Erin-Ijesa was founded circa 1140AD by the great Akinla, the first daughter and a princess of Oduduwa, father of the Yorubas, who left Ile-Ife in the 12th century during the tumultuous years that witnessed the dispersal of all heirs and heiresses of Oduduwa.
Erin-Ijesa is about 10 kilometres north of Ilesa, the chief city of the Ijesa, a sub-nationality of the Yoruba and along the Lagos-Ibadan-Ilesa-Akure-Benin express road. Erin-Ijesa can be described as an ancient, sedate and relatively small and sleepy countryside, which has grown in spatial and demographic terms than it used to be during pre-colonial times. It is inhabited by a determined, dynamic and highly educated and progressive people. It shares boundaries with Efon-Alaye in the north, Ipetu-Ijesa in the south, Ipole-Ekiti in the east and Erinmo in the west.
Erin-Ijesa’s population was 2,122 in 1963. This rose to 4,415 in 1991 and 5,037 in 1996. However, in 2006 the inhabitants numbered 8,111. The women to men population ratio is about 60/40%. The town is situated on Latitude 07.56785oN and on Logitude 04.76345o E, which make it to fall within the tropical rain forest-belt of the West African sub-region. Politically, Erin-Ijesa occupies a prominent position in Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State. It constitutes a ward of its own with some adjoining villages, hamlets and settlements amongst which are: Urokin, Igbelajewa, Ayetoro, Awaye, Igun, Seleolowe, Lakinyo, Olorogbo, Owode, Aba-Ibadan, Aba-Ikirun, Aba-Ogbomoso, Aba-Orisunmbare, Afero and Fariogun. Each of these settlements has its own traditional head (Loja) that comes regularly to pay homage to the Akinla of Erin-Ijesa.
Erin-Ijesa is blessed with beautiful landscape with projecting hills within the range of 1,200 to 1,300 feet above sea level. The geographical location of Erin-Ijesa at the foot of Yoruba Hills provides attractive and beautiful scenery looking upwards to the hills, interlocked by rocks and evergreen deciduous forest. It is also interspersed by big trees like ‘Iroko’, ‘Arere’, ‘Oganwo’, etc; which of course provided opportunities for timber business and saw-milling. The area is well-drained by two major rivers, the Oni and the Olumirin. There are, in addition, several streams and brooks many of which are however seasonal. Some of these are Agbaroko, Ogburugburu, Ayinrin, Mojapa, Osun, Onisooro, Asiko, and Ajimoloko. These streams and brooks can be used for fishery ponds. A cliff is formed along the course of the Olumirin river creating a waterfall which is a major tourist attraction for many people all over Nigeria and the world in general. Olumirin waterfalls have placed Erin-Ijesa on a roadmap of development. The waterfall is one of the most important tourist centres in Osun State. The epithet of Osun State “Land of the Living Spring” is derived from the waterfalls at Erin-Ijesa and Osun River grove in Osogbo.
The main stay of the economy of the town is farming. The location is swampy and sloppy, allowing for the cultivation of varieties of crops of which rice is currently very prominent. Erin-Ijesa produces the largest tonnage of rice in Osun State. Yams, maize, beans, plantain as well as cash crops like cocoa, kolanut and timber are also produced in large quantities. Other predominant occupations are rice-milling, cassava milling, welding, local wine brewing, photography, barbing, etc. Erin people are predominantly agrarian and peaceful. They practice ‘aaro’ and ‘ebese’ (a communal and cooperative labour system) as means of assisting one anotherin their land cultivation most especially during the clearing and planting seasons. It is a feature of cohesiveness and communal unionism. In the past, the aaro system was used to offer farming assistance on the basis of brotherhood, in-law, age-grades, and in helping the weak and the sick.
The people in the community are generous and accommodating as various people in Nigeria come here to buy and sell. Erin people can be accommodating to a fault. They are are also liberal but highly principled. This was reflected in the way Christian and Islamic religions have come to be accepted by the people without much conflict. Oba Ayeni, a famous and respected herbalist within his immediate domain and beyond, during his reign led his people to accept modern faiths in spite of their deep-seated beliefs in traditional ways of worship.
There are two government owned primary schools and one government-owned secondary school aside from many private schools (nursery, primarywithin the community. There are modern amenities like electricity, pipe-borne water, telecommunication (MTN, GLO, ZAIN, ETISALAT), maternity centre, post-office, Union Bank, Police Station, shopping complex, Grade C customary court, and 20-bed hospital (awaiting commissioning). There are many place of worship like Christ Anglican Church, Christ Apostolic Church, Redeem Church, Catholic Church, Deeper Life Church, Foursquare Gospel Church, Cherubim & Seraphim, and mosque.
The major market is the Oyigbo-Mekun market, also known as Oodua market, at the centre of the town. This market formerly held every seventeen days but now held every eight days. People come from various towns of Yorubaland to buy and sell various articles such as clothes, mats, beads, etc and farm produce among others. We also have various cooperative society of farmers and traders, such as Obalagbe Farmers Association, Agbelere Farmers Association, Agbejeunseku Farmers Association, Egbe Oniresi Farmers Group, Cocoa Produce Farmers Association, etc. Even though, Erin people practiced farming intensively and extensively, a small percentage of the population engaged in trading and craftwork like mat-weaving, blacksmithing and tailoring.
Erin-Ijesa is blessed with untapped mineral resources like feldspar-quartz and granite. Feldspar is used in making glassware while granite is used in construction industry.
As it is not uncommon among the Yorubas, Erin-Ijesa people engaged in various social activities and often with fanfare. These include burial, naming, marriage, chieftaincy ceremonies, etc. Accompanying the ceremonies are native drums and musical instruments, songs and dancing steps show-casing the social aspects of the lives of the people, their age grades and cultural interests. The very common social concepts and instruments of social gatherings since its founding in the 12th century have remained the Ikarakara, Bata, gada, agree, sabarikolo, and a very sacred social festival called “Agbeleku”. Ikarakara is the Akinla’s drum as the head of the community. He dances to this drum in any of the ceremonies he engaged in, which also involves the elders of Erin (Agbaerin). This group comprises the traditional title holders and chiefs. Bata is the drum designed for ceremonies performed by Chief Odofin, a principal figure in the installation of an Akinla. The Bata drum is also beaten for the Eleegbes (warriors).Agada is a drum beaten for hunters; while Agere is the drum designed for middle-aged women for various social and political functions. Sabarikolo is the drum meant for traditional titled-women such as Yeyerisa, Yeyesaba, Yeyesajowa, Yeyesoro, Yeyejemu, etc, led by the Esemue. There are also other drums like Ibembe, Gangan and Ilu-Ijebufor various functions like burial, marriage and naming ceremonies.
BRIEF HISTORY OF AKINLA OF ERIN-IJESA
The great Akinla was the first daughter and a princess of Oduduwa, father of the Yorubas, who left Ile-Ife in the 12th century during the tumultuous years that witnessed the dispersal of all heirs and heiresses of Oduduwa. Oral history has it that the founding of Erin was as a result of a disagreement over the custody of a religious symbol called Iro, a Yoruba goddess of fertility and procreation which was used by Oduduwa to pray for his children. An argument had ensued at Ile-Ife which led to a near-violent disagreement on who was to be the custodian of the religious effigy and emblem, ‘Iro’. This was at a time that Oduduwa, due to old age no longer administered his kingdom physically. During this acrimony, Princess Akinla claimed exclusive right to the custody, being the only daughter and eldest child of Oduduwa. The resultant squabble forced her to depart Ile-Ife with a group of loyalists to a place where she could live in relative calm and serenity. The group first settled at a place called Ugbo-Oja, which can be found today at Iperindo/Odo area in the present day Atakunmosa East Local Government Area of State of Osun. After a short stay at ‘Ugbo-Oja’, they discovered they could not settle there permanently as there was scarcity of water. Hence, they continued the search northwards to find a better place that they could settle and particularly a place that would have easy access to water. After a long period of search they discovered a ceaseless waterfall from the hills that presented an aerie and fearful picture initially to the search group; and they described it as ‘Olumirin or Oluwa miran’, meaning another goddess, because the people marveled at this type of ‘mystery’. They eventually settled there, worshiping it as another goddess apart from Iro. It is believed that the waterfall brings protection, rain, purity of mind and soul, and freedom from diseases. Princess Akinla and her group journeyed for seventeen (17) days through thick forest and mountainous areas from the day they started off in Ile-Ife in search of new settlement to find the new abode of waterfalls called Olumirin. That was why that new place of abode was named “Erin-Itadogun”, that is, the place of the seventeenth day journey, coined from Yoruba words, irin Itadogun (seventeenth day trek). Erin-Itadogun, which is today known as Erin-Ijesa, was founded circa 1140AD.
Akinla and her group continued the worship of Iro, which they regarded as the goddess of fertility and the soul of the Yoruba nation and its fruitfulness, with Lowabisi as the chief priest. Lowabisi worshiped Iro on behalf of Akinla as Oduduwa himself used to worship it at Ile-Ife. This is still being done today on an annual basis with pomp and pageantry in Erin-Ijesa and in certain quarters in Ile-Ife where they worship the Iro without the original symbol (image/effigy) which is now in Erin-Ijesa. There is this myth that when the ‘ijiregeji’ drum is beaten during Iro worship, it is heard in certain quarters at Ile-Ife. The centrality of the Akinla to Iro worship and custodianship further enhanced the mythical significance of Iro’s mystery and authority and perhaps too, the place of Akinla among Yoruba Obas and other children of Oduduwa. Princess Akinla earned the respect and honor from her brothers, all children of Oduduwa, who respectfully referred to her as “Akinla, Yeye Aiye” (i.e. Akinla, mother of the World) as a result of the efficacy, invulnerability and inviolate nature of Iro. No newly elected Akinla of Erin-Ijesa or Owa Obokun of Ijesaland can enter the palace without first undergoing the ‘Iro’ traditional festivities and purification. History had it that any of these two kings who refused to go through the initiations had short reigns of no more than three months.
After Princess Akinla had settled down at Erin-Itadogun (now Erin-Ijesa), she got married to Olule and bore three sons who ruled in succession after the death of Princess Akinla. The first child was Osefiri Agbojukori who inherited the crown brought to Erin-Ijesa from the Royal throne of Oduduwa at Ile-Ife by Princess Akinla, followed by Ogbagbalawo and Iyandereketa in that order. They all wore the crown of their mother, which by pure tradition was inherited directly from Oduduwa, because both male and female children of Oduduwa had the right to wear crowns.
Princess Akinla died at Erin-Ijesa and her tomb is still at “Ereja Square” in Erin-Ijesa today. The exact spot where she was buried is called “Idi Odua” which is one of the important shrines atErin-Ijesa today. I should mention that because of an historical incident of the past which I may not necessarily disclose here, the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland must not see that tomb; and anytime the Owa comes to Erin-Ijesa, he must willy-nilly use a veil to cover his face while passing through that spot so that he might not catch a glimpse of the tomb of his sister, Princess Akinla.
The above narrated history shows that not only is the Akinla of Erin-Ijesa a direct descendant of the Royal throne of Oduduwa at Ile-Ife, but that the Akinla has been a crown wearing Oba from time immemorial. This fact was confirmed in modern times in 1977, when the Akinla’s name was listed as No. 7 along with the Ooni of Ife, amongst several other Obas in the then Oyo State, as beaded crown wearing Obas in the Chiefs Law (Cap 19) The Chiefs (Wearing of Beaded Crown) Order, 1977.
Erin-Ijesa shared boundaries with the territory of the Osemawe (King) of Ondo in the East with River Ohan as the natural frontier. Tradition has it that the Akinla and the Osemawe exchanged annual gifts at this frontier in some kind of ritualistic manner shrouded in secrecy but known to the initiates, to congratulate each other for a successful year of peaceful reign over their subjects. It is on record that Akinla of Erin-Ijesa represented the whole Ijesaland in 1976 before the panel set up by the Federal Government on boundary adjustment because no other Oba in Ijesaland knows better than the Akinla as regards the limits of the territorial boundaries separating the lands of the Ondo from Ijesaland.
Erin-Ijesa’s population was 2,122 in 1963. This rose to 4,415 in 1991 and 5,037 in 1996. However, in 2006 the inhabitants numbered 8,111. The town is situated on Latitude 07.56785oN and on Longitude 04.76345o E. It constitutes a ward of its own with some adjoining villages, hamlets and settlements amongst which are: Urokin, Igbelajewa, Ayetoro, Awaye, Igun, Seleolowe, Lakinyo, Olorogbo, Owode, Aba-Ibadan, Aba-Ikirun, Aba-Ogbomoso, Aba-Orisunmbare, Afero and Fariogun. Each of these settlements has its own traditional head (Loja) that comes regularly to pay homage to the Akinla of Erin-Ijesa.