The word “Ekiti” as we know it today denotes a “mound.” and is derived from the rugged mountainous features of the State. It is an extensive State originally divided into 16 districts. Each district has its own “Owa” or King of which four are supreme.
1. The Owore of Otun
2. The Ajero of Ijero
3. The Ewi of Ado
4. The Elekole of Ikole
5. Alara of Ara
6. Alaaye of Eron-Alaye
7. Olomuo of Omuo
8. Ologotin of Ogotun
9. Olojudo of Ido
10. Ata of Aiyede
11. Oloja Oke of Imesi
12. Oloye of Oye
13. Ajanpanda of Akure (Deji)
14. Onire of Ire
15. Arinjale of Ise
16. Onitaji of Itaji
According to oral and contemporary written sources of Yoruba history, the Ekitis are among the earliest settlers of Yorubaland. The Yoruba [Oyo Yoruba] are said to have sprung from Lamurudu, one of the kings of Mecca whose offspring were Oduduwa (Crown Prince), the kings of Gogobiri (Gogir in Hausaland) and Kukawa (Bornu).
Oduduwa, the ancestor of the Yoruba traveled to Ife [Ife Ooyelagbo] where he met people who were already settled there. Among the elders he met in the town were Agbonniregun [Stetillu], Obatala, Orelure, Obameri, Elesije, Obamirin, Obalejugbe just to mention a few. It is known that descendants of Agbonniregun [Baba Ifa] settled in Ekiti, examples being the Alara and Ajero who are sons of Ifa. Orunmila [Agbonniregun] himself spent a greater part of his life at Ado. Due to this, we have the saying ‘Ado ni ile Ifa’ [Ado is the home of Ifa]. The Ekiti have ever since settled in their present location.
Nobody can give accurate dates to these events due to the lack of written sources, but people have lived in Ekiti for centuries. It is on record that Ekiti Obas had prosperous reign in the 13th century. An example was the reign of Ewi Ata od Ado in the 1400s. The Ekiti are intelligent and have a deep love of home. Respect for age and superiors, ingrained politeness is part and parcel of their nature.
Before Nigeria was amalgamated, the Ekiti tribe was under the British Protectorate with the other Yoruba tribes. Ekiti became part of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria which was divided to give the Ekitis their own state.
There has been no large scale migration of Ekiti peoples to neighbouring countries, but Ekitis are in other parts of Yorubaland mostly in Ondo, Oshun and Kwara states. The present Ekiti state is smaller than the old Ekiti one due to inter-tribal wars and subsequent redivisions. By virtue of Ekiti’s intelligence, there are more Ekiti graduates today than in most states of Nigeria. It is rather by heritage than by accident that the motto of the present Ekiti state is “Fountain of Knowledge,” since Agbonniregun whose descendants are all over Ekitiland is praised as Akere-finu sogbon [the small man with a mind full of wisdom].
The remarkable simplicity, though tough but unwarlike attribute of the Ekitis led the Oyos to wage war on them in the mid-1800. The Ekitis formed an alliance which they termed Ekiti Parapo (i.e. Ekiti Confederation). They raised a formidable army and were determined not only to liberate themselves but also to overrun the Oyos right to Ibadan farms at the River Oba. Prince Fabunmi of Oke Imesi headed the confederates with able warlords such as Fabaro of Ido, Famakinwa of Erin, Odole- Oloyombere, Oluborode of Ikogosi just to mention a few. They were later joined by Ogedemgbe- Agbogun Gboror who later became the Commander-in-Chief of the Confederates.
Instead of tendering their submission as Are Latosisa thought, the Oyo army found the Ekiti-Parapos became the first to introduce long flintlock guns with large muzzles to war in Yorubaland. These guns when fully loaded and fired, gave a report which reverberated from hill to hill all around. It sounded...