From Balogun to Bale
After the Ijebu Expedition of 1982, the commandant of the Expedition and some soldiers visited Ago-Iwoye by Oru way. The first Balogun they saw was AINA ERUKU of Idode who on being asked where the Bale was, directed them to the residence of OGUNFOWODU who was then the Senior Balogun. When asked who the BALE was, he said he was; and from that time, the title BALE instead of BALOGUN was assumed.
The next Bale was UGUNNOIKI EDU, who was disposed after a few months because he was not the right man. Then MABINU was properly installed as the new BALE.
BALE MABINU made desperate attempts to restore the EBUMAWE Chieftaincy but failed. Immediately after MABINU’s death, the IBIPE people appointed and installed another successor ( hoping to continue the previous tradition); but the other townships got agitated that as Balogun were going in rotation, so the BALEs must also go in rotation, and so the ISAMURO people presented ODUKOYA who was installed as the BALE.
He was succeeded by ADENOWO of IDODE- the last BALE before the resuscitation of the EBUMAWE CHIEFTAINCY.
THE RULE OF THE TOWN BY BALES AND BALOGUN
History reveals that after the reign of Bale Mabinu – The grandfather of Mr S. O. Onalaja, significant changes came to the town. Bale Mabinu was from Ibipe township of AGOIWOYE. When he died, Ibipe people appointed another man as the Bale without consulting the other townships. The other township then joined together and contributed a lot of money to take to Ijebu-Ode so that the AWUJALE might not sanction that appointment.
Some influential men at Ijebu-Ode delighted in seeing such troubles from the districts because such was a source of income for them.
These influential men would promise both sides that they would help them if they could provide reasonable amount of money for the Awujale and members of his council. It was reported that some even went to the town to instigate one section against the other so that one section could wage war against the other. These Ijebu-Ode people would then say that the highest bidder would be the winner.
In this case, the six townships got victory over Ibipe and so Isamuro appointed the next Bale in the person of Odukoya who reigned from 1912 to 1915.
The result of this victory was that Baleship from henceforth would go in rotation from one township to another. Therefore when Odukoya died, Idode township presented Adenowo who reigned as Bale from 1915 to 1931 and so on.
Why did Ibipe people take it upon themselves to appoint another Bale after the death of Bale Mabinu?
At Orile- Iwoye, each town had its head chief, but Ebumawe was the paramount chief and all the other chiefs owed him allegiance. The last Ebumawe at Iwoye died during the Gbedeke (or Isamuro) war of 1831. The cause of that war was stated by Ajisafe in his book “History of Abeokuta” at page 65 as follows:
Immediately the Egbas came to Abeokuta the people of Ijebu Remo began to annoy them to such an extent that they were compelled to take up arms against them. They invaded and captured Ofin, Makun, Isamuro, Ogere, Ipara, Ode and Ilusan (town-ships of Ijebu Remo). But as was the custom, they left without taking absolute possession of the towns. Isamuro was referred to above as if it were part of Ijebu Remo, but Isamuro was part of iwoye but had its boundaries with Ijebu Remo towns.
The first Ebumawe from Idoko (as will be shown later) found the Isamuro people at the place later known as Iwoye. Hence Isamuro is always regarded as the next in rank to Ibipe. During the Gbedeke War, each township had its war captain (Balogun), but the Baloguns at Iwoye worked together and recognised each other’s seniority.
The leader of the Baloguns when the immigrants pitched their tents at Ago Iwoye was Balogun Meleki of Igan township. That was why this town was at one town called Ago Meleki.
The Baloguns of the other townships known to us were as follows:
- Balogun Ogunfowodu of Imosu;
- Balogun Aina Eruku of Idode;
- Balogun Osunkoya of Ibipe;
- Balogun Onihale of Imere; and
- Balogun Ajobi Onidodo of Odosinusi
- Each Balogun had his lieutenant who stepped into his shoes on his demise. One of such subsequent Balogun we hear of was Balogun Ogunwomoju of Imere.
The leader of the Baloguns was the head chief of the town. When therefore a British Commissioner visited Ago-Iwoye between 1893 and 1895 and asked for the Bale of the town (meaning head of the town) from Balogun Aina Ereku of Idode whom he first met, the latter directed him to Balogun Ogunfowodu who was then the leader. Ogunfowodu was the first leader of the town to be called Bale Ogunfowodu and was succeeded by Ogunnoiki Edu of Imosu who ruled only for a short time because he was not a popular choice of the people. He was succeeded as the Bale by Mabinu of Ibipe.
When Mabinu became the Bale, he tried to see the title of Ebumawe Chieftaincy resuscitated. But the resuscitation of Ebumawe Chieftaincy was not going to be easy. The Ibipe people wanted to see that the title of Bale was changed to that of the Ebumawe and get the Awujale to sanction it. But the autocratic method taken by the Ibipe people in appointing the next Bale after the death of Mabinu so annoyed the other townships that they fought it out that Baleship should go in rotation and succeeded.