Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Agemo Traditions of Ijebuland - A Primer




Ìjà Olóko dancing in full Agẹmọ masquerade costume



Ìjà Olóko in full Agẹmọ masquerade costume

Agemo: Odun-Odo/ Akogun Festival But from Abeokuta from femster on Vimeo.


A lot to be said
“Ọmọ alágẹmọ mẹ́rìndínlógún Ọ̀rọ́pọ̀ o” [Son of the sixteen Agemo masquerades, there is much to be said; though Ọ̀rọ́pọ̀ in that context was the name of someone being praised in song.]
Many a Yoruba speaker who has listened to the classics of Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey will remember this line from one of his albums in the early 1970s.
The Jùjú musicians of that age along with praise singing included gems of Yoruba history and the intricacies of tradition from which the attentive can glean some very useful information.
In this case, the musician was singing the praises of an Ijebu indigene and referring to the Agẹmọ masquerades, fetishes and grottos of Ijebuland, which is in the middle of the Yoruba kingdom with the Egbas of Abeokuta in the north and the Lagos to the south.
Getting to the crux of the matter
Playing host to the Ìjà Olóko of Ìjẹ̀bú-Imọsàn, the traditional ruler, Oba Tajudeen Adekunle Muili - one of the most revered and respected of the Agẹmọ priests and dancers known in Yorubaland. He honoured me with answering a few questions of what can be revealed of the Agẹmọ traditions, cult and practices.
As the story of the Yoruba is made up of historical fact, myth, legend and fable, he said the Agẹmọ are the Òrìà brought from Wadai, purported to be the place from where the Ijebu’s migrated to present-day Ijebuland in the company of Bílíkísù Súngbọn (The Queen of Sheba). [More on Bílíkísù Súngbọn.]
Bílíkísù Súngbọn was barren but on her return journey, five important Agẹmọ figures said she would have a child if she takes them to the setting of the sun (Iwọ̀ Òòrùn). The Ìjẹ̀bú apparently set down where the sun went down.
Knowing the Agẹmọ
The five Agẹmọ figures included Ìjà, Nọ́pà, Olúmọ̀rọ̀ and the Ògbinkòjohùn of Òké ẹrì amongst others of the entourage where they warred in Ilé Ifẹ̀ and won before Bílíkísù Súngbọn settled and eventually died at Òké ẹrì.
Ìjà had a son who follows the Agẹmọ tradition in Ilé Ifẹ̀ named Olúyarè, much of this makes for the much to be said and told of the Agẹmọ cult, the unveiling of which must never been seen of the womenfolk.
The Ijebu led by the Ajẹbú and the Olóde predates the Agẹmọ, but for the Ìjẹ̀bú to eat the new yams of the harvest each year, they must first celebrate the Agẹmọ festival.
The Awujale depends on the Agẹmọ for counsel and for divination, the Ìjà, a hunter, is the most powerful of the Agẹmọ cult and he was first at Ìdẹ́wòn before he travelled to Ìmòwé and then to Imọsàn where he first sighted the Agẹmọ grotto.
On sighting the Agẹmọ grotto, the Awujale of Ìjẹ̀bú Òde sent the Ogí Aláwọ Ọba there and the Olújàgbórí was installed as the high priest of Agẹmọ.
More on the Agẹmọ
The Agẹmọ masquerades of Ijebuland
Àwọn alágẹmọ mẹ́rìndínlógún ti Ìjẹ̀bú oníjó – The sixteen prominent Agẹmọ masquerades of Ijebuland who have priestly duties along with dancing at the festivals. There are more than sixteen but these are the main personalities of the Agẹmọ cult.
Tàmì láti (from) Òdoógbolú
Olúmọ̀rọ̀ olórí (traditional ruler) Ìmọ̀rọ̀
eréfùsì láti (from) Ìgbílẹ̀
Pòósà láti (from) Imọsàn
Olúmokò láti (from) Ọkùn Ọwá
Alófèé láti (from) Ìjẹ̀
à Ìjẹ̀bú
Ònúgbó láti (from) Òkénugbò
Ìjà Olóko Ògún olórí (traditional ruler) Imọsàn
ẹ̀n Àjágà L'órù láti (from) Orù
Màgòdò láti (from) Aiyépé
Lúbamísan láti (from) Àgọ́ Ìwòyè
Petu láti (from) Ì
íwọ̀
Ògegbó láti (from) Ìbọ̀nwọ̀n
Ìdẹ́bì láti (from) Àgọ́ Ìwòyè
Nọ́pà láti (from) Imushin
Àwọn alágẹmọ aláìjo - Agẹmọ priests who do not dance but handle rituals.
Olújàgbórí láti Imọsàn - High Priest of Agẹmọ
Adùẹ láti Àgọ́ Ìwòyè
Ogí Aláwọ Ọba láti Ìdogì ní Ìjẹ̀bú Òde


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