Communal CrisisHistory

The Ife And Modakeke Conflict And How It Was Resolved

This article describes how the Ife and Modakeke conflict- two prominent tribes in Yoruba land- started; how it was eventually resolved.

There has been communal clashes and wars among the Yorubas but none of these wars extended to present day time as the Ife and Modakeke conflict.

It is one of the most deadly conflicts ever witnessed between two close Yoruba tribes.

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The Ife And Modakeke Conflict And How It Was Resolved
The Ife And Modakeke Conflict – Photo Source:

History of Modakeke

After the fall of the Oyo empire by the Fulanis, the whole Oyo populace was thrown into confusion. Oyo empire; one of the strongest and highly fortified empires fell and never returned to its glory days.

The inhabitants of Ibadan quickly spread out to other parts of Yoruba land in search of a new life. Some of them migrated to Ile-Ife in 1834 to start a new life.

The people of Ife received them well and they lived harmoniously with the community. They were very hardworking; and they began to cultivate the land to grow crops of different types.

The reigning Ooni of Ife then, Oba Akinmoyero was very pleased with them and even recruited some of their soldiers into his army.

Due to the gallantry of the Ibadan soldiers, Ife was able to extend her boundary to Alakowe, the present boundary between Ife and Ilesa.

Prior to the arrival of the Ibadans, the Ijesas had their land extend to the present location of the Palace of the Ooni of Ife, which is still called Enuwa (Enu Owa) up till now.

Oba Akinmoyero would later apportion a land outside the walls of Ife to the Ibadans as a show of his goodwill and appreciation of their gallantry.

The name Modakeke was gotten from a bird called Ako (Stork) which was normally found in the new settlement. The stork was found of chirping a rhyme often heard as mo-da-ke-ke-ke-ke by the the Ifes. Hence the inhabitants of Ife decided to call this new settlement Modakeke.

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History of Ife

Ife (Ile-Ife) is an ancient Yoruba city in south western Nigeria. The city is located in the present day Osun State.

According to Yoruba mythology, Ile-Ife was found by Oduduwa, the younger brother to Obatala; whom the supreme God Olodumare sent to create the earth.

Legend has it that Obatala on his way to create the earth drank palm wine and became drunk as a result, Oduduwa had to take over his assignment.

Oduduwa took the three items of creation from Obatala, climbed down from the heavens on a chain and threw a handful of earth on the primordial ocean, and then put a cockerel on it so that it would scatter the earth, thus creating the land on which Ile-Ife would be built.

Today, the present day Ife is a modern town with a fast growing population. It has in its city a number of financial institutions, churches, mosques and a federal university; Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy, which is adjudged the most beautiful university in Nigeria.

Ancient Ife was skilled in making glass beads which were found as far as Mali, Mauritania and Ghana.

The History Of The Ife-Modakeke Conflict

Long before the Ife and Modakeke conflict came into existence, the yorubas have been fighting each other for land and dominance.

Some of the most fatal wars were the Osu war, the Ota war, the Eleduwe war, the Abemo and Osogbo war, the Egbas and the Egbados and a host of other deadly fratricidal wars.

The Ife and Modakeke conflict is well captioned by foremost Yoruba historian Rev. Samuel Johnson who described in details the events that occurred in his book, History of the Yoruba: From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate.

The  Ife and Modakeke conflict started as far back as the 18th century but the establishment of the British protectorate in Nigeria headed by Governor Carter would eventually bring the war to an end.

This led to the creation and signing of a treaty in 1886. It’s intention was to bring peace among the Yoruba nation.

Included in this treaty was a clause that stated that Modakeke be removed from Ife soil and rebuilt in a place between the Rivers Osun and Oba, and the Ibadans were to see that this was carried out.

The signatories to the treaty were unaware of this statement and this statement would lead to the protracted Ife and Modakeke conflict.

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The signatories knew it was impracticable to achieve this, since the people of Modakekes had lived in Ife for a long time and it has practically become their home.

They sought to change this but the Lagos Authority would not go through the embarrassment of the Queen of England by trying to reconcile the already signed document.

The people of Modakekes lived together for many years until a new Awoni of Ife, Adelekan sought to see the complete removal of the Modakekes from Ife as stipulated in the 1886 treaty.

Adelekan was bent on ensuring the Modakekes were evacuated from Ife to Ibadan by his constant victimization. He eventually made the Otun and Balogun removed to Ibadan.

On the 27th day of March, 1909, 23 years after the imposition of the treaty, the town was finally broken up due to hostilities from the host and support from the Lagos Authority. Since then the war between Ife and Modakeke has continued.

 The Recent Ife and Modakeke Conflict

The recent war was fought between 1997 and 2003 due to the creation of Ife-East Local Government and the citing of the new council’s headquarters within Ife.

Due to communal clashes between these two communities, Ife people drove the Modakekes who were predominantly farmers out of their farmland.

This brought untold hardship on both tribes since the Modakekes grew most of the stable and cash crops in the area.

How The Ife and Modakeke Conflict Was Finally Resolved

The latest effort to end the long conflict over land rights involved Nigerian former president, Olusegun Obasango who announced a government-brokered ceasefire in March 2000 and the establishment of a 27-member peace committee.

In addition, a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on the two communities and hundreds of armed riot police were deployed to the two towns to enforce the ceasefire.

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Also in February 2009, a peace pact was signed between Ife and Modakeke. This peace pact led to the elevation of the Ogunsua of Modakeke as an Oba.

This pact was signed by the Osun State Government, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II and Ogunsua of Modakeke, Francis Adedoyin.



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