Migration is normally followed by settlement. Fleeing southwards in search of new abodes after
the fall of the Oyo Empire, the Oyos started settling among the Ifes in 1834. As the Romans of
old, they were soldier-farmers. They were hardy as soldiers and industrious as farmers. Having
lost all their possessions in their hasty flight, they started life in Ife by doing menial jobs to enable
them eke out a living. The reigning Ooni of Ife, Oba Akinmoyero was said to have received them
well. They started growing and producing different types of food crops on farmlands given to
them by their hosts. A good number of them got recruited into Ife’s weak army and it was
through their gallantry that Ife had its territory extended to Alakowe, its present boundary with
Ilesa. Prior to the arrival of the Oyos, Ijesha land extended to the present location of the Palace of
the Ooni of Ife. This is why the Palace are is known as Enuwa (Enu Owa) up till today.
As hard-working farmers, the Oyos were producing food crops in quantum and generously giving
parts of their farm produce to their hosts who, prior to that time, barely had enough because they
placed greater premium on pleasure than on work. But the friendly relations between the Oyo
refugees and their Ife hosts did not last for long. The innate intolerance and inhospitability in Ifes
began to manifest from the reign of Ooni Gbegbaaje. Under Gbegbaaje the Ifes freely tormented,
harassed, and persecuted the Oyos. The Ifes plundered Oyo farms, helping themselves to crops
on their cultivated lands. They later started kidnapping Oyo children for sacrifice to their gods.
This ill-treatment continued until Ooni Abewela’s reign (1839-1849). It was Abewela who was
said to have given the Oyos the land on which they settled and built their own settlement which
came to be known as Modakeke. Abewela’s gesture according to one account, was a
reciprocation of the assistance given to him by the Oyos when his own people abducted and were
poised to murder him. His Oyo bodyguards saved him from his captors at Igbo Oro where many
Obas before him had been murdered. Another account, however, said that the Oyos had, prior to
Abewela’s offer made up their mind to leave Ile-Ife as they found the frequent kidnapping of their
children insufferable. Abewela’s gesture was thus a timely intervention issuing from a skillful
political calculation – to have the Oyos located at a close distance from where they could be
quickly contacted for military assistance against external aggression or internal revolt.
Modakeke was thus established on a virgin land in 1845. The name Modakeke was derived from
the chirpings of a nest of storks around the site of the new settlement. The appellation Akoraye is
a contraction of Ako ri aaye’ (stocks find ample space). The name of the area, Iraye, is a
derivative of this appellation and not the name of any family or area in Ife as being claimed,
Modakeke grew rapidly as more war-displaced Oyos poured into the settlement.
ORIGIN OF ISAKOLE(ROYALTIES)
From the founding of Modakeke (1845) till the second coming of its dispersed inhabitants (1923) there was nothing like payment of royalties. For a peasant farmer, a cocoa farm is the totality of a life-time investment – of time, energy, initiative, and money. While the typical Oyoman toils on his farm from dawn to dusk, the typical Ifeman loafs around. During the period of Modakeke’s dispersal, the Ifes started harvesting their cocoa. It then became clear that the primary objective of the Ifes in seeing Modakeke disbanded was to take possession of their cocoa farms and reap what they never sowed. (From the pronouncements of their leaders and conduct of the followers it is apparent that they are till today pursuing this same objective. They are still casting covetous glances over Modakeke’s cocoa farms. Indeed since the beginning of the current crisis they have started stealing cocoa from Oyo farmers in certain areas. Most of them wasted their youth and are now desperate to grab or have a share in the product of other people’s toil). As a result of distance, visits of dispersed Modakeke people to their farms became irregular. Some even totally abandoned their farms as motor vehicles were not available in those days. This made it possible for Ifes to move into the villages and take over these farms. This resulted in a series of clashes over ownership of farmlands particularly cocoa farms when the Modakekes returned in 1923. The reigning Ooni of Ife called the two sides to a parley during which the Ifes claimed that they had planted young seedlings on the cocoa farms they took over and would not as a result give up the farms. The compromise arrived at was that Modakeke farm owners would pay them compensation for some years for seedlings planted. This is what gradually metamorphosed into (ISAKOLE) royalties on an annual basis. Prior to the partial dispersal of Modakeke, the Ifes were not to be found in the villages because hard work had never been a part of their culture. The introduction of ISAKOLE led to the sudden emergence of Ifes as “landlords” in the various villages where they suddenly declared themselves land owners to whom annual royalties should be paid. This is why Ifes today own a small percentage of farmlands in the entire area. The uneasy relationship brought about by the introduction of ISAKOLE led to the Oyokoya uprising of 1945-49. The ease went to Court but was decided in favor of the Ifes because the man sent to deliver vital documents to Modakeke’s lawyer did not do so.