Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Aisegba-Ekiti is a quiet town in Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State. It is, however, the most populated among the eight towns that make up Gbonyin LGA. Others are Ijan-Ekiti, Ilumoba-Ekiti, Agbado-Ekiti, Ode-Ekiti, Imesi-Ekiti, Egbe-Ekiti and Iro-Ekiti.
Blessed with fertile land and beautiful landscape, the major occupation of its inhabitants, farming, makes the town home to farm produce, particularly yam, rice, maize, cassava, cocoa, kolanut and plantain. The community has two unique ponds, Osun and Arunmode. The people claim the ponds have healing powers capable of providing solutions to problems and challenges
The 15th Apalufin of Aisegba-Ekiti, Oba Solomon Omotoyinbo, a tropical agriculturist, told Daily Sun: “We migrated from Egba (Abeokuta) in Ogun State many centuries back. We left Egba because of chieftaincy tussle. On our way, we settled on so many grounds before we finally caught our green grass here.
“After some time, our people came to us here in Ekiti that we should come back to Egba. We told them that we were no longer part of them. This was where we derived the name Aisegba, meaning, ‘We are no longer part of Egba.’
“Before we migrated to Ekiti, the name of our kingship title was Agura of Gbagura in Egba (Abeokuta), Ogun State. When we got here in Ekiti, we carried out the necessary propitiation with some of the things we brought for peace to reign. One of the major ingredients for appeasement was a white kolanut. We carried out the appeasement and arrived at the kingship title Apalufin. That is, ‘Agbalufin larin obi’, which means, ‘the most superior that you cannot do without.’
“We have beautiful cultural heritage. Our sons and daughters are blessed. We have two ponds here that can provide answers to many health problems. We want people from around the world to come and benefit from the efficacy of these ponds.
“Every good thing that we have here in Aisegba is through self-help. We want restoration of electricity. There has not been electricity for the past 10 years, no pipe-borne water, as we largely depend on rainfall for survival. There is no good health care system in Aisegba. The roads to and from our farmsteads are in deplorable condition. We need accessible roads to ease sufferings of farmers from the farms to the towns.
“Our security architecture here is very weak. We last had a functional police station in 1983, the structure has gone bad and has become a home for rodents. We protect ourselves with the formation of our own vigilance group, involving some specified age groups and hunters in the town. This, I think, is not enough to curtail the activities of miscreants.”
The monarch, however, lauded efforts of the South-West governors in the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network, especially Governor Kayode Fayemi for the level of progress made on Amotekun Corps. He urged residents to cooperate with the corps to ensure safety of life and property.
Aisegba-Ekiti has 13 quarters. Chief Emmanuel Adesuyi, the Aro of Aisegba-Ekiti, explained: “Only one quarter (Aofin) has a ruling house that produces the Oba, other quarters produce palace chiefs. The other quarters represent the persons that migrated with the first king of the town, who led them from Egba to Ekiti. The quarters are: Aofin, Asura, Inisa, Odo-Oro, Petu, Balemo, Aduro, Idekun, Akamuja, Oisa, Apelua, Ejisun and Oloka.
“There are things we forbid in our town. Married women don’t go about with their heads uncovered. It is a taboo to carry bunch of palm kernel seeds, fight at the river or drag things on motorcycles. It is also a taboo to use cloth to tie woods and tail of plantain bunch must be cut off before bringing it to the town.
“The community also boasts of two healing ponds, Osun and Arumode, as well as a mountain of refuge called Oke Otaisegba. Our people have never been taken by war in this town, because this mountain provides refuge for them. Hence, no apprehension was recorded and because the mountain is very wide. It is currently a prayer mountain housing so many inter-denominational worship centres where miracles take place. Worshippers also run there for safety.
“There are beautiful stones of different sizes found on this wonder mountain. These stones are forbidden in homes, because they invite scorpions once taken from the mountain. No matter how beautiful it looks, you dare not take it home. Also, there are different kinds of animals on this mountain that appeal to the eyes and are good for food.
But it is forbidden to hunt and kill any animal on this mountain, otherwise, the hunter ends up the hunted.
“There is a spot very far from the worship centres on the mountain where no one can visit, except the monarch. He annually offers a big animal of the cattle family called ‘Ela’ for sacrifice.”
The ponds are believed to be capable of curing 200 ailments. In times past, during wars, the mountain saved the people from invaders. Daily Sun confirmed that the mountain could provide safety for thousands of people at a time.
Chief Adegboyega, aka Ayesooro, is the Araba of the town: “The Osun and Arunmode ponds are very powerful. Water from these ponds cures many sicknesses and high body temperature in infants. I personally use it for people who are mentally sick and those suffering from epilepsy.
“The Arunmode pond gifts people domestic animals to nurse. How do you know? For instance, once a hen or pigeon or any one of her animals follows one home from the pond, it means the goddess of Arunmode pond has gifted the person that hen, pigeon or animal. Such animals are not stolen and their young cannot be whisked away by any hawk.
“There was a time some communities were plagued by guinea worm; so many people from those places came to fetch the water. You drink the water and use some to bath the affected part on a daily basis until the worm-like thing in the body disappears. That was how the plague was defeated.
“However, before any healing process would take place, some of the women who carry out initiations, would have to go to the sides of the ponds to say some prayers. We use the water for women suffering from barrenness, child delay, mothers whose infants have high temperature and many other unexplainable challenges of humans.
“We do not suffer from small pox plague, because we usually do the necessary propitiation. We use water from the ponds with salt on our boundaries and also sprinkle some on individual houses. We carry out the necessary sacrifices. We call on the goddesses of the ponds in the event that there is no rainfall and we use it for so many other things. They are very powerful ponds and the children of the ponds’ goddesses often come to town to buy stuff from the market.
“Fishes in Osun and Arunmode ponds are not killed. This is because they will never get cooked no matter the number of hours used in cooking them. It is believed that any living object in and by the ponds are children of the goddesses of these ponds.
“We want people around the globe to come and avail themselves of the efficacy of the ponds for whatever sickness.”
The biblical saying of “the righteous run into it and are saved” fits Oke Otaiseba. There are 16 pathways to mounting and dismounting from this wonder mountain. It has a valley behind it that can provide safety for thousands of people at a go, that is why it is referred to as mountain of refuge.
Iyamole, priestess, is the Yeye Olotun Orisa Aisegba. She spoke on how festivals are celebrated: “The first festival is called Ikeregun. It is celebrated on June 1 every year; before kolanuts are taken to the markets, we first take the kolanuts to the king.
“The second is the Akaraolua Festival. This comes nine days after and it is a day’s celebration. After another nine days comes the Arunmode, also a day’s celebration. The Ijesu Kabiyesi is next, celebrated annually at July ending.
“Then our (women) group’s celebration begins immediately. We begin our celebration with fetching of water for all the festivals our town has celebrated. The first day of our celebration, we start with fetching of water for Olua festival. The following day we fetch water for Arunmode festival and in the evening of the third day we celebrate the Olua deity.
“In the morning of the following day, we celebrate Arunmode deity. The day after this, we carry the deities back to the shrine, after which we dance and play round the town for seven consecutive times, combing every part of the town. By evening, we all return to the shrine. By 10pm, nobody sets his or her eyes on us again, not even a true-born of the land, until the following day.
In the wake of the following day, Egun Ede sets in. It is this masquerade that sends us out of the shrine. Then various sacrifices for the god of iron are carried out. Our monarch first carries out his sacrifices to the god of iron, followed by houses from each of the quarters.”