INTRODUCTION AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Ogun State is a state in South-western Nigeria. Abeokuta is the capital and largest city in the state. Other cities and towns in the Ogun State are Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Ijebu Igbo, Ilaro Ayetoro and Ota. Ogun State is made up of six ethnic groups viz, the Egba, the Ijebu, the Remo, the Egbado, the Awori and the Egun. The language of the majority of the people of Ogun State is Yoruba but this is however broken into scores of dialects.
The Ijebus in the state were the first Yoruba speaking people to have contact with the Europeans in the early 14th century. They were the first Yoruba to have invented money made from cowry shells called “OWO EYO”, which was accepted throughout the kingdoms of Yoruba land until the arrival of the Europeans. This was replaced by legal tender coins called “PANDORA” made from silver materials, which was accepted throughout Africa and Europe. These coins were popularly known as “OWO IJEBU” in Yoruba language.
Their major food crops include rice, maize, cassava, yam and banana. Their main cash crops include cocoa, kolanut, rubber, palm oil and palm kernels. Ogun State is one of the largest producers of kolanut in the country. It also produces timber and rubber on a large scale. About 20% of its total area is constituted of forest reserve suitable for livestock.
Here we will be considering Ijebu-Ode. The name “Ijebu-Ode”, according to history, is a combination of the names of two persons namely, AJEBU and OLODE who were conspicuous as leaders of the original settlers and founders of the town. Ijebu-ode is located in Ogun State, southwestern part of Nigeria. As one of Nigeria’s most ancient cities, the largest city inhabited by the Ijebus, a sub-group of the Yoruba ethnic group who speak the Ijebu dialect of Yoruba, it is historically and culturally the headquarters of Ijebuland. The ruler of Ijebu Kingdom, Oba S.K Sikiru Kayode Adetona is known as the Awujale of Ijebuland resides in Ijebu Ode.
Modern Ijebu-Ode is a major collecting station for kola nuts, which are purchased for trucking to the northern states. Ijebu-Ode also serves as a collection point for cocoa and palm oil and kernels, which are exported from Lagos. The town’s industry includes a printing and public shing firm. Its artisans are known for their handiwork in iron. Local trade is primarily in yams, cassava (manioc), corn (maize), palm produce, and oranges; and rubber and timber have become important commercial products of the area.
FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS
There are two (2) significant festivals in Ogun State specifically in Ijebu ode. The first is the “AGEMO” festivals. Agemo is the unity of Ijebus. There are 16 Agemos in various part of Ijebu. They come out every July and they all meet at Ijebu-Ode before moving to Imodi Mosan, where the Agemo Festival takes place. Agemo is a fetish mat-dancer. Women are forbidden from seeing the Agemo on their way to Ijebu-Ode. A public announcement is made on radio and television to inform everyone the exact time Agemo will be moving.
The second is the “OJUDE OBA” festivals. The Ojude Oba festival of Ijebu-Ode is usually held two days after the Ileya festival. It is a festival whose main purpose is for the people of Ijebu to come together as one to honor their king and is regarded as one of the biggest in West Africa. The Festival known as the Ojude Oba is held in Ijebu-Ode every year, usually on the third day of Eid-El-Kabir or Ileya as the Yoruba people call it.
All Ijebu people are expected to come home for the festival, kill a ram even if they are no longer Muslims and attend the Ojude Oba to dance with their age grade before the Awujale. Ijebu people are noted for their love of display and this festival allows the various groups to show off their wealth and prosperity.
BIRIKISU SUNGBO SHRINE, OKE – ERI.
Birikisu Sungbo Shrine is a popular tourist centre in Ogun State located at Oke-Eri village. At present, the shrine has become a monument of religious curiosity as Muslims from all over the country and beyond converges there for prayers during their festivals. This is because of the belief that whoever visits the shrine and asks for anything in sober reflection will achieve such desires.
In her lifetime, Birikisu, who was resident at Oke-Eri, was described as a devoted religionist. She was regarded as the Biblical Queen of Sheeba, an Arab woman who in her old age returned to Oke-Eri. She was credited with the possession of supernatural powers e.g. it was claimed that she once dug pits around the village with a needle. But even then, Birikisu still seems to be exuding such powers in her grave. This is because no weed has ever been known to have grown on her burial ground and on the spot where she was washed before being buried.
One striking aspect of the shrine is that only male visitors have access to the real tomb as women are strictly forbidden by tradition. The key to the tomb is kept for security reasons by an old traditional custodian in the village.
Historically, Birikisu was keenly interested in pottery works, hence the women living there are well known in the art.
ADIRE MARKET, ITOKO, ABEOKUTA.
This is a popular market in Abeokuta where batik known as “adire” is made and sold. Various colours, designs are found in the market. At the same time one would be opportune to see how “batik” locally called adire is made and beaten with mallets to make it shine.
Batik is a method of dying fabrics and sometimes paper in which some areas are covered with wax, glues, or specially made products to keep dyes from penetrating the fabric. Typically the wax or other product is laid down in a pattern and then the paint is applied and allowed to dry. The wax is then removed. The area under the wax keeps its original color with an occasional line of color giving it a somewhat crackled look.
It may be said that batik is an art form, this statement pertains to the method of batiking; the ornamentation itself developed as a harmonisation of various influences exerted by other cultures.