THE FOUNDING OF ÌJÈBÚ-JÈSÀ

The First Historical Account

On their return, they found that all their other brothers had left Ile-Ife to found and establish their different kingdoms. Ajibogun and Agigiri followed suit. They were accompanied by a large entourage including fifty specially selected people. Historians are divided on the routes taken. One of such routes described took them from Oniyangi in Ile-Ife, through many places like Ita Ijero, lle-Ido, Igbadae, Igbo Owaluse or Egan Abiri on Iwara Road. After many years they came to Ibokun.

Other historians gave a scanty account of their route. They wrote that the two brothers departed Ile-Ife with their beaded crown together to found their own kingdoms. They separated at a point near Ilowa. Ajibogun and his entourage passed through Ipole and finally settled in Ilesha while Agigiri and his entourage journeyed and finally settled in Ijebu-Jesa.

After the arrival of Owa Ajibogun and Agigiri at Ibokun, Ajibogun advised his brother to leave Ibokun to found his own settlement over which he would reign. Another reason for Ajibogun’s advice was to avoid the two of them being captured together during the prevalent inter-tribal wars. Both brothers then shared the properties, the entourage and the fifty specially selected people brought from Ile-Ife. Thirty were for Owa Ajibogun while twenty were for Agigiri. These twenty followed Agigiri to Ijebu-Jesa. It was this situation that led to the popular saying in Ijeshaland:

Ti Ilesha Ogbon (30) ti Ijebu ogun (20)
Ogun (20) ko gbodo ra mo ogbon (30) lara.

This means, in all equations when the chips are down to fifty, that of Ilesha must be thirty and that of Ijebu must be twenty. You cannot and dare not rubbish 20. That is the custom, that is the tradition.

Agigiri with his entourage journeyed from Ibokun and final came to a point and settled under the shade of a large tree with big shady leaves (ewe ti 0 gboro). This tree was later called ‘Iroko Oja’. He named the settlement Egboro. Other historians claimed he named the settlement Ijebu in reference to the role played by Agigiri and Ajibogun in fetching sea water for the restoration of their father’s sight: ‘A jo lo bu omi okun, Ajo’bu. Through long time usage, coinage and’ twisting of tongues, the words later came to be known a called Ijebu. Because Ijebu lies within Ijeshaland, it came to known as Ijebu-Jesa.

The Second Historical Account

Another source claimed that Ijebu-Jesa was established by a hunter who was driven away from his former settlement by inter-tribal wars. On arrival at Ijebu-Jesa he pitched his tent by the foot of the popular ‘Iroko Oja’. To prevent warriors from coming to capture him and his people, he made a very powerful medicine or ‘juju’ which he buried in each of the routes entering the settlement. When eventually warriors came to attack and capture the settlement, the medicine or juju would work on the invaders. Their legs would swell, burst and start to bleed. In Ijesha dialect, this is ‘ije bu lese won’, i.e. blood gushed out of the invaders’ legs. It is from this ‘lje bu’ that Ijebu was coined.

The invaders, faced with the problem of blood gushing out of their legs became powerless and could not over-run the settlement. To find solution to their problems, they turned towards another village north-east of Ijebu. When they got there, the blood stopped. The village then, now a town, was called ‘Eje da’, i.e. the blood stopped. It is from this that we have till today the town of ‘Ijeda’. From Ijeda, the invaders, went to another place called ‘Iwoye’ west of Ijebu-Jesa, It was here that their sores were healed.

Comments on this Account

The existence of Ijeda and Iwoye to this day tends to lend some credence to this account of the establishment of Ijebu-Jesa. However, the account does not enjoy any support for two major reasons. It failed to recognise the historically established close relationship between Owa of Ijeshaland and the Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. Secondly, the account is attempting to write or rewrite the history of other surrounding towns which may create disagreement or hostility of some of our neighbours. Ijebu-Jesa is a friend of her neighbours.

The Third Historical Account

This account claimed that Ijebu-Jesa was established by the eldest son of the oba of Ijebu-Ode, Obanita. The source claimed that when Ajibogun and Agigiri went for the sea-water to cure their father’s blindness, the sea-water was collected from the spot where Obanita of ljebu-Ode worshipped the sea annually.  After the death of Obanita, Ogboni, his son, was not allowed to succeed his father. The Ogboni, the son of late Obanita had to leave Ijebu-Ode in annoyance. He came to Owa Obokun who was a friend of his father to complain. Owa Obokun, after listening, gave him a piece of land to settle and head. This settlement grew to become Ijebu-Jesa. It was argued that because Ogboni, the settler came from Ijebuland, he gave the settlement ‘Ijebu-Jesa’, i.e. Ijebu ti Ijesha to differentiate the Ijebu from that of Ijebu-Ode.

In his own history book, Osungboungbe confirmed Ijesa Isu and Ijesa Ijebu in Ijebuland where many names and features of Ijesha people exist till today.

Comment

This account is not credible and cannot stand the test of time as it failed to recognise the historically established close relationship between Owa of Ijeshaland and the Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. Further, the Ijesha names and features in Ijesa isu and Ijesa Ijebu could be due to the migration of aggressive Ijesha traders (‘osomalos’) into Ijebuland as it is in many other places in Nigeria and other West African countries. Further, the use of the name Ogboni for the Oba of Ijebu-Jesa was not as a result of Obanita’s son giving his name to the ruler of Ijebu-Jesa. The name Ogboni was first used by Owa Obokun Owari to refer to the Agba’ Ijesha. The Ogbonis are Agba Ijesha.

Conclusion

In conclusion, of the three historical accounts on the establishment of Ijebu-Jesa, It is the Ajibogun-Agigiri account and their separation at Ibokun that have become the most credible and accepted version.

Source:
50 Years of Ijebu-Jesa Social Club (IJSC) in IJebu-Jesa History.
A 50th Anniversary Publication of IJSC
Edited By: Professor Akin 'Femi Fajola & Dele Ogunyemi
First Published 2005