Oba-Ile happened to be one of the most ancient towns in Yoruba land according to history. History has it that it was founded about 12th Century by one ODUYALE who was a son of Oduduwa and also a sibling of Alaafin and Olufon Ade.
Oduyale the founder of Oba-Ile was an Ifa Oracle who was gifted in traditional medicine. He was very powerful then, since charms and traditional medicine were the basis of power in those days.
This man Oduyale had a friend then called OBEDU. Obedu is reputed to be the fore bearer of Oduduwa, the father of Yoruba race and said to be a Demon; he was then referred to as “Obedu Olowu Oro Ife”. He was said to possess a lot of magical power and he was as old as the time of Ile-Ife was created. This means he was older than Oduyale his friend. So Oduyale sought a lot of advice from him, and he did tell Oduyale spiritual and philosophical advice to manage his life. A time came when Oduyale had a problem in rearing children and happened to be a major problem bordering his mind and which made him unhappy. He, however, decided to go to Obedu to seek for advice; on getting to him, Obedu told him that unless he left Ile-Ife, he would never rear a child. But he left Obedu for his house unhappy. Obedu saw this, he sent this messenger called ‘JENYA’ to Oduyale’s house to deliver a message that what he (Obedu) said must be obeyed or else he would never bear a child.
Therefore, to abide by the advice of Obedu, Oduyale decided to leave Ile-Ife for an unknown place. As a result of this decision, he went back to Obedu that he had agreed to leave Ile-Ife, then Obedu gave magical power to Oduyale that whenever he was ready the power given to him would lift him to the land appointed to him by the Ifa Oracle. When he got home, Oduyale told his father that he had to leave Ile-Ife for the land appointed to him by the Ifa Oracle that otherwise he would never bear a child. Oduyale’s father (Oduduwa) asked him to come back the following morning. On getting to him the following morning, he was released and given the following as evidence of his real son:
(i) Beaded Crown (ADE)
(ii) Iron Walking Stick (OPAGA)
(iii) Heavy Iron Rod (ODURO)
(iv) Magical Bangle (JUFU)
He went back to Obedu to bid him farewell and requested for how they would be getting in touch in case of difficulties. On this note, Obedu told him that wherever he landed he would meet him there. Then Oduyale conjured the magical power given to him, flew above and landed in one thick forest called the “Forest of Demons” (Igbo awon Oro). As he was trying to land, he was hearing voices shouting “Oba-le o o, Oba-le o o, Oba-le o o” meaning he is landing, he is landing, he is landing which was later metamorphosed to Oba-Ile and that is why Oba-Ile people are called “Oba nja Omo Seloke” i.e. Oba people that descended from the sky. When he finally landed, he saw nobody unless the signs of demons, when he looked back, he saw Obedu coming behind him. Both of them settled down; after sometime they had been living together Oduyale went back to Ile-Ife, his source, to bring all his belongings including his wife to his new settlement “Oba-Ile” where he was flourishing and starting having children.
One could not talk of Oba-Ile without referring to Obedu; Oduyale was the first king called “Oloba-Obedu”. Since then, there was a great relationship between Obedu and Oloba, but due to the fact that Obedu was a spirit, warrior and hunter he could not spend most of his time with his friend in Oba-Ile, he had two dogs used for hunting, he always dressed like a hunter in knickers and waist coat with a chain tied around his waist. He did move around the town, slept in the bush, though he was always in touch with the then Oloba-Ile.
A school of thought holds that 110 years after Obedu had lived he called the then Oloba and the chiefs to inform them of his intention to leave them but planning to be protecting them against any forms of external attacks specifically whenever they were in time of war by instructing them to assemble out and be drumming and shouting “koriko dide, eruwa dide” meaning “let grass arise as soldiers to fight”. Then he departed them and disappeared.
Most people in the town did not believe Obedu on his promise; some said he had gone forever and might not rescue them in time of trouble again. So they persuaded the then chiefs and Oloba to call Obedu the way he had instructed them on his departure whether he could appear or not so that if he did not appear again they would know how to prepare for themselves in time of eventuality. On this premise the then Oloba concurred, acted in conformity with the people’s wish, set out and called Obedu according to the procedures ha had laid down for them to follow. This powerful man was tested three times, as soon as they started drumming and shouting “koriko dide eruwa dide”, suddenly, there was eruptions and amazingly Obedu appeared and commanded the grass to rise and metamorphose to soldiers. In a moment, the soldiers started killing the indigenes of Oba-Ile before he later realised they had been killing many of his people, he felt betrayed, disappointed and vowed that Oba-Ile people would never set their eyes on him again, he later commanded the soldiers to return them back to grasses.
He left them with great annoyance and the remaining town’s people started following him and appealing to him to forgive them. They followed him to a certain place where he descended to the earth, they were pulling the chain around his waist but he completely descended to the earth except a little part of the chain remaining outside. When he was descending to the earth, he vowed that the real indigene of Oba-Ile would never set their eyes on him again. Since then the remains of the chain is at the place where he descended to the ground which is now called “Obedu Shrine” till today.
The worship of Obedu is an annual event specifically in the month of October characterised with the worship at Obedu shrine which the real Oba-Ile people must not reach the spot of the remains of the chain where Obedu descended to the earth. It has been an abomination since then. It is the non-indigene called “AWORO” that performs the ritual at the ancient shrine of Obedu. The spot which has become a centre of attraction for visitors is at Oba-Ile in Olorunda Local Government, State of Osun, Nigeria till the moment. This annual remembrance Obedu Festival came into being at “ADAASO”, the place where Obedu disappeared underground. It was believed that a king of fungi called OLU OGOGO always come along with the festival.
The old Oba-Ile is now a historical object of human habitations. There are still walls, cooking utensils, grinding stones and so forth. Oba people departed the ancient spot because of the fear they have in Obedu and then settled at a place called “Adaaso” which is nearby the place.
However during the inter-tribal war of Ijesa Arara that ravaged Yoruba after they lived for many years there, they all fled out of “Adaaso”. It was the time of the Oloba named “Onja” who was said to be the third Oloba-Ile. At a later time, Oba-Ile people were again dispersed as a result of several inter-tribal wars elicited by the Fulani incursions. Those who remained behind moved to the present place within the Oloba-Ile territory where Oba-Ile, State of Osun, is still till today. Some moved to Akitangugulu now called Igbo Oloba at Ikirun. This place was within Oba territory then. Some of the people who settled near Osogbo named their new settlement OBATEDO meaning people from Oba-Ile settled here. The predominance of the people flew out and went to settle in Oba-Ile near Akure, Oba Akoko in Ondo State, Oba-Ile Isin in Kwara State, Oba-Abeokuta in Ogun State and Oba near Onitsha in Anambra State etc. There are some who dispersed to Osogbo, Erin-Ile, Ibadan, Ila-Orangun, Ikirun, Iragbiji, Igbajo, Otan-Ayegbaju, Uso near Owo and most towns in Yoruba land. In fact in Uso near Owo, they called their King, the Oloba of Uso. But all these people in their different locations carried along the totem of “OLOBA-OBEDU”.
In another school of thought, it has it that this man called Obedu was referred to as “Oloba Akayedo” and Oloba is one of the longest ancient titles among the Yoruba Obas. He was one of the ancient kings that wear beaded crowns, who were the force bearers of Oduduwa. But the historians in this school of thought have confirmed it that the crown of Oloba has a very deep relationship with gods, this made people of Yoruba race to be saying that “A kiiri omo Oloba lai dade”. That is we will never see a descended of Oloba without a beaded crown and it was also a common saying of Yoruba that “Ade Oloba soro isi” meaning it is a great task (or impossible) to put beaded crown off Oloba’s head. Their belief is that whoever does that, will automatically see the red faces of gods and goddesses. In this school of thought it has it, that directly from heaven, Olodumare chose the first Oloba to follow the first Oloba to follow the first king of Ile-Ife (Olofin-Aye) that descended from heaven and that it was directly from heaven that Olodumare gave Oloba his own beaded crown along with other fifteen chiefs from heaven and that this Oloba-Akayedo/Obedu was the most knowledgeable chief in the heaven then, that is why it was he that the “mysterious bird” was handed over to and how it is to be used for Olofin-Aye’s governance.
History has it that the king of Heaven gave him something that resembled snail’s shell that contained sand. The Oloba Akayedo pour a handful of this sand on the surface of ocean of water below and commanded the mysterious bird to spread it over the surface of water when this was done, the dry land on earth appeared and spread to infinity. Then he descended from heaven to the dry land through a chain and when he got to the ground and made sign through the chain then Olofin-Aye and other chiefs descended to the ground as well. It was believed that it was Oloba Akayedo that told them and instructed them on where they should step and not step on the ground, he also told them all the rituals that Olofin-Aye should be performing and all those things that are taboos on the earth. The spot where Olofin-aye first stepped on the ground is “More”. He then told Olofin-Aye that the town should be named “IFE” because that is where all worldly things will start spreading. This Olofin-Aye was also referred to as Oduduwa. There was no place throughout Yoruba land or race then where they overlook Oloba or whatever he said they did say that “Bi orisa ile ba n-binu, Oloba ni bee, oun si ni orisa ile ngbo tire” that is to say if the gods are angry it was Oloba that appealed to them and it was he that the gods did listen to. It was also the common saying that “Omo onile ti nte jeje, omo abale soro kile yanu” this means that the owner of the ground that stepped it gently, the one that spoke to the ground that the ground responds to immediately.
This school of thought said further that this man Oloba-Akayedo never died in history after he had spent a lot of years on earth. But this school of thought said that he went back to heaven through chain; the beaded crowns he left behind are what his children or descendants are wearing till today and wherever you see any Oloba-Ile in Yoruba land they are all descendants of Oloba Akayedo or Obedu.