Oba-Ile’s history is shrouded in mystery and is also intricately linked to that of Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yorubas. Many Yoruba books dealing with the history of the origins or myths of creation of the Yoruba race appropriately refer to the importance of Oba-Ile (or Oba-Akure – to distinguish it from other Obas) as one of the earliest of Yoruba settlements.
In some cases it is recognised as having a tradition independent of Ile-Ife, especially because of the link of Oloba with the creation of the earth. In fact, as Professor Bolaji Idowu has rightly explained in his ‘Olodumare, God in Yoruba Belief’, Oba-Ile claims to be the place from where the earth began to spread as has been directed by Olodumare. After Orisa nla had been asked to confirm the solidity of the earth, Oba-Ile was the place where he landed.
Now this remains mysterious given that Yorubas believe this to be Ile-Ife. But what is often so clear is either the first Oloba predates Oduduwa or that he was closely involved in the foundation of the earth in Ile-Ife. Oba-Ile is an ancient Yoruba town that predates even Akure, the next door settlement and the capital city of Ondo state. Its role in the founding of some other towns and villages around, such as Ugoba, as a satellite town, and Uso in present day Owo Local Government is of note.
Oloba and the Oba-Ile community had one point in history helped in stabilising the throne of the Deji of Akure when the Oloba of Oba sent his son, Obagbeyi to become the Deji of Akure. The ensuing traditions and links include among others the celebration of Aeregbe festival and Esibi dance in Akure both of which have continued to-date. This has been further confirmed by various scholars and historians, such as Hon. Dr Jacob Egharevba in his book titled, ‘A Short History of Benin’ which was first published in 1934.
Among those who went with Oranmiyan to Benin was the Oloba of Oba the founder of Oba near Akure at a time when Akure had not come into existence. Ulli Bier’s research titled ‘Before Oduduwa’ published in ODU NO 3 in 1956 suggests that Oloba may predate the Oduduwa tradition in saying that the indigenes of Oba were there before Oduduwa. The Weirs Report of 1934 offers further evidence in this line, indicating that the Oloba had settled very early in what is now known as Oba-Ile before any of the surrounding towns.
Subsequently connection of the founder of Oba-Ile with the spread of the earth earns his Oloba Oodaye-the one who had landed at the very beginning while the name Oba depicts the place of landing on the earth. Professor Bolaji idowu described him as a priest-king from Ife who later settled at Oba-Ile. He was mysterious and was believed to have descended to the earth by chain from heaven with no parental history, which is why to this day the Oloba of Oba-Ile is called okirikisi omo atorun ro saye; omo iye bi, omo iba bi.
That is the one who landed on the earth and was had no parental lineage. On leaving Ile-Ife, he went along to ensure others who left with him had settled before he chose to settle at Alegunranyin, in about 1100AD, which is why he was called A-kaiye-do, that is, the one who helped or brought the world to settle. There, he planted a palm tree to mark his settlement. The mysterious palm tree grew and has 16 branches although bringing forth no fruit. This is what the Oba-Ile people sing about during Agbon festival when they talk of ope kekere ode-ile, mo ya soro (that is the small palm tree, it is time of festival).
So Alegunranyin was the first place where Oba-Ile settled before moving a short distance further to the present site at Umogun, for which Oloba Oladeeye is fondly remembered. Among the others whom Akaiyedo helped to settle were the Oore of Otun Ekiti, the Oludanre (Owa) of Idanre, Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Elekole of Ikole, Olojudo of Ido-Ekiti, Onitaji of Itaji-Ekiti, Owa-Ajero of Ijero, Arinjale of Ise, among others. It was from here that he went with Oranmiyan on expedition to Ado (Benin) and Oranmiyan was said to have stayed at Oba for about 2 years whilst returning from Benin.
As at the time Oloba Akaiyedo settled, there was no other town around except Idanre; it was Oba and Idanre who had common boundaries. Thus Oba-Ile is not only one of the oldest Yoruba settlements but in fact the oldest of all the towns in present day Akure North and Akure South Local Governments, including Akure the state capital. That is, Oba-Ile is older than Akure. The Oloba came with his beaded crowns out of which some of his children later took and went from Oba to found other settlements, nearly 100 years after Akaiyedo had settled at Alegunranyin.
It was one Oloba who went to found Uso in present day Owo Local Government. This is why the title of Uso’s monarch remains to this day the Oloba of Uso. He went to replicate to a large extent some of the traditions in Oba-Ile with some quarters bearing the same name as in Oba-Ile. Among them is Umogun Quarters. It is also evident today that most of those who live in Odo Uso speak the same dialect with those of Oba-Ile or Akure people. The traditional Aeregbe Oloba festival is also celebrated in Uso.
The chieftaincies in Uso show a lot of similarities with that of the Oloba of Oba’s chiefs, such as Elemo, Aro, Edemo, among others. In fact, the Elemo of Uso, like the Elemo of Oba-Ile is praised as ogbo eketa iare-the third in rank among the Iares. The Iares are the senior Oloba’s chiefs who help him in administering the town. This is true in Uso as it is at Oba-Ile. Interestingly too, most of those who live in Uso today, especially in Odo Uso are of Oba-Ile origins and some may have come from Akure too.
There is also great intermarriage between Uso and Oba-Ile people. A lot of Uso traditions and cultures are modelled after that of Oba-Ile. I recall that Agbon festival used to attract a large contingent of people from Uso when we were young. Among others who left Oba-Ile was Akinsanmi who later founded Awo-Ekiti, and Emure-Ekiti. Also out of Oba-Ile left other Oloba’s sons who went to found Oba-Akoko, Oba in Anambra State; another one went to settle near Abeokuta while the last to leave went to settle at Oba near Osogbo in Osun State.
It is on record that until recent times, it was only the Oloba of Oba-Ile and the Deji of Akure who had the right to wear beaded crown in the whole of what is now Akure North and Akure South Local Governments. Just as Oba-Ile has had an independent autonomous history so has the Oloba of Oba-Ile, unlike many obas in the old Akure Division. For instance, no Deji of Akure or any Yoruba Oba has ever claimed to have a prescribed authority over the Oloba or to have collected “isakole” or tributes from the Oloba. Oba-Ile itself is older than Akure and also because the Oloba is not on the Deji’s or Akureland.
In fact, there is a version of Akure history that attests to the fact that Asodeboyede begged the Oloba of Oba-Ile to allow him settle on Oba land. So as the Yorubas rightly say eni a ba laba ni baba (the one who first got to settle in the hut is the father). Hence in his own testimony at the Morgan Commission of Inquiry into Chieftaincy matters on 8th june1977, the then Deji of Akure, Oba Adelegan Adesida III confirmed that no one had any prescribed authority over the Oloba of Oba and that from time immemorial, he had been a beaded crown oba who had authority over his own land.
This gave rise to the description given the Oloba of Oba-Ile in the report as a paramount traditional ruler without a consenting or prescribed authority over him (see Morgan Report, pp.34-36. it is awkward to describe the Oloba as subservient or junior to the Deji of Akure for any reason other than the fact that Oba-Ile is much smaller than Akure. in talking about the politics of Akure in relation to its neighbouring towns and villages, Oba-Ile is different from the others, implying that Oba-Ile occupies a special place in relation to Akure. Whether this is truly so is a matter of debate and depending on who in Akure is dealing with the issue.
In fact some would like to say that the link between Akure and Oba-Ile is so strong that the two of them could be taken to be one and the same. Again, this would depend on who is saying it and what the motives are. The Oloba of Oba-Ile is supported by his chiefs in the administration of the town. The chiefs are led by the Odofin of Oba-Ile who presides over the gathering of the chiefs every 9 days in both morning and afternoon before they congregate in the palace in the evening (late afternoon) in the presence of the Oloba Oodaye. The chiefs are referred to broadly as the Iares but not all of them are the Iares.
The traditional Oloba-in-Council is divided into six sub-groups. The Iares are led by High Chief Odofin, the Ejua Group led by High Chief Asamo, the Ikomo Group led by High Chief Sao, the Women’s Group led by Chief Ajero, the Elegbes led by Chief Agbakin, while the Egiris are led by Chief Elegiri. It is remarkable that of all the traditional chieftaincies in Oba-Ile, Olowere is the most junior serving within the Egiri group. Since its history Oba-Ile has had the following Olobas: 1. Akaiyedo 2. Oladeye, the founder of Umogun 3. Osalade 4. Aderosale 5. Oluwalade 6. Aladeparioye 7. Oyinlade 8. Adegbuji 9. Atanlaye 10. Adesoro 11. Segi 12. Aladegboye 13. Olasosin 14. Iyun 15. Adegbute 16. Akikomugbeseyan 17. Ogogo 18. Agunmayao 19. Adesola 20. Adepoju 21. Adewumi 22. Olagbuyi 23. Aladewetan 24. Adelana 25. Olakaye 26. Adewekun 27. Adelala 28. Oyigi 29. Awogbamila 30. Awotunberu 31. Obalaye 32. Adedipe 33. Erinmuja 34. Adelakun 35. Adelani 36. Adegboro 37. Aladegbola 38. Aladegbokun 39. Ogungbadero 40. Akintoye 41. Gbadegun 42. Oyintoke 43. Ajidiogbo 44. Obaleyakin 45. Elegbejeogbo 46. Olagboba 47. Olaluwoye Otutubiosun I 48. Orioge I (1886-1924) whose reign witnessed the advent of Christianity in Oba-Ile, in 1909 and he protected the Christians from extreme persecution. 49. Aladesaye (1930-1944). 50. Amos Omodara (Sept 14, 1947 to 1966). 51. Samuel Omoniyi Otutubiosun II (1967). 52. Gabriel Ilesanmi Orioge II (1975-May 1980). 53. Joseph Agunbiade Otutubiosun III, was enthroned in September 1987.
The history of Oba-Ile is a long one with so many interesting twists. But suffice it to say that it has an original and primal place in the history of the Yoruba race even if it is not often acknowledged. Oba-Ile is one of the oldest Yoruba towns. Even though this is not often acknowledged many Yoruba historians know it that Oba-Ile is an ancient autonomous Yoruba town from the very beginning.