[Must Read]: Straightening The Distorted History Of Owode-Ofaro Community - 9japarrot


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Saturday 1 January 2022

[Must Read]: Straightening The Distorted History Of Owode-Ofaro Community

A Rejoinder To Stephen O.Y. Baba's 'History & Heritage Of Idoba Araromi Community'


A book titled The History and Heritage of Idoba Araromi Community was recently published both in hard and soft copies by Rev. Stephen O. Y. Baba. In the book, the author, being from Idoba, narrates the history of the settlement of his people. In so doing, however, he presents a completely prejudicial account of the history of settlement of a few communities in Ile-Ire, out of which he specifically singles out Owode-Ofaro Community, the historical, cultural and traditional landlord of both the current and the former lands which the author claims to be the traditional home of his people, for an attack. The author treats the royal stool of Ofaro contemptuously by contending that the title of Olu, king of Ofaro kingdom, the benefactor and landlord of his people both in the ancient and the current times, was graciously bestowed on the king of Ofaro by the king of Idoba. This is a fallacious historical account that does not have any valid substantiation. The author also argues in the book that Idoba settled on Ile-Ire land five days after Owa settled. This is an inaccurate and falsified historical account of the settlement of Ile-Ire people. This is because it is not supported by any formally or systematically written document from the archive. Most of the erroneous assertions of the author are based on oral lies with which he was furnished by a few people around the community. The author himself does not have the age, professional training as Historian or mental acumen to successfully carry out such laudable undertaking. It is against this background that we think it necessary to make a rejoinder to the author’s book thereby putting the record straight. This will prevent the coming generations, researchers, curious readers and general public from embracing an inaccurate narrative presented by the author in the future. 

The author claims that the diary of his father together with a few oral information gotten from some elders in his community provided the basis for the development of the historical narrative of his people and the historically unfounded claims he makes about Owode-Ofaro. However, this claim is worrisome as it is enshrouded in a ridiculous paradox. It is like when the son of a tenant who rents an apartment years after the landlord has completed his building narrates the story of the apartment which his father rented and how the whole building was completed to others. One thing that is immediately self-evident here is that the son of a tenant is not in a better position to narrate the story of how the landlord completed his building. We therefore make bold to say unequivocally that neither Rev. Baba nor his late father (who himself was also a son of tenant on the land of Owode-Ofaro like his son) qualifies enough to present the history of Owode Ofaro as a community or make contemptuous assertions about the foundation of its royalty.

Owode-Ofaro is one of the ancient communities in Ile-Ire. This can be substantiated by the communities like Ikosin, Ora, Oke-Oyan, Owa, and so on, with which it shares boundaries since the time of settlement. Rev. Stephen Baba’s argument that there is no historical evidence that a town in Ile-Ire is settled at the instance of another is an historical inaccuracy and blatant lie. Ikosin as one of the oldest communities in Ile-Ire settled Budo- Are, Gaa-Ale-imu and so on; Babanla settled villages like Budo Idowu, Iganmu, Idi – Iya and so on; also Owode-Ofaro settled Idoba Araromi (both on the land the author claims to be their traditional home and the current place where they are), Obinn Ayetoro, Awere Oloparun, Amodu –Olo, Adido Olowin and so on. All these communities, as mentioned, up till now, are tenants on the land of Owode-Ofaro.  

The author also presents a distorted data about the period of settlement of the respective communities in Ile-Ire. This account is predicated on the (mis)information he got from his oral research. He writes that Idoba people settled in Ile-Ire in the 15th Century five days after Owa settled while Owode-Ofaro settled in the 17th Century. He claims that the 1st four Obas of Idoba ruled for 100 years each, how possible is that? This account, strictly speaking, has no basis. Idoba Araromi met Ofaro people on her land in Ile-Ire District and they were welcomed, accommodated, and positioned at one of the boundaries of Ofaro People - on a portion of land which belongs to Owode Ofaro. That is why Idoba, being a tenant on the land of Owode Ofaro, claims to share boundaries with Owa, Oke-Oyan and Ikosin. It was the custom of Owode Ofaro people in the ancient times, to settle their guests at their boundaries. Therefore, there is no truth in the claim of Rev. S.O.Y Baba that Idoba people came in 15th Century and Owode Ofaro came in 17th Century. If the oral research he conducted from some elders in Owa revealed that there were people on the land which Idoba people claim to be their traditional home in the 15th Century, it is erroneous to assume that Idoba people were the ones there. This is because they were positioned on the said land by Ofaro people who have been on that land long before their arrival.

In addition, the argument of the author that Idoba settled in the 15th Century while Ofaro settled in the 17th Century is absolutely illogical when assessed from the temperament of the said period which based ownership and possession of land on the time of arrival and settlement. Those who arrived and settled earlier on the land of Ile-Ire till today possess larger magnitude of land while those who arrived and settled late till today possess a little portion of land, usually at the instance of their respective settlers. In term of land mass, Owode-Ofaro is on the equal side with other ancient communities, who could be said to have the largest land masses due to the fact that they arrived and settled earlier in Ile-Ire. If Idoba people were the second to settle on the land of Ile – Ire like the author claims, Idoba would have been one of the communities with the largest land mass in Ile-Ire. However, this is not the case. Owode Ofaro shares boundaries with Ora, Ikosin, Oke Oyan, Owa and Oba etc as an evidence of earlier arrival of Owode Ofaro in Ile-Ire District while Idoba is on a very small portion of Ofaro land. It is a falsification of history to argue that Idoba came in the 15th Century while Ofaro came in the 17th Century. 

Rev. Baba’s explanation of the etymology of the word “Ofaro” which he predicates on the Book of Aleru and the oral narrative he got from a person in Owa-Onire is incorrect. Both Aleru and the supplier of the oral information are wrong. Igbo-Ogun was the ancient name which Ofaro was historically known for. Later, it became Ofaro after the manner of some itinerants from Offa who were said to be too garrulous in their speech. It was later that Owode was added to it because of the varieties of mineral resources discovered in the area.

The argument of the author that the first Olu of Ofaro was installed in 1902 is blatantly false and has no historical substantiation. Olu Bello Asunmogejo I, who the author names as the 1st Olu of Ofaro was the 15th Olu who reigned in Ofaro Kingdom. Olu Akiilobayo, Arabaraba-Oju Orun-Ko-Wuko, Ekun-Tan-Ni-Kerekere-Mun was the first Olu of Ofaro while Olu AbdulRaheem Babatunde Ayilara Omolaoye Asunmogejo II, the incumbent Olu of Owode-Ofaro is the twentieth.
The three men who later formed Idoba Community came to Ofaro during the reign of the 6th Olu of Ofaro, Olu Animoyilogba from Ododiogunla. They were taken to Olu by the Osolo, one of the high chiefs of Ofaro. Olu Aniomyilogba accepted them and graciously allowed them to settle on Ofaro land, at the boundary of Ofaro and Oke-Oyan. Five (5) Olus had reigned in Ofaro and transited into the ancestral world before the arrival of those three men that later formed Idoba community. It is therefore an unfounded historical narrative that Idoba Community gave the title of Olu to the king of Ofaro or that they installed the first Olu of Ofaro. 

Furthermore, the word “Olu” is a Yoruba word which etymologically refers to God, Supreme Being, or head. The Yoruba, in the traditional times and till now, believe that kings are the second-in command to the Supreme-Being, Olodumare. Hence they describe their kings as Alase ikeji orisa. That is why many of the Yoruba people reserve the title “Olu” for their kings. Again, it is used to describe the head of hunters (Olu-ode) or capital of states (Olu-Ilu). Whatever and whoever the Yoruba reserve the title “Olu” for is believed to be supreme. Olu is not a word or title which originated from, or belongs to one Community in Yoruba land. It is therefore not a word which a people or community can monopolize. It can be used by any Yoruba community to refer to a king or any highly regarded person. The king of Warri bears the title Olu, the king of Ibadan is called Olubadan etc. This is also the case for many other Yoruba kings. The author’s argument that his people gave the title of Olu to the king of Ofaro Kingdom is therefore absurd and fallacious.  

  Moreover, Rev. Stephen Baba argues that the past Olus of Ofaro paid tributes or rites to Idoba people while the present Olu discontinues the payment of the rites. This is not true. No Olu of Owode Ofaro, who is the custodian of the culture, tradition and heritage of Ofaro people, part of which Idoba Araromi Community settled on as tenants, has ever paid any obligatory rites to Idoba. What the author mistakes for a tribute or obligatory rites is hospitality of guests who felicitate with Ofaro people whenever they celebrate their Elewe festival. In the ancient times, during Elewe festival which is a cultural heritage of Ofaro people till date, other neighbouring communities including Idoba come around to celebrate with Ofaro community. Being the host, Ofaro entertains her visitors including Idoba Araromi with bush meat and Eko (pap) together with some other things that can make guests happy. It is this entertainment that the author mistakes for traditional obligation or rites to which he erroneously thinks Idoba people are entitled.

Contrary to the claim of Rev. Baba, Tokutasi was single-handedly made by Ofaro people for the purpose of defence and security. Also, Pataloko is a distance from Tokutasi. Pataloko is the boundary between Ofaro and Owa. So, Ofaro does not share any boundary with Idoba. The ancestral land which Rev. Baba claims is part of the original land of Ofaro. Idoba is therefore a tenant on Ofaro land.
On the issue of headship in Ile –Ire communities, the memorandum of the Ile – Ire Executive Committee, written to the Sole Administrator, Igbomina/Ekiti L.G.A on 7th June, 1969 on the composition of Ile – Ire District which was signed by the Author’s father, Late S.Y Baba among others, states that the District is composed of 13 Villages with 11 Village-Heads of equal power. Ofaro as an ancient community in Ile-Ire is one of the eleven Village-Heads while Idoba Araromi and one other village are indicated to be under Ofaro because both of them settled on Ofaro land. In addition, contrary to the claim of the author, it was not Ile – Ire meeting that was held in Idoba in those days but hunters’ meeting. And where hunters decided to hold their meetings in the traditional times has no significance for the history of settlement.   

The author also commits a historical fallacy when he says in his book that his father, Pastor S.Y Baba was the first teacher at S.I.M Primary School, Owode Ofaro. This is not true. Pastor Isaac Jimoh from Owa was the first Teacher at S.I.M Primary School, Owode Ofaro in 1948. Pastor S.Y. Baba, was persuaded to follow late Rev. J.A Taiwo from Ofaro and late James Bogunjoko from Obinn to S.I.M School, Oro-Ago before he got educated.
Again, Rev. Stephen Baba’s claim that Alhaji Opeloyeru was the first Chief Imam of Owode-Ofaro is untrue. The first Chief Imam of Owode-Ofaro was Bogunjoko Baba Karimu from Ile-Olu Alade. It is also untrue that ECWA Idoba Araromi won a Court case against Owode-Ofaro as Rev. Baba claims in his book because there is no evidence of Court judgment to that effect.  If, however, there is any, we dare the author to provide it because the reading public looks forward to this evidence in great anticipation.

There are a number of recent evidences which corroborate the fact that the people of Idoba are not only on the land of Ofaro but must also inform the Olu of Ofaro before making any important decision. A letter dated 30th March, 1993 was written by the people of Idoba Araromi and addressed to the late Olu of Ofaro, Olu Olawepo Oyedunmola. This letter requested the blessing of the Olu of Ofaro for Chief Robert Adedokun Olayioye who Idoba people wanted to install as Oludoba of Idoba on the condition that the Olu of Ofaro approved it. It is imperative to make it clear that the current Onidoba, Oyebanji Stephen Sunday who was installed based on the approval and blessing of the current Olu of Ofaro, HRH Oba A.B Ayilara, Omolaoye Asunmogejo II in 2008 is the only substantive Oba in Idoba. This is a pointer to the fact that Idoba as a Community cannot make any decision pertaining to the installation of a king without first seeking the blessing and approval of the Olu of Ofaro who is the chief landlord of the land upon which they settled.

The letter written by Ifelodun Traditional Council on 21st May, 2008 confirmed that Idoba Community settled on Owode Ofaro land, therefore Idoba people need to seek the approval of HRH Oba A.B Ayilara, the Olu of Owode Ofaro on the nomination of her Village Head. Idoba Araromi remains perpetual tenants on Owode Ofaro land whether in the current or former location of their community. 

In a communique written and signed by some representatives of communities in Ile – Ire on land dispute between Owode-Ofaro and Idoba Araromi on 16th December, 2020 at Oke Onigbin which was latter submitted to the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, the representatives present together with the people of Idoba  pleaded with the Olu of Ofaro to concede a portion of Ofaro land to Idoba Araromi community for the purpose of peace and this happened to be the same portion of land that Rev. Stephen Baba claims in his book to be the heritage of his people. If the said land was truly the heritage of his people, does it make any cultural, historical and logical sense to plead to be given the same land? It is a clear indication that the people of Idoba Araromi do not have any ancestral land in Ile – Ire apart from the one conceded to them by Owode-Ofaro, the bonafide landlord of the said place. 

Rev. Stephen O.Y. Baba’s book is an intentional distortion of history, informed by malicious aims against the people of Ofaro. We advise researchers therefore and the general public to ignore it. It is a manipulation and falsification of history. Sternly speaking, the author of the History and Heritage of Idoba Araromi should immediately withdraw the book from circulation, both the hard and soft copies, and tender a sincere apology to Owode-Ofaro Community, the original owner of the land upon which his great-grand fathers have lived and died as tenants! Failure to do the above will compel the People of Owode Ofaro to bring out a more comprehensive reply which will include the reasons why the author’s grandfather have to live a substantial part of his life at AKU- a small portion of Ofaro land.

Rafiu O. Zubair PhD
President, Owode - Ofaro Dev. Association

Prince David O. Awolola
Secretary, Owode - Ofaro Dev. Association

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