The Brief History of Iseyin

Iseyin, an ancient city in Yorubaland is rich in history, culture and tradition. This richness is evident partly in the socio-cultural relations displayed by the people of the City, and in the tuneful, didactic panegyrics commonly used to describe and hail it. Although there are many versions of Iseyin history, here is one commonly adopted by majority of historians of the land.

The emergence of Iseyin was not arbitrary; however, its geographical endowment was an attractive feast to the earlier farmers and hunters being a fecund forestland harbouring both mild and wild games, thereby promising to agriculturists and game-hunters to thrive upon. The slight modification in its landscape whereby Iseyinland tucks into itself within an expanse of land surrounded by four high hills has a link with history.

Aaba Odo-Iseyin with his people plumbed the depth of loneliness as the first set of settlers to exploit the earlier bewildered forest now called Iseyin. He was an ordinary hunter of no royal or chieftaincy extraction migrated from Ile-Ife for hunting purpose, so he could not have established himself as the owner of the land and probably the Oba. But he built for himself and his people a Camp Base at Ipokun where they rest and reside after daily work. The base was later relocated to Igbo-Odofin. Aaba belonged to Oro Creed.

Ipale, another valiant hunter, later joined Aaba and led his own people to settle at another part of the forest to continue their work. Like Aaba, he had no link with royal hegemony and he was also of Oro Creed. It is noteworthy that no name had been given to this forest at this time when these hunters were moving in.

Oke-esa and Jagun Ilado, in order, migrated in to settle as hunters. They together with their peoples settled at different portions of the land. Jagun had his Base at Igbo-Iwoye(in present Ilado Area). They were not different from the previous hunters in mission, origin and creed. Aaba took it upon himself to convince the other hunters to visit Ebedi in submission, and he invited them to a meeting at their meeting place. They all came, and he discharged the message. Despite all his explanations, only Ipale and Jagun were convinced to visit Ebedi and they did so. Oke-Esa considered such invitation disdainful and refused to tow the path of his colleagues. When Ebedi got wind of this, he was not hesitant to place a statement on Oke-Esa, and put an eternal ban on him and his descendants from being a chief or community head in history of Iseyin. And since then no Aseyin has dared it appoint anybody as Baale in Oke-esa Community till today. All the other three hunters were appointed the heads of their respective communities. Their titles are Aaba Odo-Iseyin (Dunmoba Community), Ipale (Ekunle Community), Jagun (Ilado Community). Ipale was also given the right to apportion land to strangers who wished to settle in Iseyinland. Among the beneficiaries were Baale Koso and his people, Onikosa and his people, Baale Ladogan and his people, and many others.

Aaba later made arrangement to settle Ebedi at Ekunle, he accepted and settled there. Ebedi was of Sango Creed (Sango god of thunder), but for the humility of the three hunters submitted to him who were of Oro extraction, he approved Oro Oracle as the official oracle with which Iseyin was created, and decided to honour it by celebrating it yearly(the time during which women in the town are confined in for some hours daily for a week, and peaked the seventh and seventeenth day with full day confinement).And this was the beginning of yearly Oro festival in Iseyin as depicted in one of its panegyrics `Iseyin Oro Omo Ebedi`. In addition, he endorsed `sacrifice to Oro` a part of rites necessary to make any Aseyin.

Then, after when Ebedi had settled down at Ekunle, as a valiant and responsible leader he deemed it necessary to provide security for his subjects against external aggression and intrusion rampant then. So he set out to Dahomey(now Benin Republic) to seek powers to ward off insurgence and enslavement from this newly established town christened Iseyin, the name emanated from palm kanel proccessing. The assignment took Ebedi a very long length of time which his people construed to mean that he had been beset with a calamity beyond his control so made his return impossible.

And a community without a leader is on the brink of disorder, they decided to appoint an Oba. They chose Ebide’s brother Ogbolu as the first Aseyin of Iseyinland. The event turned dramatic at the time Ogbolu’s intallation ceremony was at his peak, Ebedi resurface with an army of supporters including sophisticated security experts and servants both males and females.

Not too far at the outskirts, Ebedi caught winds of drum beats and tunes signifying a grand celebrating in the town. Ebedi ordered his entourage to stop a bit, he sighted a pregnant woman plucking leaves nearby, and he approached her and elicited from her what was happening in the town. Ebedi was sad and disappointed with the development. With courage and a great sense of patriotism, he sent all his security outfits he brought from Dahomey and their usage through the women to his sibling, the new Oba. He informed the woman to instruct Ogbolu that he could no more enter the town to avert anarchism or possible breakdown.

Consequently, Ebedi transmogrify into a high hill (Ebedi Hill). Thus, it has been in tradition that all installed Aseyins must make sacrifice to Ebedi Hill yearly. His entourage followed the same footstep. Ogba, one of his charms experts transformed to river (Odo-Ogba) and channeled across through the length of Iseyinland. His chief servants; Oluofi, Eyinjue and Atamafon also transform into high hills at different location on the outskirts of the town making Iseyin to be surrounded by four historical hills. Others in the entourage who transformed into rivers are Igbobi, Atori and Ajumoda. Ogidiyi, Adabo, Iserin and Okutapamo also transformed into some other things out of disappointment and inability to go back to Dahomey. This made Ebedi a very popular hero and most mentioned name in the history of Iseyin, and that Ebedi is a substitute to Iseyin as the name of the town.

The first eleven to ascend the prestigious throne were from patricia lineage. Abu Oniside was the 11th Aseyin. He went to war in Ondo for so long a time that the palace became benighted. Then the princess Ogbekun Omosopo Adeyi called on the council of chiefs to find a replacement for the Oba in war as they presumed him dead thereupon his inability to return. The chiefs reasoned and made moves to install another person as Oba. But, because Aseyins then did not live long, all the princes where chary of ascend the throne. Also, nobody wanted to release his son for the job. The chiefs invited princess Ogbekun and informed her about the development and she was charged to release her son. She accepted and went to Alaafin of Oyo to inform him of the development and that Alaafin should endorse her matrimonial family lineage to be producing the Aseyin of Iseyinland as agreed upon by her and the council of chiefs. Based on the reasons adduced, Alaafin endorsed the move.

Princess Ogbekun invited his son, Ajisibi Alao who was far away at Ajase. Ajisibi came home with his first son Akando Ariwi. On gething home, Ajisibi was informed that he would be the next Aseyin of Iseyinland. He accepted to become the 12th king of the land. Akando took over after the death of his father in 1833 as the thirteenth Aseyin.

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