It is an indisputable fact that one of the oldest and foremost traditional institutions in Ijebuland, Regberegbe (Age Grade System) since its inception in the late 17th century had grown in leaps and bounds, with scores of accomplishments to its credit.
Since the pre-colonial and post-colonial years, Ijebu Kingdom had witnessed tremendous strides in terms of human capital development, trade exploits and socio-
economic emancipation through a systematic formation of people of mutually beneficial common interest into cultural groups bounded by age classification for progressive purposes and service towards mankind.
Apart from the financial prosperity, verifiable increase in population growth, social
emancipation, socio-cultural development and economic prosperity that characterized the traditional system, the systematic organisation of the Regberegbe system had remarkably sustained the cohesion and solidarity of the Ijebu society.
The Ijebu Regberegbe system has also remained a tool for preserving and safeguarding the value system of exemplar mentorship, value system, mutual respect of one another and promotion of self-esteem among the Ijebu populace. For instance, the establishment of the age grade system allows younger people to give honour and respect to the elderly ones and give deserving obeisance to traditional authorities; evident in the distinctive classification of three-year age bracket grading whose generic identities are built around contemporary happenings associated with such period of time.
The age grade system was such a powerful tool and arm of the Ijebu which had been in operation before the British rulership; which apparently encountered stiff opposition, persistent criticism and relentless agitations for the entrenchment of customary values/beliefs and undaunted preservation of the rich cultural heritage of the Ijebu people. The past Awujales
were reputedly noted for being at loggerheads with the Native Councils which the British colonialists established to checkmate the opinions of the indigenous Elders’ Council in an attempt to clamp down on the stiff opposition by the Regberegbe group.
According to Chief Bisi Rodipe, a foremost Tree Planter and member of the Modern Regberegbe Revivalist Group- Egbe Bobayo Okunrin Akile Ijebu; the necessitated renaissance of Regberegbe after it had fizzled out on the heels
of the British’s incursion, had greatly catalyzed rapid growth and communal development, accentuated through progressive mobilization of members drawn from different age grades and across respective fields of endeavours.
The approval granted to the resuscitation and progressive modernization of the Regberegbe system by the current Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, CFR, J. P. Ogbagba II is unarguable of the best feats recorded in the annals of Ijebu history, over the last five decades. Ijebuland over the years had witnessed an outstanding transformational change in the areas of collectively inspired provision of life enabling infrastructures to the grassroots people in their respective localities, through the instrumentality of progressive-minded Regberegbe who continuously make their mark without counting the cost.
The modernized and internationalised Regberegbe under the authority of Awujale Adetona had successfully the hitherto erroneous opinions of the cynics that held contrary notions. The milk of human kindness of the Regberegbe system that had permeated through the fabrics of the society is indescribably enormous.
This vastly rebranded unique model of the Ijebu (Regberegbe) had gone farther beyond its formative objectives, to also promote religious harmony, and peaceful co-existence, granting educational support through channels like scholarship schemes to indigent students, enhancement of befitting atmospheres for learning, and job creation among others. In a like manner of the Regberegbe of old that formed themselves into militant groups that agitated emancipation, the modernised Regberegbe have had cause to form themselves into pressure groups to make pressing demands from the government.
Notable among the feats recorded in this regard was the struggle fur resuscitation of the School of Nursing and Midwifery that had gone moribund, which the Ogun State Government magnanimously granted and impressively got accreditation in 2017. The School had since been waxing stronger and has been making a huge impact, especially In the area of providing backup staffing to the State Hospital, Ijebu Ode and some other Health Facilities across Ijebu communities. Apparently, the contributions of Regberegbe in the Health Care segment of the society had also greatly enhanced effective collaboration with the management of the State Hospital, through which several projects have been facilitated for the benefit of the populace.
Another giant stride of the Regberegbe gracefully promoted by the Awujale is the enhancement of the spirit of cooperation and collective responsibility of ensuring wellness among their teeming members. This is often expressed in diverse forms such as mutual self-help initiatives, group financial contributions for trade and investment, the establishment of thrift/credit cooperative schemes and insurance cover policies.
Kabiyesi Awujale in his endless strive to encourage the Regberegbe to continually remain great and shining ambassadors by living up to expectations in fostering growth and life-transforming development within the society which remains a pivotal tool for purposeful livelihood.
Without an iota of gainsaying, the fact that the Ijebu Regberegbe under Kabiyesi Adetona’s rulership had so much well cannot be overemphasised, as the collaborative framework under which the institution operates has indubitably catalyzed maximization of immeasurable opportunities within boundless measures and would be indelibly relished on by generations, even the yet unborn.