Makun; described simply as waterside Ijebu by historian, E.A. Alayande, the Makun community of Sagamu is the combination of urban or rural settlements which as a unit constituted one of the thirty-three Remo traditional towns, and one of the thirteen which federated to the modern Sagamu in 1865. The two major quarters of Makun; the Ojotun, and Agbowa were led by two brothers; Arapetu, and Liworu respectively out of the Iremo quarters of the ancient city of Ile-Ife, like most other Remo people.
Arapetu, first among the Makun Patriarchs, and his brother, Liworu, were members of the Ile-Ife royal family, though history never recorded they were sons of the Ooni of Ife. Their exodus from town, joined by their kindred, mother, wives and children took place at an unknown date but their arrival at Ijebu Ode was recorded to have fallen within the reign of the tenth Awujale. Two assertions consequently exists for the history of Makun, one which begins with their journey from Ile-Ife, and another which commences with their life at Ijebu Ode when the Awujale, being family, accepted them into the royal court- a gesture that was never extended to many other Remo people who crossed the Ijebu territory in their journey towards present day Lagos. The second brand of Makun history explains therefore why another patriarch, Obaruwa, exists for the Makun, as he was one who assimilated his people into the Royal Court of Ijebu Ode, in his position as a son of the Awujale. Obawura is for this reason taken as the father of the Makun people and honored with an annual festival which comes up in the month of February. The last of the Makun’s four patriarchs, Osoribiya achieved renown with his leadership when the people marched out of Ijebu Ode to a riverine settlement known as the present day Makun Omi. Soon, a portion of the people moved on, trekking towards present Owode Egba, down to Owuru River side, close to the present day real estate attraction, the Gateway Paradise City. Their close relationship and intermarriages with the Egba notwithstanding, the Makun people were dislodged from Owuru side to Agege (not Lagos) where they were further chased to Badore, a few meters to the present Simawa group of Estates. Makun settlement at Badore was destroyed by the Egba in March 3, 1851, forcing the people to take refuge at Ikorodu. Although a counter-attack at Badore less than a year after was successful, the Makun shifted their base to Agbele where they continued to suffer series of invasions.
The worst of these invasions led by the Egba-Dahomey forces, forced the people of Makun to return to Ikorodu where they later regrouped to confront their adversary at Agbele. Their victory was not followed by a return to Agbele but in accordance with an agreement reached by several Remo leaders, the people of Makun settled in their present abode in Sagamu, in close proximity to their Remo cousins, the first among the twelve traditional Sagamu communities to so do. This turned out to be a successful arrangement, as peaceful times came upon the people, who by the wisdom of their elders, had bonded together in the bid to collectively ward off the invasion of future aggressors.
The Makun community occupies coordinates 6°52’0” N and 3° 37’0” E in Degrees Minutes Seconds or 6.45 and 4.4 in decimal degrees. Its UTM position is FH51 and its Joint Operation Graphics reference is NB31-07.
Among Makun community, the Simawa and Ajebo villages have seen the most development. Other thriving villages include Ayetoro, Oke-Ate, Ita-Oya, Ewu Osi, Lenwa, Osoribiya, Ewu Lisa, Ajagan, Esunora, Kanuyi, Ewu Eleku, Okerala, Araromi, Igbo-Iwaju, Isaga, Iwelepe, Eruwuru, and Rasusi.
Arapetu, who was the elder of the two brothers who led the people of Makun southwesterly from Ile-Ife has now a clan represented by the people of Ojotun Makun Sagamu. Although the advent of Christianity and Islam has almost nullified the tradition, The Ojotun people are custodians of ancestral gods and goddesses of the Makun, collectively called the Osis. The three distinct families of Arapetu are Radelu, Rasusi, and Orabugbawa. Sub-families taking their roots from those main three are Wonpaori, Liyan, Bata, and Eburu. The most important royal paraphernalia taken from Ile-Ife by the two brothers; Eluku, Agemo, Pakoko, Oro, Ferewa, and blacksmithing were handed town to the trust of Ojotun people.
Liworu, the younger of the two senior patriarchs of Makun is the father of the Agbowa people, constituting like Ojotun, the second main quarter of Makun. The Agbowa people, being descendants of the younger, had the less important paraphernalia from Ile-Ife in trust; the Oro and Pakoko. The Liworu family of Sagamu are represented in Makun villages of Agbele, Ota, Rasusi, Ayetoro, and Igbo Liworu.
Life in Makun
The Makun community benefited more than any other crop, from the Kolanut. The market at Sabo had people from Owode Egba, Abeokuta, and Agege in Lagos participating in trade. Although kolanut was the goldmine of Sagamu farmers, the cultivation of Orogbo (bitter kola), Abata (native kola), cocoa, Gbodogi (leaves), Ginger, Allegator pepper (Atare), and oil palm trees were also successful.
Orisagamu rivulet was the source of drinking water of the Makun from their earliest times in Sagamu.
Girls married around the gae of twenty. Men wait till they are twenty-five, or slightly older. Marriage in Makun is taken very seriously and promiscuity is not condoned, as one can tell form the execution of the son of Ewusi Inanuwa, whose son was executed upon his conviction on charges of fornication. Coutrship lasted two or three years and when a marriageable man discloses his intent to his own parents, middle men were sent to make solicitation with the lady’s parents, who in turn inquire the approval of thir daughter. Investigations to the family of the would-be husband followed, and then an entreaty with Ifa. If a good future is foreseen for the intending couple, preparations for marriage commenced.
Dowry, tubers of yam, alligator pepper, kola nut, e.t.c. are presented to the lady’s parents and prayers are offered. The lady is released to elderly women to be taken to the husband’s house at night. After seven days of isolation and total inactivity, the newly wedded wife begins to perform her duties as a full-fledged wife.
New born children are named after eight days of birth. Grandmothers of babies wore special headgear called Oja Osu, by which they announced their new bundle of joy.
The dead are buried within family houses as they are seen as continuing to be part of the family. This practice, contradicted by Christian and Moslem tradition of burying the dead away from homes were the traditional practice in the Makun community. Corpses were placed on stretcher made of raffia fronds, escorted by in-laws with one holding a fowl called Adie Irana whose feathers were thrown in the air ostensibly to ensure a road safe to Hades. The said fowl usually formed a good delicacy for the undertakers at the day’s end. Although most of these practices, especially the rites beside the river is now obliscent, the commitment of family members of the deceased towards the payment of Iwolefu to fund burial activities persists till modern times.
The people of Makun committed themselves to the service of diverse Yoruba gods who are believed to inflict negligent adherents with diseases. Families housed different idols. Rituals were performed at road junctions on behalf of the sick to appease the gods and goddesses. Ifa priests called Babalawo were consulted when puzzles of life needed to be resolved and Medicine men and women, called Onisegun, were approached with illnesses. Members of the Yoruba pantheon acknowledged by the Makun of old included Esu the dicey ancestor remarked by the British as representing the devil, Obaluwaye, Ogun the Ooni of Ife who was patron of the blacksmiths, Sango the Alafin of Oyo who showed magical powers, Oya his wife, Obatala who ostensibly was a co-creator of the world, Eegun, spirit of the ancestor, Oluweri, who resided in the waters, and Ifa the oracle. Among others were Oro, Eluku, Agemo, and Obaruwa. Ogun is shown special interest in the Liworu Quarters of Makun where its symbol adorn the entrance of houses.
Located prominently at Muleoruwa Road along Sagamu rivulet is a curious feature of Makun religious life. This open Yoruba religious group have meet regularly to sing hymns inspired by Orunmila, the wise sage and father of the Ifa divining board. In this Ijo, the Iwe Odu Ifa formed the holy book from which instructions were passed.
Only months after the British had overtaken Lagos, Reverend C.A. Gollmer of the C.M.S. had voiced his interest in seeing that the entire Ijebuland in which Makun formed a part, followed. Success was not to be recorded for the next two years in Remo division of Ijebu to which Makun belonged. This was particularly distressing for the early missionaries who had hoped the passion of the Ijebu would be useful for the religion of Christ, when converted. Another reason for their grief at the setback was Sagamu’s strategic location which provided a shorter route from Lagos to Ibadan; two important cities. One of the most respected of the missionaries, who was an Ijebu son, James Johnson had in fact paid ecclesiastical visits to Makun around 1876 and 1890 without success. James Johnson would witness a turnaround in 1892 when he was granted audience by Ewusi Agunloye II, leader of the Makun, and Akarigbo Oyebajo, the Remo overlord.
Opening the way for this precarious seeding of the Christian religion in Makun was Ademuyiwa Haastrup, a Remo son, by whose effort the Wesleyan mission had propelled into Remo. After initial persecutions, agents of civilization had followed the missionaries to impress greatly on the people of Makun, as did other Remo and the entire Ijebu land. Because of its nearness to Lagos their activities were intense and irrepressible. Many Makun neighbors built churches to please the British who had effectively supplanted the powers with which the Ijebu king was once identified. Historian Alayande implied in his book Governor Carter of Lagos instructed in a meeting in which the Makun leader was part to show zeal on behalf of the Christian religion. Thus ended the barbaric practices of the Makun community which included Human Sacrifice and uncomely dumping of ritual concoctions in public places.
Asa, the Stilt festival was the most enjoyable festival in some Makun villages of Sagamu in Ogun State. In performing this art, skilled persons mounted the stilt; pairs of poles each with support for the foot at the same distance from the bottom. Stilt accrobats have a costume, usually a white gown, or a skirt and blouse. This annual festival, performed majorly by the villages of Ewu Osi, Lenuwa, Soomo (Osoribiya), and Simawa is accompanied by eating, drinking, and song procession around village. Tourists from other Makun communities throng the villages to be part of the festival.
Another is the Agemo festival during which barren women came with their supplication to Agemo. Featured in this yearly festival is a spectacle; the mutual flogging of shirtless youths.