Settlement

Settlement (www.modakeke.org)

Migration is normally followed by settlement. Fleeing southwards in search of new abodes after
the fall of the Oyo Empire, the Oyos started settling among the Ifes in 1834. As the Romans of
old, they were soldier-farmers. They were hardy as soldiers and industrious as farmers. Having
lost all their possessions in their hasty flight, they started life in Ife by doing menial jobs to enable
them eke out a living. The reigning Ooni of Ife, Oba Akinmoyero was said to have received them
well. They started growing and producing different types of food crops on farmlands given to
them by their hosts. A good number of them got recruited into Ife’s weak army and it was
through their gallantry that Ife had its territory extended to Alakowe, its present boundary with
Ilesa. Prior to the arrival of the Oyos, Ijesha land extended to the present location of the Palace of
the Ooni of Ife. This is why the Palace are is known as Enuwa (Enu Owa) up till today.

As hard-working farmers, the Oyos were producing food crops in quantum and generously giving
parts of their farm produce to their hosts who, prior to that time, barely had enough because they
placed greater premium on pleasure than on work. But the friendly relations between the Oyo
refugees and their Ife hosts did not last for long. The innate intolerance and inhospitability in Ifes
began to manifest from the reign of Ooni Gbegbaaje. Under Gbegbaaje the Ifes freely tormented,
harassed, and persecuted the Oyos. The Ifes plundered Oyo farms, helping themselves to crops
on their cultivated lands. They later started kidnapping Oyo children for sacrifice to their gods.

This ill-treatment continued until Ooni Abewela’s reign (1839-1849). It was Abewela who was
said to have given the Oyos the land on which they settled and built their own settlement which
came to be known as Modakeke. Abewela’s gesture according to one account, was a
reciprocation of the assistance given to him by the Oyos when his own people abducted and were
poised to murder him. His Oyo bodyguards saved him from his captors at Igbo Oro where many
Obas before him had been murdered. Another account, however, said that the Oyos had, prior to
Abewela’s offer made up their mind to leave Ile-Ife as they found the frequent kidnapping of their
children insufferable. Abewela’s gesture was thus a timely intervention issuing from a skillful
political calculation – to have the Oyos located at a close distance from where they could be
quickly contacted for military assistance against external aggression or internal revolt.

Modakeke was thus established on a virgin land in 1845. The name Modakeke was derived from
the chirpings of a nest of storks around the site of the new settlement. The appellation Akoraye is
a contraction of Ako ri aaye’ (stocks find ample space). The name of the area, Iraye, is a
derivative of this appellation and not the name of any family or area in Ife as being claimed,
Modakeke grew rapidly as more war-displaced Oyos poured into the settlement.

 

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