You may begin to wonder, why name a town Ilu Aje?
Scary it is?
Yes it should.
But I’m going to tell you a story.
Long time ago, the paramount ruler of the Oyo Kingdom, Iku Baba Yeye, The Alaafin of Oyo had a beloved son in whom he is well pleased with.
A prince with innocence, an heir to the throne he is. The Prince with a future to look with.
But then, something happened!
The unexpected happened in the land of Oyo,right there in the king household.
His beloved son was missing!
Why would the Iku baba yeye’s son go missing just like that?
Fear and grief enveloped the town, men and women, old and young. People were awed in misery over the missing prince.
The chief priest and dibias were called upon, divinations were made, but the son remained missing.
The Queen was heartbroken, the King’s household in confusion.
The search continued…
Hunters combed all the forests of Oyo Alaafin in search for the missing prince. The dibias didn’t stop their divinations,but the Crown Prince remained missing.
Days upon hours,days, weeks passed and yet, the Prince could not be found.
The whole town was enveloped with grief.
Then on one market day by noon, an old tattered man landed in the market square asking for directions to the Alaafin’s palace.
The market women looked at him with disdain as a result of his dirty and wrinkled look. After much ado, he was led to the palace.
He was restricted by protocol to see the King, Iku Baba Yeye. The Palace guards inquired why he is there to see the King. He insisted the matter is only for the Alaafin’s ears. He was turned back until one of the guard told the others that they should seek audience with the King and ask his consent.
One of the Palace guards notified the king of the old man’s presence, he was beckoned to see the Alaafin.
On to the king the strange looking old, wrinkled man was led. He prostrated in the King’s presence with greetings laced with a strange intonation.
After that,he sought audience privately with the Alaafin, this means that all the palace guards were excused out of the King’s presence.
After much obeisance, he narrated his name as Akinyolu. He is Akinyolu who lived in a forest near Iseyin, an Hunter, whom life had dealt severe blows on. He had lost his wife and children in an event of a strange animal attack.
After his narration, the King finally asked his mission in Oyo.
“Alaafin Ikeji Oosa, iku baba yeye, i learnt of your missing prince and that’s what brought me here. If you can allow me, I may be able to provide answers to the mystery”
The king listened with rapt attention but wasn’t in the least impressed.
The King retorted; “Arakunrin, are you smarter than my dibia’s, who are versed in Yoruba divination, to tell me you would help find my son?. Tell me what exactly you need instead of telling me nonsense”.
The king had raised his voice alerting his Olori (Queen).
The Queen said “Kabiyesi oh, hope there is no problem?.
The King then said “Don’t mind this hungry man, telling me he would do what my priests failed to do”.
The Queen faced the wrinkled-looking stranger and said: “Arakunrin, what exactly do you need?.”
Akinyolu replied : “All hail the Olori, I’m here in respect of your son who had been missing for a while now, if you would allow me, I can help bring the Prince back to your bosom”
The Olori later convinced the Alaafin to give the tattered man a chance to show his folly (for she believed he was just ranting).
The Chief Priests and Palace Chiefs were called upon to the palace.
In a nutshell, Akinyolu was allowed to do whatever he can do to the consternation of other Palace Priests.
To their consternation as no one could easily believe such poor-looking man of spent years could do what other Dibias failed to.
Akinyolu was given a place in the Palace for the night till the next day. The next morning, Akinyolu, with the permission of the king, told the towns dibia’s to all assemble under a big tree beside the palace for seven days and seven nights with their wives coming every day to attend to their domestic needs. This was to go hand-in-hand with a special ritual to be led by Akinyolu himself.
On the seventh day, the dibias were told to clap 21 times with eyes closed.
Around Mid-day, right in the middle of the ritual, came a loud noise from the town.
The King’s son had been found, he just walked in from nowhere!
That was how the missing Prince came home!
The King was over-joyed, so was the Olori and the members of his household.
The whole town celebrated the Prince comeback.
The Chiefs and townsmen were left in awe on what Akinyolu had just done and they all chorused “Aje ni okunrin yi” (This man is indeed a wizard)
The King instructed Akinyolu be clothed in fine apparel and be treated like the important guest he was.
The king later told Akinyolu to ask for anything, just anything, he would be ready to oblige.
Akinyolu said : “Your Highness, all I ask for at my advancing age is that I go back to my forest in peace, you may chose amongst your slaves to follow me back to the forest to live our own life there”
The King obliged and gave Akinyolu gifts and instructed he be given 30 slaves to join him on his journey back to the forest.
Akinyolu was made the Baale of his old forest now a thriving town. As he was called “Aje” by the townsmen, so was his domain named “Ilu Aje” which literally means “The witch town”.
Ilu Aje still exists till date in Afijio Local Government Oyo State.
Copyright: Arakunrin Ayoola Faseyi.