Religion is defined by Emile Durhhen (1915) as beliefs and practices concerned with the sacred and actuated by a moral community. Religion is both in vertical which is the relationship between individuals and the Supreme God (Olodumare) while the horizontal axis. It involves the relationship between individuals and other people in the society. All religions began with some communication from a perceived Superior Being, a voice or a vision of that Being telling the people what must be done or believed, through a medium or an intermediary. This definition is not far from what religion is to the Yorubas and the Oyan community in particular.
Traditional Religion:-. Like any other son of Oduduwa, Epe brought the traditional religion and beliefs of Ile-Ife to Oyan. The religion that is hinged on the worship of both the Supreme God (Olodumare) and a host of lesser gods like Ogun (god of iron), Orunmila (god of divination) is generally practiced in Oyan. Oduwuyi, the first man in the land called Oyan started worshipping. Agba (the god of Agba Hill). The other immigrants bought their own gods like Sango (god of thunder), Oya (goddness of River Niger), Esu (the devil). All these religions have a common belief in One Supreme Bening (Olorun), heaven and hell. The only difference is the approach and mode of worship.
Popular Common Beliefs of Oyan people: – They believed in pre-existence of Emi-(the soul), Eleda-(The creator), Ayanmo, Kadara or Ipin-(destiny), Ori-(guardian spirit) and Akunleyan-(individual choices). They all believe that the success or failure of an individual in life depends largely on the choices one made in the other world before incarnation. This resulted in their seeking the assistance of their guardian spirits and the different gods they worship. They also believe in life after death. Their belief in re-incarnation led to naming male children Babatunde (father has come back) or Iaybo (mother has come back). There was a strong belief in supernatural power like in all other Yourba towns. These power include Afose,-the power to actualize the words; Aferi-The power to disappear from one place and appeae in another; Isuju-the power to be invincible to others present while actually one is present; Egbe-the power to fly off from the scene of danger, Ogede or Ofo- (incantation) the power of words used mainly to control natural forces; Asaki-the power to render a gun unserviceable Ayeta- the power to redirect bullets; Okigbe-the power to render a machete blunt.
Popular gods and goodness of Oyan People:- There are many gods and goddesses that the Yoruba worship for guidance and assistance in the pursuit of their objectives in life. They believe that one cannot be successful in life without these gods and goddesses that are regard as assistance to God (Olorun)
Ogu:- This is the god of iron who made the tools to clear the way for second habitation of the world. It is the god of all skilled men like hunters, blacksmiths, warrior and all those whose tolls of trade are made of iron. Ogun festival, which is celebrated annually with dog sacrifice, is one of the most popular festival of the Yoruba race.
Orunmila: –This is one of the original celestial gods of the Yoruba pantheon who siped on God (Olodumare) when the organic and the inorganic substance were being created and as such knows the secret of creation. Ifa oracle is the method of divination and the mouth piece of Orunmila. It is the god of wisdom, knowledge and divination. Orunmila, when consulted, is believed to always announce the plan and will of od on various issues through Ifa priests. It also conveys the prayer and requests of the people to the Supreme God. The emblems of invocation used by the priests are tray of divination, white sand and a chain of 16 sacred beads called ‘opele’.
Obatala: – his is believed to be the first god created by God (Olodumare). It is reputed to have the power of making its devotees strong, healthy and prosperous. It loves cleanliness which explains why its devotees are always clad in white robes and its shrines are always whitewashed.
Esu (The Devil):- This is the one of the oldest deities in the Yoruba pantheon. It is however believed to be a servant of God who sends it to the world to test the people by intentionally creating problems in the life of people. It is also believed that it does this in order to truncate the plan of God and make people worship it. Orunmila, who is believed to be an ally of Esu, instructs people to always placate Esu with sacrifice in order to get the best out of Esu. The concept of Orunmila is that good and evil spring forth from the same spirit at different times for different reason and purposes; as such, a balance must be struck between the two as Esu also rewards whoever does good or appease it by not putting him or her into tribal and tribulations. The devotees are always clad in black robes with dark brown beads around their necks. The popular sacrifice for Esu is he-goat and palm oil that are regularly offered to it.
Iku (Death):- This is the only creation of Olodumare that could withstand the wiles of Esu because, regardless of all fortune or misfortunes of life, all creatures must come to terms with Iku (death). It is responsible for taking people and other creatures who are supposed to die from this earth on behalf of Olodumare so as to make room for new creation. Iku is not generally worshipped but instead people appease and reverse it. Oya is reputed to have the power to intercede with Iku on behalf of her devotees.
Olokun: – This is the goddness of the deep dark sea, abundance, wealth and of course death. She lives in a big palace under the sea. She is the mother of Yemoja, another Yoruba goddess. Olokun is the keeper of all the secrets of life because anything that falls to the bottom to hold and keep the secrets of the past, the present and the future intact at the bottom of the sea. She is the keeper of the mystery of knowledge and wisdom.
Deities: – The Yorubas also deitified some of their kinds who were regarded as gods and goddesses in their lifetimes. The most popular ones are:-
Sango: – He is believed to be the king of old Oyo Kingdom. He was deitified because of his powerful supernatural earthly achievements. He is the god of thunder, lightning and fire. He is the god of justice and fair play. His spirit is always invoked by the taking of oaths to settle disputes. Oya and Osun goddesses were believed to be his wives. It is believed that he never died a natural death but sank into the ground
Yemoja: – This is the daughter of Olokun and mother of all Yoruba goddesses. She is very protective and caring. She cures infertility in woman. When angry, she can be very destructive and violet in the forms of flood from sea, storm water, or river water. She is the leader of all river deities and the patron deity of River Ogun.
Oya: – this is the third and favorite wife of Sango. She hailed from Ile Ira near Offa in the present Kwara State of Nigeria. She is principally the goddess of wind and all the related natural forces like storm, tornado and thunder. History had it that she acquired her supernatural power partly from Nupe in Ile Tepa Lempe in the present Niger State of Nigeria and from some of the secrets she stole from Sango. She was a warrior and used to accompany Sango to fight his enemies. After Sango died, she returned to Ile Ira from where she proceeded to Nupe in Ilu Tapa Lempe. She disappeared into the river and became the spirit or goddess of that river. The river was named after her as River Oya (the present day River Niger). She forbade her devotees from eating and living with ram.
Osun: – This is the second wife of Sango. She was very sensuous and beautiful goddess. She was beneficent and generous. She is the goddess of beauty, prosperity, Oder and fertility. After the death of Sango, she disappeared into river to become the spirit or goddess of that river. The river was named after her as River Osun. There is a world famous annual festival, named Osun Osogbo Festival to honor her. Her sacred grove was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005 AD.
The introduction and acceptance of Christian and Islamic religions changed the polytheistic nature of religious beliefs and practices of Oyan people. This had led to the relegation and in some cases total rejection of the traditional religious and beliefs. This action had resulted in the gradual or total loss of some supernatural powers and the benefits derived from them.
Orthodox Religion: – in 1959, Oyan was described as the Gateway to heaven by a visiting journalist because of the share number of churches and mosques that he saw. The Oyan indigenes rapidly embraced Christianity and Islam so much that almost all the families in Oyan had and still have both Christian and Muslim faithful living happily together.
Christianit: – Mr. of Onile Compound and Mr. James Lana Adeyemi of Arilodo Compound were the duo who introduced Christianity to Oyan in 1901. After their military service in the Belgian Congo (now Congo DRC), Mr. Omotoso first settled in Osogbo where he embraced Christian faith through the missionaries of church Missionary Society. He later went to Oyan and invited Mr. Lana Adeyemi to establish the C.M.S. Church in Oyan. Mr. Lana Adeyemi declined because he was interested in Catholic faith. Mr. Omotoso went ahead without him and started the C.M.S. Church in the area of Onile Compound which was popularly known as Mission or Ile Babasale
As at 1950 five (5) different orthodox religious denominations were fully established. Those that followed C.M.S. Denominations were (1) African church introduced to Oyan by Mr. Daniel Kudaisi of Alaaka Compound in 1912. He brought it from Coker village near Abeokuta. (2) Catholic Church was introduced by Mr, Lana Adeyemi of Arilodo Compound in 1922. He brought it from Otan Aiyegbaju. (3) Christ Apostolic Church was first established in Asaba by Mr. Woye who brought it from Ifako Agege. Mr. Bamgbose established it in Oyan in 1925. (4) Jehova Witness was brought to Oyan by Mr. Joseph Ladipo of Elemona Compound in 1932. He brought it from Ebute-Meta, Lagos. (5) Bapsit Church was brought to Oyan by the trio of Mr. Daniel Adesina of Obatirejoye Compound, M Mr. James Oloyede of Alala Compound and Mr. Moses OLagunju of Esa Compound in 1942 from Igosun.
Since then other denomination had been established namely (1) Cherubim and Seraphim Movement. (2) Christ Deliverance Church (3) Church of the Lord – Aladura (4) Deeper Life Bible Church. (5) Redeemed Christian Church of God (6) Scripture Union (7) Wosem Church. (8) The Evangelistically Church of the Lord. (9) Church of the Lord. It is worthy of note that Christ Apostolic Church had since established two other branches in Oyan namely C.A.C. Ajibope and C.A.C. Agbara Olorun Nilani, Ijabe Road. African Church also has two other branches namely, St James African Church, Ijabe Road and St Joseph African Church, Gbelewade St, Oke Odo, which was founded by Bishop H.A. Adeyemo
Islam: Nobody is sure of the time Islam got to Oyan. But going by the song of Ifa Worshipers that says Áiye laba Ifa, Aiye laba Imole, Osan gangan ni Igbagbo wole’ meaning ‘we met Ifa on the earth, we met Islam on the earth, but Christianity came suddenly’ this translate the fact that Islam was already in Oyan before Christianity was brought to Oyan in 1901.
In their individual books, Messrs T.G.O. Gbadamosi, I.A. Akinjogbin and A. Ogungbiyi, variously traced the introduction and growth of Islam in Yorubaland. They claimed that Islam came to ancient Yoruba Kingdom of Oyo in the 14th century during the reign of Mansa Musa in Mali Empire through the trans-Sahara trade. The Malians came with the Islamic religion which people of Oyo called “Esin or Isin Mali”meaning the religion of Mali. However, some people erroneously translated it to “ESin Imale, Imole or Imolile” meaning a hard religion because they found it difficult to practice. I.A. Akinjogbin claimed that it was the Malia Arabic writers that originated the name Yoruba. He wrote that before the Malians came, the people of Oyo Empire were called “Karo O jire” and that Arabic writers like Ahmad Baba and Muhammed Bello were reported among the earliest writers like to name the people of Oyo “Yariba, Yaruba or Yarba” in addition, I.A. Ogunbiyi claimed that the first mosque was built in Oyo-Ile in 1580AD and that Islam found its way to Iwo in 1855AD and Osogbo in 1889AD. The Malian clerics taught the people to read and write in Arabic language while other Islamic traditions were introduced into the culture and traditions of the people of Oyo Empire.
Whether Islam found its way to Oyan from Ikirun where the Oba Aliyu Oyewole (1795-1820), the seventh Akirun of Ikirun accepted Islam as predicted by Ifa during his “ikosejaye” ceremony or not, nobody can tell. It is however believed in some quarters that Islam found its way to Oyan during the Fulani rule around 1840AD.
Koran was first introduced to Oyan by a non indigence from Ilorin. He resided in Oluoko Compound but he was not really practicing Islam. Later on, Mr. Ibraheem Dare of Onile Compound returned home from Ilorin and starting Islamic religion in his house which became known as Imole-nfalafia. Later on, Imam Abdul Kadiri of Oparin Compound who brought Holy Koran from Ilorin became the first Chief Imam of Oyan.
Jumat Mosques. It is interesting to note that most central Mosques in Yprubaland are built close to Oba palaces. This tradition started when the Ibadan General is simo Aare Latoosa whom Ifa advised to seek help from Muslim clerics for his answer for a male child to be granted. He did and had a male child. To compensate the clerics, he converts to Muslim and built a mosque beside his palace thus starting the tradition of building central Mosque o near Oba palaces. Oyan central Mosque, according to this tradition, is built facing the Oba palace.
The Oyan Central Jumat Mosque was built in the early 1940s. I the recent time, other five jumat Mosque were established in the town namely; (1) Darusalam by Alhaji Ibraheem Olutoyin Gogobiri from Ilorin in 1996 (2) Igbaeye JUmat Mosque in GBeye Compound (3) Alfa RAsheed of Elemo Aresinloye Compound in 2001 (4) Shewu Rashidi Jumat Mosque of Elemo Isale Compound in Arere, Oke Odo (5) Salaudeen Jumat Mosque in Arere, Oke Odo in 2017 AD
Local Mosques. There are many local mosques in following areas of Oyan as follows (1) Alagbede Abutu Compound (2) Alagbede Afireke Compound (3) Araromi Iyalaje Area (4) Arogunoke Compound (5) Awo Sandreco Compound (6) Ayika Compound (7) Elemo Aresinkeye Compound (8) God is King, Gbadamosi Adegoke Way-Erin Ile Road (9) Jagun Compound (10) Laluwoye Compound (11) Irewolede, Alh Fadiji St, OKe Odo (12) Oluko Compound (13) Onile Compound Ojuode Area (14) Onile Compound, Imole-nfalafia Area (15) Oparin Compound (16) Alh. Abdul Kareem, No 40 Gbadamosi Adegoke Way-Erin Ile Road. (17) Dawodu Compound.