The Ijero people have their root in Ile-Ife as they are descents from Oduduwa. According to Ijero oral tradition, the 16 kingdoms of Ekiti came from the royal house of Oduduwa and their relations in other parts of Yoruba land like Oyo, Ijesha, Ondo, Igbomina, Ijebu, Egba, Ikale, Ilaje, Akoko, Edo, Itshekiri and others came from this common ancestor.
Ajero was the 4th direct son of Oduduwa and it was Ajero who went to fetch water from the lagoon (Ajero ki mo Osa) while Owa Obokun (seawater fetcher) of Ijesa land went to the seaside for the hydrotherapy of their father’s illness (Oduduwa). Ajero lived with his kith and kins at Ita-Ijero quarters in Ile-Ife, where the historic exodus of Ijero people began and is the preparation ground of Ajoro meeting and philosophy of Ijeroism.
Ajero who left his father’s royal home in Ile-Ife after the historic council meeting (Ajoro) of the royal princess to establish their kingdom went Southwest ward to a lagoon side, precisely area inhabited by the present-day AWORIS and in Ijero, peesent Ebute-Meta of Lagos state.
This earns him the Oriki (native Cognormen) “Ajero Kimos” (Ajero that knows the lagoon). He left Eba osa lagoon area for further adventure and re-settlement. (It was told that some of his children and blood relations remained there). In years later they settled at area northeast of Ile-Ife called “Ijero Atowose” (Artificial Ijero) because they believed that Ita-Ijero in Ile-Ife was the original Ijero.
The monogenic Ijero people left Atowose because of the poor weather condition, adverse biological warfare caused by earthworm on their foods, and other diseases. They later settled at Oro (The present-day, Iloro-Ekiti), while they left some of their kith and kin at Oro.
HISTORY OF ILUKUNO-EKITI:
Ajero who was the founder of Ilukuno first settled in a place between Aramoko and Ijero called Atose, he stayed there for a while before he moved finally to his present site.
He got married to Ose, and gave birth to two sons called Apa and Ogbe. The two sons became kings one after the other.
When Ajero saw that where he settled had been full of people, he went to present Ijero settlement and left his first son Apa at Ilukuno to be the king. The meaning of Ilukuno run thus:- ILU-KUN-O i.e. “the town is full, let us have our own Oba”. Apa who was the first Oba was called Olulokun of Ilukuno. When Apa died Ogbe his younger brother became the second king. He was translated to Ijero to become the first Oba there. Their final settlement in the Ijero Kingdom was precisely in the year 1375AD.
It was Ajero who led Ijero people from Oro to Ilu Kuno (present days Ilukuno-Ekiti). He was a pragmatic and visionary leader who ensured that his town was wealthy, rich and prosperous in their undertakings. Hence Ilukuno means “A city that is full of riches and prosperity”. At Ilukuno, the people were very prosperous in their farming and trading activities at that time. The hilly and undulating nature of Ilukuno was the reason Ajero left for the present Ijero settlement.
Some followers of Ajero Ogbe left Ilukuno and settled in Omuo-Area. These people are Omuo –Ijero people in that part of Ekiti land. Before Ijero people settled at Oro, they had lived once upon a time at Ilede (An area along the present-day Ijero-Ekiti/Aramoko Road). It is very interesting to be noted that the aborigines of Oro (Iloro-Ekiti) and Ilukuno are Ijero monogenetic people from Ile-Ife.
Ajero Ogbe, the Onilukuno (Ilukuno monarch) was a farmer, hunter and adventurer who cultivated farms in the virgin land of the present-day Ijero-Ekiti and Ikoro-Ekiti. This earned them theOriki “Ogbe ki gbe ikoro nig be Ijero (Ogbe was the planter of Ikoro and Ijero Township). He was indeed a great pioneer.
Ijero oral tradition revealed that ALARA, AJERO and ORANGUN are uterine brothers. Alara is the paramount ruler of Aramoko, while Ajero the paramount ruler of Ijero, and the youngest Orangun, being the paramount ruler of Ila-Orangun and Igbomina land. The trio uterine brothers are legendary monarchs who are direct Princes of Oduduwa and are based crowned kings (Oba Alade). Till date all Ajeros are crowned at the “Para Oduduwa” shrine with the original and first crown that was brought from Ile-Ife.
Their mother’s name was Ademiregun who died and was buried in Ogbon Ilu (a town that was then consisted of 30 persons) the present day Ipoti-Ekiti. The monarchs’ mother Ademiregun was later called Iya O or Ya O (Oh! Mother in Ipoti) (Ogbonlu) legends. A stream was named after her in Ijero tradition known as maternity stream for nurturing children called “Iregun Lafere” stream.
The present-day site of Ijero was a farmstead of Ogbe, although the aborigines are Alapa of Okelapa quarters. Olorogun of Ale-Ekiti in Eyigbo quarters, who was then a blacksmith –makers of hoes and cutlass for farming activities, Obalogbon of Okelogbo and Salotun of Ale-Ekiti quarters. They are king folk of Ogbe who left Oro for farming activities in the virgin land of Ijero.
Ogbe consulted Ifa Oracles (oracles of palm kernel divination) who said he should make the farmstead a permanent site of his Kingdom. Ogbe was very versed in Ita-Ijero oral traditional, council (meeting and collectivism. He consulted his subjects at Ilukuno and kinsfolk at the farmstead that this place will be founded a new town where the spirit of Ajoro will continue to soar to greater heights.
He named it “Ijero” after the Ita-Ijero famous quarters in Ile-Ife where they took their root. Ogbe founded Ijero kingdom with mutual spirit, and symbolic opinion of the pioneers, with his pragmatic leadership, the culture of collective spirit, democratic tradition and humanistic service to one’s society began at this place called Ijero tri a npe ni Ajoro. Ogbe left his lieutenant “Eesalokuno” to supervise the administration of his people at Ilukuno while some of his town folks settled at the present site of Ijero with him.
When Ajero Ogbe died, his corpse was carried from Ijero back to main town Ilukuno, this is how the Ilukuno became the royal tomb of Ajero being the pre-eminent town of Ijero Monarch and people of Ijero consanguinity. Most of the kings and their royal lineages in Ijero kingdoms are off shoot and descendants of Ajero Ogbe.
When Ogbe moved his seat to Ijero, Ijero became stronger, livelier, and more progressive. It became the seat of traditional administration, culture, commerce, and government of Ijero kingdom. While the domain of Ajero reached other 14 towns which is beyond the imagination of the pioneers. Later captured the Heptapolis called “Ilejemeje” (7 main towns) during the reign of Ajero Obaleyakin (1795 – 1815).
Hence, Ijero kingdom, which consisted of 22 towns and their villages, reached its golden era before the Kiriji war in 1877-1893. Ajero Ogbe will forever be remembered in Ijero history as the founding monarch and legendary founder of Ijero kingdom. Ogbe founded Ijero with a symbolic spirit with other pioneers with their spirit of Ajoro and adventure, have done their very best in their own times. During Olojo festival in Ile-Ife, Ajero is one of the few Obas that can go with the Ooni to “Imogun” shrine. Once an Owa Ajero is installed and crowned, he is forever forbidden to set his eyes on his mother and he is also forbidden to see a new born baby in the palace because of the sacredness of human blood to the throne.
Available list of past Ajero and the number of years they reigned
1. Ogbe 1377-1388 (11yrs)
2. Eyekunrin-Afin 1388-1397 (9yrs)
3. Atakumosa 1397-1410 (13yrs)
4. Alaworo 1410-1425 (15yrs)
5. Apa 1425-1442 (17yrs)
6. Awon 1442-1462 (20yrs)
7. Agbagba 1462-1486 (24yrs)
8. Ikere 1486-1498 (12yrs)
9. Otipiri 1498-1525 (27yrs)
10. Ogbolu 1525-1544 (19yrs)
11. Alakeji 1544-1575 (31yrs)
12. Ajiboye 1575-1594 (19yrs)
13. Agunsoye I 1594-1612 (18yrs)
14. Owariberu 1612-1633 (21yrs)
15. Obatutu 1633-1651 (18yrs)
16. Okinbaloye 1651-1667 (16yrs)
17. Erukudede 1667-1690 (23yrs)
18. Otutubiosun 1690-1718 (28yrs)
19. Afesoye 1718-1738 (20yrs)
20. Onaowuro 1738-1749 (11yrs)
21. Oduju 1749-1766 (17yrs)
22. Afinbiokin 1766-1796 (30yrs)
23. Obaleyakin 1796-1816 (20yrs)
24. Agunsoye II 1816-1822 (6yrs)
25. Agbeleja 1822-1867 (45yrs)
26. Oyiyosoye 1867-1902 (35yrs)
27. Okeruku 1902-1916 (14yrs)
28. Arojojoye I 1916-1930 (15yrs)
29. Atobatele 1930-1938 (8yrs)
30. Eyeowa II 1938-1991 (53yrs)
31. Arojojoye II (1991 till date)
Source: ekitisummit.com/ogbe and the discovery of the ijero kingdom