History Wednesday: How the Ancient Idi-kan Evolved
Idi-Ikan is a popular market located at the Ibadan North Local Government Area in Ibadan, Oyo State. It is around Ogunpa-Agbeni axis. Idi-Ikan is one of the popular markets in Ibadan, it comprises lots of traders who deals in various items. There are people who live there as well, but it is mostly made up of traders.
The place, Ìdí-Ìkán, was named after a particular Ìkán tree which was present in this place then. This is according to a book written by Jubril Aminu Beyond the Inimitable Edifice: A Story of Adébísí Ìdîkán. He relates the history behind the naming of this place. Aminu narrates how Adébísí changed the Ile-elewon ‘the house where they were using chain to tie thieves’ to Ile-Adebisi Idi-Ikan ‘Adebisi Idi-Ikan’s house’.
Adébísí built his house around the area where Ìkán tree was, the houses around bore the names of their diverse compounds. From the junction downward, there are several compounds; Ilé-Dàwọnrú-lójú-Ogun ‘the brave warrior who disorganizes the enemies on the battle fronts’ ‘Dàwọnrú’s Compound’ which its shortened name is Dàwọnrú; Ilé-Ọlọyọyọ ‘Ọlọyọyọ’s Compound’ after which Adébísí built his house; Ilé-Kíàbi ‘Kíàbi’s Compound’ which was after Adébísí ’s house; Ilé-Ladé ‘Ladé’s Compound’. There was a large tree with several branches and roots that sprouted out of the soil. This tree was called Igi-Ìkán ‘Ìkán tree’.
In the Ìbàdàn of that era, whenever a thief was caught, people used to drag him to the Ìkán-tree. On reaching the tree, they would use a chain to tie the thief to the branch of the tree. At times, several thieves would be seen tied to the tree-branches. Passers-by would be mocking them as they were passing. From time to time, children and young adults goes to the tree to see which thief had been caught. Also, since Adébísí used to take care of the mentally sick people, wild ones undergoing treatment were always chained to the Ìkán-tree so as to prevent them from disturbing the peace of the sane people in the society.
In Yorùbáland, houses and areas are normally named after the owners or things associated with the places; due to this and also in the Yorùbá language, chain is called ‘ẹwọn’, people started referring to the houses and the compound as ‘Ilé-ẹlẹwọn’ (meaning, the house where they were using chain to tie thieves). That was how the area started bearing ‘Ilé- ẹlẹwọn’.
The place continued to bear this name for some time and nobody saw anything wrong with it. In fact, people felt so comfortable with it and were at ease using it until the thoughtful Adébísí directed his mind to it. Every time he heard people referring to this place as such, he felt uncomfortable. He recognized the fact that in most cases whenever people with mischievous minds wanted to use an ambiguous word, they preferred the negative meaning to the positive one.
Thoughtful Adébísí did not like this ambiguity to be associated with the name his place was bearing. He thought it would reach a time when people would not be able to differentiate between the two ambiguous words. When Adébísí started growing in affluence, influence and recognition, he became the symbol of Ìdîkán. It was therefore a matter of cause for Ilé- Ẹlẹwọn to be transformed into Ilé-Adébísí. Since then, nobody dared call the place Ilé- Ẹlewọn ‘the house where they were using chain to tie thieves’ anymore but Ilé-Adébísí Ìdîkán ‘Adébísí Ìdí-Ìkán’s House’.
The other word which has the same spelling and tone with the Yorùbá word ‘ẹwọn ‘chain’ but different meaning is ‘ẹwọn’ ‘jail’. People in this place prefer to use the word with the meaning ‘jail’ instead of ‘chain’ maybe for sarcasm or for other reasons known to them until Sànúsí Adébísí Gíwá deemed it fit to change the name of this place from the ambiguous name ‘ẹwọn’ ‘chain/jail’ to Ilé-Adébísí Ìdîkán, naming it after the Ìkán tree which was there at that time. Afterwards, Ilé-Adébísí Ìdîkán was shortened to Ìdîkán.