Odo-Irele: Local Gin Sellers Decry Ban

Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state

Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state

ALTHOUGH quiet has returned to Odo-Irele, with no new causality figures, some residents of the area will have to adjust to the economic consequence of events of the last two weeks.

The world’s attention was drawn to the ancient town, after a spate of mysterious deaths, which residents blamed on persons who allegedly stole sacred artefact from the town’s shrine. But following series of investigations, health authorities ruled the deaths as the consequence of methanol poisoning. And going a step further, the state government slammed a ban on the sale of local alcoholic beverages.

Although the residents remain unwavering in their conviction about what caused the deaths, they will have to look over their shoulders before downing a bottle of local ogogoro. Thanks to the prohibition. Besides, sellers of the product will rue the loss of precious revenue.

While speaking with journalists, showing them round the shrine, the Jagboju of Irele and head of the Jagboju family, High Chief Adeolu Mewayenu, described government’s ban on the sale of local gin as “beating about the bush”, bringing out a bottle of the stuff in a public show of defiance.

Ilelaboye Adekanmi, a resident, reiterated the towns return to normalcy. He noted that the incident had initially paralysed commercial activities, but that things went back to shape as soon as the gods were appeased. He described the ban as an insensitive move by government. According to him, many residents earned their livelihood from sale of herbal mixtures and other traditional drinks.

Atekanle Gboingboin is the name of a brew said to enhance sexual performance. When The Guardian asked one of the sellers of the product what she thought of the prohibition, she lamented the hardship that now stares her colleagues and her in the face, crying that she has no other means of sustenance.

A young man, Lemikan, questioned the finding of the health authorities. According to him, people of the area have always drunk substances made from roots, both for pleasure and health purposes.

Kengboye Mebinone, a mother of five who sold herbs, said she inherited the occupation from her maternal grandfather, adding that the business had been a source of livelihood for several generations. She complained bitterly about the ban and appealed to the government to rescind its decision, so the people do not starve.

In a bid to appease the gods, the town’s women had poured water on the threshold of the shrine. The priests also performed several rites. Many houses had leaves of the Akoko tree hung at doorposts, to stave off the wrath of the deities.

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