Moremi Statue: Ooni has no right to erect it without clearance from the husband
Dr. Olapade Agoro is a traditional ruler in the Owa Tapa of Itapa-Ijeshaland. According to him, his forefathers were one of the founders of present day Ijeshaland. He is a man of many parts, a trained engineer with a doctorate degree in interdisciplinary Engineering, a church leader, head of the Aladura Church in Nigeria and the Diaspora, a businessman, as well as a politician.
Dr. Agoro is known to be outspoken and frank in all matters. When the controversy broke out over the erection of Moremi Ajasoro statute in Ile-Ife, because the Ife people revered Moremi as a heroine of liberty, the same Moremi, the Ugbo people despised and regard as villain, The Palace Watch went in search of Dr. Agoro, to seek his opinion.
As expected, he did not disappoint. He reacted thus:
“My take in all this, is that Moremi was a wife to the then king of Ugbo nla. If her statute is to be erected in Ile-Ife for whatever reasons, the Ooni of Ife needed to have approached or obtained formal permission from her husband and the people of Ugbo nla.
“You see, so many things are today done wrongly in the name of modernization of the traditional institutions. Nowadays, you see an Oba wearing his crown all over the places, this is not done. All manner of staffs are being carried all over the places in the name of tradition. You see two highly placed Obas embracing themselves in public this is not our customs and traditions they are practicing.”
“I am honestly disappointed at the extent the Yoruba history has been twisted and bastardised. This is not good for our youths, as well as our people, I am for the truth and I will say the truth anytime any day. I have no personal relationship with the Ooni of Ife, neither do I have same relationship with Olugbo of Ugbo. Ugbo nla (the great forest) during the ancient times was a very very great expanse of land. And they were known as people from the Water areas of Yoruba land. For the sake of our children and children yet unborn I will endeavour in this matter to put the history in true perspective. As far as I know, the present Olugbo is right in his claims to a very large extent.
“First, what most people misinterpret as Igbo is known as “Ugbo nla – the great forest in Yoruba land. The then Olugbo happens to be a son from Ile-Ife; that went to establish a kingdom somewhere else. Unfortunately, most people have forgotten this so soon. The Ugbo nla people did not just invade Ile-Ife during those raids in question. They were trying then to establish a right over the people of Ile-Ife.
“Moremi Ajasoro, was a Water Goddess, who was bestowed to the then Olugbo of Ugbo as a wife. It was therefore, not a surprise, that the then Olugbo felt and believed that Moremi has a right to them. Hence, the Ugbo nla people invaded the place then known as “Ile-Ifa” that was the name before they changed it to present day Ile-Ife. I did a Yoruba book on it. The Ugbo nla people were angry and believed very strongly that Moremi deserted them to come and stay in Ile-Ife. So they invaded Ile-Ife with the masquerades, which they covered or designed with the materials they harvested in their areas, which were mainly made up of “raffia fronds”. Most people do not know much about these materials, only people from present day Epe and Ugbo nla knew about it. We call it Eko raffia. Wizards grow these plants along the river banks in the riverine areas. These plants are still in these areas up till now.
“The Ijebus and the Ijesha people did not know about these plants, because they don’t have them. For emphasis sake, it is only Epe, Ugbo nla and some Ijaw people that are familiar with these plants, because they are largely grown along their coastal lines and rivers, so they make raffia out of it.
“The Ugbo nla people, even when they relocated to their present areas, used to have a camp near the present day Ile-Ife. That was why it was very easy for them to invade Ile-Ife at will. Not only Ugbo people, almost all the Yoruba people of old had their locations around present day Ile-Ife, which belongs to all of us.
“As we speak, I am the Owatapa of Itapa. The Adiare being worn by Ooni belong to my own forefathers. The Adiare is the only one, is Adiare, Ade Obatala, Obata Sa. This is worn by my own people.
“Now, to the main issue, because Moremi, who was so pretty a wife abandoned her husband and came to Ile-Ife to stay, and because the Ugbo nla people wanted her back at all cost, they resorted to insistent raids of Ile-Ife. They did it the first time and were so successful; they even burnt down Ile-Ife in the process. They went ahead and did it the second time. It was during the third attempt that Moremi confessed that the raids were being carried out because of her. So, she parked her belongings and left Ile-Ife for the areas the Ugbo nla people lived in neighboring Ile-Ife. When Moremi went back to join the people of Ugbo nla in their camps, was then she got the secret of the tricks the Ugbo people used to torment the Ife people after which she went back again to Ile-Ife to leak the secret to the Ife people. I would want any Ile-Ife person to show me the son or children Moremi had in Ile-Ife or show me Moremi’s legal husband in Ile-Ife?
There is no dispute that Moremi had a son for the then Olugbo of Ugbo la. (Known then as Ela Olurogbo) The question of whether the son was sacrificed or not, is immaterial in this case. What is important is that she was a legal wife to the then Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom. Moremi had her husband in Ugbo nla and came to Ife to stay, because as was the practice then, most Yoruba people had their own locality around Ile-Ife. These places are where we now know as present day Ile-Ife. We had then Ife-Odon. Moremi alongside others lived in the jungles not too far from present day Ile-Ife.
“I am shocked, when people tell stories, they must have the commonsense to know what they are talking about. In those days, there were no vehicles, no flying boats and no air transportation. I have taken my time to explain the situation that existed then to you. Some people made it look very easy for Moremi to just move in and out of Ile-Ife to Ugbo nla. It was the Ugbo nla camp around Ile-Ife that she lived because if we were talking about the present day Ugbo Kingdom, you have to crisscross so many places to get to there. For example, there are two or three major routes from Ile-Ife to present day Ugbo kingdom. From Ife to Ondo, from Ondo to Okitipupa, from Okitipupa to Ugbo kingdom, the question is how would Moremi have done those tortuous journeys all on her own in those days?
“These same people made it look like the Ugbo nla people had to travel these long journeys to come and carry out their raids in Ile-Ife. Commonsense shows, that they were operating from their camps around Ile-Ife. Yes, at some point, they, the Ugbo nla people, had to embark on what we call the “escapement option” that took them finally to their present locations.
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