Ile-Ife is an ancient town in Osun State, Nigeria, and is widely regarded as the cradle and source of Yoruba people (consisting of about 40million people in total). It is also an ancestral spiritual home to many Yoruba towns; from Oyo to Remo,to Ekiti to Awori in Lagos to Ibadan, an Ile-Ife prince always leave to found his own town, either by Royal leadership tussle or oracle guide to fulfill destiny.
But how well do you know the Ife people beyond the seemingly things you hear and must have read?
Well follow me to see few things peculiar to the source and native home of the Yoruba race.
- What Religion is mostly practiced in Ile-Ife?
Ife people are still one of the few custodians of traditional religion and cultural practices than you may found anywhere else in Nigeria, especially in Yoruba towns. There are reported history passed down that virtually every households are custodian of one festival or the other which are mostly in remembrance of powerful heroes and heroines, hence the town of 201 gods.
Notable among the old ife people immortalized and turned to annual cultural festival are; Queen Moremi Ajasoro, in Edi Festival, Olojo festival the biggest festival in remembrance of Ogun and prince Oranmiyan. Odun IFA as annual World IFA festival. The world IFA temple is in Ife and all practitioners and believers come from all walks of life to celebrate this festival that comes once in a year. Others are Obatala,Yemoo, Oluorogbo, Oranfe, and many others.
The introduction of new religion however hasn’t but have impact on the beliefs of the Ife people, hence many erstwhile traditional families are new converts found in Islam and Christianity religion. So it’s statistical easy to say that Christianity, Islam and Traditionalist adherents in Ife are in ratio of like 60:30:10 in percentage.
2. What’s Ile-Ife Cultural Practices like?
The Ile-Ife people holds Ooni of Ife (Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II) and other local kings called the (New Dawn Ife Obas) in high esteem, and same for Palace High Chiefs, who are all highly respected. Hence there is a saying that “Ooo’ni ba Wii toba pè awowo a wo” – whoever dares the king often don’t go without severe consequences. Ife king enjoys a traditional praise song and dance called the Òsírîgí dance, where men clamp the local gongs and the women sing beautifully of the king.
Ife people in spite of religion differences still respect the ancient culture and this still reflect in their languages, dressing and beliefs. There is a monthly family meeting in almost all the family compounds called “Ipade Omo Ile”, usually holding at a unified house called ” Àkòdì” built purposely for such gathering. Cultural Leadership starts from the Ooni’s Palace with most compounds having high chiefs representative in palace affairs. Hence, we have the “Otun Ife and Osi Ife” with different cultural responsibilities for guiding the affairs of the town. There is also a class called Emesè as largely known as Ìsòrò (palace emissaries) who are representatives from the five quarters in the town called the Ògbón. These are Iremo quarters, Ilode quarters, Ilare quarters, Okerewe quarters and Moore quarters. This is the easiest way to partition and Identify any Ife person. Leadership titles in compounds ranges from Baaálé (head) to Lóoyin,to Lóogun, and Lorimode (Youths head) et al.
Issues like Marriage disputes, neighborhood crisis, farm clashes and communal skirmishes, and sometimes political affairs are first and easily looked into, at Ife palace through the Ooni in council as native courts , though this is no longer powerful as it was in the past before introduction of customary courts through legal system by civilization and British interference.
Adamo is Ile-Ife best song coupled with Osirigi chanting and gongs. Late Chief Durojaiye Aremu Olomide was Ile-Ife renowned Adamo Singer with many records waxed in eulogies for the town.
3. Ile Ife Anthem
Ile-Ife also have an Anthem loved by many and written by Late Teacher and Riddles cracker, Chief Osuolale Faloyin who put together collections of Ife men and women in heroic prehistoric days as a form of poetry to awake upcoming generations to continue to strive for the town’s betterments.
Ife anthem goes like….
Ile-Ife lo’rirun aye
(Ile-Ife the Source of the world)
Ilu Oodua Baba Yoruba
(The home of Odududuwa, father of Yoruba people)
Edumare to da wa s’ife
(God the Creator of Universe, who created and settled us at Ife)
Ko ma se b’afe je mo wa L’ori
(Don’t destroy this land upon which we dwell)
K’oluwa ko ma ran wa se
(May God continue to help us)
Ife oooye e jigiri
(Wake up and rise to action, all Ifes)
E jigiri, ke GBE Ife ga
(Rise and project the Image of Ife better)
Olori Aye nife Oye
(Ife is the town above all)
Ka Mura lati tesiwaju
(Let’s strive to keep forging ahead)
Oranfe Onile Ina
(Oh Oranfe the god of lightning)
Oduduwa Aweriri jagun
(Oduduwa, the one who fights war seamlessly)
(The 201 gods of our land)
E gbe’fe leke isoro gbogbo
(Help us conquer all adversities)
Ile-Ife bi’ojumo ti n mo wa
(Ile-Ife, the town of the dawn)
Ilu asa o, Ilu esin
(Home of Culture and Religion)
Gbogbo Yoruba E kaa’refe
(Come all, all Yorubas.. Let’s visit Ife)
Ka wa lo wohun adayeba to joju
(Let’s go and see our heritage & monumental sites)
Ile Oo’dua, Ife lo wa
(The house of Oduduwa is in Ife)
Opa Oranmiyan , Ile-Ife ni
(Oranmiyan’s staff is also in Ife)
B’oji Moremi Ile-Ife ni
(What of Queen Moremi Groove?)
Ara e kare’fe Oodaye.
(Oh, let’s go to Ife, the town of the ancient days and times)
4. What profession is common among the Ifes?
Ile-Ife people are predominantly farmers of cash crops mostly cocoa and it’s the main source of income of many natives due to agrarian nature of the land. There is also huge activities of wood felling and processing in what is called timber works, many of which are gotten from local farms and Ife forest reserves, with compliance with the State government of Osun State. Ile-Ife has no less than 50 sawmills and cottage wood processing factories mostly dominated in an area called Ondo-Road, Ile-Ife.
Other notable traditional profession are trading, hunting, blacksmithing, forest guarding, and more.
Beside these, there is also a huge presence of office workers, mostly civil servants that work in government schools as teachers, in the town, bank staff and staff of the University (Obafemi Awolowo University), staff of Government Parastatals like, National Centre for Technology Management (NACTEM), and the teaching hospital OAUTHC, while others work with private institutions & firms like Oduduwa University, Ife Polytechnic, Ife grand Resort, NTA Ile-Ife and of course as broadcasters at the state local station called Orisun FM, and many other private radio stations, like Crown FM and Odua FM.
5. Banks & Markets in Ile-Ife
Banks in Ife: There are virtually almost all major banks at Lagere Ile-Ife, namely Eco Bank in front of Eleyele Junction, FCMB is beside Catholic Church with Stanbic Bank facing the church. Both Polaris Bank & Union Bank are on Aderemi Road, while Zenith Bank is located beside Mr. Bigs Eatery, with First Bank right opposite it. Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank are all at Idi-Omo, all at Lagere Ile-Ife.
UBA & WEMA Banks are on OAU’s Campus.
There are also few microfinance banks like Chrisore Microfinance bank, LAPO Microfinance Bank both at Fajuyi, Olofin community Bank at Oja Ife, OAU Microfinance Bank on Campus etc.
Markets & Business Stores in Ile-Ife
There are two major markets at Ile-Ife namely, Oja tuntun called Odo Ogbe Market and Oja Ife now Ejigbomekun market. With increased business activities, there are now other local markets that welcome buyers and sellers at different days of the week.
Odo Ogbe market is the major market in the town usually marketed every 15days on Wednesday and Thursday weekly while there is also Market days schedule for Otisese Market days of Odo Ogbe that fall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday weekly. Odo Ogbe market is where virtually every item from clothes, foods, animals, and home uses can be purchased any day of the week.
Oja Ejigbomekun is often opened for marketing on Mondays to buy anything you like but on a normal day, you can only buy fresh farm products like vegetable, plantain, yam, food ingredients etc. This is also the same with Ajifowobaje Market Ilode, which is mostly populated by buyers on Saturdays.
Busy day for Itakogun market is on Wednesday while Idita Market Mokuro is every Fridays. There is also Obawara Market, Oke Ogbo.
Popular Supermarkets at Ile-Ife are Ace Supermarket, Mayfair and Imperial Supermarket General, opposite OAUTHC phase II gate.
6. Popular Areas in Ile-Ife and Roads
There are many strategic places in Ile – Ife, and Ife has 9 exit roads namely Ibadan road, Ede road, Ifewara road, Famia Road, Ogudu Road, Mokuro Road, Ondo road, Shasha Road and Ilesha Road.
Ajebamdele/Ibadan Road is the seat of Ife Central Local Government Secretary and Ife High Court, Diganga Hotel, Ife Grand Resort, Ife Steel Rolling Mills, The Polytechnic Ife Permanent Site, Henry Alex Duduyemi College, Misty Gee College, Ife NASFAT Secretariat, Oduduwa FM, are all on Ife – Ibadan Road.
Lagere houses, all the banks, Ife post office branch, Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, School and Church, Catholic Church of Ife, St. Mary & St. Mulumba Schools, NEPA/Power Distribution Company main Office, Winners Chapel Church Ife and Deeper Life Bible Church Ojoyin Ife.
Ede Road is an exit road from OAU Campus, to Ede – Osogbo State Capital. It is populated by Off campus students Hostels from OAU, The Polytechnic Ife and Oduduwa University who also live in places like Mayfair and on Ibadan Road.
Mayfair/Parakin houses the temporary site of The Polytechnic Ife, Hilton Hotels, Mayfair Hotel, and Old Nitel Office.
Eleyele/Parakin area is home of Crown FM Ile-Ife, Olusanu Bookshop, Baptist Church Eleyele Ife, OAU Children’s Hospital Olomowewe Ife, Baptist School Eleyele Parakin, Living Hope Hospital Ife, Ibikunle Lawal College, St. David Gram. School, Aquarium Event Centre, Ife INEC Office etc.
Iremo road and Aderemi roads are hub for sales of Electronics and car spare parts respectively.
Atiba/Enuwa Square is the seat of Ooni of Ife Palace, Ife National Museums, Ife Central Mosque, Ife Magistrate/Customary Court, Ife Post Office and Ife Town Hall.
Ondo Road is another exit road that leads to Ondo State for motorists. On the way you will find places like Opa Oranmiyan Groove Mopa Arubidi Ife, Ife Anglican Gram school, St. Philip Gram. School and St. Peters Gram. School, Omiokun Ife. This is also home of the then Oyo state school of Arts & Science OSCAS Ife now Osun State School of Science Ile-Ife. Ondo road also houses many sawmills and Farm settlements that leads to Olode town.
Ifewara Road/Oke Ogbo houses the Secretariat of Ife East Local Government Oke Ogbo, Osun State Hospital Oke Ogbo, Obawara of Ife Palace, Ooni Girls High School now Ooni Gram. School, Royal Group of School, Nigerian Prison Yard, Police Barack and The Nigerian Navy Communication School.
On Ilesha/OSU Road, the popular places are Ilesha Garage, OAUTHC, Ife Development Board Mokuro Pure water,
Ife Seminary School Opa etc.
Ogudu/Iloro road – Popular places around this area are Bonfor Iloro Market, Ife East Divisional Police Office Agaun, Faith Standard Group of Schools, Ethiopian Gram. School, Ogudu farmland etc.
7. Ile-Ife most love food
Ife people’s most relished food is Pounded yam particularly special type of African breadfruit called “Iyan gbere”.
Their favorite soup is no doubt vegetable soup called Èfó Wòròwó “Solanecio Biafrae”.
Ife people also enjoy taking palm wine to default and are highly local socialites who also enjoy life with many men having at least two to three wives, hence most in the past are highly polygamous, until recently with introduction of new religion, particularly the biggest religion among the people today, Christianity that preaches one man-one wife ideal.
8. Relationship with others & Visitors
Do Ile-Ife people welcome Visitors?
Yes, Ife people are highly hospitable and accommodating and if is not surprising that a good number of strangers from time and history have turned the ancient to home away from home. This kindness have not but come with some painful sacrifices though, especially with modakeke neighbors who were accommodated decades ago into ife lands and farms, following a war that disrupted the old Oyo kingdom, but whose relationship with their landlords have to turned sour over years and even nosedived into a blood bath called war. Today, before an Ife allows a stranger to fully integrate to having access to ancestral heritage, it will take serious thoughts. Once beaten twice shy. But be that as it may, there are lots of migrants in the town making a living there.
9. What’s the population of Ile-Ife today?
Ile-Ife main town today will have not less than 400,000 inhabitants by projection based on population census conducted in 2006 for people living in Ife- Central Local Government and Ife East, almost 14yrs ago. And more than 700,000 when you add the population of Ife Area Office Modakeke, Ife South Local Government Ifetedo and Ife North Local Government Ipetumodu comprising of Origbo towns like Edunabon, Moro, Yakooyo, Ashipa, Ipetumodu and Akinlalu all in Ife Kingdom.
10. Is Ile-Ife home of Arts and Tradition?
Ife is no doubt a home of many ancient artifacts, many of which have been documented through archeological findings on sites. These Include, Ooni’s palace, Opa Oranmiyan groove at Mopa Ile-Ife, Yeemo Groove at Moore Ile-Ife, Esu Ilare Shrine at Ilare, Afewonron Park at Enuwa square, Ori Olokun Park at Mayfair, Ile Oduduwa, at Oduduwa Street, Oke-mogun shrine, Moremi Statue at Okerewe, Aje Shrine Oja Ife area, Orun Obado Shrine at Ilare, Ife museum and many others. Ife museum and Ooni’s palace particularly are two places to get a tour guide to take you around the town to see these artefact and monuments.
11. Ife People & Politics
Ile-Ife by history is the centre and cradle of Yoruba Civilization and there are landmark events that testified to that with history and time.
The Ooni of Ife is the title of the throne bearer of the king of Ife people, and whoever occupies it commands respect from far and near, particularly among Yoruba people who sees an Ooni as a Paramount ruler of class, hence highly revered among Yoruba kings with historic and political footings, going by the antecedents of those who have occupied the thrones.
Oba Adesoji Aderemi Tadenikawo (Atobatele I) the 49th Ooni of Ife (1930 – 1980) is not only a Paramount king but a member of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s political party called the Action Group (A.G) and he became the first African Governor from Western Nigeria in the British Empire and Common Wealth.
Around that time, Late Chief Remilekun Fani Kayode SAN popularly called “Fani Power” who was also a Member of Federal House of Assembly in Lagos, and was one of those who started the championing of Independence in 1958, later became the Deputy Premier in opposition party called NCNC under Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola the premier, while Awolowo was in A.G, all under first republic in the 50’s and 60’s.
Since the return of democracy after many years of military reign, in 1999, Ife sons and daughters have become part of history of Nigerian political landscape.
Few political leaders in Ile-Ife political arena are;
Otunba Iyiola Omisore a former Deputy Governor 1999-2002 and two time Senator at the National Assembly for Osun East Senatorial District.
Sooko Adeleke Adewoyin – Former Deputy Governor 2003.
Alhaji Bashir Awotorebo – Former Minister for Water resources.
Chief Femi Fani Kayode – Former Minister for Aviation and Tourism.
Sen. Babajide Omoworare – Two times Senator at the National Assembly for Osun East Senatorial District.
John Fashogbon, Chief Albert Adeogun, Otunba Mikahil Rotimi Makinde, Taofeek Abimbola Ajilesoro have all represented Ife Federal Constituency at the green Chamber.
Former Local Government Chairmen of Ife Central L.G are: Lt. Col. Faranpojo, Late Prince Adewale Layade, Dr. Rauf Kunle Adeniji, Engr. (Dr) Adetunji Obawole, Dr. Taiwo Olaiya and presently Bar. Bisi Oladosu.
Ife East Local Government has been headed by Late Hon Olorunlambe Oyasope, Engr. Adewusi, Oluomo Gbenga Owolabi and Alhaji Tajudeen Lawal
12. Education in Ile-Ife
Ife town is no doubt an educational hub for learning with more than 100 primary & Secondary schools, with one Technical College, located at Omitoto Layout, on Ifewara road.
For tertiary education, people comes from far and near to experience the serene academic learning environment that the ancient home greeted you with, at one of Nigerian’s most respected and prestigious institute of higher learning, the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife founded in 1962, on a site donated by the then Late Ooni of Ife, Sir Adesoji Aderemi Tadenikawo.
There is also a private Polytechnic and University at Ile-Ife, called the polytechnic Ife and Oduduwa University Ile-Ife, own by Chief Raymond Adedoyin.
There is also OAU School of Nursing, SDA School of Nursing and OAU School of Health Information – a medical monotechnic in the town
13. Medical Care & Hospitals
Ife is also a home to one of the best medical facilities in Nigeria, called the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital OAUTHC which serves as a domestic medical tourist center to the town, with many workers and quality health seeker coming in droves for value addition.
The second biggest hospital in Ile-Ife is Seventh Day Adventist hospital which is also another private tertiary medical facility.
There is also State Hospital at Oke Ogbo under Osun State Hospital Management Board, and many Local Primary Health Care Centres at Yemoo, Omitoto, Fajuyi etc.
Few Private Health Care providers as Hospitals at Ife are Living Hope Hospital Eleyele Ile-Ife, St. Victoria NTA Road, Ile-Ife, Emmanuel Specialist Hospital, Iloromu, Olunife Hospital Road 7, Iyiola Medical Centre, Iloromu, Ultimate Specialist Hospital & Cancer Diagnostic Ilesha Garage Ife, Next Care Medical Diagnostic Centre Ilesha road, Aayan Hospital Mopa etc
No doubt, these two institutions, OAU Campus and the University teaching hospital are the biggest pillars that attract visitors most for education and healthcare, aside Ooni’s Palace which is another tourist attraction for lovers of tradition and history of the race called Yoruba, particularly the place of Ile-Ife in history.
Well, when next you want to come to Osun state, why don’t you drop by at Ife and be treated with royalty and be informed through walks of historical oral traditions.
Let me stop here as I sing, “Ero káre Ile mi ooo, Ero káre Ile mi ooo, eee eeeh, Ile-Ife Oooye, Eeero kare Ile Mi oo”.
© Lateef Eluyemi writes from Ile-Ife.