The Short History of Ira

The founder of Ira was Laage, who happened to be the first Onira. Laage was a hunter who came from Oyo to hunt in the surroundings of Fere. He and his people were at Fere for a long time. It was the need to move closer to Oya’s grove that made them found the present site of Ira. It was never told that there was a settlement there before. After Laage Lariekan, Oluagbe, Olurogba, Dibuloye, Labimtan, Abioye, kolawolu, Erewole, Oyekanmi, Oyafioye, Oyesanya, Oyeniyi, Oyenike, Oyebanji, Oduoye, Oyesoji, Oyelola, Moronfoye and Oba AbdulWahab Oyetoro{The present Onira of Ira} Oyamakinde popular called “Oya”, after the death of her husband Alafin Itiolu Atanda Opo popularly called Sango Olukoso had to come to Ira where she entered the ground at a place called Igbo-Oya which is existing up till today. Oya was defied by her people at Ira and Sango’s friends and aids for her loyalty to Sango. A shrine was built for her at Igbo-Oya {Oya’s grove} where people from far and near worshipped her every year. The advent of Christianity and Islam has led to the end of Oya worship at Ira. History told us that Laage also disappeared into the ground just like Oya. The site where he entered the ground is at a place in Obada’s compound, Ira.

Oriki Ira
Ira, Laaru Osin, Onira Laage, Iloko Omo Arelu,
Ma relu mi mo, Ori Olori ni k Oya o maa wa kiri Lagbedajo,
Omo Afaja wusi oku ni popo Ira,Omo lele bi otutu
Gingingin loye mu ni le baba won.
Ki iwo yala,kemi yala kere pade L’ajogbori
Ajogborini mi , mi o jo gba eko ototo eyan ni mojo
Gba loro kekere Iloko, oti mu da o die le kekere Iloko,
O ti muda Odi ero Iloko timuda odi iberu eru omo ajoba,
Lo lele agba Iloko nawo nase sile oni ori laabe ni abe se ni Iloko oro
Arelu eyo omo abatabutu oju Okun Olere, Ehin okun ose tu ni kengbe,
Abata butu oju omi kohu koriko .



Itan ilu Eko(Lagos): the Ife and Benin divergence

Written in 1914 by Omo-oba John B Losi
Headmaster of St. John Evangelist school.

‘Before relating the history of Lagos, we must at the outset draw attention to the first settlers in the neighborhood of lagos of those descendants we shall give full detail. The first man that built Iseri and settled there in 1699 was a hunter named OGUN-FUNMI-NIRE – (the deity of Iron has given me success).

He was of royal family of ILE-IFE, and had a favourite wife named OLOMU. ‘It would be very intresting to know how he came there. As a hunter, he used to come from ILE-IFE to hunt in a great desert, known as the town of Iseri to the present day; He would come there and spend a few months before returning to his home ILE-IFE, with the game killed, and he continued to live thus for many years.

After a time, many other hunters from the neighbouring towns came and joined him in his hunting expedition in the same forest. a few years later he and his party rebuilt their huts into houses, and each of them brought his people. Not long after the neighbouring people heard the news of this new town, and they came to dwell with them there. ‘Thereupon, OGUNFUNMINIRE was given the official title of the OLOFIN-AWOGUN- JOYE.

In this way a part of the settlers there spread from; Iseri to Iro, Ado, Irenpa, Ojo, Ota and so on,
towards the west; another part followed the downward course of the river hill till they arrived at the mainlands like Agboyi, Ogudu, Ojuwoye and Ebute-Metta, where they built towns and settled till about the year 1794. 1794 was the year when the fierce inter-tribal war called OGUN-AJAKAIYE –
‘a wide world war’ occurred and it destroyed many Yoruba towns. Fearing for their safety the inhabitants of Ebute-Metta broke up their town, and removed to IDDO Island, and OTO.
After a time they built another small town ‘IJORA’ on the south-west part of IDDO Island. It was not very long after they moved to IDDO that the FIRST INVASION FROM BENIN TOOK PLACE;
The inhabitants were fortunate that at this crisis their Olofin or ruler was a man of great courage and strong character, and under his leadership the King of Benin’s soldier were repulsed. Subsequent attacks met with no better success, and the Olofin gained in fame and influence.
He is reputed to have had thirty-two sons – 32 sons, and one-half of these, he made headmen, or petty chiefs; for they could not, if the one expected who succeeded his father, have deserved a higher title, considering how very circumscribed their territorial possessions were. Of the other sons, one succeeded his father as OLOTO of Iddo. The tittle of Olofin falling into abeyance, probably because of the distinguished character of the Olofin and the high regard entertained for him after his death; Four others were made chiefs of portions of the neighbouring mainland, and the Island of Lagos was divided among the remaining ten sons. The custom of the Lagos chiefs to wear ‘white caps’ came originally from IDDO, and was introduced by the ten of the Olofin, whose successors wear similar caps. In addition to the territotial chiefs who wore the ‘white cap’ in token of their position as landowners, there were certain court functionaries, appointed by king, who also received permission to wear this distinguishing head-dress. The two classes of chiefs were however, quite distinct. Some little time after the Olofin’s death there began the peaceful penetration into Lagos of settlers from Benin.


This is the Bini version

The Origin of Eko (Lagos)

There is a lot of traditional history at both Benin and Lagos ends relating to the origin of what is now Lagos, its ruler and it’s connection with Benin. But perhaps to avoid inadequacies and controversy which the academics claim surrounds traditional history, we may like to hear what some modern historians have to say on this subject. Robert S. Smith, in his book of some principal Yoruba owns, especially in and around Oyo, and the westward expansion in the 17th century of Benin Kingdom with it’s number of subject towns on or near to the coast, which included Lagos, went on to say this about Lagos in particular:

“It’s name reflect it’s past to the Yoruba it’s Eko, deriving probably from the farm (Oko) of the earliest settlers, though alternatively-or additionally-it may be the Benin word (Eko) for a war-camp…We say Eko is a Benin word that means camp”

After describing the activities of the armies of Benin under Oba Orhogbua, culminating in his arrival at what is now Lagos, Smith went on to add:

“Sometime later the Oba appointed a ruler for Lagos to represent the interest of Benin and to forward tribute there. The man chosen is named in both Lagos and Benin Tradition as Ashipa”

Smith says that by Lagos account this Ashipa was an Isheri Chief, while the Benin account says Ashipa was a grandson of the Oba of Benin. We shall come to this later. Smith was, however, satisfied that Benin had established it’s ascendency in Lagos and had founded a dynasty there at some period before 1700.The dyansty’s dependence on Benin, Smith found, was emphasized by the appointment of another Chief, the Eletu Odibo, who alone had the right to crown the Oba and who in early times probably maintained close connection with Benin,.(Eletu Odibo is a corruption of the Edo equivalent Olotu Odibo)

“G.T. Stride and C. Ifeka, in their book titled Peoples and empires pf West Africa have this to say on the same subject:

Oba Orhogbua was clearly a strong warrior for he enforced tribute payments from all parts of the empire and in the middle 1550s conquered all the coastal lands up to Lagos where he left a permanent garrison. Tradition in Lagos says that their first Oba, the Eleko of Eko, was a son of the Oba Orhogbua of Benin”

It will be seen, therefore, that even if we were to disregard traditional history there is enough material from modern historians to confirm the fact that what is now Lagos was founded by an Oba of Benin who also gave it it’s first ruler. But we really cannot disregard traditional history. In Benin tradition, and we believe the same of Yoruba and other ethnic groups in this country, one way to establish that an event in traditional history did occur is by the type of anecdote or adage that evolves from that event . Thus, for instance, We Edo people say that “Orhogbua gb’Olague,ona y’ukpe abekpen z’umwen rie Edo, meaning that Oba Orhogbua defeated Olague and used sword to bring his salt to Benin, This is in allusion of to the exploits of Oba Orhogbua while in his camp (Eko) from where he over-ran the place known as Mahin with it’s ruler whom the Benin People nicknamed Olague. There Orhogbua discovered the common rock salt and brought it to Benin who thereby tasted it for the first time.

Now the name “Ashipa has featured quite prominently (and rightly too) in the history of Lagos. After the Oba Orhogbua returned to Benin from Eko, he appointed a commander or an administrator, who was called Aisikpa to look after the skeleton troop left in the camp(Eko) until he returned again from Benin. He could no longer return having seen the situation at home. The name “Aisikpahienvoborre” which means “people do not desert their home-land. “This is how Aisikpa, whom the Yoruba now call Ashipa, came into the Lagos (Eko) history. Eko is still there as the traditional Benin name for Lagos; Ashipa has been retained as a senior traditional chieftaincy title while his descendants now retain the modern name of Oba of Lagos. The interaction of Edo people with others in distant lands must have inevitably resulted in cultural exchanges.

Excerpts From a Lecture on the Evolution of Traditional
rulership in Nigeria given under the auspices of the University of
Ibadan, Institute of African studies on 11th September,1984 by Omo
N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa.

Oriki Ibadan

.Ibadan, where Oluyole was born The third largest city in
Africa Known for its ancient civilization As peaceful as anyone
could describe As quiet as the people would like it I think of
Ibadan, I think of tranquillity in a city I think of Ibadan, I
think of country life and city life same time Ibadan, the city of
great warriors, Ibadan, the town of Ogunmola, Ibikunle, Ajayi and
Ojo I remember the legendary Efunsetan The kind woman whom by
nature’s occurrence turned wicked A true mother, rich in every way
A woman with the confidence of a man But the loss of her only
daughter turned the tide in her history of good deeds Ibadan, the
home of Latoosa Hmn, “Are Latoosa” “Are Ona Kakanfo” The great
field mashal Who travail in the face of war. Latoosa, the great
warrior, valiant in battle and astute in leadership Can the history
of the Kiriji war be complete without Latoosa? Ija ‘gboro ni’ja
Ibadan! Ibadan that glories in the victories and losses of her
valiant ones Ibadan that learns from the misdeeds of her elders Bee
ba gbo iku Gaa, ki e dawo ibi duro (If you know the end of Gaa, you
will desist from evil) Ibadan that stands against that which is
bad. Ibadan, with the unique language Do I hear someone say
“shiken” for Chicken? “Shair,” in the place of Chair, “Sow” for
Show They never meant to bastardize another man’s language They are
simply being the Ibadan that they are. Adugbo bee re bee, Ibadan
bee ree bee (Large land area, many compound houses makes Ibadan)
From Agodi to Dugbe; Beere to Beyeruka; Mapo down to Gate; Oke Are,
Oke Paadi Ososami, Oke Ado, Orita-merin, Orita mefa Ogunpa Oyo,
Yemetu Aladorin, Challenge Molete, Oluyole, Bodija, Ashi, Basorun,
Eleyele, Apata-Ganga, Omi-adio, Bako, Bakatari Owode, Orisunbare,
Aleshiloye, Odo-Ona Ibadan, the town for all Ibadan to gb’ole, to
gb’ole (Ibadan where both thieves and the lazy dwell safely) Ibi
ole ti n gbe jare ol’oun (Where the thief is favoured against the
owner) Ibadan mesi ogo! Ebaami ki oke Ibadan o (I salute the Ibadan
hill) The hiding place of warriors The deliverer of the warrior of
old No wonder they worship you as a deity Even as you breed other
hills Oke Are, Oke mapo, Oke Mokola, Olorunkole, Bako… Ibadan,
where civilization crawled in. The premiere university -University
of Ibadan The first television station in Africa- NTA Ibadan The
first sky-scrapper- Cocoa House Eba odan (Where bats dwell), the
home of innovation. Ibadan, ile Aje (Ibadan the home of
merchandise) I think of Ojoo market, where the fruits are at a
giveaway price Hmn, Ogunpa Oyo, where fashion is called home
Agbeni, the place for provisions Aleshinloye, the market for the
upper class Dugbe, indeed the centre of merchandise I choose not to
offend the traders at Bodija market Bola Ige International market
(Gbagi titun) Omi- Adio market, orita-merin, Beere, Akilapa Ibadan,
yes I call you again, IBADAN. Will these lines ever be complete
without my ever great Alma Mata? Queen’s School Apata Ibadan Indeed
the school of charming girls Do I hear some ladies respond to the
Blue and White! Call Hmn, Up QSI!! How can I ever leave out our
kings? The GCI boys, I salute o The Alma Mata of the living legend,
the WS of our time Many more to the land of Ibadan The Ibadan
Grammar school, the Loyola College The st Anne’s’ College, St
Theresa’s College, Our Lady of the Apostle, Fatima, Ibadan Boys’
High School, Wesley College of Science, These are ever green names.
Ibadan, ar’egun yangan (Ibadan the home of masquerades) The town
where masquerades are highly esteemed Ologbojo, ar’egun yangan
(Ologbojo, that rejoices in masquerades) To the front of the
Ologbojo, I see the masquerade’s calabash To the left of Ologbojo,
I see the many masquerades To the right of Ologbojo, I see many
masquerades Behind Ologbojo, I see many masquerades Lole b’egun
sere o Lole b’egun sere A f’omo a bi loje Lo le b’egun sere (Only
the child born in the Oje’s compound can play with masquerades)
Ibadan, the home of politics Ibadan will never forget the man at
Molete The confusing personae Some call him the kind hearted Others
call him the cruel The great politician cum area boy that controls
ruler The man with the governor’s portfolio Ibadan, that gives
equal opportunity to all Just show the will, Ibadan is behind you
Ibadan that dislikes cheating and lies Ibadan, omo ajoro sun
Ibadan, where the corrugated roofing sheets sings ancient
civilization Where the unplanned terrain says, your great- grand
parents lived or passed here Ibadan where the town head is more
popular than some chieftain Ibadan, we can only be proud of our
IBADAN. -Gbemi Orims.



Egungun is part of the Yoruba pantheon of divinities. The Yoruba religious system is sometimes referred to as the ‘Yoruba Religion’ or simply ‘Orisa Worship’.

In the tradition of Orisa and ancestor worship, the Egungun represents the “collective spirit” of the ancestors. Ancestor worship or reverence is everywhere in traditional Africa and Egungun is part of this worship.

Ancestors assure a place for the dead among the living. It is their responsibility to compel the living to uphold the ethical standards of past generations. Egungun is celebrated in festivals (Odun Egungun) and family ritual through the masquerade or custom. In family situations a family elder or Alagba presides over ancestral rites and may or may not be initiated into the local Egungun society.

But in community settings, Egungun priests and initiates that are trained in ancestral communication, ancestral elevation work and funeral rites are placed in charge of invoking and bringing out the ancestors. Elaborate costumes adorn the Egungun masqueraders (dancers) and through drumming and dance, these dancers become possessed with the spirits of the ancestors.

The Egungun then spiritually cleanse the community and through exaggerated acting/miming demonstrate both ethical and amoral behavior that occurred since their last visit, exposing the strengths and weaknesses of a community with hopes of encouraging behavior more befitting of their descendants.

Once this occurs, messages, warnings and blessings are doled out to spectators. Some important Egungun include Oloolu, Alapansanpa, both of Ibadan land, Alamudu and Aladoko in Akure, Egemurege in Ado Ekiti, Omormo in Akokoland, Gbegbe in Iragbiji, Elewe of the Ìgbómìnà Yoruba sub-ethnics, which is common in the towns of Òkè-Ìlá Òràngún, Ìlá Òràngún, and Arandun




ODU EJI OGBE – The chant

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee nsowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Adifa fun okankan lenirunwo Irunmole – Divinated for 401 + 1 Orisa
Nigbati won ntode orun bo wa si ode aiye
When they were to descend from heaven into the world

Ori lo koko da Orunmila si Oke-Igeti -Ori first created Orunmila in Igeti-Hills

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu -Orisa do not le me labor in vain

Ori lo da Osun sode igede – Ori created Osun in igede town

Ori koo da mi ‘re -Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu -Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Obatala sode Ifon -Ori created Obatala in Ifon town

Ori koo da mi ‘re -Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee sowo asenu -Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da awon Iyami Aje sode Ota -Ori created the Iyami Aje in Ota town

Ori koo da mi ‘re -Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Sango sode Koso -Ori lo da Sango in Koso town

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu -Orisa do not le me labor in vain

Ori lo da Oya si ile Ira -Ori create Oya in Ira town

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu -Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Ogun si ilu Ire – Ori create Ogun in Ire town

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Esu si Ketu – Ori create Esu in Ketu Town

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Orisa Oko si Irawo-Agba – Ori created Orisa Oko in Irawo-Agba

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain

Ori lo da Eegun si ile Oje – Ori created Eegun in Oje town

Ori koo da mi ‘re – Ori bless me abundantly
Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu – Orisa do not let me labor in vain


Ire O
Apetebi Yeye Olomitutu of Osogboland



Egungun in Yorubaland

Egungun is a deity with a colourful dress , it is one of the greatest divinities in the land of Yoruba. Among oral traditions, there are lot of stories about EGUNGUN cult and how it sprouted up among Yoruba race

IFA told us about a man called KUJENRA who turned the cloth of ORO to EGUNGUN, which attract people’s adoration of this said cloth and consequently led to the object of worship. While other myths made us to know that EGUNGUN and ORO are brothers. The myth went further that both ORO and EGUNGUN were good merchants . They took their trade to neighbouring cities. ORO was a spendthrift, squanderer and a compulsive shopper. He had no reserve, while EGUNGUN was found of pleasing himself with various cloths and meticulously dressing himself to taste.

When it was a time to go back to their town, EGUNGUN put on beautiful, elegant and flamboyant dresses while ORO could not have a good wear on his body because he was a wastrel. This brought shame, dishonour and indignity to him. In disgrace, he was forced to enter into forest very close to their city, while his brother EGUNGUN entered the city with exotic and ostentatious dresses that befitted the glory of OLODUMARE and his statues as a revered deity. ORO, lived in the forest nearby but designed a means to intimidate people in the market place whenever he wanted to buy food with his strange noise of ‘’NO MU UN , NO MU UN’’. This unusual attitude was to bully and frighten the people in the market to run and leave their goods behind.

When people ran helter-skelter for their lives, ORO would seize the opportunity to take all what he wanted and the food to support his continued stay in the forest. That was how ORO became a fearful being that eventually turned to a deity, worshipped by men, while his brother EGUNGUN also become an attractive deity among Yoruba and the cult later spread to the other part of the world.

Egungun festival is part of the Yoruba religious system sometimes referred to as “orisa”. Egungun is celebrated in festivals and the rituals through the custom of masquerade. An elder from the egungun family called “Alagbaa” sometimes presides over the ancestral rites, but egungun priests are the ones in charge of invoking the spirit of the ancestors and bringing them out. The invocation is done when the egungun worshippers dance, drum and get possessed by the ancestral spirits when they beat everybody they see with their Whips. They believe using the Whip against people could help cleanse the community from pestilence. After this, the egungun priest advice, warn and pray for their spectators and people in return give them money.

Egungun is otherwise known as the masked ancestors of the Yoruba people which assures that the dead still dwell among the living. The chief priest of egungun that does invoke the spirit of the ancestors is called “Alapini”. The festival is celebrated annually in the Yoruba land in almost all the towns and cities and this has tremendously contributed positively to the Nigerian economy through tourism and it has also helped to foster unity among indigenous people.

Egungun masks are also performed during specific funeral rites, marking the death of important personalities. The festival is common among the” Egbas, Egbado, Oyo, and other parts of the south west. This is usually carried out between November to April, when there is no rain with the belief that their ancestors should not have to suffer in the rain.



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