The story of Ajapada Ekun and how we came about Oloyemekun or Omo Ekun
The institution of Oba monarchy in Akure was established by Ajapada.
Ajapada was reported to be the son of Ekun. Ekun was also known to be one of the several sons of Oduduwa. He was also named Omoremilekun after Ekun had died during his pregnancy. Ekun was a father to Ajapada. It was Oduduwa who took care of him, so he was his grandson.
Before I proceed on Ajapada’s story, let me conclude on how we became Oloyemekun or omo ekun.
When Ajapada grew up, before he was named Ajapada, he played around in the courtyard of Oduduwa at Ile-Ife and the people there called him Omo-Ekun i.e son to the late Ekun, his father, the epithet by which successive Deji of Akure were later known, hence tiger became the traditional symbol of the Deji.
It was however gathered that Ajapada’s bravery and doggedness among his people prompted his descendants to adopt the name Oloyemekun which is synonymous with Akure till today.
We don’t have direct link or relations with ekun, as people may tend to believe, but it was our forebear, Remilekun Ekun, father of Ajapada that was bearing Ekun and he was a son of Oduduwa, not a wild animal like tiger. Like we do call ourselves son of Adam, same as Akure people son of Ekun, but not Ekun as in Tiger.
We are using tiger’s statue as a symbol to represent our forebears who were great and brave during their days, especially Ajapada who was the first monarch of Akure.
It was said that the claim by some historians referring to the animal tiger as our ‘ekun’ was a misconception. They claimed that Oloyemekun was literally a chief that caught tiger. They said one of Akure chiefs who was also a hunter; who during hunting expeditions caught tiger alive and brought it to Akure town. This history was not only incorrect but misleading and misinforming according to the source.
During the time Omo-Ekun was growing up, he lived at Inaumu near Ife, where all the children and grandchildren lived. Before the migration of the Princes and Princesses from Ife, Oduduwa forced Omo-Ekun to undergo a seven-day endurance test. At this time he killed an ‘eku eda(rat) with a rattle(aja) in a small house without windows where he was put. Thereafter, Omo-Ekun was called ‘Ajapada’ i.e aja pa eku eda.
It was said tha the endurance test is still being commemorated in Akure during the annual celebration of Ile Ifunta festival when the Oba withdraws into an inner part of the palace for seven days.
Ajapada journey to Akure begins….
There was someone called Omoloju, the son of Iyangede of Epe, a village of about 10 kilometres north of Ondo. He was the first person to settle in the town.
Omoloju, while trying to clear a bush-path on a spot between Isinkan and Oke-Aro junctions on Arakale road, had the wrist beads (akun) on his hand cut. “The spot on which the beads broke was named ‘Akun-re’ (meaning ‘beads cut’). This was later contracted to Akure.
When he settled at the place, Omoloju installed himself as Alakunre. The people in other two sections of Akure – the Isinkan, whose head is Aralepo, and the Isolo headed by Osolo and whose tradition are distinct from those of the majority inhabitants, also represented earlier settlers on the site of the present Akure.
Before Ajapada came to Akure, there were scattered settlements like Upalefa, Igan, Ileru and Odopetu.
Ourokutu and Omoloju were the most prominent elders in these settlements with a strong clash for leadership. Ajapada who arrived Akure with ‘Olojoda’ became the compromise candidate to head the United settlements of Upalefa and Odopetu.
When Oduduwa’s children were leaving Ife, Ajapada demanded from his grandfather gifts such as he had given to other children. Oduduwa, who had already distributed what he had, however gave his grandson a garment of medicine (ewu ogele), which he wore on hunting expeditions, and a beaded crown. Ajapada left Ile-Ife in company of his uncle, who later became the Oba of Benin, but stayed behind at Osu near Ilesa before he moved to Igbo-Oye near Efon-Alaye. Ajapada did not stay for long because he was always at loggerheads with the neighbouring monarchs.
He was preceded by a hunter named Olojoda, who accompanied him from Ife, Ajapada moved in a south-eastern direction until he reached the present site of Akure where he built a house near the palace. Being a seasoned hunter, he killed an elephant on the spot known as ‘Ori Erin’ now at Oba Adesida Road/Araromi junction and for this act of bravery, the people he met at Akure soon took note of his valour and thereby call him Asodeboyede (meaning the hunter has arrived from Oye).
The influence of Ajapada Asodeboyede grew and later overshadowed that of Alakunre Omoloju. Conflicts soon ensued, but when Alakunre realised that Asodeboyede was a more militant person with overwhelming followers, he surrendered. The Akure gave Asodeboyede the preference to be the first Oba of Akure.
Eventually, Omoloju the head of Upalefa settlement later reigned after the death of Ajapada in 1180. Deji Obagbeyi Adegite who reigned btw 1313-1363 was from Oba-Ile and Akure with pure royal parentage. He established Erekesan market. He also brought the “isibi” and “Airegbe” festival from Oba-Ile to Akure. Deji Arakale (1768-1818) was on the throne when Binis invaded Akure and took away Prince Osupa Arakale who later returned to Akure as Deji.
Deji Osupa Arakale (1834-1846) resettled the ‘Ado Akures’ at Igbeyin and Eyinke quarters.
Thanks for reading but note, this is a pure history and can be disputed.