The Ife and Modakeke people are both regarded as Yoruba people in Osun State area of Nigeria. Both ethnic groups are regarded as bonafide descendants of Oduduwa as they have the same culture, political systems and share the same geographical boundaries.
Modakeke is situated within the Ife Kingdom while Ile-Ife is the traditional headquarters of the Yorubas. It is located in Osun State, Nigeria.
However, despite these similarities, the two ethnic groups are popularly known for inter-tribal wars that lasted for about a century.
The Ife and Modakeke crisis is still considered the oldest intra-ethnic conflict ever witnessed in Nigeria.
How The Ife-Modakeke Crisis Began
The Fulani sent the Oyo people out of their lands in the 19th century. Consequently, they migrated and settled in Ile-Ife after they were rejected from some towns including Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ijebu.
The Modakeke people were warmly welcomed in Ife as visitors and refugees. They started going about their businesses as blacksmiths as they multiplied in Ife land.
However, over time, they started clashing with the Ife people over several issues. The Modakeke people decided to create their own political structure close to Ile-Ife and they changed their name to Modakeke.
History has it that the Modakekes and the Ife’s first clashed in 1835. However, following the intervention of Samuel Johnson, a historian, and Charles Phillips, the Bishop of Ondo, they ended the conflict.
They signed a peace treaty in 1886 in Lagos, which was the former Federal Capital of Nigeria
The treaty directed the evacuation of the Modakeke people from the Ife Kingdom. However, they later returned with promises to live peacefully with the Ife people and respect the Ooni. They were also made to pay “Isakole” meaning tribute on the lands if they wish to continue to live with the Ife people according to the 1940 judicial pronouncement.
However, because the Modakeke people were not satisfied with the judgement, a vicious cycle of conflicts began from the 1960s to the 1990s.
The crisis was quite intense to the point that about 2,000 to 5,000 people lost their lives during the 1997 conflict. Many properties were also destroyed, forcing many people to run for their lives.
In 1980, the Modakeke people persuaded the Ooni to grant powers to their self-appointed traditional ruler, the Ogunsua of Modakeke and create a separate Local Government Area (LGA) and put an end to the payment of land tribute.
Consequently, several panels were set up to end the crisis including Honourable Kayode Ibidapo Obe’s Judicial Commission, Chief Alex Akinyele Committee of Enquiry and Commodore Olabode George’s Committee, which successfully ended the long conflict in 2000.
The committee made the following resolutions:
- Change in the Modakeke status. A prefix “Ife” should be added to the name “Modakeke” to become ‘Modakeke-Ife.
- Ife East LGA office should be created for Modakeke in Oke DO.
- A Mobile Police Training Institution should be created in Ile-Ife.
- Police buffer zones should be created in conflict flashpoints.
Even though the Ife and Modakeke people have stopped fighting openly, there are still records of bad blood among them. This is more pronounced in their marriages. Rarely would a person from Ife marry someone from Modakeke.
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