Iyin Ekiti ranks among the best well-planned towns in modern Nigeria. It is bounded on the eastern side by Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, in the western side by Igede-Ekiti, the headquarters of our local government – Irepodun/Ifelodun, on the southern side by Ilawe-Ekiti and on the northern side by Awo-Ekiti.
The history of Iyin origin emerged principally from oral tradition. Like all other Yoruba towns where people traced their descent from Oduduwa, the main body of the people of Iyin originated from Ori-Eguru in Ile-Ife where they migrated during the dispersal of people from this cradle of Yoruba.
Led by Oluda, a prince, they had a brief or extended stay at places such as Ilesha, Owena, Ado-Binni, Ido-Ani, Emure and Agbado-Ekiti. During this period of migration, a baby girl, Mote, was born to Balofin, one of Oluda’s lieutenants. Mote grew up to become an influential, brave, powerful and respected woman who equally possessed some clairvoyant ability.
At Ado-Ekiti, Oluda separated from Ewi, his brother prince with whom he left Ile-Ife and journeyed westward with his people until they got to the foot of a steep hill where they found it difficult to move any further. Mote’s advice that the people should approach the clearing of the steep bush path in a kneeling position made it possible for them to navigate the hill.
For this, the people called the place “A kun le san” or Akannasan, meaning “we cleared the bush in a kneeling position”. This is the sharpest and most dangerous bend on Ado-Iyin road today. The construction of seven bumps on it however reduced the rate of motor accidents usually caused here by excessive speeding.
Iyin people came to realize that there was not enough land for them on top of the hill and therefore decided to look for a more spacious land. At this, the mystical Mote advised them to remain on this site as they would prosper there and would be able to see in-coming enemies at a glance. Her advice was taken and the place was called Okesale that is a hilltop without enough land. This name exists till today as one of the quarters of the town. In Okesale, Oluda became the first Oluyin and was called Oluyin Oluda Agbogbomoja. Mote led many of the wars fought to ward off incursions and was always victorious. This also explains the saying “Eyemote kii je ki omo Iyin te.” It should be noted that the prefix “Eye” before “Mote” depicts that she was an old woman. In memory of this heroine, the first secondary school in the town and many other things were named after Eyemote.
During the Yoruba internecine wars, the people were victims of attacks. Notable among these wars were the Ado-Benin war, Owu war and Oyo war just to mention a few. It was during the Oyo war, which started in 1870 that Oluyin Olofingbolako Oketagidigidi was taken captive. Though ransomed four years later, he died in 1909. Apart from the Yoruba wars, Iyin great warriors equally fought local wars and a good example was the Ado/Ikere war in which Iyin people participated on invitation to assist Ado people. A major adverse effect of the various wars was the loss of many able-body men, which accounted for the depletion of the population of the town.It also caused the people to live in fragmented hamlets.
Various people made frantic efforts at different times to bring the fragmented hamlets of Iyin together under a central location but failed. For example, during the reign of Oluyin Oketagidigidi, the efforts of some indigenes of Iyin who returned after the wars from Ibadan were frustrated as a result of the intransigence of the people. Among the effort-makers were Isaac Babamuboni, formerly Famuboni, Disu Agbogunleye and Adoba. They however succeeded in propagating Christianity and Islam which they had embraced when they were in Ibadan. The reigns of Oluyin Dada and Oluyin Ajakaye 1 also witnessed some unsuccessful efforts at unification. The fragmented hamlets in 1940s however coalesced into four recognised settlements namely Iro, Ibedoyin, Oketoro and Okelawe that made up Iyin community today.
The name UYIN is a dialectic word meaning PRAISE which was derived from the amount of praises heaped on the early settlers who migrated from Ile-Ife and settled in Okelawe. The Yoruba word is IYIN and the difference is only in the first letter. Thus the change in the pronunciation from UYIN to IYIN was effected in 1948 and was published in the Daily Times of 22nd July 1945.
Iyin indigenes continued to make efforts towards the realisation of a unified settlement without success until 1949 when Mr . Thomas H. Bedson, the British Development officer for Ekiti, delivered a lecture at Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti. Bedson, in the course of his lecture, particularly cited his projects in places such as Oye-Ekiti where formally segmented communities got unified and planned to follow modern town planning tenets. Iyin indigenes at the lecture, who were teachers and students saw the relevance of the lecture to the age-long desire for Iyin unification. They then approached Bedson for assistance. Ultimately, Mr. T.H. Bedson with these teachers and students could be described as the architects of the coming together of the four settlements of Iyin to the present site. The seven foundation members of Iyin Unification Committee are Chief C.A. Olosunde, Mr.R. Fayose, Mr. Frederick Popoola, Mr. Akintoye Ariyo, Mr. Charles Aderiye, Chief Abiodun Ogundele and Chief Obafemi Olofin.
After some meetings with the then Oluyin, Oba Owolabi 1 and his chiefs, the coming together into the present site was approved. The problem of site was solved with the people of Oketoro and Okelawe quarters surrendering their lands without compensation. History was made on 10th May, 1950 when the agreement paper was signed under Mr.T.H. Bedson’s supervision.
The first clearing of the site came up on 19th June, 1950 with Chief J.A. Ogbede, a businessman of repute and Iyin indigene based in Ilorin giving out implements such as about 100 cutlasses, many diggers and spades for use. With the supervision of Mr. Thomas H. Bedson and the support of local Town Planning Committee under the able leadership of Chief I. Adeyemi, the Aro of Oketoro quarters, residential buildings began to spring up. High Chief J. Olubobokun, the Odofin of Okelawe quarters, was the first to move to his house at the new site on 24th June, 1951, while Oba Owolabi 1 moved in on 12th July, 1953 and died a year later, precisely on 18th October 1954. Mr. T. H.Bedson was later transferred to Ibadan and in appreciation of his special contribution to the coming together of Iyin people into the present site, a street was named after him at Iro quarters.
Iyin Progressive Federal Union (IPFU), came into existence at the new site and took over the collective administration of the council called Elumo which used to preside over the affairs of Iyin people but met last before the coming together. The Elumo council was composed of the Oluyin, the high Chiefs and some selected chiefs from each of four quarters. Chief J . Ogbede became the first president of IPFU with Chief Hector Omooba as deputy president (and later president) and Chief C.A. Olosunde as the Secretary.
On 4th August, 1966, the then Col. R.A. Adebayo (now a retired Major General) became the military governor of the defunct Western State of Nigeria. During the period of the governorship of this Iyin son, Iyin became a recognised community throughout the country, enjoying modern amenities such as electricity, pipe-bourn water and standard hospital.
Today, the community has produced many personalities such as professors, doctors, engineers, judges, lawyers, army officers, police officers, administrators of note to mention a few. Among these people are the first Nigerian Professor of Architecture in the person of Professor Yinka Adeyemi, the first Commandant of the Mobile Police Force Chief Hector Omooba, the first Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Rt. Hon.Justice J. A . Ajakaye, now the Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti and the first civilian governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, a son of retired Major – Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo.
Iyin community today is essentially religious, the people are predominantly Christians, with Muslims also forming an integral part. African Traditional Religion which was the first religion of the people has given way almost completely to either Christianity or Islam. It is interesting to note that before the coming together to the present site, there were only orthodox churches – Anglican, Roman Catholic Church, Baptist and Methodist, in existence. Today, there are over 100 different denominations among which are African Church, CAC, Celestial Church, Winners and Redeem Churches. There are also many denominations of the Islamic religion in Iyin today.
The people are also predominantly farmers, planting food crops such as yam, maize, cassava, rice, plantain, banana, coco-yam, fruits and vegetables. Cash crops like cocoa, colanut, and so on are grown extensively. We also have artisans such as hunters, carpenters, brick layers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors,barbers and hairdressers. Businessmen and women are unfortunately not very many here.
Before coming together to the present site, there were not more than four primary schools and no secondary school at all. But today, Iyin can boast of many nursery schools and five secondary schools, both public and private. One of the secondary school is Government Science College.
The accession of His Royal Majesty, Oba (Justice) J.A. Ajakaye, the Oyinyosaye Uyin ll, to the throne on December 22nd 2005 makes him the 17th Oluyin as recorded by his predecessor, Oluyin Julius Adeniyi Owolabi ll. The past Oluyin were:
1. Oluyin Oluda Agbogbomoja, founder of Iyin Ekiti
2. Oluyin Ogunmakinde Agbadanla
3. Oluyin Bamidele Agbagba-wole
4. Oluyin Agbogbomoja
5. Oluyin Ogunrinlade Okudi nrele Amuni
6. Oluyin Ogunmakinde Agaba-Ola
7. Oluyin Petu bi Owuro
8. Oluyin Ogbede Okunlemeso who was killed in Ado-Benin war of 1815
9. Oluyin Agunsoye bi Oyinbo
10. Oluyin Agbonhun a ranu ra mole re
11. Oluyin Okokolukedo
12. Oluyin Olofingbolako Oketagidigidi who was captured during the Oyo war in 1895 but ransomed 4 years later and died in 1909
13. Oluyin Olofindare Dada (Okansoso Ajanaku) who ascended the throne in 1911, deposed in 1940 but was reinstated in 1947. He died the same year.
14. Oluyin Samuel Ajakaye Oyinyosaye Uyin ll. He ascended the throne on 24th August, 1940 and died on March 26, 1946.
15. Oluyin Olofindua Ajulo Owolabi l (Akayejo bi Agogo.) 1946-1954
16. Oluyin Julius Adeniyi Owolabi ll (JP) 1957-2004
by Rotimi Adebuiji

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