In the late 80s, there used to be a signboard in Fiditi that pointed to the path to the village, the signboard had the inscription :
“WAY TO ILU AJE, HOME OF SCIENCE!”.
Lots of people used to fear the indigenes of Ilu Ajẹ because it was said that every man in Ilu Ajẹ is born of a witch, and every woman in ilu Ajẹ is a witch!
But that is not the case…
HOW THE NAME WAS DERIVED
Some sources claim that it was when Alaafin Ladigbolu was on the throne, while some claim that it was when Alaafin Adeyemi Adeyemi II; the father of the late Alaafin, Adeyemi III was on the throne.
When the son of such an entity gets missing, of course, it’s bedlam in the whole empire!
Like the shepherd who had 99 sheep but was despondent about the lone missing sheep, the father was heartbroken about his missing son.
Then on one market day by noon, an old tattered Ifa Priest called Akinyolu landed in the market square asking for directions to the Alaafin’s palace.
The market women looked at him with disdain as a result of his dirty and wrinkled look. After much ado, Akinyolu was led to the palace.
Kabiyesi was just looking at him in a non-interested way. Not to treat Akinyolu in a rude manner, Kabiyesi asked him to go ahead, but he should make it snappy.
Iwaju ọpọn o gbo
Eyin ọpọn o gbo
Olumu Ọtun, olukanran Osi
Aarin ọpọn Ita ọrun…..
Hear o north of the universe
Listen o south of the universe
Hear o wise ones of the east
Listen o knowledgeable ones of the west …..
It was clear, Akinyolu must be MAD!
The chiefs concluded in there mind
But one tries everything to find a lost son. so, though the recommendations of Akinyolu was crazy, the Alaafin still carried them out.
Behold, on the 21st clap, the king’s son came to them.
When the son was brought to the king and the events narrated, the Alaafin was said to have asked:
“iru babalawo adifaṣẹ bi ajẹ wo ni babalawo un?”. (What sort of herbalist who makes divinitions that comes through like a witch’s proclamation is this?)
Ibo ni o ngbe? (Where does he live?)
The people anwered that he lived by a forest patch at the outskirts of Oyo.
The King instructed that Akinyolu be clothed in fine apparel and be treated like the important guest he was.
The king later told Akinyolu to ask for anything, just anything, he would be ready to oblige.
But Akinyolu said: “Your Highness, all I ask for at my advancing age is that I go back to my forest in peace, you may choose amongst your slaves to follow me back to the forest to live our own life there”
The King obliged and gave Akinyolu gifts and instructed that he should be given about 30 slaves to join him on his journey back to the forest.
Akinyolu was made the Baale of his old forest now a thriving town. As he was called “Aje” by the townsmen, so was his domain named “Ilu Aje” which literally means “The witch town”.
For a long time, when people want to describe the area where the herbalist lived, they would say “ilu adifaṣẹ bi ajẹ” (One who divines or foretells with precision like a witch).
Over time, people just started shortening it to it “Ilu Ajẹ”, they omitted the “adifaṣẹ”.
That was how the town Got her name and Akinyolu ruled as the first Alaje of Ilu-Aje.
“ILU AJE” TODAY
Ilu Aje still exists till date in Afijio Local Government Oyo State.
To some people, it has been opined that because of the eerie feeling associated with the town as a result of the name, many, including government officials (who felt that witches would kill them if they agreed to work in the town), have since been keeping the town at bay in terms of relationship.
In order to remove the stigma, a one-time Head of the town later christened it “Ilu Ooye”, (Land where natural resources are deposited with people living in sound health).
The socio-political implication of the popular name (Land of Witches) had nevertheless stuck on the town, thereby getting investors and even philanthropists scared of having anything to do with the town.
The town is peaceful and the atmosphere is serene with the inhabitants harmoniously living with many Fulani people that settled there, carrying on their cattle rearing business, as well as, farming.
However, many social and infrastructural facilities are lacking in the town. It is one of the communities suffering from the common social amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, educational facilities, as well as, medical facilities, among others.
Mr Salam Daud Adewale: Image Credits
Yorubyth: A Facebook page
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