The ljebus, a major ethnic group occupying almost half of Ogun State, are not descendants of Oduduwa, according to the Oba Sikiru Adetona Awujale of Ijebuland.
In an interview with the SUNDAY CONCORD, the Awujale of Ijebuland said their ancestor is Olu-lwa. In the past couple of years, there had been claims and counter-claims in favour of both Alaafin of Oyo and Ooni of Ife as the head of all Obas in Yorubaland.
To substantiate his claim, Oba Adetona gave full details of how the first Oba in ljebuland Olu-lwa, ascended the ljebu -Ode without any connection with Oduduwa.
According to the Awujale, Olu-lwa came all the way from Wadai, a small town around Sudan, accompanied by many followers including his daughter, named Gborowo, Ajebu, Olode, Osimore, and Afin, etc.
When passing through lle-lfe, Olu-lwa was well received by Oduduwa and to mark the warm reception accorded him, Olu-lwa gave his only daughter away to Oduduwa as a wife. He thereafter continued his journey.
Guided by regular consultation with lfa oracle, Olu-lwa found his way to ljebu-Ode where he ascended the throne as the first Oba in ljebuland and even then not as Awujale.
Meanwhile, according to Oba Adetona, Olu-lwa’s only daughter, who was given away as wife to Oduduwa, had an only child named Ogborogondo, who grew up among his brother half-brothers.
When trouble erupted in lle-lfe, all the children of Oduduwa fled in different directions of Yorubaland. Ogborogondo, then decided to look for his mother’s father Olu-lwa, who was then the Oba of ljebuland.
Accompanied by his mother, Gborowo, and the latter’s servant, Oloja Bara as well as regular contact with lfa oracle to guide them, Ogborogondo passed through many places, including lmesi Olojaoke from where he brought Odis at last quarters.
The head chief there was the Olisa. Unfortunately, Olu-lwa’s daughter, who was also Oduduwa’s wife, died at Osun on her way to ljebu-Ode. But the son, Ogborogondo and his entourage, arrived at ljebu-Ode.
However, entry into the town was not easy because they were regarded by the town’s inhabitants as invaders. Inevitably, according to Oba Adetona, a bitter war ensued of which Ogborogondo emerged victorious.
But the pattern of the battle was such that Ogborogondo’s troop seemed to be emerging from under the ground. This, Oba Adetona said, earned Ogborogondo the popular acclamation of “Amuja ile ” an ljebu phrase for one who is expert in group battle.
And as time went on, this acclamation was corrupted to “Awujale” and thus became the official title of the Oba of Ijebuland. Oba Adetona went on that as Ogborogondo entered ljebu-Ode, all the local chiefs fled but one of them. Chief Apebi, recognised the warrior’s identity as the grandchild of Olu-lwa, who incidentally had already died.
Chief Apebi then led Ogborogondo to the hide-out of one of the local chiefs, Jaginri and told him that “Obalowa nta” that is, “the man outside is the king and not an invader. From this message came the popular identity of ljebus as ‘Obanta”
Oba Adetona further revealed that before Olu-lwa died, the issue of a successor was a major problem. The lfa was consulted and it foretold the arrival of a grandchild at some future date.
Therefore, according to Oba Adetona, Olu-lwa agreed before his death, with one of his followers named Osinmore, to succeed him if on his (Olu-lwa) death, there was no grandson around.
There was also condition that anytime a grandchild eventually turned up, Osinmore would abdicate the throne for the former. Truly, When Osinmore learned of the arrival of Ogborogondo, he abdicated and moved to another area called ljasi, this was a name that arose from Osinmore’s unwillingness (lja osi) to fight Ogborogondo for the throne.
The question is: If ljebu are not descendants of Oduduwa, why did they play a leading role in the formation of Egbe Omo Oduduwa in the late 1940s? But Oba Adetona revealed that as a matter of fact, when the idea was first tossed around, Ijebus declined membership on the ground that they are not descendants of Oduduwa.
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, OBA SIKIRU ADETONA, THE AWUJALE OF IJEBU-ODE SAYS ANCESTORS CAME DIRECTLY FROM SUDAN-IN CONCORD NEWSPAPER SUNDAY, JANUARY 4, 1981