Sunday, September 5, 2021 7:45 pm
By Sodiq Bakene
Driving through the popular Igbehin Road in the heart of Abeokuta, one would catch a glimpse of the architectural masterpiece of St. John’s Church, Igbehin, built from stone and marble in 1847, before the creation of Nigeria.
The 173-year-old structure located about half a kilometre from the Government House, Oke-Igbehin, is one of the few historical monuments, which lend credence to the early existence of the ancient Igbehin Township of Egbaland, in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Another historical structure is the Prestigious Abeokuta Grammar School which became operative at a site in the present-day Ijemo Agbadu, Abeokuta on 16th July 1908, but in December 1908, was moved by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to the Igbehin site.
Till date, the Igbehin area where the school started is popularly referred to as “Grammar School”.
That the Ogun State Government House was located in Igbehin was not a mistake, but a reflection of the prowess and importance of Igbehin to the socio-economic and political development of Egbaland, Ogun State and Nigeria in general.
Historically, a popular Egba warrior, Sodeke was pivotal to the discovery and settlement of the Egbas in Abeokuta, on the 5th of August, in 1830, with four strong pillars (sections) which include Egba Alake section (under the Oba Alake), Oke-Ona Egba Section (under Oba Osile), Gbagura Section (under the Oba Agura), and Owu Section (under Oba Olowu).
Igbehin was one of the important towns that followed Sodeke then, with Ake, Oke (Oke-Ona), Iporo, Kemta, Kesi, Ikereku, Idomapa, Ido Orun, Igbore, Itoku and others.
There is no way, the story of Abeokuta, the abode of the Egbas, will be relayed without mentioning Igbehin which started their liberation from the sovereignty and over Lord-ship of the Alafin of Oyo Empire, to which the Egbas hitherto belonged.
The Liberation took place between 1775 and 1780, under the leadership of Lisabi, a resident of Igbehin, but who was born in Itoku. Lisabi, an Egba warrior, is venerated for his heroic exploits during those turbulent days of inter-tribal wars and he is thus identified by all Egba people as the strength of their togetherness.
According to history, when the other Egba leaders had resigned to fate under the unbearable servitude they were consigned to by the Oloyo, Lisabi was preoccupied with the thought of how his land of birth would be freed from the shackles of slavery. Towards uniting the people for an onslaught against Oloyo’s formidable force which was an amalgam of many towns and villages similarly consigned to servitude, Lisabi reportedly formed a cooperative society with able-bodied men who were farmers as members.
He organized a movement under the name of Egbe “Aaro” Tradition mutual Aid society, which he later used to free the Egbas by organizing the simultaneous killing of the Ajeles or the Ilaris in all Egba towns, in 1780, starting from Igbehin. Ilaris or Ajeles were the representatives of the Alafin of Oyo and collectors of the tribute paid to the coffers of Alafin from all territories under the Oyo Empire.
In all, more than 600 llaris or Ajeles were wiped out in one day.
The Ajeles or Ilaris in general, behaved like an Army of Occupation in the places they administered. Their Tyrannical rules marked them out as instrument of oppression and suppression of the people. It was this authoritarian rule of the Alafin and reckless life’s style of this Ilaris in Egbaland that threw up Lisabi and his peers in Igbehin Land, who resolved to bring an end to the evil rule at all cost.
With supreme war tactics, Lisabi’s army, whose numerical strength was far less than that of the Oloyo, won the battle, consequently obtaining freedom for the Egbas, thus turning most of the farmers to warriors who fought many wars.
Because of Lisabi’s prowess in warfare, and the capacity by the farmers turned warlords, till date, igbehin people have the exclusive right to the war title of Balogun of Egbaland.
It is then succinct ,to say that the Igbehin people are well known for their bravery and gallantry as warriors who fought and won many wars.
Leragun is a prominent traditional warlord title in Igbehin Land and it can only come from a renowned family of warriors. The title can only be conferred on a courageous, gallant, intelligent, fearless and brave personality who can easily replicate traits of the energetic leadership that Lisabi Agbongbo Akala and the Igbehin people were all known for.
In search of a new Leragun, it was then not a surprise when Igbehin Land, beamed its searchlight on the Lashoju Family, the root of the great Iya Agan Ilu Igbehin, the only powerful woman who can enter the groove with Igbehin Masquerade, .
The Lashoju Family could not but unanimously support the emergence of Chief Oluwatoyin Anthony Amuzu, the son of Mrs Kehinde Bolajoko Amuzu (Nee Odebunmi) whose father, Pa Odebunmi is from the Lashoju lineage.
The Late Pa Odebunmi in his lifetime was industrious and was a successful farmer among other life endeavours.
For the people of Igbehin Land, it was a dream come true, when the head of the Township in Abeokuta axis of Igbehin led by its traditional head, Oluwo conferred the chieftaincy of Leragun Igbehin Land on one of their own, in the person of Chief Toyin Amuzu, at the Ile Ogboni, Igbehin in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Sunday, 18th of October, 2020.
The Oluwo among other traditional chiefs said “the Igbehin township has deemed it fit, to install Chief Amuzu with the Leragun Title seeing his support to the community”, urging him to continue to ensure the development of his ancestral home and people.
An array of guests including, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Chieftain, Chief Ladi Adebutu, Ogun State former speaker, Rt Hon. Titi Oseni, Consultant to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Media, Prince Ife Akinbode, an uncle to the new Chief, Mr Tokunbo Odebunmi who owns the UK Obalende Suya spot and Amuzu’s mum twin sister among others were entertained at Ita-Agemo, Igbehin.
The new Leragun of Igbehin Land, Chief Toyin Amuzu popularly called TA is a successful Estate Developer, who is breaking new grounds in building construction and engineering.
He is also the Okanlomo of Ijeunland in the homestead of his grandmother who married Pa Odebunmi from Igbehin.
Chief Toyin Amuzu’s love for a better Society and to assist the people brought about the creation of a not-for- profit, non Governmental Organisation, NGO, named Toyin Amuzu Foundation which facilitated a water project in his ancestry home of Igbehin Land with various other charity support.
Greeting the Igbehin people in their local parlance, saying “Aaro”, one can only pray that the installation of the New Leragun of Igbehin land in the person of Chief Toyin Amuzu would usher in more growth and development.
*Sodiq Bakene is a graduate of Mass Communication from the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, a writer and an engineer with special interests in the history of the Egbas.