In the late 18th century there once lived a farmer who lived in the Ẹgba forest, he was called Lísàbí Agbọ̀ngbọ̀ Àkálà, he was described as a very tall and broad fellow, who lived in Igbein but originally from Itoku, ẹsí ẹni mọ ẹiyẹ tó sú (no one knew who his parents were) but he was said to be a cheerful, hardworking and respective young man.
According to history, the Ẹgbas were then under the suzerain of the Olóyo/Aláàfin who received ìsákólẹ̀ (tributaries) from the Ẹgbas through his Ajeles (representatives or tax collectors). These Ọyo-Ajeles were reportedly brutish and avaricious such that the Ẹgbas became tired of their excesses, but they all resigned to fate, esí ọhun a má sé Aláàfin l’oni ile baawà. While they’ve all given up, Lisabi was preoccupied with plans on how to liberate his people.
Lisabi took advantage of the breakdown of law and order in Oyo-ile after Afonja’s revolt on Aláàfin Aole, he turned the Aro traditional system where farmers helped one another on their farms into an underground army, and changed its name too Egba Olorogun (Egba Ọ̀ ni orogún: Egba has no rival). They all agreed to the plot and perfected their attacks, when the Ajeles came with their usual raking, Lisabi signalled his small army and nearly all the Ajeles were slaughtered about 600 of them were wiped out. ẹni orí yọ ó di ilé, those who escaped the onslaught reported to Bashorun Ashamu who was acting as a regent in Oyo, and since he could not summon Afonja, he drafted young Oyo and Ibarapa army instead and they head to Igbehin hoping to crush it and bring Lisabi’s head to Oyo but “e shock them”. Lisabi had ordered everyone to desert the town, he and his army hid in ravines and the Oyo soldiers easily fell into their trap, the Òyós were defeated and Lisabi won independence for his people. Ẹgba became an independent state afterwards.
The Lisabi festival is the celebration of Ẹgba independence and the appreciation of his fearlessness and gallantry.
Credit: IG @proudtobeayoruba