The relationship that exists between the Ijebu and the Remo
Oko kii je ti baba t’omo
Ko ma ni aala (There must be a boundary on
a piece of land/farmland that belongs to both
the father and his son)1
The above adage best describes the kind of relationship that exists between the Ijebu and the Remo which calls for clarification. Ijebu and Remo are two separate groups among the four major groups of people who make up Ogun State. The remaining two are the Egba and Yewa (formerly known as Egbado). It is from the first letter (alphabet) of the names of these four groups that Ogun State forms its acronyms, “RIYE”, with R representing REMO, I for IJEBU, Y stands for YEWA and E for EGBA. Adekoya in his article, “Masking Tradition in Ipara Remo Ogun State, Nigeria”, notes that some Ijebu and Remo communities like Ikorodu, Epe, Imota, Igbogbo, and Agbowa Ikosi are also in Lagos State as a result of state creation and boundary adjustment2. They are part of the Yoruba race that occupies the south-western part of Nigeria (Fig.1).
The origin and location of the Ijebu and Remo have generated a lot of controversies and conflicting impressions continue to emerge. To some people, Ijebu and Remo are the same entity. These people believe that the Ijebu are the Remo and the Remo are also the Ijebu. Some people even ask the question about who are the Ijebu and who are the Remo.
Fig. 1: Map of Nigeria showing Ogun State in the south-west region
occupied by the Yoruba © Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc 2012 Diary
They conclude that they are the same people. They also argue that apart from occupying the same area or existing side by side geographically in Ogun State, there is little or no difference in their dialects.
’Biodun Adediran, in his book, The Frontier State of Western Yorubaland, 1600-1889, notes that in West Africa, as elsewhere in the world, ethnic boundaries are not easy to fix3. He observes that constant population expansion and the resultant socio-cultural contact among different ethnic groups often frustrate such attempts; and it thus, becomes difficult to decide where one ethnic group begins and where another ends. Biodun Adediran, citing Shaw, notes that this problem is particularly difficult in a ‘frontier zone’ where two or more ethnic groups overlap and where inter-ethnic contacts over a fairly long time have blurred the ethnic differences among them4.
Following the foregoing, Biodun, Adediran also, citing Mercier, maintains that a large area of West Africa between the Niger Delta in the east and the Volta in the west forms a single cultural region. Apart from the fact that the area is a geographical entity, there is a remarkable degree of cultural affinity among the peoples5. All the peoples share important social traits such as respect for age, patrilineal descent, age grades and family organization. The languages are closely related; most of them being classified under the ‘kwa’ sub-group of the Niger-Congo family of languages. Furthermore, there are age-long traditions of interaction among the peoples. It is, therefore, not possible to isolate or excise one ethnic group from the others because all the groups are intricately and continually intermixing.