One such story is the common Ife and Modakeke war of 1835–2000, which according to history was one of the longest intra-ethnic wars in Yorubaland. According to legend, Ifes and Modakekes are the sons and daughters of the same parents. Their ancestors can be traced back to Oduduwa, the Yoruba race’s progenitor.
Modakeke is a town in Osun State, South-West Nigeria, with nearly 300,000 inhabitants who are predominantly farmers and warriors. The town is about 45 kilometres from Osogbo, capital of Osun State and 90 kilometres from Ibadan in Oyo a state. Modakeke came into existence in 1845 after the fall of the Oyo Empire, below is a brief history of Modakeke town.
The whole of Yorubaland was thrown into chaos and confusion after the Oyo Empire fell to the Fulanis in 1835. The inhabitants of Oyo ran for safety and therefore were dispersed across Yorubaland, some founding new settlements and others, joining existing settlements like Ile-Ife. A group of Oyo refugees settled in Ile-Ife to begin a new life which unknowing to them will later birth the town called Modakeke.
On getting to Ile-Ife, they have already lost all their possessions and then took up menial jobs in the town. They also got recruited in the Ife army and it was through their bravery that Ife had its territory extended to Alakowe, its present boundary with Ilesa. They started growing and producing different types of food crops on farmlands given to them by the Ife people.
The then reigning Ooni of Ife, Oba Akinmoyero, received the Oyo refugees well and later gave them an expanse of land to live. The name Modakeke was adopted after consultation with the oracle which directed them to go to Ebu-Alako near Oke-Owu where they met a swarm of Ako (Stork) birds. The name was derived from the cries of the storks (Mo-da-ke-ke-ke-ke). This is also the origin of the appellation Akoraye (the stork has a place) and since the founding of Modakeke, eighteen traditional heads known as ‘Ogunsua’ had ruled the town.
Ife and Modekeke Crisis
There have been controversies about the conflict between these two parties, which to date has remained a discussion in the Yoruba lineage. Historians believe that the major causes of their conflict (Ife and Modakeke) were land ownership, payment of land rent (Isakole), the establishment of local government, and the placement of its headquarters, all of which are reflected in cultural identity, economics, and politics. The most prominent causes were the creation of local government and the location of its headquarters.
The Yoruba see Ife as their source, and they regard the Modakekes as their ‘landlords.’ Following the collapse of the Old Oyo empire in the 19th century, the latter migrated to the area. This was the underlying element in the Yoruba ethnic conflict that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
How was the Ife-Modakeke Conflict resolved?
In March 2000, Nigerian former President Olusegun Obasanjo announced a government-brokered truce and the formation of a 27-member peace committee in an effort to settle the long fight over land rights. In addition, the two towns were subjected to a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and hundreds of armed riot police were sent to enforce the truce.
A peace accord was also struck in February 2009 between Ife and Modakeke. The Ogunsua of Modakeke was elevated to the rank of Oba as a result of this peace deal. Also, the Osun State Government, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, and the Ogunsua of Modakeke, Francis Adedoyin, signed the deal.