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The Ijebu People

 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:14 am    Post subject: The Ijebu People  Reply with quote

The Ijebu People

The Ijebu People are very enterprising, shrewd business-like and agriculturalist Yoruboid-speaking people that forms a sub-set of the larger Yoruba ethnic group, inhabiting the South-Central part of Yorubaland in South-Western Nigeria. The Ijebu people who constitute the largest ethnic group in the Yoruba land reside particularly in parts of Ogun and Lagos States of Nigeria.

Ijebu women of Ijebu-Ode with their awesome hairstyle at annual Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Ode local government area of Ogun State.

The Ijebu territory is bounded in the North by Ibadan, in the East by Ondo, Okitipupa and the West by Egbaland. The Southern fringe is open to the sea with the coastlines of Epe, Ejinrin and Ikorodu. Despite the political division which has these three towns in Lagos while the main part of Ijebuland remains in Ogun State, the people have always regarded themselves as one entity even when the immigration legends which have often been cited point in different directions. The Ijebu nation consisted of 5 divisions: Ijebu-Ife, Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ososa and Ijebu-Remo.

The Ijebu people are identified with four types of oriki ({Ijebu}, a very important oral poetic genre among the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria): Apeja (oriki soki or name version), Orufi (oriki) ulu praises of towns, Orufi gbajumo (praises of distinguished personalities), Orufi orisa (praises of gods) and Orufi Oba (praises of obas). The orufi establishes that the Ijebu people are a veritable link in the relations of the Yoruba people and the world.

The name “Ijebu” was derived from the expression: “Ije-ibu” (food of the deep). The Ijebus themselves claim to have descended from “Oba-nita,” thus, referring to themselves as “Ogetiele, eru Obanita” (that is, “Ogetiele, servants of Obanita”).

Ijebu people founded an ancient city Ijebu-Ode which archaeological evidence has proved to be in existence from A.D. 900. By the 15th century, Ijebu was a highly organized and powerful nation, and defended itself against enemies. Ijebu Empire was second to Oyo’s empire in the 15th century.

There was already reference to it in the 16th century by Pereira, who noted that “twelve or thirteen leagues up this river [the Lagos lagoon] is a very large city called Geebuu, surrounded by a great moat. The ruler of this country in our time is called Agusale [Awujale], and the trade is mainly in slaves ...but there is some ivory” (Pereira trans. Kimble, 1937: 123). By the 18th century, statements about the coastal trade of the Ijebu placed greater emphasis on the traffic in craft products. John Barbot (1732: 354), for instance, noted it as a place “where good fine cloths are made and sold by the natives to foreigners, who have a good vent for them at the Gold Coast…”


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