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Irele in Perspective

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Irele is one of the principal Ikale towns in former Okitipupa Division of Ondo State. It is the headquarters of Irele Local Government, the other communities that make Irele Local Government are Omi, lyansan, Aj agba, Akotogbo and Iju-Osun. These are Ikale communities with different history and origin. All these other communities speak both Ikale dialect and, Edo languages.

Irele town is built on a hill in that, to enter Irele through all the roads that lead to the town, you have to climb a small hill. The town has the largest population amongst all the towns in the former Okitipupa Division.

Irele people bear the generic name Ikale with other Ikale people in former Okitipupa Division. How they came by this name should form the subject of a different exercise. Irele Ikale has a unique and distinct feature, which stands him out amongst other Ikales. They are tall and good-looking. In dressing, their men are elegant, in character they are more rigid and very inflexible.

At home they are honest because of the fear of  “Umale” a vengeful spirit that kills thieves, witches and wizards and those who possess dangerous charms for harming other people or damage their material goods.

For fear of this spirit, hardly can you find an Irele man adopting charms to acquire wealth, unlike other people.

There are four principal quarters in Irele, they are (1) Jagboju (2) Oyenusi (3) Orunbemekun and (4) Gbogunron/Aribo. Each of the people occupies different and distinct areas of Ode-Irele. Jagboju family occupies almost the centre of the town on the way from Ohunmo where he came from.

This is the area on the entry from Omi, on the way to Ohunmo. It is the area where currently the sacred Malokun shrine of Irele is situated.

A part from the Christian festivals, there are many traditional festivals being celebrated annually at Irele.

Igbowo Festival: This is a festival performed every other year. After series of rituals and ceremonies, the Kabiyesi is supposed to dance in full traditional regalia with Ada (Sword) and Okute 3 times each with the two sacred instruments. It is a festival that attracts quite a large crowd of people both at home and outside even sometime dignitaries from other parts of the state and country.

Irele people are very hardworking people. They are good farmers growing mostly food crops, until about some decades back when they turned to cocoa growing. As at now, Irele produces the largest quantity of cocoa in Ikale land. Irele people also produce the largest quantity of rubber. They also produce a large quantity of palm produce.

Irele people seem to have more land than many Ikale communities. Their main occupation is farming, practising mostly shifting cultivation system of farming. As a result of Irele extensive land, a Forest Reserve was created in Irele in 1918 measuring 18 miles by 7 miles known as OA II from where woods of all descriptions were produced for export and to be used for furniture making and building of houses.

Culled from Ode Irele: The History of a People

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