Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
In Ilawe-Ekiti, Ekiti West Local Government Area of Ekiti State, there is a mountain, which the monarch, Oba Adebanji Ajibade Alabi, the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, cannot see or move near.
Christened Oke Emo, the mountain is just a stone’s throw to the palace of Alawe. And strangely enough, it is the spot where the monarch and his predecessors were crowned.
Ekiti State is home to various superstitious beliefs and taboos and what have you. For instance, in Aramoko-Ekiti, its king, Oba Adegoke-Olu Adeyemo, must never set eyes on one of the kingmakers and one who must have been particularly instrumental to getting him elected as the traditional ruler, till death parts them.
Just like in Ilawe-Ekiti, the monarch must never visit Oke Emo, a place where important rites completing his installation were performed. There is indeed in Ilawe-Ekiti, this incredible deity, Orinlase, who once instructed people, particularly those devoted to it, to desist from visiting its shrine on Sundays as “he would be off on such days to go to church and honour Jesus Christ!”
Residents who spoke to Daily Sun agreed that Orinlase also said to give miracles, has respect for Sundays perhaps as a way of acknowledging that there is indeed a divine power behind such a day and that Jesus Christ does represent such power. On Sundays, according to the devotees of Orinlase, he would say: “ I too would have to go to church.”
This assertion was confirmed by Chief Gbenga Borode, Elemo of Oke Emo, and Chief Alamoku Osolo, head of Ifa priests. in a recent investigative exercise in Ilawe-Ekiti. Elemo, a former journalist said: “I have become an Elemo of the town because my great grand fathers own the title. The Elemo came with the Alawe from Ile-Ife.
“In the hierarchy, l am the fourth after the Alawe. As the head of Oke Emo, which is one of the four quarters that founded Ilawe, I am the one who installs the Alawe. Many rites for installing the monarch are performed in several spots and quarters such as Oke lloye.
“They culminated into the final stage in Oke Emo here where the Akoko leaf, a royal leaf signifying kingship authority, is placed on the Oba at installation. The major rites are performed in Oke Emo, once the Akoko leaf is placed on the head of the monarch, tradition forbids that the Oba comes to Oke Emo again until he passes on.
“There is a place called Owa Agbaludi where the main rites of installation are performed. The monarch to be installed usually have his clothes which he wore to that place, removed for some rites and he will never set his eyes on those clothes again.
“And since the Owa Agbaludi is along the road in Oke Emo, the best thing for the Kabiyesi to do is to never ever come to the Oke Emo area again. There is no way you can pass through Oke Emo without seeing the sacred spot, Owa Agbaludi.
“As the Elemo, l also have a role to perform during the burial of the monarch. As a matter of fact, the Elemo is first informed whenever the monarch passes on.
“In this town, we also have our taboos which form part of our folklore. You can’t bring a bunch of plantain in public in Ilawe, you don’t roast yam in the public especially around a market place.
“Each family house or quarter has its own traditions and taboos. We have eight quarters, the new one is Ilorin, others are Oke Emo, Oke Iloye, Iro, Adii, Oke pa, Aaye and Oke Ibedo.
“As for resources, we have plenty bananas, and if you go to our local market, banana is a major cash crop in Ilawe. Most times when buyers don’t come on time, the crops get spoiled.
“We have made efforts, the Ilawe Progress Union. We once engaged FIIRO, which is a federal agency in charge of assisting in tapping local resources, to write a feasibility report for us on how we can tap into banana for economic gains by setting up a small factory for its processing.
“They produced the feasibility report after we had paid for it. We handed it over to the state government of the day then but since then with the hope that there would be collaboration between the government and the town on the management of the factory, 19 years ago, the government has not taken any step on it.
“Some of our eminent sons and daughters have also made efforts towards developing our resources. People like Femi Falana actually brought investors who came around to see what they can do but haven’t returned to do anything probably because the environment has not been okay for them.”
Osolo agreed: “It is true that our monarch must never come to Oke Emo after his installation and the consequence for disobeying that tradition is death. I am the priest who takes the Ifa corpus to the palace to find out what is in store for the year for the town. Whatever I have said as Ifa instruction between 4:30 am and 5am on a day will then be carried round the town by messengers.
“The place where the monarch is installed in a traditional rite, which is called Iwoye in Iro quarters. I mean the place where all the traditional rites are performed he cannot see that place ever again till he passes on.
“About the deity called Orinlase who was said to set aside Sunday as a day he also goes to church. We heard that in history that the deity says so.
“Our traditional festivals include Ifa celebrated every July as the Alawe and Ifa priest both left Ife to settle in Ilawe. Priests of deities have their own festivals so also the clans have their various festivals.
“There is Olokun festival and the Olokolo festival for the kids. It is meant to protect the kids. During the festival, any child that is sick will be healed. It is usually done in April and when I was a kid, I was part of it but today, we don’t do it again as the new religion is eroding that.
“After the Olokun where everyone, adults and kids go to the farm to hunt games and harvest and return to do merry making, Ogun festival is done during December time. For peace to reign and for everyone to be comfortable, I urge the government to allow our traditional religion to thrive. We must not kill our traditional religion.
“The Almighty God sent Orunmila to reposition the world. Some people deceive themselves saying they don’t like traditional festivals but they are keen to watch what we do during such festivals. Traditional worships come in different ways.
“Anyone who witnesses the festival whenever it is being celebrated or makes effort to watch it, he or she has already taken part in it. Everyone is welcomed to be part of our traditional festivals whether you are a Muslim or Christian. We don’t discriminate.
“On resources in Ilawe, we have cassava, banana, cocoa and plantain. We are urging the government to come and site a banana processing factory in the town. We grow the highest quantity in the whole of Ekiti State. Our banana can be used as raw materials for manufacturing biscuits.”