7. ADO EKITI

SIXTEEN Ekiti kingdoms occupy an area of 2, 100 square miles in the north-eastern corner of Yoruba country;1 they lie within what we have earlier termed the shatter zone of small kingdoms between the great empires of Oyo and Benin. The 327,000 Ekiti people (of Ekiti Division) regard themselves as a group distinct from the neighbouring Ijesha or Igbomina on their west and north-west, though they have many affinities with the people of the Akoko kingdoms to the east. Each kingdom is quite independent of all others and there seems to have been no time at which the Ekiti acknowledged a common ruler.

Ekiti Division is one of the most picturesque parts of the Western Region, lying athwart the watershed of the River Niger and the rivers draining to the sea. The highest point is over 2,000 feet above sea level, and streams have eroded deeply into the landscape leaving great isolated granite hills, some tree-covered, others bare of vegetation. Ekiti is a country of small towns; only two have populations exceeding 20,000, and two more have between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants; there are fourteen towns with populations of from 5,000 to 10,000 and fifty small towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants, but only 6 per cent of the population lives in towns with fewer than 1,000 people. The population density is only 156 persons to the square mile; farm land is not scarce and most farmers cultivate their plots for two or three years before allowing them to fallow for up to ten years. Southern and mid-Ekiti has, since 1940, become a rich cocoa-growing area; the northern part of the Division is predominantly savanna.

Ado is the largest of these kingdoms with a population of 62,000; its capital, usually termed Ado Ekiti to distinguish it from other towns also named Ado, lay, before the secession of Akure from Ekiti Division, in the geographical centre of the Division. Ado town is the second largest in the Division with a population of 25,000. (Ikerre with 36,000 inhabitants is the largest.)

Ado lies between four hills. On the slopes of one -- Oke olota -- live, say the local people, the spirits which guard the town and who seize anyone who climbs the hill; another hides the Government Station from view, while on the slopes of the third is sited Christ's School -- one of the leading boys' secondary schools of the country. The fourth hill -- Oke

____________________
1
In addition to these sixteen kingdoms are four towns which have gained their independence within the last four decades (on the grounds that they owed no traditional allegiance to the kingdom in which they had been included by the colonial administration). Three of these towns -- Osi, Ilawe and Igbara Odo -- won their freedom from Ado.

-185-

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