Access to land

Access To Land(www.modakeke.org)

As stated above, the Oyos were according to one account allocated a virgin land on which they
established their town-Modakeke. All historical accounts confirm that the land was “given” to
them. There were no strings attached. It was a direct allocation by Ooni Abewela for personal
and strategic reasons. No family was involved. No individual or group of individuals was
involved. The presentation was made on behalf of Abewela by one of his chiefs (Adeworo) who
simply functioned as a messenger. He only carried out an assignment given to him by Ooni
Abewela. Recent claims that the land on which Modakeke was built belonged to certain families
is nothing but a desperate effort by feudal irridentists to distort history. Given the average Ife
man’s congenital greed for and rabid attachment to land, it is inconceivable that some Ife
families would fold their arms while their lands were being given to people they saw as
strangers? Moreover, might was right during this period of Yoruba history. Militarily, Ifes were
weaklings. They hardly fought any war without assistance from somewhere. As stated above,
Ijeshaland extended to Enuwa – the Ooni’s Palace. It was the recruitment of the Oyos into Ife’s
army that enabled them to gain a breathing space to Alakowe. But for the Oyos, the probability
was there that Ife would have been annexed by Ilesha. At that time, ownership of land was a
function of military might. If Ife was not in control of the land within the vicinity of its Oba’s
Palace, how could it be in control of the site given to the Oyos to establish Modakeke several
kilometers away?

Oba Abelewa was very friendly with the Oyos because he knew their worth as great warriors and
industrious farmers. Being militarily weak, he wanted the Oyos nearby as a buffer whose
services he could readily secure whenever the need arose. Abewela also cashed in on his blood
relationship with the Oyos (his mother was an Oyo) to prevail on them not to go too far from Ife.
He needed them for his own survival.

As soon as Modakeke was established its inhabitants fanned out into the forsets, tilling the soil
and recording bounteous harvests. The rapid growth and prosperity of Modakeke was the source
of envy and animosity of the Ifes. This is why they attacked Modakeke four times between 1849
and 1894 and were beaten back twice and sent into exile twice. The vital point to note is that at
the time Modakeke people started life at their settlement, they were on a virgin and “donated”
land. At the time they spread out into the jungles, they were cultivating lands in a conquered
territory. Before the arrival of the Oyos, the Ifes hardly had enough to feed their families. They
gave preference to pleasure over work. But when the Oyos established Modakeke and took
effective control of the entire area through military conquest, they cultivated lands extensively
and this is why the Oyos have most of the farmlands today.

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