The journey to Iwoye-Ketu, a border community in Ogun State, from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, was not in any way pleasurable. No thanks to the deplorable state of the road leading to the town.
The town, said to be the food basket of the state, has farming and trading as the main occupation of its people. The only road from Imeko-Afon to Iwoye Ketu is bumpy and dusty, while the only means of transportation to the town is by commercial motorcycle. The two tiny bridges linking the town were said to have been constructed in the 50s.
The community hosts people from other ethnic groups, which include the Egun, Igede, Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and Ohoi. Apart from accommodating people from different ethnic groups, the town is also a host to students of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), who undergo farm year practical programme for a period of seven months.
The town is equally known to be the highest producer of cotton in the entire South-West geopolitical zone. This town, said to have been established around 1670 by its forebears, has its own custom and tradition, which is being passed from one generation to the other for sustainability.
Interestingly, rearing of pigs and use of umbrellas is a taboo in the community. This is a belief that has lasted generations. In spite of the assumption that such beliefs may not hold water in recent times, sometimes as a result of religion or civilization, for the people of Iwoye-Ketu, a community that shares boundary with Republic of Benin and Iwajowa Local Government Area of Oyo State, the use of umbrellas and rearing of pigs remains a taboo that must be respected.
The community is said to have produced the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland.
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, the Ekerin of Iwoye -Ketu, Chief Bolaji Idowu, said the people of the community are direct descendants of Oduduwa, said to have migrated from Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yorubaland to its present place. The high chief explained that one of the three deities in the community detests rearing of pigs and use of umbrellas.
‘The community is as old as man’ Sharing the history of the town, Idowu, a septuagenarian, said that one of the town’s great ancestors, Olomu, migrated from Ile-Ife with three important items to Iwoye-Ketu. Those items were a staff (Opa Ogbo), a crown, and a stone described as Orisa Oluwa. He said that the town has two other deities, Orisa Saferi and Ogun Agbede.
Idowu added that it is only the Orisa Oluwa that forbids the use of umbrellas and rearing of pigs because of its dirty nature.
“The community is as old as man. According to history, it was established around 1670. It established the fact that the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Aare Onakakanfo were from Iwoye. The town experienced the Dahomey war and the Fulani war. Our people, according to history, were not adversely affected by these wars. However, the story changed during the Fulani war, when it was suspected that some people in this town connived with our enemies to fight the people.
“Mysterious things happened to the people. There were sudden disappearances of pregnant women. Worried by this development, an oracle was consulted and our fathers were told to offer a female virgin as sacrifice so as to put an end to mysterious happenings in the town.
“The Fulani war, according to history, became intense and our forebears were said to have fled the town when it became clear that
they could not overpower them. They were said to have fled to Deerin,” Idowu stated.
The community leader said that the inhabitants of the community respect this custom because of the belief they have in Orisa Oluwa, the great deity, who, according to him divided the Opara River with the Opa Ogbo, his staff, when they left Deerin, as such that was recorded in the Holy Bible by Moses when the Israelites wanted to cross the Red Sea.
He said that the traditional ruler of Deerin collected the Opa Ogbo (staff) and attempted to collect a stone, Orisa Oluwa, from the elders of Iwoye-Ketu, a move which was vehemently opposed.
He explained further that consequences for disobeying the taboo were not known, but maintained that the people had been complying with this age-long tradition.
Idowu equally submitted that inhabitants of neighbouring villages like Oke-Agbede, Moriwi, Wasinmi, Iselu do things in common with Iwoye-Ketu, while Wasinmi community also forbids use of umbrella.
The high chief said that strangers who use their umbrellas will be told in a polite manner that it’s a taboo to use it.
“Any stranger that uses umbrella in this community will be told that it is against our customs. Many of us have umbrellas at home; we use them outside Iwoye-Ketu. No one wants to dare the gods by disobeying the rule. Our people respect this custom so much,” he added.
Corroborating Idowu, the Adele of Iwoye-Ketu, Chief Isaac Oyero, said that the people of the town consulted Orisa Oluwa before setting out to war, and that it was during one of such consultations that they forbade the use of umbrella and breeding of pigs.
“The entire Iwoyeland respects this custom till date. No one dares go against it. We were not told what the consequence(s) will be for anyone who defies the instruction,” he stated.
Oyero submitted that residents use raincoats, polythene bags, clothes and other materials as protection from rain or sun.
‘We eat pork, but rearing pigs is forbidden’
Also speaking, a community leader, Pa Joel Asipa, said the community, till date, still performed rituals at the shrine of Orisa Oluwa annually. He said that the deity lives in a calabash and that only water fetched inside gourds and calabashes were poured on the deity.
Asipa, who guided the reporter through the shrine, explained that plans are underway to build a structure around the deity, which may soon become a tourist attraction.
On the taboo on pig rearing, Asipa said that no one has ever reared pigs in the community because the deity forbids it. However, he said residents were not forbidden from eating pork.
“Our people are free to eat pork. We serve them at occasions, but it is a taboo to rear pigs. This is because this deity does not like
pigs. If any pig strays close to the shrine, such pig may die,” Asipa confirmed.
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