The Hills of Oyo
© Toyosi Faridah Kekere-Ekun 2010
Ibadan came into existence in 1829. According to local historians, Lagelu, the Jagun (commander-in-chief) of Ife and Yoruba’s generalissimo, left Ile Ife with a handful of people from Ife, Oyo and Ijebu to found a new city, Eba Odan. The first city was destroyed due to an incident at an Egungun (masquerade) festival when an Egungun was accidentally disrobed and derisively mocked by women and children in an open marketplace full of people.
In Yorubaland, it was an abomination for women to look an Egungun in the eye because the Egunguns were considered to be the dead forefathers who returned to the earth each year to bless their progeny. When the news reached Sango, the then Alaafin of Oyo, he commanded that Eba Odan be destroyed for committing such an abominable act.
Lagelu was by now an old, frail man; he could not stop the destruction of his city, but he and some of his people survived the attack and fled to a nearby hill for sanctuary. On the hill they survived by eating oro fruit and snails; later, they cultivated the land and made corn and millets into pap meals known as oori or eko, which they ate with roasted snails. They improvised a bit by using the snail shells to drink the liquefied eko. Ultimately, Lagelu and his people came down from the hill and founded another city called Eba’dan.