It was the land of brave warriors and Calvary officers who became the elite corps of the ÒYÓ army.
Instead of perceiving the sweet loving birds enjoyed in the modern Ikoyi of Lagos, it was infested by vultures, hawks that were always busy eating human intestines and eyeballs.
The Ęşó-Ikoyi were a class of military aristocrats that were just a rank below the Oyomesi (council of state in the old Oyo empire). They evolved from a prominent families in Ikoyi, in the metropolitan province of Oyo in the 17th and 18th centuries, manifesting and sustaining high standards of BRAVERY and PROFICIENCY with their own culture and code of honour handed down from father to son.
According to legend, the first Alaafin of Oyo was Oranyan. He chose a trader whom he named ONÍKÒYÍ because of his trade in Basket business to be one of his generals, holding command over 1469 men who are obliged to fight to death and never turn their backs to the enemies.
ONÍKÒYÍ, then is remembered first and foremost as a Warrior. His descendants became rulers of the town of Ikoyi under the Alaafin.
Onikoyi is one of the great warriors of Yoruba land and of record, a warrior that was not conquered throughout his life time.
Descendants of Onikoyi are warriors, whether consciously or unconsciously. Ikoyi settlements are found all over Yoruba land.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ONÍKÒYÍ and ESO-ÌKÒYÍ (Ikoyi war Lord and soldiers).
* It is a taboo for Ikoyi warriors receive arrows at their back rather they receive on their tongues.
*Anytime they received messages of very deadly battles instead of running away from the town, they employ drummers and praise singers in preparation for the battle and dance round the nooks and crannies of the town.
*ONÍKÒYÍ loves nothing but war.
*When others are planting yams, he is planting human heads.
* When others are thirsty and drinking wine and water, he is drinking blood to quench his thirst.
*When others reap fruits, he is reaping dead warriors.
* His community is always infested with Vultures and Hawks that are always perching and feeding on the intestines and eyeballs of dead warriors.
*Like most warriors’ communities in the ancient Yoruba kingdom, robbers are very common within the ancient Ikoyi community.
*While preparing for the battlefield, ONÍKÒYÍ goes with basket full of all his belongings and cooking utensils. In other words, he shift his home to the battlefield.
* It is a taboo for Ikoyi women to put basket on their heads because this is a reminder of fresh war for ONÍKÒYÍ and his warriors.
* It is also a great taboo for the Ikoyi lineage to eat rat. The reason behind this was the transformation of an ONÍKÒYÍ that transformed himself into a rat while escaping captivity by enemies on the battlefield.
*During terrible and deadly battle, the Eso-ikoyi don’t call themselves by name. They refer to one another as ÈSÓ (soldier) so as not to be emotionally distracted if a dear and close family member is killed in the war.
ORÍKÌ ONÍKÒYÍ ;
Omo ęrù fisanfisan
Omo akorogun jo
Omo orun y’órun
Ikoyi omo olófà şèlèlè
Omo igbo ni o ku si
Omo odo ni o gbe lo
Omo a ku yakata
Omo a sun yakata
Omo a ku rondo
Omo a sun rondo
Omo agba Ikoyi tó gbo’jo iku to lo re gba ìlù
Omo a ku yánanyànya b’òtè l’érù.
Omo afinju agba ikoyi, fìrí gba igba ofà s’ófun
Omo a t”òfun da igba ofà silę
Omo igunnungun ori àpé
Omo àkàlà orùn oşè
Omo ji’kan n t”ogun
Omo pa’kan n t’ogun
Àrònì gbo’gun ma şidi
Omo agbòn ti o r’iku sa
Onikoyi a di pelemo loju ogun
Ikoyi o ni sun’le àjà
E sa ba mi w’eke eyi to gun gogoro
Omo orun y’orun
Ipinle Ikoyi won kìí j’okete
Ajugun ni baba won fi n şe.
Eşo-Ikoyi kii gb’ofa seyin
Ori ahón ni mu won.
Ogun a ja iweyin ni mu”le Onikoyi wun mi
Ogun ojoojumo ni mu”le won su mi i lo
Ijagbe Aroni o wa’le
Onikoyi o sinmi ogun
Omo odan ni yin
E ma ş’edi dandan te ba r’ogun
Eşo o r’iku sa
Ojo ogun le, eşo o pe r’awon loruko
Obinrin Ikoyi won ki gbe’ri agbòn
L’ojó ti won ba gbe’ri agbòn
Won fi ran oko won l’eti ogun ni.
Ìlàlá omo agbòn ti o r’iku sa
Ìrá ìràìrá ni baba yin gun ti o wa’le mo
O dijo e ba pa ìrà, p’òtòlò
Ke to gba baba yin lowo eranko.
Ijeni àgbé omo olè l’osun
Omo ogun l’osan
Omo olè l’óru
Olè aşo kó, t’èwù ko
Ibi ka r’omoge to da laarin ode
Ka ma muu fi ş’aya ni.
Yanbilolu l’ogun lo re k’eru
K’onikoyi to de, ole ko’le e lo
O wa pade baba olè l’ónà
Ni won ba be Onikoyi lori
Ori Onikoyi fo bìrì bó’lè
Mo mo eni to be Onikoyi lori
Mo mo eniyan to be ori Onikoyi
Mo m’eni Ikoyi ko’le ę lo
Mo m’eni t’onikoyi ko n’ile.
Ipanpa Tógunja oun ni Yanbinlolu be l’ori
Ikùnķùn kogunloju oun lo b’ęri Onikoyi;
Ìlàló omo a ş’ole ma şa f’owórá
Ipadenigbo oun lo lo ko’le Onikoyi
Esaogbin ni baba yin ja l’ole
Aşô eegun lo gbe………..