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The Ijebu Kingdom is a sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba tribe and consists of a group of people inhabiting the South-Central part of the Yoruba Land. They are bounded in the North by Ibadan, in the East by Ondo and Ilaje, and in the West by Egbaland. Although a larger number of the Ijebu people are found in Ogun State, Nigeria, a fraction of the Ijebu people are in Epe, Ikorodu, and Lekki in Lagos State, Nigeria. Regardless of this political division (presence of Ijebu people in another state – Lagos), they still regard themselves as one entity. HISTORY As it is with most other tribes, there are usually different accounts of their origin with one account being more prominent than others. The case is not different with the Ijebus. A historical account suggests that the people of Ijebu are direct descendants of Oduduwa, the son of King Lamurudu, who was expelled from Mecca some 1500 years ago. However, the people of the tribe annul this claim on the ground that the account meant all Yorubas came into existence as one single group whereas this is not the case. The widely accepted account among the Ijebus is that, they have their descent from Sudan. This is a claim which seems to be corroborated by a Haile Mariam publication: “the most powerful people that the Negede Orit (Ancient Ethiopian Africa) met in East Africa were the Ijebus.” Negede Orit’s sojourn into Ethiopia was several centuries before King Solomon and Makida, the Queen of Sheba, where he met the Ijebus (maybe the biblical Jebusites?) on the East Coast of Southern Sudan. The Migration Story… The ancestors of the Ijebus came into Nigeria from Owodaiye Kingdom of Ethiopia (now Waddai). Owodaiye Kingdom was bounded in the East by Tigre and the Kingdom of Axum; in the North by Nubia; in the South-Eastern border by the land of Punt, with no clear boundaries in the West. The following are evidences to further assert this ‘Sudan origin’ account:
  • The tribal mark of the Ijebus is similar to that of the Sudanese. This tribal mark in form of three vertical marks on both sides of the cheeks found on the faces of every Ijebu indigene is the same as that on the Sudanese.
  • The Ijebu dialect is similar to the original language of the Sudanese which has now been superseded by Arabic language. Common similar names are Esiwu, Saba, Meleki.
  • A musical flute formerly used during the coronation of the Awujale is still in use in Ethiopia and Southern Sudan.
  • The Ijebus share similar cultures and religion such as funeral rites, Agemo cult and Erikiran shared with the Egyptians, Nubians, and the Puntites.
INDUSTRY The Ijebus are known for their industry, sagacity and thriftiness. Although this has been mistaken for stinginess by many, in the real sense, an average Ijebu indigene merely operates by the “do not eat with your ten fingers” axiom. They are quick to spot opportunities and equally seize such opportunities as an avenue to make some money. Monies made are thereafter reinvested to yield some more money and the cycle keeps going on. Not surprisingly, the Ijebus had gained prominence in the business world by the nineteenth century, suffice to add that, they were the first to make cowry shells as a means of exchange (currency), and were also the first to produce coins called ‘Pandoro’, which was widely accepted throughout Africa and by the Europeans. Quick fact: Mike Adenuga is the first Nigerian to singlehandedly own oil mining and telecommunication companies while Mrs FolorunsoAlakija is one of the richest women in the world. They are both from Ijebu. SOCIAL LIFE The people of Ijebu are known to enjoy life too. Albeit working hard, they celebrate well too. They have various age grade groups all under the Regberegbe group and their purpose is to help and support one another when there is a need for it. Some of the groups are EgbeMoradegun, EgbeMafowoku, EgbeBobajolu, EgbeArobayo etc. GOVERNANCE The government of Ijebu land is complex and highly organized. With the capital at Ijebu Ode, the Awujale is the most superior king. TOWNS IN IJEBULAND The following are the towns in Ijebuland: Ijebu-Remo, Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Imota, Ijebu Waterside, Iwopin, Ijebu-Ife, Ijebu-Imushin, Ago-Iwoye, Odogbolu, Apunren, Erunwon, Isonyin, Ososa, Epe, Lekki, and Ikorodu. References—brief-history   Feature Image:

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This article was first published on 17th July 2018

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