“Where there is no law, there is no sin”, cliched as it may sound, it is one statement that has remained true over the years and will remain so. On the flip side, what that means is there is a corresponding punishment for anyone who flouts a law in a society where there laws have been spelt out.
It is no different for the Ijofin community. Ijofin is a beautiful town located at Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State and its occupants are known for agribusiness and petty trading.
Ipokia LGA in the west of Ogun State is one of the border towns of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. Its headquarters is Ipokia town.
Like other neighbouring communities, Ipokia also has a taboo and it may interest you to know that in this community, it is forbidden for anyone to sell roasted groundnuts. This embargo has been noted as a major factor that distinguishes the community from other neighbouring towns like Idiroko, Oniro, Ita Egbe, Ihunbo, Agosasa, Aseko, Maun, Koko, Iropo, Alaari, Tube, Ilashe, Ifonyintedo, Madoga and Tongeji.
In this interview with ABAYOMI ASANMO and ENEDUBI LOVETH , the King of Ijofin, Oba Moruf Ayinla Awode, the Ololo of Ijofin Kingdom, Onimolo 1 speaks on Ijofin’s rich cultural heritage and why the Kingdom forbids selling of roasted groundnut in the community. Enjoy excerpts of their conversation below:
Kabiyesi, could you briefly tell us the history of Ita Oba Festival?
First, I must clear the air by saying natives of Ijofin are both Yorubas and Eguns, we lived in peace and harmony. On your question, we decided to start this yearly festival in order to bring our people, at home and in the diaspora, together to develop our town, to make ourselves happy and to create some sort of reunion.
I am happy that since we started, we have been experiencing progress. People come home because they can’t afford to miss the festival.
What are the challenges you have been facing since you ascended the throne?
The challenges are too numerous to count but with prayers, God has not left us. Things were not so easy, especially around 1999 to 2001, however, since 2002 there have been massive improvements.
We have a deity called Igere. If a barren woman goes there and pray, she will conceive. Anyone who goes to pray to God through the deity will surely receive an answer. We do not have many taboos, however, the one we have is a ban on selling of roasted groundnuts. This is because it has a history of causing fever here but aside that, there is none. Although some natives sell it, we do not allow them to do so in the community.
What can you say about the issue of security in Nigeria, the intrusion of herdsmen and the like?
Our government is trying but the problems are enormous. The challenge of insecurity is prevalent everywhere in Nigeria. Security takes a huge chunk of the national budget but we must always remember that God is our ultimate guard.
We are worried about the youths. Not only the youths but the entire community. I will advise the government to join hands together with us to uplift this community. I will also encourage anyone who is well-to-do to extend a hand to the less privileged.
Young people too should be hardworking, this is what will encourage their kinsmen to come home regularly to develop the community. I also remind natives of this community in the diaspora to invest here because regardless of wherever they are today, one day, they will still have to come home to rest.
What do you have to say to your guests who made it to the occasion of the festival?
I pray God grants everyone who has come from far and near safe return their respective destinations. When I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of my ascension to the throne in 2018, there was no record of any bad occurrence. I am confident that by the power of God, everyone who has come to this Ita-Oba celebration will get home in peace.
Please tell us more about yourself?
My name is Oba Moruf Ayinla Awode, the Ololo of Ijofin kingdom, Onimolo 1. I have both First School Leavers Certificate (FSLC) and the Modern School Leavers Certificate. I was a professional tailor in my heydays. I was also a renowned musician. I used to sing Fuji but that was over twenty years ago. Back in the day, I named my band Fuji Sensational. I stopped singing in 1998. However, music is still very much in my blood.