Historical background of Okelerin, first settlement in Ogbomoso

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Femi OGUNLANA

Okelerin is a popular neighbourhood in Ogbomoso today located in the heart of the city. Set on a hill, it is bounded by Osupa/Aaje/Oke-Agbede to the south, Ojagbo/Ojajagun/Isale-Afon to the east, Taraa/Aguodo to the north and Papa to the west. The first settler in the area and indeed in the whole of the area now known as Ogbomoso set his camp in this hilly area, hence the people of this area pride themselves today as the “Genesis of Ogbomoso.” This first settler, Aale, who believably settled here in about 1600, migrated from Nupeland, probably in Bida or any of the many Nupe towns inhabited by the tribe recognized as Tapa, in today’s Niger state.
Aale was a brave hunter, reputed for his strong medicine and charms. This hilly (oke in Yoruba) forest he pitched his tent on, had a large population of elephants (erin in Yoruba), hence the name “Oke-Elerin” (Elephant Hill). He hunted down these brute beasts and he entrenched himself in the area. He later went to bring down his family and thus made the area his permanent abode, where he would never take leave of.
Other settlers moved in to found settlements in different corners of the large expanse of land in the area. It is widely believed that Ohunsile, a Yoruba man from Ota and a redoubtable warrior, came after Aale and made the area now known as Ijeru his home. Orisatolu, an Ibariba man from Borgu land, followed suit and settled at the area now known as Isapa area, the name evolving from his cultivation of a vegetable known in Yoruba as isapa (roselle). Orisatolu was a medicine man and Ifa priest, who had travelled widely before arriving at this new settlement. After him came Akandie, also from Nupeland. He pitched his tent at the area now known as Akandie in Isale-Afon quarters. He was also a very powerful man in African science. Soun Ogundiran Ogunlola came last. He was a restless spirit, very courageous, a hunter and warrior. He settled under a tree known as Ajagbon at Oja-Igbo area of the city. The vicinity of his home is now the palace of Ogbomoso.
This motley crowd, after they had formed acquaintance organized themselves into a society called “Alongo,” which was a socio-cultural organization and a defense league. Ogunlola’s subsequent manslaughter charge took him to Oyo-Ile, the capital of the then flourishing Oyo empire, during the reign of Oba Ajagbo. While in detention he heard of the menace a certain Elemoso had constituted to Oyo; Elemoso was terrorizing the inhabitants of the capital, and was reputed to be invisible invincible! Ogunlola was excitedly stirred by the exploits of this Scourge of Oyo and so, sought authorization from Alaafin to go to battle with him. It was expressly granted after initial doubts. He faced-off with Elemoso, whom he vanquished after a deathly duel. He decapitated Elemoso, hence he was nicknamed, “Ogbori-Elemoso” (the beheader of Elemoso).

Current holder of the spectre of Aale the Mighty, Oba Samuel Babatunde Amao II

People began to refer to Ogunlola’s settlement by this nickname, which over time was elided to Ogbomoso. Soon, the four other settlements of Aale, Ohunsile, Orisatolu and Akandie became subsumed and the whole area took the name “Ogbomoso” and Soun Ogunlola became the first among equal.
However, the pioneering role of “Aale the Mighty” cannot be undervalued, he was the pathfinder and his descendants today constitute the Okelerin royal family and the area is headed by an Oba, who has since taken the title Aale of Okelerin. The current Aale of Okelerin is Oba Samuel Babatunde Oyebamiji Amao JP. Oba Babatunde Amao has etched his name in gold in the annals of Okelerin as he was the ruler who transformed the chieftaincy from Baaleship to Obaship status and earned by acts of valour the title “Aale of Okelerin.” He is a member of Ogbomoso North Local Government Traditional Council. He has also built a palace at Okelerin. His insignia of office is “Elephant Tusk.”
Okelerin has produced many great warriors and individuals, whose exploits have added to the glory of Ogbomoso as a whole. The area from inception produces the Areago of Ogbomoso. Areago is next to Soun in the traditional hierarchy of Ogbomoso and is head of the town’s army as supreme commander and head of Soun’s kingmakers. Also, Oladunni Ayandepo, who was a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hailed from Okelerin.

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