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The history of a nation or community revolves around the deeds and exploits of its leaders. This truism becomes more particularly exciting within the context of Ijebu–Jesa, a geo-political landmass in Osun State, blessed with remarkable leaders of heroic exploit, colour, valour and soldiery.
Situated eight kilometers north of Ilesha, and about 32 kilometers North-East of Oshogbo, the capital of Osun state, this progressive town of chronological antiquity was founded about the beginning of the 12th century by Oba Agigiri, who reigned as the first monarch of the town.
Agigiri and his younger brother, Owa Ajibogun, were the two among the Olofin’s children, who went to sea to collect sea water, to heal the blindness of their father.
Prior to their departure from Ile-Ife, Oodua bestowed on the Owa Obokun, a sword of conquest (Ida Isegun), and a bigger crown, as the original procurer of the sea water; he also gave Agigiri a calabash of mysterious pot pourri of diverse magical objects, Igba Ase so that when he curses or blesses, his utterances as the case maybe, are attended with immediate efficacy.
The two princes waded through the vast stretch of land as they fought their way through, conquering and subduing the early settlers, and leaving trusted generals in place to manage their conquests.
They later arrived at Ilemure, now Ibokun, in present day Obokun local government area, where Agigiri subsequently left Ajibogun with thirty of the men, while he took along the remaining twenty, as his supporting aides for the journey of adventure to carve an exclusive sphere of authority.
In the course of his adventure, he settled variously at Edidu, Inila and many other places, where he established effective rulership, before finally arriving at Ijebu–Ijesa, where they eventually settled under an Iroko tree.
Agigiri, who lived for a considerable span of 183 years, begot Ariyanlola.
Ariyanlola begot Edun -Ide, while Edun-Ide begot four children which eventually became the progenitor of the four ruling houses of Ijebu-Jesa.
They include:
  • Ida- Ekun, where the Oba Atobatele ruling house derives its ancestry;
  • Ayapaki Ekun of the Ajifolokun;
  • Libaiyo of the Lagunna and
  • Akoku of the Ogbaruku
Over the years, Obas’ who emerged from the re-christened Atobatele ruling house include; Ida-Ekun, Asaogunbe, and Erinfowojura, who begot Atobatele.
Oba Atobatele ruled between 1898 and 1910.
His epoch turned out to be one of the most memorable in the annals of Ijebu-Jesa history. A fact which essentially rekindles the memory of this unique monarch, whose centenary coincides with the year 2010.
An affable man of pleasant personality; the trajectory of his eventful life, was such that poignantly illustrated him as a distinguished man of destiny. He exuded a remarkable charm, charisma, and considerable material affluence, which made him not only notable and popular, but also influential in the economic political and social circuit of Ijesha land.
Such was the flamboyant pomp and pageantry of the enigmatic prince, who at that time, was eminently marked out a satorial elegance and the white horse which he rode in the prophetic majesty of a king which earned him popular reverence and adulation, where ever he went.
Also notable was his large harem of wives numbering a staggeringly huge sum of twenty-eight, with all of them giving birth to male children, except one who made a special plea to the gods for a daughter.
It was undoubtedly for this manifest air of regal pomp and majesty that this prince of destiny christened himself, Atobatele – meaning he had the stature of a king even before enthronement.
This appellation born out of sense of grandeur and immensity changed the primordial dynastic title from Erinfowojura, [his father’s name] to Atobatele.
It was also most probably for this, trappings of regal paraphernalia, that the then reigning Owa of Ijeshaland, often referred to him as a prince to watch; and of course it goes without saying, that the Owa was actually echoing the general perception of the people, who discerned in the prince, the manifest aura of a king in the making; and as it turned out, his reign witnessed a remarkable peace and prosperity.
Oba Atobatele in the later part of his reign predicted an astronomical growth for the town in all facet of endeavours.
It need be noted, that this family stands out as the custodian and repository of the history and culture of the town. Celebrated among them, was Pa Jeremiah Atobatele, alias Baba Elesin or Jeri Ogboni – who lived for 120 years.
Shortly after his demise, succeeding generations had embarked on a deliberate distortion of history. But this is a story for another day.
What is more is that the ruling house keeps waxing stronger in terms of the successes recorded by individual members of the family in their various spheres of endeavours.
As we remember the golden centenary of the moment, the Atobateles’, drawing worthy inspiration from the examplenary life of this unique forbear of the family, are poised to take up the gauntlet to keep the family torch aloft and dedicate their efforts to espouse the patriotic values for which he lived and died to the glory of motherland – Ijebu-Jesa, and Nigeria at large.
25th December 2010
31 Oke-Oja, Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State