Akure the capital city of Ondo State, although, a modern city by all standards is one that is replete with traditional institutions and still aspire to retain its cultural values.
Igboyegun is an Idol forest in Akure which lacks proper maintenance. This is a land forbidden for masquerades to enter because there is no relationship between Yegun idol and masquerades.
High Chief (Dr) Olu-Eddo, the Sasere of Akure land, Oloo of Eru-Oba Akure, High Joseph Ajibola Bayode and Sapaye of Eru-Oba Akure, Chief Zaccheus Oni Adebayo spoke with MARIA FAMAKINWA about the origin of Igboyegun, its taboos and myths.
What was the origin of Igboyegun?
Igboyegun is an idol forest for Eru-Oba in Akure. It has been there since inception. It was given prominence by a blacksmith called “Yegun” in the olden days from where the name “Gboyegun”was coined.
Findings revealed that it was forbidden for masquerades to enter Igboyegun. Does the belief still hold?
Yes. It stands till tomorrow.
Why was Igboyegun a no go area for masquerades?
We learnt from history that in the olden days, a blacksmith who specialized in carving women’s hair comb called Yegun, where the name Gboyegun was formed complained that a masquerade called “eegun gogo” known to be very noisy was disturbing his children with his noise. This caused quarrel between them. Since then, Yegun stopped any masquerade from entering Gboyegun. That is why masquerades cannot enter Igboyegun.
Yegun’s diety was not known or seen by anybody because he did his business in the dead of the night. Remember I said that Yegun specialized in carving women’s hair combs. What Yegun did was to go to the shop at dead of the night, carved hair combs, display them with price tags and leave before the break of the day. Any interested buyer was expected to pick her choice and drop the money according to the price tag.
Has there been any case where a buyer picked Yegun’s comb and failed to drop the money?
We heard that there was a case like that and the woman was later discovered.
How was she discovered since nobody was there to monitor who bought what?
When it was discovered that one of the combs which Yegun displayed for sale was missing without seeing the money, two mysterious birds called “Kiribojo” traced the house of the woman’s who stole Yegun’s comb and died there. People then became curious why the two birds would die at the front of the woman’s house.
It was then they discovered that Yegun’s comb that had been missing for the past four days was in the woman’s house. The comb was stolen by her because they were traced to the woman’s house through the help of the mysterious birds.
The woman confessed to have stolen the comb and was made to pay for it. What was surprising was that after the woman had paid for the stolen comb, “kiribojo birds that were dead for four days rose up and disappeared. Since then, Gboyegun became prominent.
What would happen if any masquerade mistakenly enter Igboyegun?
(Chief Zaccheus Oni Adebayo) Any masquerade that mistakenly enter Igboyegun will die mysteriously. This is because if tradition forbids anything, it should be obeyed irrespective of the person’s religion. It is forbidden for any masquerade to enter Igboyegun because since a masquerade called “eegun gogo” fought with Yegun, the blacksmith, it is believed that they have nothing in common.
What is the significance of Igboyegun?
Igboyegun is the first place where we visit to perform Sasere’s rite. It is where my first chieftancy title started. If I am through with the rite at Igboyegun, I will proceed to the Oba’s palace for the continuation of Saseeres’s rite and I will never return to Igboyegun till my demise.
Up till now, I don’t know why it is forbidden for Sasere to enter Igboyegun after the first ritual rite, but that has been the tradition. Sasere’s rite is performed by killing a dog with stick to prevent its blood from touching the ground.
This is because it is forbidden to see the blood of the dog used to perform traditional rites for Sasere. To prevent the dog’s blood from touching the ground, we use stick instead of knife to kill the dog.
Igboyegun was supposed to be an historic site, why was it not well kept?
I told you earlier that the tradition forbids me from going to Igboyegun after the first traditional rites as the Sasere of Akure land was performed at Igboyegun. I can never go there again till I breath my last.
Due to this, I don’t know the condition of the place. Aside this, Akure is a cosmopolitan land having people from other traditions. We need to sensitize residents of Akure land better about the historic site.
Igboyegun is an important traditional site in Akure that need to be well kept. Last year, serious tragedy befell us when we lost some of our youths. Worried about the sad occurrence, the Eru-Oba local Chiefs consulted Ifa- oracle and reported to me after the consultation that the tragedy was due to the neglect of Yegun.
They said that the oracle disclosed that Yegun was angry for being neglected and needed to be appeased to put an end to untimely deaths among our youths. We immediately did what we were asked to do and we are getting positive results because deaths among youths has reduced drastically.
The site is now wearing a beautiful look that since they noticed it was unkept, the needful had been done.
What are the taboos surrounding Igboyegun?
The taboos are that Kabiyesi, Sasere and masquerades cannot enter Igboyegun. This is well known to those concerned and should be obeyed. The taboos have been there since inception and it remains.
As Sasere of Akure land, was there any special tradition you do?
Sasere is not original title of Akure. Sasere is of Benin origin. It came with Osupa to Akure. So, Sasere don’t have any special tradition.
What is your advice to Akure residents?
My advice to them is that they should be law abiding, obey the traditions of the land such as obeying the law that forbids masquerades from entering Igboyegun. If any masquerade disobey this tradition, such will die mysteriously.