By Kayode Awojobi
In the beginning, there were eleven villages and hamlets scattered across an area of about 60 km, each with an identity and they were autonomous. The head of one of these villages, Ojo Oronna, a prince from Ilaro, who about 1680 A.D sufferred disappointment and humiliation after he was passed over as the new Olu of Ilaro.
He left Ilaro in company of some of his loyalists, Onipede, travelling northwards until they arrived at Omogudu, which the party found suitable for their initial settlement.
They farmed and hunted animal for food at Isogun forest and caught fish in the Amurugudu river. It was around the year 1680, and all things considered, the prospect of a new life was good for the new settlers forced out of their homeland by a hurting sense of pride.
Ojo Oronna naturally assumed the headship of the new settlement with Onipede, his loyalist, as his right-hand man. Adventurous and enterprising, even for the times, they had a good working relationship with a sustained focus on the future of their new domain.
One could imagine them thinking of excelling beyond the imagination of their kith and kin back in Ilaro. The determination of a proud prince to turn disappointment into a blessing cannot be overestimated.
It turned out, however, that they were not alone in their new neighborhood. Omogudu was close to Oke-Olofin, the abode of another powerful settler named Olofin. A skilled hunter, Olofin frequented Isogun forest for game. It was during one of those adventures that he met Ojo Oronna and they became good friends. Their relationship blossom and it led to the formation of the town called “Okeho”.
To any high inquisitive mind, the name Okeho itself shows a lot of tourism potential. The name also suggests what can be found in the town. Just like the Biblical town founded on a rock that cannot be hidden, Okeho is not hidden, located in the central part of Oke-Ogun in Oyo State, shared border with so many towns and villages among which are; Iseyin, Iganna, Ilero, Ayetoro, Isemi. Because of her central location, Okeho is the headquarters of Kajola Local Government, Oyo State.
A town full with several wonderful flora and fauna. The location of Okeho Ahoro should be the first point of call where we have the hill where the forefather of Okeho lived in the beginning. Oke Olofin is a great place to visit, the geologist and researchers will also find the ancient town of Okeho resourceful as many antiquities and relics of the ancestors used many years ago are still available till date.
Okeho Ahoro which served as refuge for Okeho people during the Dahomey slave raid and Fulani invasion of the Yoruba land has a number of historic sites including burial sited of some late kings of the town, abode of king during the war, café, hills, rivers and lots more to satisfy the curiosity of any tourist.
Taking a trip from the ancient Okeho to the present site, you pass through Ifo Ere, the dungeon of python. This place, history had, was the hole “Ifo” where Okeho derives her name Oke-Ifo from which later turned to Oke-Iho. Although the hole is still there up till today but the where the python is, is what you can know when you visit the place.
Igbo Isia, the cradle of Okeho warlords is another place to visit in Okeho. Although to visit this place, you need the guidance of someone who has been initiated into Oro cult, because this forest housed many mysterious things such as; a great herbalist, Baba Egbeji, who was said to ascend to heaven through a chain, the remain of the chain is still. As made known, the chain is unlimited when drawn out.
Another strategic place to visit in Okeho is the popular Moshra garden which also serves as a recreation centre filled with natural tourists attractions. This is situated along Iseyin road.
Okeho being a town with core Yoruba values and traditions, there are so many traditional festival in the town which includes; Egungun festival, Oro festival amongst others.
Egungun festival always comes up usually every third week of July and lasted for 7 days. During these days, so many masquerades will parade round the town and give their blessings. On the 7th day comes the grand finale of the celebration where so many rites will be performed.
Oro festival, on the other hand, is of different types. There is Oro festival of Onjo and Alubo come up every October while that of Onimoba and Ajana were used to come up every July. It is for three days while Onjo and Alubo is for seventeen days, but the first five days, the oro will commenced at 9pm to 6am, but the sixth day is Alubo Ahala will reach 12pm while seven day is Onjo Ahala which is for a whole day, while 17day is Itadogun.
During the Oro festival, there is restriction of movement for ladies, most especially on the Ahala day.
Okeho is a great town with great potentials and it is high time we maximized this. Any tourist both local and foreign will not conclude that their journey is a waste after the tour of the town.