Oduduwa, the legendary founding father of the Yoruba Kingdom was the son of Lamurudu. Lamurudu is a great man and supposedly Nimrod, a great man from the East mentioned in the Bible. (Genesis 10:8-9) The founding of the Yoruba nation-kingdom by Oduduwa has been described as cosmological and that of a pilgrimage story. It is widely accepted that Ile-Ife is the cradle of Yoruba culture and civilization. It is regarded as the home of Oduduwa and watershed where all Yoruba have their origin or took their source.
The Ijero people have their roots in Ile-Ife as they are descents from Oduduwa. According to Ijero oral tradition, the 16 kingdoms of Ekiti came from the royal house of Oduduwa and their relations in other parts of Yoruba, Oyo, Ijesha, Ondo, Igbomina, Ijebu, Egba, Ikale, Ilaje, Akiko, Edo, Itshekiri and others came from this common ancestor.
Ajero was the 4th direct son of Oduduwa, it was this Ajero who went to fetch water from the lagoon (Ajero ki mo Osa) while Owa Obokun (seawater fetcher) of Ijesa land went to the seaside for the hydrotherapy of their father’s illness (Oduduwa). Ajero lived with his kith and kins at Ita-Ijero quarters in Ile-Ife, where the historic exodus of Ijero people began and is the preparation ground of Ajoro meeting and philosophy of Ijeroism.
Ajero who left his father’s royal home in Ile-Ife after the historic council meeting (Ajoro) of the royal princess to establish their kingdom went Southwest ward to a lagoon side, precisely an area inhabited by the present-day AWORIS of Lagos state.
This earns him the Oriki (native Cognormen) “Ajero Kimos” (Ajero that knows the lagoon). He left Eba osa lagoon area for further adventure and re-settlement. (It was told that some of his children and blood relations remained there). In years later they settled at area northeast of Ile-Ife called “Ijero Atowose” (Artificial Ijero) because they believed that Ita-Ijero in Ile-Ife was the original Ijero.
The monogenic Ijero people left Atowose because of the poor weather condition, adverse biological warfare caused by earthworms on their foods, and other diseases.
They later settled at Oro (The present-day, Iloro-Ekiti), while they left some of their kith and kin at Oro.
It was Ajero Ogbe who led Ijero people from Oro to Ilu Kuno (present days Ilukuno-Ekiti). Ogbe was the founding monarch of Ilukuno, and the blood of Ajoro flows in his vein, he was a pragmatic and visionary leader who ensured that his city was wealthy, rich and prosperous in their undertakings. Hence Ilukuno means “A city that is full of riches and prosperity”. At Ilukuno, the people were very prosperous in their farming and trading activities at that time.
Some Ijerians left Ilukuno towards the northeast and settled in Omuo-Area in the present-day Ekiti-East. These people are Omuo –Ijero people in that part of Ekiti land. Before Ijero people settled at Oyo, they have lived once upon a time at Ilede (An area along the present-day Ijero-Ekiti/Aramoko Road). It is very interesting to be noted that the aborigines of Oro (Iloro-Ekiti) and Ilukuno are Ijero monogenetic people from Ile-Ife. Ajero Ogbe, the Onilukuno (Ilukuno monarch) was a farmer, hunter and adventurer who cultivated farms in the virgin land of the present-day Ijero-Ekiti and Ikoro-Ekiti. This earned them the Oriki “Ogbe ki gbe ikoro nig be Ijero (Ogbe was the planter of Ikoro and Ijero Township). He was indeed a great pioneer.
Jero oral tradition revealed that ALARA, AJERO and ORANGUN are uterine brothers. Alara is the paramount ruler of Aramoko, while Ajero the paramount ruler of Ijero, and the youngest Orangun, being the paramount ruler of Ila-Orangun and Igbomina land. The trio uterine brothers are legendary monarchs who are direct Princes of Oduduwa and are based on crowned kings (Oba Alade).
Their mother’s name was Ademiregun who died and was buried in Ogbon Ilu (a town that was then consisted of 30 persons) the present day Ipoti-Ekiti. The monarchs’ mother Ademiregun was later called Iya O or Ya O (Oh! Mother in Ipoti) (Ogbonlu) legends. A stream was named after her in the Ijero tradition known as the maternity stream for nurturing children called the “Iregun Lafere” stream.
The present-day site of Ijero was a farmstead of Ogbe, although the aborigines are Alapa of Okelapa quarters. Olorogun of Ale-Ekiti in Eyigbo quarters, who was then a blacksmith –makers of hoes and cutlass for farming activities, Obalogbon of Okelogbo and Salotun of Ale-Ekiti quarters. They are king folk of Ogbe who left Orofor farming activities in the virgin land of Ijero.
Ogbe consulted Ifa Oracles (oracles of palm kernel divination) who said he should make the farmstead a permanent site of his Kingdom. Ogbe was very versed in Ita-Ijero oral tradition, council (meeting and collectivism. He consulted his subjects at Ilukuno and kinsfolk at the farmstead that this place will be founded a new town where the spirit of Ajoro will continue to soar to greater heights. He named it “Ijero” after the Ita-Ijerofamous quarters in Ile-Ife where they took their root. Ogbe founded the Ijero kingdom with mutual spirit, and symbolic opinion of the pioneers, with his pragmatic leadership, the culture of collective spirit, democratic tradition and humanistic service to one’s society began at this place called Ijero tri a npe ni Ajoro. Ogbe left his lieutenant “Eesalokuno” to supervise the administration of his people at Ilukuno while some of his townsfolk settled at the present site Ijero with him.
When Ajero Ogbe died, his corpse was carried from Ijero back to the main town Ilukuno, this is how the Ilukuno became the royal tomb of Ajero being the pre-eminent town of Ijero Monarch and people of Ijero consanguinity. Most of the kings and their royal lineages in Ijero kingdoms are offshoots and descendants of Ajero Ogbe.
When Ogbe moved his seat to Ijero, Ijero became stronger, livelier, and more progressive. It became the seat of traditional administration, culture, commerce, and government of the Ijero kingdom. While the domain of Ajero reached other 14 towns which is beyond the imagination of the pioneers. Later captured the Heptapolis called “Ilejemeje” (7 main towns) during the reign of Ajero Obaleyakin (1795 – 1815). Hence, the Ijero kingdom, which consisted of 22 towns and their villages, reached its golden era before the Kiriji war in 1877-1893. Ajero Ogbe will forever be remembered in Ijero history as the founding monarch and legendary founder of the Ijero kingdom.
Ogbe founded Ijero with a symbolic spirit with other pioneers, while the pioneer, with their spirit of Ajoro and adventure, have done their very best in their own times. We will continue to owe them a debt of gratitude for their good virtues of Ajoro bequeathed as a legacy to us all.