The news about government empowering farmers is a welcome one, after all most of our people are farmers; land and beautiful weather is what we have a plenty.
Reading the recent news about government plan to invest in cashew plantation as well as factory in Osun state is a fantastic news as this means job creation for our people.
Now, the proposed site for this cashew project in Ife is situated in Ògùdù.
Ògùdù is a village in Ile Ife, most of the farmers in this village for a very long time (am talking over a century) have been the Oyos, significantly people from Modakeke. During the last bloody clash between 1997 and 2000, this is one of the villages that we have the most casualties as the only way for Modakeke people to get in and out of Ogudu and surrounding villages is via Ile Ife.
Many people who made it out of Ogudu village alive are still in town today – 19 years is still not enough to get back what they have lost as this is one of the villages people have been prevented to return to.
While I understand that whatever the agreement that our great grandparents had before investing so much of their time and energy to nurture cocoa and kola nuts on this land had broken down, I also understand that because of the geographical location of this land, elders are probably doing their best to minimise future chance of clash.
Most of the people that are particularly affected have no other means, they remain quiet hoping that one day, just maybe someone would see the injustice in this and help them back into their fathers’ land. We are all aware that for many of us, land – even when most is worth a few kobo is what our parents have to leave behind as inheritance – these people have nothing now.
We all know what ‘federal project’ means, we know that it is local people who suggest this disputed land to be the perfect place. If this is the case, it means dashed hopes for the victim of Ogudu clash.
Since we are all for peace, what do we say to people chased away from Ogudu get some compensation from the government? This is only fair as they can have a closure and it will be forever brought to book.
Here is a message exchange received from a 76 years man whose father’s farm is at Ogudu:
“Ogudu village with surrounding Farmlands, Aba Abe and Aba Oba, two adjoining villages, were all inhabited almost 100% by Oyo-speaking people, mostly from Modakeke. The ” ” had farmlands, mainly at Ogudu, and at Aba Abe.
We lost 3 ” ” members at Ogudu village when the Ifes ambushed them on the way from the farms. Unfortunately for our people, to get to Ogudu from Modakeke, we had to go through Ife town itself: Ogbon Oya, Aiyetoro, etc., then through Ife villages of Ita Marun and Abiri. This made Ogudu, etc. unsafe for us at the time. And now, I have no idea who farm the lands of our villages, but they won’t be Modakeke people who moved to other safer areas, in the direction of Famia and beyond.”
“Have just spoken to lawyer ” ” who confirms the cashew project for Ogudu. He says it is a ‘Federal Project’ which will involve big cashew plantation and processing plants. I ask him whose lands have been seized to plant on. He says he does not yet have any details. Of course, it is now clear Modakeke has lost that part of its possession for ever – we cannot dislodge the Federal Government. However good the new Ooni, and everyone says he is good, he is unlikely to have/use the power to return the village farms to us. Unfortunately, we have no one to fight our case, even for compensation!”
“I called a junior brother who told me the area marked out for the cashew plantation/processing project stretches from Ogudu, all the way to Aba Abe, about three miles away. It is really a very expansive undertaking. But, like many of our government projects, there is a loud noise, and then nothing happens, and the project is quietly abandoned. But if the project goes ahead, no Modakeke person will feel safe to work there, as an employee of whichever company will run the project. Sadly, no one is talking compensation, because it is already accepted, by the Ifes and the Osun state government, that we don’t have legitimate rights to the village, and the farmlands, anyway. Very painful, yes. What can we do? My father and the other ” ” were simply unlucky. We could have established more firmly at Ode-Omu.”
**Family name taken as this is not just about one family, it affects a few others.
Why is someone like me calling the attention of the state governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola, the new Ooni, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and indeed our VP Professor Osinbajo to this?
Because people don’t just forget injustice and walk away forever, not without some sort of compensation. If we go back to Reverent Samuel Johnson’s book from 1920, reading the chapters of Modakeke and Ife seem like it was written yesterday because one day someone will rise up to question how this rift was settled.
The honourable things to do is to compensate those affected now – it is only fair.
By the way, no one close to me have farmland in this area, even the elderly man whose message is above is not my family – he is an elderly friend.