in this place where this smoke is coming from. He traced the smoke until he got to Ikere. Ikere itself was founded by a Benin man called Alade Uselu, because he came from a place called Uselu in Benin City.
When Alade Uselu got to Ikere-Ekiti and was still clearing the bush, as was the practice then, he consulted an oracle, to find out the suitability of the place for their habitation or settlement. The oracle was said to have told Alade Uselu that the place was good for habitation, but he must take cognizance of the fact, that the person with the true royal blood that will eventually become the king of the place after its establishment. Alade Uselu never objected to this. It was while Alade Uselu and his servants were clearing the bush they caught an “Okere” Squirrel; they later found out that the place had so many Squirrels. That is how Ikere-Ekiti got its name Ile-Okere. The land of Squirrels.”
It is incontrovertible that Alade Uselu settled here in Ikere-Ekiti, before the arrival of Ogoga. Ogoga traced the elephant he shot to Ikere.
He had no intention of becoming a king here. Ogoga after a lot of persuasion decided to remain here. While a palace was been built for him, Ifa had earlier predicted that a big event would occur, when the Prince that will become the king of Ikere will come. It was the Ogoga’s elephant that was used for the big celebration. As soon as Ogoga entered Ikere his countenance depicted royalty. This is how my own progenitors became the kings of Ikere-Iketi. As a matter of fact, up till now, whosoever is made the king of Ikere must symbolically spend seven days in “Arekuku” the house Ogoga lived for seven years.
Oba Samuel Ogoga said you were never from a ruling lineage, but priests. Is that true your highness?
OGOGA’S progenitor was a hunter who came to Ikere via his hunting expedition, so many years ago. Ogoga’s forefather was a guest to my forefathers in this place, the then Olukere of Ikere. Before Ogoga’s arrival here, we had had six Olukere of Ikere, the Ikere community had existed for well over 300 years then, before Ogoga arrived here.
Somewhere along the line, my forefathers started to send Ogoga on important errands, because he was advance in age then. Somehow, Ogoga mischievously went and took government recognition or authority without the knowledge of the siting Olukere of Ikere, there after he declared himself as Oba of Ikere.
What is now your next line of action, if truly you are the legitimate Oba of Ikere-Ekiti?
We have been fighting this case for over 25 years now; and I have never been paid one kobo as the Olukere of Ikere-Ekiti by government. The man, who is a stranger here, is now recognised as the traditional ruler of Ikere-Ekiti people. It is he; sadly, the Ekiti State government deals with. This is somebody, who has no cultural, traditional and spiritual relationship or function(s) with Ikere-Ekiti people.
Ogoga has continuously insisted that his forefathers were Prince from the Benin Kingdom and we have also continuously asked him to mention his forefathers who were once Oba in Benin kingdom, as you must first be a son to an Oba before you can claim to be a prince. This he has so far refused to do.
Everybody around here knows my own ancestral history.