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7.4 Onire Area Community. “Memorandum for the Grading of the Ariyibi of Onire.” 1978
I am indebted to Dr. Susan J. Watts for a copy of this document.
The document has been transcribed by me (Ann O’Hear) from a photocopy of a typewritten draft of a letter, which contained occasional handwritten corrections, mostly small-scale. In the transcription, I have removed crossed-out words and inserted the handwritten corrections. In one case, where a handwritten addition was more substantial than other additions, I have underlined the phrases that had been handwritten. I have also included a few other suggested corrections of my own to assist the reader; I have placed them within square brackets to show that they are my additions and not part of the original typescript.
ONIRE AREA COMMUNITY,
C/O ALHAJI ISA ONIRE,
ASA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
10TH MAY, 1978
C/O MILITARY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
MEMORANDUM FOR THE GRADING OF THE ARIYIBI OF ONIRE
We, the people of Onire Area of Onire district in Asa Local Government humbly and respectfully forward this memorandum to you in response to your invitation. We are forwarding this memorandum to request you to recommend the grading of the Ariyibi of Onire. For quite sometime we have been making similar request for the official recognition and grading of our traditional chief, the Ariyibi of Onire. Our demand for this is strengthened by our belief that Onire is an old town with very rich and solid history behind it, a factor we consider is of great importance to the grading of a traditional chief. Since the first grading exercise in Kwara State in 1970, we have always being hoping that our case shall be considered. We however came to realise that by virtue of the suppression which has been our lot under Ilorin, our case has never seen the light of the day. It is therefore with an unflinching faith in your panel that we forward this memorandum believing firmly that you will examine our case, give it the due consideration it deserves and eventually recommend the grading of our traditional chief
We shall give below the historical account of Onire and the reasons why we believe that the Ariyibi of Onire is qualified to be recommended for grading.
The town, Onire, is an old town founded by a warrior prince from Ajasse-po. The history of the people of Onire is that of a people who, as a result of a family feud over the right to the throne of Olupo of Ajasse-po, decided to leave Ajasse-po to found settlement elsewhere. Onire was founded by Prince Ahmadu, the son of Ariyibi, about 180 years ago. Prince Ahmadu contested for the throne of Olupo of Ajasse-po after the death of Olupo Buraimoh but failed to gain ascendency to the throne. Out of frustration therefore he left Ajasse-po accompanied by about one hundred relatives and slaves. Prince Ahmadu was a warrior of high repute, and as a warrior he was noted for his bravery. It was this quality that urged him to go and look for settlement elsewhere, where he could establish his own Kingdom. In his search for a suitable place, Prince Ahmadu, together with his followers moved from one place to another before finally settling at Onire. During the course of his movements he was establishing settlements, some of which remain till today and have developed into large villages. The first settlement founded by the prince was called after his father’s name, Aribi (shortened form of Ariyibi) which till today remains a big village near Oke-Oyi in Iponsirn [Igporin] district of Ilorin Local Government Area. He left this settlement in response to a request he received from groups of travellers who were then being harrassed by the “Agannigans” (highway robbers). The request had been that prince Ahmadu should come to their aid to rid their routes of these “Agannigans”.
The prince then left his first settlement, Aribi, and moved to the area where these “Agannigans” continued to pester the life of the travellers. As a warrior, he was naturally powerful, possessing strong charms with which he was able to confront any danger[.] It happened that the routes which these travellers plied were in the areas between Igbetti and Ilorin, a far distance from his first settlement Aribi. Not minding the distance involved, the prince moved out of his earlier settlement, leaving behind some settlers, and accompanied by his other followers. This movement took him to a site where he, together with his people, pitched their camps. True to his type, within a short time that the prince got to this site, he was able to reduce the menace of the Agannigans. The site later became a big settlement as other people moved in to join him and his people. The fear of the Agannigans had been eliminated. The settlement he found[ed] at this site remains till today known as sosoki. By his nature Prince Ahmadu was restless, always on the move. This made him to shift sites constantly and eventually resulted in his founding so many other settlements, big and small. Among those other settlements he founded, and which till today remain big villages, were:
(1) Budo Kawu near Alapa;
(3) Idi Idofun.
After a long period of restless movements, Prince Ahmadu finally settled at a permanent settlement which is till today called Onire. The settlement derived its name from the way people made reference and paid rev[er]ence to prince Ahmadu as “Baba Oninure”, meaning a father of kind hearted nature. This ref[e]rence derived from the fact that he was the one who saved the people from the menace of high-way robbers and also from his natural kindness towards people.
Having finally settled at Onire, Prince Ahmadu felt he had achieved his ambition of establishing his own kingdom, for he had founded many villages inhabited by a large number of people. Naturally, and in the fulfilment of his life ambition, prince Ahmadu established himself as the ruler over all the villages he had founded excluding Aribi which was too far away for him to administer. It might interest the panel to note that, Ariyibi, the father of Prince Ahmadu was the 14th Olupo of Ajasse-po. In reverence to his father therefore Prince Ahmadu decided that he should be called Ariyibi rather than his own name, hence the derivation of the traditional title of the traditional ruler of Onire.
The area which later came under the rule of Ariyibi grew in size as emigrants began to troop into the area. Each willing settler was always given an area of the kingdom which to settle by the Ariyibi. Such others included the Adeniran family from Ogbomosho to whom the Ariyibi gave the area of land on which the town now called Yowere was founded; another of such settler was the Goronjo family from Oyo who settled in the area now called Elebue; the land was given to the family by the Ariyibi. The territory under the control of the Ariyibi because [became] so enormous, spanning the whole area now called Onire district in Asa Local Government Area.
One major historical point worth noting is that the district of Onire was so named as a proof and in acknowledgement of the fact that the whole area belonged to the Ariyibi of Onire. The aforementioned areas, that is Sosoki, Yowere, Elebue, Idi Idofun, Budo Kawu and Onipako constitute more than two-thirds of the total land area of Onire district and the people of these areas acknowledge the fact they belong to Ariyibi to the extent that it has become a popular saying and a common knowledge, even among the children of these areas that “Ariyibi l’onile, Ariyibi l’oniwa” meaning that Ariyibi is the owner of the land, we belong to Ariyibi. The name of the town Onire is synonymous to the name of the district to which Onire belongs.
CHIEFTAINCY INSTITUTION AT ONIRE
While Ariyibi Ahmadu was alive, he had two male children whose names were: Bello and Ajadi. At the death of Ariyibi Ahmadu, the elder son, Bello who could have succeeded to the throne was outlived by his younger brother Ajadi, who thus became the successor to the throne. Although Bello did not ascend the throne, he had a son before he died. In effect two Ruling House were eventually established in Onire, Viz:-
(1) the Bello Ruling House; and
(2) the Ajadi Ruling House.
It should be pointed out that since the establishment of the dynasty of Ariyibi in Onire, there has never been a fight over succession to the throne. The selection of a successor to the throne is the responsibility of the “Omol’ebi”, that is the princes and princesses. The selection is so simplified that at the death of one Ariyibi, the oldest male member of the two ruling houses becomes the next Ariyibi. This far, there have been five rulers in Onire, Viz:-
(1) Ariyibi Ahmadu—founder of the town and of the Ariyibi dynasty
(2) Ariyibi Ajadi—Son of Ahmadu
(3) Ariyibi Saadu—Son of Bello
(4) Ariyibi Yakubu—from Ajadi ruling house
(5) Ariyibi Hanafi—from Ajadi ruling house.
Ariyibi Hanafi is the present Ariyibi of Onire.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITION OF THE PEOPLE OF ONIRE
Prior to the period that the Islamic religion gained ground among the people of Onire, there was not any difference between the people’s customs and traditions and those of other Yoruba towns, particularly between our customs and those of Ajasse-po from where we migrated to Onire. The advent of the Islamic religion coupled with the influence of the Fulani culture which attempted to assimilate us and all that is our Yoruba cultural heritage, most of our customs and traditions had died down. On the side of religion some of our customs and traditions were regarded as paganistic. On the other side, the Fulanis that invaded Ilorin in the 19th century sought to suppress us and our culture and to impose on us the Fulani culture through suppression, oppression and relegation. For instance before the introduction of the Islamic religion there were cultural festivals and traditional reli[gi]ons like Oya, Ifa, Egungun etc which are the integral part of the Yoruba cultural heritage. Up till today however, the “Odo Oya”, that is the “mortar of Oya[”] (“Oya is the goddess of the river”) is still in the family house of the Ariyibi in Ajasse-po.
The historical and cultural link of Onire with Ajasse-po cannot be in doubt from the above account. As a right, the Ariyibi family were entitled to the throne of the Olupo of Ajasse-po as has been shown above. It is worthy of note that, it was dispute over succession to the throne of Olupo of Ajasse-po that forced Prince Ahmadu out of Ajasse-po,this migration from Ajasse-po [transcriber’s underlining: the underlined text was a handwritten addition to the typescript] however has not cut off the relationship between his (Prince Ahmadu’s) descendants and their original home at Ajasse-po. In fact the Ofelu compound in Ajasse is still regarded with reverence by the Ariyibi of Onire.
STAFF OF OFFICE
It might interest the Panel to note that at the advent of the colonial administration in this part of the country, when Mallam Aliyu was the Emir of Ilorin and Ariyibi Ajadi was on throne in Onire, the then european resident gave Ariyibi Ajadi a staff which was in recognition of his status among traditional rulers the colonial administration met at that time. However, out of jealousy and more out of fear of another ruler rivalling him and mostly out of the desire to relegate to the background all the indigenous traditional rulers the Fulanis met when they came to Ilorin, the then Emir of Ilorin, Mallam Aliyu, through wiles and guiles, wrested and took away this historical symbol of status from the Ariyibi Ajadi. This was the fate that befell many other traditional rulers around Ilorin at that time from the Fulani Emirs. They used all tactics, administrative political and other evil means to suppress those Yoruba traditional rulers around Ilorin at that time. They sought all means possible to abolish all that was our cherished culture; they relegated to nothing the status of our traditional rulers. This is why up till today, it would appear to outsiders that we do not have any other ruler apart from the Emir of Ilorin whereas we do have but they have been suppressed, their influence subdued and their status reduced to the dust. The Ariyibi of Onire, has been a victim of these evil machinations perpetrated through the agency of a district head imposed on us from Ilorin. Nobody could believe that the Igbominas, while under Ilorin Emirate, had traditional rulers like the Olupo of Aj[a]sse-po or the Olomu of Omu Aran neither was the Olofa of Offa accorded the recognition he now enjoys while Offa was under Ilorin Emirate.
In the light of the history of the people of Onire and of their traditional ruler, the Ariyibi, we are imploring your Panel to please restore to us the once-seized honour and status of the Ariyibi of Onire by recommending him for grading.
For; Omire [sic] Community.