Deities in Ijebu

Foremost among the deities in Ijebu is the Agemo which is jointly celebrated by Ijebu communities in June/July of every year. The Agemo is a ral­lying factor among the communities that make up Ijebu state.  It is believed that the idea was initiated by the Obanta himself as an annual assembly of his priests (Alagemos) at Imosan to curb an unusual in­cidence of recalcitrance during the dispersal of town­ships.  He was said to have summoned the Agemo priests from 16 different locations to Ijebu-Ode for heart-to-heart (frank) discussion.

The Obanta prepared well for his visitors whom he feted and had. discussion (oro awo) with. These priests too, as it was normal with them, came with their instruments of power (and defense).  And to prevent a possible attack on the people, Obanta made the meeting more business-like so that none of their powers could filter to the people.

The Agemos (in the order of dancing at Agbala Imosan & Ijebu Ode) are:

Tami (Odogbolu), Olumoro (Imoro), Serefusi (Igbile), Posa (Imosan), Moko (Okun), Alofe (Ijesa-Ijebu), Onugbo (Okenugbo), Iju (Imosan), Lapen (Oru), Magodo (Aiyepe), Bajelu (Imuku), Lubamisan (Ago-lwoye), Petu (Isiwo), Ogegbo (Ibonwon), ldobi (Ago-Iwoye), Nopa (Imushin).

Other fetish Agemo Priests that do not per­form dancing rites are:

Onijagbori (Imosan), Adie (Ago-Iwoye), Ogi (Idogi, Ijebu-Ode).

The Agemo festival has since followed the format with people celebrating it with pomp and pag­eantry. The Alagemos usually follow a permanent festival route during which women are compelled to stay indoors. The Awujale is the one that now re­ceives the Alagemos through their head  (Tami) whom he (Awujale will receive at Ipebi before the usual “e e ke e e” is chanted to signify the arrival of the other Alagemos. 

Oro festival is also common to Ijebus where it is used to cleanse the communities of bad omen.  It usually comes up before the Agemo festival as a strat­egy of preparing ground for the Alagemos to ensure that the communities have been rid of evil spirit as well as epidemics.  It is believed that communities are safe after Oro festival (Igbalu) and so “Eiye a ke bi eiye and Eran a ke bi eran.”  Women are not allowed to witness Oro worship which is usually a seven day programme.  In Ijebu-Ode, the Oro comes out in the night when women must not only stay in-doors, but must equally not attempt to peep at all, while in some Ijebu villages women are kept in-doors throughout the day. 

Also celebrated is the Obinrin ojowu (Ebi) which usually falls between February and March of every year (beginning of planting season).  Th e Olowu is priest of Obinrin Ojowu who directs the rites and takes responsibility for its worship.  Before the Obinrin Ojowu celebration, the Olowa would have had to consult with the Awujale and secure his consent on three different occasions. He will then pass death sentence on dogs that have no palm fronds around their necks.  The Iroko tree  at Odo -Esa is very important to Obinrin Ojowu festival as some rites are performed under it and a dog is usually killed and hung on it throughout the year.  Also associated with the festival is the Woro carnival (which usually takes people round the community) and the practice of youths testing night  and level of endurance with cane competition.  They engage themselves (in twos and beat each other until one gives up (by hanging his cane). 

The month of August is usually devoted to the worship of Leguru (although this is no longer popular) in remembrance of the bravery of the Onisemu Leguru, who volunteered to sacrifice self to save Ijebu Ode from being taken over by the lagoon which then occupied some areas in the town. 

Unconfirmed reports have it that the town was then faced with the threat of the Lagoon taking over the whole place, and as was predicated, the town would only become a port (not habitable as it is presently).  The man, it was said, was a foremost priest who decided to brave the sacrifice when Ifa talked about the grave implication of retaining the water in the town.  Reports have it that Leguru himself performed the divination and was then not prepared to change or twist the facts as revealed by Ifa that he (Leguru) was the one that could save the town by sacrificing himself.  People still claim to hear him perform divination (under water) around a portion of the Lagoon at Epe.