Ile-Ife, the city of the survivors where the dawn of the day was first experienced, head of the whole universe, the land of the most ancient days.
The history of Ile-Ife is wrapped in a thick fog of myths and mythologies. In about the late ninth century, there were majorly thirteen established settlements in “Elu” now known as Ile-Ife and its origin dates back to the palaeolithic period when religion had a dominating influence on the life of our ancient ancestors. Ile-Ife according to Yoruba belief is the earthly origin and fountain of all. Yoruba is a pre historic race.
Ile-Ife traditional history maintains that from Ife scattered the various species of mankind. Yoruba history also highlighted that the personage Oduduwa migrated to Ile-Ife where he reigned and held sway to establish the Yoruba dynasty. Oral traditions has it that early Ife history is divided chronologically into three:
The first was Ife Oodaiye, Ile Owuro (the land of the most ancient days where the dawn was first experienced). Tradition tells us that this Ife ended as a result of a flood. The survivors formed the nucleus of the second Ife, Ife Ooyelagbo (Ife, the city of survivors) this existed until the arrival of elements from the east whose attempt to seize power led to a bloody struggle between the strangers led by Oduduwa and the aboriginies led by Obatala.
Oral tradition of Ile Ife tells us that many communities existed in the second Ife. Each having its own Oba and each Oba had his Chiefs. Archaeological field survey shows that 13 of these communities have been revealed.
These settlements which were big and small in sizes include among others the following:
1. Ideta ruled by Obatala, presently found along Mokuro road.
2. Parakin ruled by Obalufe.
3. Imojubi ruled by Apata. Along Ife – Ondo Road.
4. Odin ruled by Olokore Obameri. Along Ifewara road.
5. Oke Oja ruled by Obajio. Present day Modakeke.
6. Iloran ruled by Obaloran.
7. Oke Awo ruled by Owa Fegun.
8. Omologun ruled by Obadio, the present site of OAU.
9. Ijugbe ruled by Obalejugbe. Present day Modakeke.
10. Iraye ruled by Obalaye. Present day Modakeke.
11. Iddo ruled by Onipetu.
12. Iloromu ruled by Obaluru. Along Ife-Ilesa road.
13. Iwinrin ruled by Obawirin. Present Koiwo and Oronna quarters.
There were other settlements that emerged a little after the major settlements. these settlements are;
1. Ita yemoo
2. Orun Oba Ado
Oduduwas victory led to the centralization of these communities and became the first Ooni (ruler). The word Ooni was never used until the first centralised government in Ile Ife.
These settlements are all unique and substantial in their own rights with each having a high priest as the ruler. Each settlement has its own separate market while a general one that serves the whole settlements was known as “Oja Igbomoko” which was surrounded by vast farmlands. So also, all the inhabitants of “Elu” at that point in history were reffered to as “Igbo”.
The growth and expansion of these settlements increased the quest for more farmlands and other activities. These and more made the smaller settlements like Iloromu where Oduduwa was born to seek for more farmlands and also share from the emerging prosperity. The growth, expansion and the subsequent population growth tilted the existing trado-political arrangements
This necessitated series of alliances across the settlements leadership and it brought about the emergence of ORANFE the high priest of Ora as the first head of the settlements alliance. He presided over the spiritual and political affairs of the alliance. However, it was of note that the chairmanship of the alliance becomes rotational in case of death.
Oranfe emergence as the head of the alliance was plagued with a lot of internal strife and agitations leading to major unrest but he was able to supress it all. Obatala the high priest of Ideta succeeded Oranfe after his death as the head of the alliance. However, Obatalas reign as the head of the alliance was the last in the alliance and it was marked with lots of war.
Oduduwa led a revolution against Obatala because of his elitist nature of governance. Over time, a lot of the settlements left the alliance and pitched their tent with Oduduwa while Obatala excessive claim to leadership and his uncontrollable appetite for drink also alienated many from him.
Obameri the high priest of Odin and the war general of Obatala left the alliance to join the revolution on the side of Oduduwa. A major attack led by Oduduwa and Obameri forced Obatala and Obawirin to abandon Ideta and Iwinrin settlements respectively and they established a new camp at Ideta-Oko beyond the esinmirin stream. After a long period of time, a peace agreement was brokered between the warring parties by one of the respected elders of the alliance named Ojomu from Iloran settlement. The peace agreement allowed for the return of both Obatala and Obawinrin to the ruins of Ideta and Iwinrin settlements under the new leadership of Oduduwa in a newly unified settlement now renamed “Ile-Ife”(the land of love). Obatala had no choice other than to return after he had conceded both power and leadership to Oduduwa the new supreme high priest of ile-ife.
Obawinrin now known as “Olu Igbo later Olugbo” refused to come back to ile-ife with Obatala because he felt unsecured and embittered and he decided to relocate to a far place known as “Igbo-Igbo” now the present day Oke-Igbo. Obawinrin continued to harass and attack Ile-Ife people under the guise of masquerade until it was stopped through the deft intervention of Moremi. Igbo-Igbo was eventually sacked by the forces of Ile-Ife and Obawinrin and his people finally relocated down south in the riverine area.
The spiritual and political affairs of Ile-Ife were handed over to Oduduwa and he did it with all fairness. He exhibited the traits of a statesman even at a very young age. He also directed the spiritual affairs of Ile-Ife very well to the admiration of all. He got the title “Onirisha (eni orisha|one with the trait of the deities) ” from his conduct and proper coordination of the spiritual affairs of the settlements while he brought order and peace. The “Itapa” festival has since been celebrated to commemorate the defeat and reunion of Obatala (Orishanla) and Obawinrin (Olugbo) till date.
Before his death, Ooni Odua, reformed the government he crowned all his children and sent them abroad with orders to show filial obedience to their brother whom he first crowned as his successor.
Tradition tells us that Oduduwa had many children, male and female. Oduduwa’s first child was a daughter, and mother of Olowu, Asunkungbade the founder of Owu Kingdom. Towards the end of Oduduwa’s reign, He became blind and lost four of his powerful sons. On the demise of Ooni Odua, his eldest living son Obalufon Ogbogbodirin succeeded him as Ooni.
Yoruba Obas referred to themselves as brothers even though their kingdoms waged war against each other. The kiriji war ended with the insistent declaration of the Owa Obokun that the Aalafin of Oyo was his brother, not subordinate.
(1) The first Ooni of Ife was Olofin Oduduwa the founder of Yoruba Race.
(2) The second Ooni of Ife was Obalufon Ogbogbodirin the eldest son of Oduduwa He lived and reigned for unusually long period of time.
(3) Obalufon alayemore, son of Obalufon Ogbogbodirin became the third Ooni of Ife after the death of his father, while Oranmiyan was on sojourn in Oyo.
(4) After a prolonged war adventure, that took Oranmiyan to Benin, Oyo and other parts of the North East, Oranmiyan returned to Ile-Ife. He was welcomed to Ife as the Akinlogun (war hero).
Ooni Obalufon Alaiyemore was driven into exile and went to found the town of Efon Alaiye. Oranmiyan was placed on the throne of his father Oduduwa as the forth Ooni and the Lord of the Royal palace of Ife