A poem sent to us by Amore David Olamide, praising the Ijebu people of Yorùbáland. The Ijebu kingdom was formed around the fifteenth century and due to its position on the trade routes between Lagos and Ibadan became wealthy and powerful in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Ijebu have historically been praised for their business acumen and talent for trade.
The Ijebu Dynasty, although split into major divisions – Ijebu ‑Ife, Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ososa and Ijebu-Remo – has managed to remain united as one, under the leadership and authority of the Awujale (Awujale is the royal title of the King of Ijebu Kingdom) who seats in Ijebu-Ode.
One of the prominent Ijebu deities is Agemo, celebrated mid-yearly and the celebration event is used as an opportunity to unite and resolve disputes between Ijebu communities by gathering representatives called the Alagemos from the affected factions to discuss and resolve their dispute. The Oro is another notable deity of the Ijebus who is believed to purge the society of evil. The Oro festival often takes place before the Agemo festival in order to ensure that the communities are free of evil spirits leading up to the meeting of the Alagemos.
If Ijebu prefer, (1)
They will weave it a bit
If Ijebu desire,
They will knit with simplicity
And use the spare for the festive of Agemo (2)
The deity of Agemo that gives prowess to the barren. (3)
You’re the offspring of Agemo
Agemo the spirit they hail Osaa!
With twenty-four profusing mat
with rare beauty and aestheticism
And with beads and the maiden’s cowries. (4)
You’re the son of the one
That doesn’t surge for Egun (5)
Neither for the enigmatic Ologbojo (6)
and his complicating dues.
You’re the offspring of Alare (7)
And also the son of Awujale (8)
That murmured so well for monarchy
And slaughter the hen seasonally.
You’re the processor of the hen
The cryptic hen of Ogogomoga (9)
That we brutishly tied with might
And the rope was not harrowed
And the hen was not throbbed
Till the rarer muted in his bombshell
And established reverence for the hen.
You’re the man of tedious deed
That Oyoyo carved his savage of mockery
But can one tell this grievous mocker?
That a deed of a man will never kill
Or put a mess on the people
Strangely, the people of Ijebu
Those ones that are very apathetic.
You’re the spouse of the ebony
That detest her for not culinary
And the white you ascertained as a gourmet chef
Has tranvassed beyond the hemisphere.
You’re the offspring that sees the bird
And never discerned the stone
And that later corralled the stone
When the bird had peaked long ago.
You’re the offspring that bargained the yam
And never bumped into his knife
And never bothered to find
For the knife dwells in the house of his forefathers.
You’re the owner of the woodland
That is a taboo for any stranger
And that is an illicit for the adherers
For any incomer that steers within
Will convey griefs for his indignity
And be a feast for the Oluweri (10)
Till he revamp to the Ebora-omi (11)
The water-spirit with sixty-two deities.
You’re the son of Ereniwa (12)
That takes merit by being liberal.
You’re the inceptive capitalist
The one before money became customary.
You’re the discontent economist
That enlightened for moneymaking
And when he proofed in his goodwill
It was divined In his eulogy
That the phlegm of Ijebu a gem
The calabash of Ijebu an opulence
The pee of Ijebu a goldmine
The sides of Ijebu in wellspring.
The relatives of Ijebu are moneymakers
For they are the offsprings of Ereniwa.
That take merit by being liberal.
Ijebu the economist!
by Amore David Olamide
- Ijebu: A town in Ogun state.
- The Agemo festival usually takes place between July and August every year in Ijebu Ode.
- It has been a traditional belief that women seeking to become pregnant will be blessed with children if they pray to the spirit during this festival.
- Refers to the masquerade costume for the deity of Agemo.
- Egun: Yorùbá masquerades connected with ancestor reverence.
- Ologbojo: According to oral history Ologbojo was a poet and ritual dancer who is claimed to be one of the originators of the ritual of Egungun.
- Alare: A name used for the Supreme deity of the Ijebu.
- Awujale: King of Ijebu
- Ogogomoga: A spirit
- Oluweri: A water spirit
- Ebora-omi: A spirit of the river
- Ereniwa: A generous person who is rewarded for their philanthropy