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Keywords:TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL IN YORUBA LAND
Ere Festival popularly known as Ajoji-ku-ode is of great importance to people who celebrated it. It is now the researcher’s intention to look into the history and origin of Ode-Irele people, origin of Ere Festival, activities performed during Ere Festival, that is Gonlu Day, Ere-Ile Day and Ere Day, the taboos and the period of the festival.
Also, the importance of the festival to the Ireles, social and economic activities of the people are looked into.
More so, the entertainment in this festival is shown. And some of the songs they sung during the Ere Festival are revealed in the study.
At the end, the summary, conclusion and recommendations on Ere Festival are given. Rapid changes are taking place everywhere, therefore to preserve the original celebration of the festival, a written record is needed. It is on the light of this that I think the writing of this research project is necessary.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0 Background to the Study (Introduction)
1.1 Origin or History of Irele People
1.2 Geographical Location/Occupation of the People of Irele land
1.3 The Religion of the People
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Objective of the Study
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Scope of the Study
1.8 Limitation of the Study
1.9 Definition of Terms
2.1 Advent of Religion in Ode-Irele land of Ondo State (Literature Review)
2.2 Origin of Ere Festival in Irele land
2.3 Activities during Ere Festival
2.4 Entertainment during the Festival
2.5 Ere Songs
2.6 Taboos in Ere Festival
3.1 Period of the Festival
3.2 Importance of Ere Festival to the People of Ode-Irele
3.3 Communal Spirit
3.4 Social and Economic Implication of Ere Festival
3.5 Economic Activities of the People of Ode-Irele
3.6 Social responsibilities of Irele people
3.7 The Ode-Irele Traditional Social Setting
3.8 Social Practices of Irele people
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY (INTRODUCTION)
Festival can be defined as the time or period of remembrance of an occasion. It is the period through which merriment are made to all friends and sundry. Also festival can be defined as day of season for rejoicing, public celebration, series of performances cot music, ballet, drama, etc, given periodically usually once a year.
Apart from Christian festival which are celebrated every year, Irele people have other traditional festivals which include Ere festival, Ijoye-jesu festival, Eje festival, Oba-gboghwo festival, etc.
Ere festival as one of the most population traditional festival being celebrated in Irele land is celebrated annually during the month of June and July by the Oba of Irele Kingdom known as Olotun of Irele kingdom, the Ijamas, the Ijoyes and the Ope Ere which comprises of many people. Each people in this group is assigned to a certain work.
Ere festival started a long ago as a result of their originated festival accordance with their ancestors land of origin (Ile-Ife and Benin). The festival is done yearly to appease the wrath of gods and their ancestors for the betterment of the people’s endeavours.
The festival is celebrated by all sons and daughters of Irele community. It is seen as a symbol of unity among the people far and wide to the community during the celebration of the festival.
1.2 THE ORIGIN OF IRELE PEOPLE
The history early Irele people in Ikale land of Ondo State is a history of pre-literate society i.e. a society where literacy is absent: Notwithstanding the early Irele people have method of preserving their own history, these preserving history by way of memory is called “oral history”. And this method use in oral history is fell down from generation to generation, in this way the history of society continuous and the history become a legend.
The history of Irele land is one of the famous history of descendant of Oduduwa who was the founder of the Yoruba land having it cradle in Ile-Ife and Benin Kingdom respectively. For all the Irele people they have their common tradition about their origin, the first traditional vision is the “Olumusokun, Lumure and Abodi word mythical vision”.
According to this vision, Olumusokun is said to be one of the son of Oduduwa the founder of Yorubas having it cradle in Ile-Ife to Benin Kingdom. When there was need of king in Benin. In the olden days a request was to be made at Ile-Ife to said one of his son named “Olumusokun” to go and crowned a new king in Benin during the coronation of His Royal Highness Oba Akinsuwa, the then King of Benin Kingdom. Meanwhile Olumusokun refused to go back to Ile-Ife and later settled at Benin Kingdom.
In the olden days it was the habit of princes to have an autonomy, in search for autonomous colony, these three prince i.e. Olumusokun, Lumure and Abodi the son of King Esigie of Benin sent out and made a migration, and settled at the place called “ORI-OJA” by then, the present Ode-Irele land where they crossed the SILOKO river, they were accomplished by a number of chiefs, was given a description by the Abodi under the title “Oloja”. The Oloja Nejo has vessels officially as aging.
At Ori-Oja village suddenly “Dewelu Peire” the daughter of Abodi was spiritually turned to the river called “UPENPEN MABODI” to this day, that is why any kind crowned as Abodi in Ikale land was forbidden not to see the Upenpen river at Ode-Irele to this day. On this curse Olumusokun, Lumure and Abodi took out movement to their own different destination, Abodi went to Ikoya land, Lumure went to Ayeka while Olumusokun went to Igbodigo land, all at Ikale land.
“This above paragraph tells us why Ode-Irele was always called Ori-Oja, which signified that Ode-Irele was the first settlement of all Ikale descendant on their ancestors migrated out from Benin.
As time goes on, according to this format, it was at Ohumo village that the then Oloja of Igbodigo married Lobimitan, the daughter of the man called Ajana the then Oloja of Ohumo land.
Unfortunately, many years passed, Lobimitan the daughter of Oloja Ajana together with her children (Jagboju, Oyenusi and Kulamoku, a female child) which she born to the Oloja of Igbodigo land came back to Ohumo land. There Lobimitan and her children settled with her father Ajana the Orubemekun family and Gbogunron household.
According to this format, many years passed, the Ohumo people were prosperous and lived happily, Jagboju and his junior brother Oyenusi was the chief warrior in Ohumo land, suddenly a big war of domination broke out between rivalry Ijaws and the Ohumo people, this war was called “OGUN OSOKORO” meaning “OSOKORO WAR”. This war claimed the life of Oyenusi, Akinyomi his son and many inhabitant of Ohumo land. It was at this present hour that the people of Ohumo decided to migrated further to the then Ori-Oja, the Ohumo people now changed the name Ori-Oja to “Irele” meaning “ORO-LE-BAMI”.
The second vision, which is increasingly becoming more known in scholarly circles, although it has been generally known among Irele people themselves either at home on those in Diaspora. This common tradition is called “Ajana (Orunbemekun) legend, Jagboju Legend and Oyenusis Legend.
According to this vision, Ajana and Gbagba are the son of the then King of Ugbo Land the present Ilaje town in Ondo State. At this present time, both the two prince are fighting for the Kingship thrown at Ugbo Land, in the process Gbagba won and crowned as the King of Ugbo Land.
His second brother Ajana now need to seek for autonomous community, he with his children together with the Kinsmen migrated east-ward through river Oluwa and settled at the place called Umaba Camp through the Canoe in which the man called Gbogunron was the p , later he crossed the river called Ofo and finally settled at the place called Ohumo. He and his family with Gbogunron the canoe paddler (Ojiphwa le phwa). For many years, Ajana established himself as Oloja of Ohumo and bear many children.
According to this format, it was at Ohumo that the then King of Igbodigo of Ikale Land married Lobimitan the daughter of Oloja Ajana. Unfortunately, many years passed, Lobimitan the daughter of King Ajana together with her children (Jagboju, Oyenusi and Kulamoku) which she bear to the King of Igbodigo Land because of the rivalry between her sons and other children of their father (King of Igbodigo) while the King wanted to crown one of Jagboju/Oyenusi as the king had been old in age to rule the kingdom. Meanwhile, the other king’s children did not want Lobimitan’s children to become king in the sense that Lobimitan their mother was not a native of Igbodigo Lands, so they plotted to kill her together with her children fled back to Ohumo (Lobimitan’s father home land) and settled there with Oloja, Ajana her father and his family (Orunbemekun family) together with Gbogunron household.
Jagboju and his brother Oyenusis are hardworking me, they are brave warriors, they fought wars and won many wars against their mother’s homeland (Ohumo Land).
At this particular period, Oloja Aja was old in age, he was not fit to rule the chiefdom. As a custom demand, he viewed the whole kingdom to choose among them the able person to administer and rule the lands, as destiny want it luckily for Jagboju, the Oloja Ajana did not see any able, brave man within the Orunbemekun family to put on their father’s throne. Oloja Ajana now called the whole people of Ohumo land and made a traditional ritual; “Oloja Ajana puts his right leg (in Ikale tradition right leg is our father’s leg) on the ground and place the right leg of Jagboju on top of his own right leg, they killed a ram (Agbo, Oloja Ajana put the blood of the ram with the head upon their right leg on which both of them put upon each other legs on the ground (by so doing, the ritual signified that both Orunbemekun family and Jagboju/Oyenusi family have become one family).
After this traditional rituals, Oloja Ajana proclaimed that “Jagboju should become the Oloja of Ohumo after him”. And it was generally accepted, while Oloja Ajana passed to his great beyond, the people of Ohumo crowned Jagboju as the Oloja of Ohumo Land. At this appointed time, Jagboju Legend was established and started ruling Ohumo Land.
After many years of prosperous, a big war of domination broke out between the Ijaw-benegha and the people of Ohumo Land, this war was called “Ogun Osokoro” meaning “Osokoro War”. At this present period, Oloja Jagboju was old in age, it was his junior brother Oyenusi that been the Chief Warrior in Ohumo Land while Oyenusi’s son called Akinyomi was the commandant of Ohumo War fighter. Unfortunately, this war claimed the life of Oyenusi, Akinyomi his son and many people of the land.
These great loose made Oloja Jagboju grievancely proclaimed “Me lo Hi Oro le Bami”, meaning “I am going to my father’s homeland”. Oloja Jagboju with all his household including Oyenusi household, the Orunbemekun’s and Gbogunron family made a migration from Ohumo and settled at the place called Oni-Oja the first settlement of the forefather of Ikale people when they first came from Benin.
Oloja Jagboju proclamation was resulted the town’s name “IRELE” meaning “ORO-LE BAMI”. So, the name Irele was coined and derived from the grievances and angonical proclamation made by Oloja Jagboju at Ohumo Land. At this particular time, Irele Kingdom was established and ruled by Oloja Jagboju.
At this process, for the Oloja Jagboju to be appreciated and for him to be relieved the angonies of the great loose of his blood brother (Oyenusi) and some of his descendants. He summoned the people of Irele Land, Oloja Jagboju proclaimed and made answering in the present of all Irele people against his will and said unto the people of the land that “if me Oloja Jagboju passed into the great beyond, for the brave work that Oyenusi done to Irele people, particularly for the risking of his life and death in the process of saved my Jagboju and the entire community that Ojagbeletemi the eldest son of Oyenusi should be crowned as Oloja of Irele Land after him, also whoever go against it would die in within the crown ceremony process, this I Jagboju swear in the name of our ancestor that is in heaven, so shall it be, Amen”.
After the death of Oloja Jagboju, the people of Irele go against the will or the swearing of Oloja Jagboju, by so doing the people choice die in within the crown ceremony (his name excluded) at this junction Jagboju’s will come to reality the people of Irele Land crowned the eldest son of Oyenusi called Ojagbaletemi as the Oloja of Irele Chiefdom. At this period, Oyenusi Legend was established and started rule in Irele Land.
As from this period, the people of Irele land stated to use or made a rotational ruling hous within the three ruling house; Orunbemekun Legend, Jagboju Legend and Oyenusi Legend while Gbogunron family was made as the legend title in Irele Kingdom to this day.
Many centuries passed it was Oloja that rule the Irele Land, it happened that Irele people made Oladetubokanwa as Oloja of Irele Land, later at summer night, heaven help those who help themselves and made Oloja Oladetubokanwa His Royal Highness of Irele Land. It was during the reign of King Oladetubokanwa (Orunbemekun Legend) that the king started to rule the Irele land, followed by King Feyisara Odimayo (Jagboju Legend0 and later now is King Olanrewaju Lebi (Oyenusi Legend) till date.
Upon all the tradition, Irele people shared the belief that they are several founders originated from Benin, and origin at Benin became the usual way to validate a claim to being an independent monarch entitled to wear beaded crown with fringes and wield the sovereign power of life.
We thank Almighty God that the place called Ori-Oja had became much heavier population and the most successful town called Ode-Irele, and also became the unit of political power in Ondo State and Nigeria at large.
1.3 GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION/OCCUPATIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF IRELE LAND
Irele land is bordered with Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State in the Southern part of Western region of Nigeria. It shares boundary with Okitipupa Local Government in the West, Ese-Odo Local Government in the North, it shared border with Delta State and the Edo State in the East.
Irele land lies within latitude 6.9 degree and 6.25 degree, longitudes 5.25 degree and 4.42 degree. Odigbo Local Government to the South, Okitipupa Local Government to the West, Ese-Odo Local Government to the North, it shared b . Irele cover a total area of about 576 square kilometer.
The main occupation of the people of Irele Land is farming. The farming in Irele Land is mainly in two parts: subsistence farming and plantation farming. Plantation are owned by the Government, Corporation (e.g. Ore/Irele Oil Palm, Irele/Omi Oil Palm, Iyansan Oil Palm) and individual plantation.
Plantations are palm trees and rubbers. Then rubber later are being cut down for the replacement by palm trees because of the demand by local industries and for exportation.
We have over 50, 000 hectares of land area in Irele, Omi, Ajagba, Iyansa, Ijosun and Akotogbo as at 1996. Many peasant farmers have small size plantation all over Ode-Irele Land and this is encouraged by the Small Management Unit (S.M.U).
The subsistence farming forms the basic occupation of over 9% of the working people in Irele Land. The farms are operated on a small scale, planting food crops, like cassava, yams, cocoyam, maize, banana, vegetables, plantain, etc. The surplus food products from the farms are taken to nearby towns, local government and at large to the whole Federation of Nigeria to sell and for consumption before migrated to their different permanent settlement.
According to this vision, Olumusoku made his movement down to Ugbo Land where he meet the man called Gbagba and Ajana fighting for Ugbo Kingship thrown in which Gbagba won and crowned as the King of Ugbo Land.
Later, Olumusokun and his entourage with Ajana migrated to the place called Umaba in the present Ese-Odo Local Government and settle with the Ijaw-beregha the inhabitant of the land. But, because of the rivalry between the Ijaws and Olumusokun had to move out of Umaba to establish a place where they could rule and exercise political authority, for this Olumusokun migrated further to the place called Ottumo near the present Omi town for settlement and grown with many children and grand children namely Jagboju, Oyenusi and Kulamakun (a female child). Olumusokun was a warrior in nature, and because of the rivalry between him and the Ijaws, a big war of domination brook out between Ijaws and Olumusokun descendant, this war was called “OGUN-OSOKORO” meaning “the OSOKORO WAR”. This war claimed the life of Olumusokun, Oyenusi the second son of Olumusoku and some descendant of Olumusokun. This great loose made Jagboju the eldest son of Olumosokun proclaimed “Me lo hi Oro-le bami” meaning “I am going to my father home land”. They left Ohumo to the place of their father land (Ori-Oja). Most importantly Jagboju proclamation resulted the town’s name called “IRELE” meaning “ORO-LE BAMI”.
The name IRELE was coined and derived from the proclamation made by Jagboju the first son of Olumusokun “Mo nlo si Oro-le Bami” meaning “I am going to my father home land”.
On getting to the place, he meet the man called Orunbemekun and settled there with all his entourage, there they continue to be prosperous and made a King according to the three ruling house; Orunbemekun, Jagboju and Ogenusi respectively.
1.4 THE RELIGION OF THE PEOPLE
Religion is quite incontrovertible that majority are Christians of diverse denominations viz the Methodist, the Apostolic Church, Christ Apostolic Church, Redeemed Christian Church, Baptist Church, Salvation Army Church, etc. Some are Muslims and some are adherents of African traditional religion.
Traditionally, Irele people are very religious people. As every village, town and district possesses at least one god, of these the most important were the great sea-god known as “Malokun” the god of the sea, and “OGA NLA OR ORISAGHA” the god of the earth.
Malokun is regarded as the Lord of the Sea and the Fashioner of whatever is in the water.
Whole Oga-nla or Orisagha generally known as Oluwaiye was the king of eternity into whose judgment Hall “the Soul of every man was brought and weighed in Great Balance”.
It is thus evident that the Irele people believed in a life after death. They thought the spirit would return one day to the body.
Irele priest held high social rank in fact the priests wielded immense influence in the land.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
It was the intension of this study to find suitable answers to the following issues that arose from the above study.
- What people think about festival?
- Is the first Abodi the paramount Oba of Ikale land?
- The meaning of Ori-Oja in Irele Land
- Why did the people of Irele belief in Ere Festival?
- When was people of Irele celebrated Ere Festival?
- What are the roles of this present generation in inculcate and enlighten the people about Ere festival.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this research was to find out the implication (either negative or positive) of Ere Festival on the health of Irele people.
The investigation aimed at educating the people of Irele and the entire public as a great painter to the explanatory analysis in making the people to blend together for the product of good and achievable result to the study.
It also aimed to find out how the traditional festival represent the people’s achievement in agriculturing economy and war front.
The study also strives to enlighten the people about the traditional festival.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research is limited to Ode-Irele Land in Ondo State purposely to find out the belief of the people and where they migrated from.
Irele people was focused in for this study to find out the people’s achievement in celebrated the traditional festival.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The most pronounced of these limitations was that of finance in which transport fares in visiting some of my chosen areas to gather more information sometimes proved uneasy.
It was also difficult to meet some elders who were in better position to provide much needed information. However, the responses received from the few elders could be relied upon.
Again, the selection of the very method to be used in gathering this data noted as to whether the researcher’s opinion to use oral instead of written or both interviews could be prosper.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- ERE – This is a festival locally accepted by the indigenes of Irele Land.
- OBA – The Royal Father (King)
- OLOFUN – The Royal title of Irele Land
- IJAMA – A reputable high chief in Irele Land
- OJOYE – A lesser chief in Irele Land
- OPERE OR OMOJA – The youths of the town
- OWA – This is the control shrine of the people of Irele land.
- BOJUTORO – The Supreme traditional priest.
- AWOROTA – The lower traditional priest.
- IRA – The evil forest.
- MALOKUN – The sea god worshipped by the people of Irele Land.
- ORI-OJA – Head of the Settlement
- IRELE ()Name of a town) – ORO-LE-BAMI
- AJOJI-KUODE (Name of a traditional festival in Irele Land of Ondo State) – Strangers forbidden.
- OUT – Age-group
- OLUGBU – An Ikale traditional hair native style
- EFUN – Ikale traditional chalk
- OGOGORO – Ikale native gin
- BIRIPO MUSIC – Ikale native music
- ASIKO MUSIC – Ikale native music
Ibid: Pa. Aderotoye (Chief Lumeko, the Priest Leader of Irele Land, Age 102years.
Bajowa F. M. (1996). The History and People of Ikele, Omolayo Standard Press, Ado-Ekiti, Page 34 – 36.
Ibid: Chief Akinyomi Obiyara Ehinmisan of Ode-Irele, Age 72years.
Ibid: High Chief Oyewoga of Irele Land, Age 93years.
Office of Ondo State Surveyor General ( ) Map of Irele Land.
Ibid: Pastor D. O. Ojajuni (Public Service Ondo State) Age 59years.
Ibid: High Chief Ojuojo Akinguoye (Late) Native Doctor, Ode-Irele, Age 68years.
Keywords: TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL IN YORUBA LAND
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