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THE HISTORY OF SANGO, IGBO-OLOWU

ln the year 1899, the British, who were then the colonial masters of Nigeria, began moves to establish rail transportation in Nigeria.

So many treaties were signed with the land owners; THE ALAKE OF EGBA LAND, THE OLOWU OF OWU, THE AGURA OF GBAGURA and THE OSILE OF OKE-ONA, EGBA, and some Chiefs were signatories to the treaties, wherever land belonging to the Egba Kingdom was concerned.

A railway station was sited in Sango at the spot which now houses the present Sango Police Station. The Area Commander’s Office was then the ticket room.

The treaty of the railway station situated in Sango then, was signed for, by the Egba monarchs as the bonafide owners of the land, by virtue of the conquest of the Aworis in Ota between 1839 – 1842.

In 1856 Oba Akintoye of Lagos was dethroned. Being an Owu man he ran to Owu Abeokuta for protection. Owu’s are known to be warriors, they decided to fight and reinstate him. They made their camp at a forest called IGBO-OLOWU which later became SANGO after the establishment of a railway station.
In Sango till today Electricity Bills to consumers are being addressed with IGBO-OLOWU Sango.

By 1912, the Government decided to construct a trunk ‘A’ road to link Lagos with Abeokuta. They shifted the rail line from Sango to ljoko to give way for the Trunk ‘A’ road.

Very many years later, the local Police metamorphosed into the Nigeria Police Force, and the railway station was converted for its use.

Following this development, people began to settle in Sango. One of such pioneer settlers was a man named Albert Ajenifuja from Otun Aiyegbajo Ekiti.
He was a road worker. There was later an influx of Egba settlers and further later on, the Hausas, the Ekitis and the lgbiras made Sango their home.

As a result of a steady increase in the number of settlers, the need arose to appoint a Baale who will be the focal point of the Sango Community in conformity with Yoruba tradition. The whole Sango community agreed to install Mr. Albert Ajenifuja as the first Baale of Sango in 1916 and he held the office till death in 1947.

Where after, Chief Yesufu Owolabi, an Egba (GBAGURA) man was appointed his successor and he held the office for twenty years. He passed on in 1967.

On the 12th November 1967, Mr. Joseph Ladipo Alogi was elected as the next Baale of Sango after defeating Mr. Samuel Ajayi Akutu, an Ota candidate. At that point a dispute arose, the Ota people wanted to impose Mr. Samuel Ajayi on Sango, but he was rejected. A powerful petition was written by Sango community to the then Military Governor of Western Region.

A panel of enquiry was set up by the military Government to look into the Baaleship dispute in Sango. The panel was headed by one Z.O. Okunoren. The panel later confirmed Mr Joseph Ladipo Alogi as the Baale of Sango.

On the 11th October, 1987, the reins of leadership as Baale fell on Chief Henry Oluwole Adebayo. He was elected as 4th Baale of Sango. He died on the 22nd April, 1993.

OBASHIP

On the 26th December, 2005, the original settlers and the representatives of the communities in Sango gathered at Ketere in a meeting, as is the custom with the settlers and the entire community. They decided to press for an Oba.
It was unanimously agreed that the Olowu of Owu, under whose prescribed authority traditionally they fall by virtue of conquest of the Aworis by the Egbas, should be approached for approval of the Obaship stool. It was also agreed at the meeting, that if approved, the house of the last Baale, Chief Henry oluwole Adebayo should present a candidate for the Obaship since the late Baale had died in the Baaleship dispute.

The Olowu of Owu was approached and he gave his royal blessings for the appointment of an Oba in Sango.

Mr Oluwagbohun Olatunji Adebayo was unanimously selected by Adebayo as candidate of the family. He was thus presented to the Olowu for his blessings and was installed the first Onisango of Sango on the 11th March, 2006.
After the installation of the Onisango, a meeting of elders and community leaders was called by the Royal highness where a decision was taken to install Baales in some communities within Sango.

The following towns were carved out and the Baales installed are :

Araromi – It was initially named Sorinolu Esubiyi area of Igbo-Olowu Sango by
the then administrator appointed by the Alake after the fall of Ota in 1842. lt is predominately occupied by Egba Ake, Egbe Owu, lgbiras and Aworis.

Abule Olodo – The area that Hausa’s settled after the establishment of the railway in 1899 and it was named Egbapeju by Obatolu who was one of the administrators appointed by Alake after the war of
1839 – 1842. It is predominated by Egba owu, Egba Ake, Egba Okeona, Awori’s and other tribes.

Gbagura – As the name indicates, It is where the Gbagura’s from Egba-Gbagura in Abeokuta settled, and were later joined by other tribes e.g the Owus, Ake, lgbo, Hausas, etc.

Temidire – Its first settlers were Owus and Ijayes, who were later joined by Okeona Egba, Egba Ake, Gbaguras and other tribes.

These are the four cardinal points of Sango and as the town expanded more communities were established and headed by Baales. They include :

Jibowu – Chief Waidi Dairo (Baale)
Gbagura – Chief lfasanya Olurebi (Baale)
Irepodun – Chief Abraham Akinwunmi (Baale)
Araromi – Chef Ganiu A. Egbeji (Baale)
Egan – Chief Idowu O. Jacob (Baale)
Abule Olodo – Chief Azeez Kareem (Baale)
Ireakari – Chief Muftau Kasali (Baale)
Orile Owu – Chief Ayoade Kehinde (Baale)
Egbatedo – Chief Solomon Oyefade (Baale)
Ifelodun – Chief Moshood Adetola (Baale)
Iroko – Chief Olusoji A. Iroko (Baale)
Arije Campbell – Chief Rasheed Kehinde (Baale)
Ilupeju Ayedaade – Chief Jelili T. Amusan (Baale)
Saka – Chief Jubril Owolabi (Baale)
Aranshe – Chief Ganiu Ayinde (Baale)
Otisese community.
Temidire community.
Orile Egba community.

  • HRM,Oba Oluwagboun Olatunji Adebayo
    Onisango of SangoLand.

History of Papalanto

Papalanto is a major town situated along the Lagos – Abeokuta Road at its intersection with the Sagamu – Ilaro Road in the Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State. It commands a vantage point for trade, transportation and communication, and falls under the sovereignty of the Olowu of Owu Abeokuta, who installed its Oba, the Onipapa of Papalanto.

IN THE BEGINNING:-

Papalanto as presently constituted both geographically and ethnically was founded by a brave hunter called Adeitan, an Owu man in the 18th century. Adeitan according to history left Owu in Abeokuta as divined by Ifa Oracle that he should go and find a town where the road leads to the four cardinal point. Apparently, when he got to where today is calleel Papalanto, he consulted Ifa oracle and he was told to stay there.

For a few years, Adeitan and his wife, Olaito, resided in this town without any siblings nor relatives. The first person to join them then was known as Famuyiwa Adegoyinbo who came from Amororo Compound, Totoro Abeokuta, one of the prominent ruling houses in Owu Kingdom. After some years of Famuyiwa’s stay with Adeitan and Olaito he was adopted as their son because of their childlessness and he inherited all their properties and Papalanto.

THE NAME PAPALANTO:-

Olaito, wife of Adeitan was a food seller. Many hunters and travelers stopped by to have a taste of her delicious and tasty meals.
This went on for many years, and many of those who eat at Olaito’s canteen never had the opportunity of seeing her husband, Adeitan, physically because he was always on hunting spree from one forest to another.
As a result of her popularity, the area was referenced as Papa Olaito (Olaito’s village) which was later corrupted to PAPALANTO, a name it has retained till today

ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM:-

Papalanto was first established at a place called Oju-Oja, now Isale Alfa. As many people migrated to Papalanto and there is need for a leader, Adeitan the founder automatically became the first Baale of Papalanto; starting from its first day in the 18th century. It is noteworthy that Adeitan and Olaito loved themselves so much, but the most surprising thing was that they both disappeared at the same time, no single person knows where to till this day.

After their demise so to say, Famuyiwa Adegoyinbo their only adopted son became the second Baale for many years. Some of the earliest families that settled down at Papalanto after Famuyiwa are: Ajigbayin Akinola from Ago-Owu Memunu Compound; Sadiku Liasu Family from Oke-Ago Owu Compound Shoyinka Family from Ago-Owu Ala Compound all in Owu Kingdom, Abeokuta.

Traditionally, administrative system as it was then was; the Baale (community Head). As at the last count, a total of eleven Baales from the 18th century – 2005 have ruled in Papalanto. The last Baale was late Chief Musulumi Olatoye Jinadu who was also the first coronet Oba to be crowned by his royal majesty Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, in Papalanto and whose reign only lasted for a brief period of twelve months (January 2006 – December 2006).

NEIGHBOURING VILLAGES:-

Initially, Papalanto has a total of twenty-five villages under its control. It was after the introduction of the new traditional ruling system of Coronet Obas that it was reduced to twelve. However, Papalanto shares her boundary with Gudugba village from the Lagos axis; Ajobiewe Iyana Egbado from the Abeokuta axis, Abule Ododo Wasinmi Alaafia from the New Ilaro Road axis, and Ishofin and Oke-Lemo from old Ilaro Road. All these viliages have in one way or the other enjoyed a lot of physical development through the vantage position of proximity to Papalanto town.

ETHNIC TRIBES:-

In the 18th Century down to 19th Century, the only tribe in Papalanto are Yorubas most especially, the Owus, Gbaguras, Ijaiyes and others, the construction of New Lagos-Abeokuta express road led to the mass migration of many tribes to Papalanto which brought physical development to places like Ori-Ogbo, Araromi, Ajegunle, Fowowawo (now cailed Sawniill) and many other areas after places like Oju-Oja Isale Alfa, Alagbede compound, Ago-Ika and Ago-Ijaiye compound.

Today, other tribes like the Hausa, Igbos, Egun, Idoma, Igedes, and many other tribes now trade, reside and earn their living with ease in Papalanto. Up till today as it was then, Papalanto has remained a land of peace, love and unity.

OCCUPATIONAL ACTIVITIES:-

In the 18th century down to 19th century the major occupation was farming and hunting. Today, many occupational activities and businesses have sprung up. It’s noteworthy at this junction to say that the planting of sugarcane that had been in existence since the 18th century has never been relegated into the background, rather the patronage has steadily been on the increase to the extent that other tribes such as the Hausa, Igedes now earn their living through the sales of sugarcane.

EDUCATION:-

Right from 19th century, the indigene of Papalanto and its environs took the issue of education seriously; little wonder that many indigenes of Papalanto and it neighbouring villages enrolled at United Anglican Primary School, which was founded in 1945 and arguably the first primary school within Papalanto and its environs.

However, it was during the tenure of Chief Safaru Shodehinde as Councilor for Papalanto Ward that Papalanto High School was founded in 1980. Similarly, the primary Health Centre was founded and commissioned during his tenure; this brought new lease of life to Papalanto and its environs.

PROMINENT INDIGENES:-

Today, Papalanto has a lot of indigenes spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria, but the story of Papalanto will be incomplete if the names of those who brought a lot of changes and development to Papalanto are not mentioned, most especially in the area of electricity. These inciude Late Chief Tomori Sholanke, Hon. (Alhaji) Afeez Olawoyin, and the then Mr Rasaq Ishola Jimoh (now the Onipapa of Papalanto). They all worked tirelessly for the success of electricity in Papalantb. Also, it was during the tenure of Hon. Adeolu Adekanmbi as Councilor for Papalanto Ward that the Papalanto Market was constructed and commissioned.

Similarly, there are many prominent families who voluntarily released large parcels of their family land for the construction of the Primary Health Centre, Papalanto High School, Papalanto Market and many other projects. Families like – Famuyiwa, Adeosun and Adekanmbi Families.

PAST BAALES:-

  1. Chief Adeitan
  2. Chief Famuyiwa
  3. Chief Shoyinka Amodu
  4. Chief Ajigbayin
  5. Chief Sadiku Liasu
  6. Chief Olatoye Jinadu
  7. Chief Samuel Shoyinka
  8. Chief Amodu Ige 1966 – 1967
  9. Chief Sanmi Adekunle 1967 – 1975
  10. Chief Sikiru Olawoyin 1981 – 1992
  11. Chief Musulimi O. Jimadu 1994 – 2005

THE PAST OBA:-

  1. H.R.M. Musulimi O. Jinadu Jan 2006 – Dec. 2006.

LIST OF BAALES/VILLAGES UNDER PAPALANTO:-

  1. Chief Prince S.O. Kehinde Ishofin
  2. Chief Lamina Ibikunle Gudugba
  3. Chief Musiliu O. Akingbata Abule Odo
  4. Chief Samson Sokeye Ayepe Station
  5. Chief Alfred A.O. Jolaso Ayepe Ogunro
  6. Chief Augustus Akinola Oko-Lemo
  7. Chief Ebun Rashidi Akinbo
  8. Chief ]oshua Oniyitan Iyana Egbado
  9. Chief Ajobiewe Olukoya Ajobiewe
    10.Chief Elkanah A. Adesanya Wasinmi Alafia
    11.Chief Satari Lawal Ewekoro Iporo
    12.Chief Suraju Adebowale Ewekoro Land
    13.Chief Johnson Akinrinade Akirikan

Written by:
H.R.M. Oba Rasaki Jimoh Famuyiwa .
Onipapa of Papalanto.
Amororo 1, Ilufemiloye 1,
Owu Kingdom.

The History of Arigbajo – Owu Kingdom

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Arigbajo town is situated near Ifo town, adjourning Apomu in the Ewekoro Local Government Area, and on the Lagos-Abeokuta Road axis.

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After the alligator pepper war in the 1820s, the Owus in a large number departed for Abeokuta and settled at Oke Ata, Oke Ago Owu, Totoro etc in Abeokuta.

Some later left Abeokuta again towards Lagos Road which is part of their land under conquest. As they were leaving in batches, OSUNJOBI, one of their group leaders and an elder brother to MAMOOLO as he was fondly called (abbreviation for MAMOWOLO) opted for a bush near WASIMI, now along the Lagos/Abeokuta Express way. There he settled and named ARIGBAJO.

He named the place to symbolize his calabash drumming and dancing profession (Igba & Ijo). There OSUNJOBI stayed with MAMOOLO his younger brother who was a powerful warrior/hunter and petty farmer.

After some time, MAMOOLO left for his usual hunting and along the line he discovered a bush where he hunted and made profits as a result, he continued until he got to a village not too far from the bush where he hunted called ISOFIN where he stayed with a man, and from there he would go to cultivate his farmland and hunt.

One day he discovered a small stream in the bush and drank from it, and discovered that the water was good. He named the stream OUN S’OFUN TERE (Good for the throat), which became the SOFUNTERE river that we have till date in Arigbajo.

While at the river bank, a female deity who introduced herself as OLOOKE met him and demanded to know what he wanted there. He was said to have introduced himself as OLOOKE and explained how he had found the place during his hunting expedition and decided to settle around there.
OLOOKE then promised her support to see that MALOOMO never lacked animals by the day as a hunter, and that any woman who settled with him would bear children and not be barren, a belief that is still relevant till date to many of the inhabitants.
Hence the song that has now become the anthem of ARIGBAJO:

Eba n’gbomo oke… lanti lanti (3ce)
Omo oke dun bi
Baba loni arin lola
Eba n’gbomo oke… lanti lanti

There he made an ILEBA, a bush house where he began to stay and was taking his hunting preys to Abeokuta for sale (always trekking).
After staying alone for a while he went back to ARIGBAJO and invited his relatives like OGUDU, LAGOSIN, a female trader called AINA and other close associates to come with him. At this time, he was calling the place OKO OKE ISOFIN. There he continued his hunting. As OGUDU and LAGOSIN were farming, AINA was taking MAMOOLO’s hunting preys to Abeokuta for sale.

Not quite long after, OSUNJOBI, MAMOOLO’s elder brother had a serious misunderstanding with those settling with him at Arigbajo near Wasinmi, and MAMOOLO went there immediately he heard the information. He intermediated between his brother and other co-settlers to see that peace reigned as the saying “ARA OWU KII RANRO, AWI IMENU KU O N’TOWU”.

MAMOOLO was successful in the mediation and persuaded OSUNJOBI his brother to follow him to his newly discovered location. On getting there, OSUNJOBI discovered that the place was more comfortable and decided to stay with MAMOOLO where he continued his farming and musical carrier. The people around were always inviting him to perform at their ceremonies, while all this time he was still staying at his younger brother’s ILEBI as his abode. Other friends like BARAMOKUN, OSOMOJI and ARIGBANLA WONWO later joined them. MAMOOLO reflected Owu’s love for others by apportioning land to his friends to farm and to control while he retained the ILEBA area for himself. He also went round, hunted and came back to the area he called AMORIWAKO.

It is however a matter of common knowledge that before one settles finally anywhere, they must have been visiting the place before, either on expedition or sightseeing. It was also reported that when he was new at the place he was fond of visiting GUDUGBA and ISOFIN to see his friends who were co-warriors. He also visited Papa Olaito (now PAPALANTO), where he usually bought akara (fried beans) from a woman at Papa junction.

When MAMOOLO had finally made up his mind to settle at his ILEBA, he asked OSUNJOBI about his opinion about retaining the name OKO OKE ISOFIN for the settlement, to which the former suggested the re-using of ARIGBAJO, the name of their previous settlement, while that former settlement could then be referred to ARIGBAJO-EHIN (previous Arigbajo).

OSUNJOBI’s fame continued to rise and he was popularly referred to as ‘ARIGBAJO, ARAGBE JO’, meaning the calabash and gourd player/dancer. His fame was such that people started thinking that he founded the settlement!

In the beginning, MAMOOLO was the OLORI OKO. He was followed by 2 other Oloriokos before the Baaleship title was adopted. The Baaleship is rotated between the 4 quarters of the town as follows; AMORIWAKO, BARAMOKUN, OSOMOJI, and ARIGBANLA up till date. There had been 12 Baales before the emergence of the Coronet Obaship which led to the crowning of Oluwagbemileke Alade Babajide (SP rtd) by Oba Dr, Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu CON, FTA on the 31st of March 2006 alongside other Owu Obas to reign over Owu settlements.

ARIGBAJO is surrounded by Owu settlements like EJIO, ABESE, and APOMU and they are cordially co-existing till date. Other non-Owu villages and towns in the neighbourhood include AROGUN, ABULE OKO, SODERU, ELEBUTE, ALAGUTAN, IBOKURU and others.

Written by :
Oluwagbemileke Alade Babajide (SP rtd)
(Omo Arogundade)
Alaigbajo of Arigbajo Land
Owu Kingdom.

Owu Historical Facts and Myths

obatala oldman

The creating Obatala

The details below represent a brief synopsis, and an at-a-glance summary of facts and details that must have been represented several times on this website. They are compiled for your brief referencing!:


Ajibosin:

First grandson of Oduduwa. Son of Obatala (Odua’s high priest) and Iyunade (First Princess and daughter of Oduduwa). Ajibosin became the first Olowu after he was given a crown as an infant by his grandfather and thereafter was encouraged to leave Ile-Ife with his mother for his father’s homeland when old enough to rule because two Obas could not sojourn in the same kingdom.

Asunkungbade:

Nickname of Ajibosin meaning ‘He who cries to receive a crown’, the first Olowu. He is reported to have acquired his crown as an infant when he refused to stop crying while playing on the laps of Oduduwa, his grandfather, until the latter removed his crown and placed it on the head of the crying infant to appease him. Thereafter, he would resume crying furiously at every attempt his mother, Iyunade, made to remove the crown from his head in order to return it to Oduduwa. The patriarch thus decreed that he be allowed to retain the crown and automatically pronounced king to establish his own domain as soon as he was old enough to rule.

As two kings could not sojourn in the same kingdom, Iyunade was compelled to take the young king to his father, Obatala’s homeland among the Tapas in the Empe region where he was granted sojourn and land just below the Niger on his father’s cotton farmlands to set up his kingdom, thus earning him his 2nd alias, ‘Omo-Olowu’ (litt: Son of a cotton owner).

Obatala:

Husband of the first princess of Ile-Ife, Iyunade, and father of Ajibosin, the first Olowu. He was also the Ifa High Priest and Spiritual Consultant to Oduduwa among many other monarchs in the now the West African sub-region. Ifa divination ability was second nature to Obatala being reportedly the son and scholar of Agbonmiregun Setilu, the acclaimed Ifa progenitor from Nupeland. Obatala also had considerable farming interests as the owner of vast cotton plantations located adjacent to the River Niger in the Savannah region, presumably acquired from his vast earnings as an International Ifa Consultant – which earned him the appellation of ‘Olowu’ or cotton owner.

Obatala was larger than life and was no less prominent than Oduduwa, the acclaimed patriarch of the Yorubas. In fact, he has been deified as the head and oldest of the Orishas who created the physical world at the behest of Olodumare.
It is also claimed that Obatala had arrived Ile-Ife down a mythical chain long before Oduduwa arrived by similar means, and ruled the people before the latter came to stage a civil war which deposed Obatala as leader. The two were later reconciled and Obatala agreed to assist Oduduwa’s reign through his Ifa Divination. Oduduwa granted his first daughter, Iyunade, to the Ifa High Priest perhaps as part of their truce concessions.

As a roving Ifa consultant, Obatala became very wealthy and invested heavily in vast land holdings in the savannah region which he employed in cotton farming, an occupation that earned him the appellation of Baba-Olowu (cotton lord). Ajibosin was to inherit a large chunk of these which formed the bedrock of his original Owu Kingdom at the fringe of the Nupe country.

As an Orisha, Obatala has some of the largest followings and worshippers both at home and in the Diaspora, being matched perhaps only by Orisha Ogun and Sango adherents.

Omo-Olowu:

Ajibosin’s new nickname after he relocated accompanied by 6 Iwarefas to his father’s hometown among the Nupes in response to his being the son of Baba-Olowu, the cotton farmer.

There are logical speculations that the original Owu homestead which was established just below the River Niger may have bourn such a descriptive name like ‘Ago Omo-Olowu’.

The name has translated also into an ancient Owu annual festival that is observed coupled with the new yam festival among many Owu communities.

Iwarefa:

Six trusted high chiefs and first class awo counsellors from the court of Oduduwa, the Yoruba patriarch and progenitor who were hand-picked by him in faith to accompany his royal grandchild, AJIBOSIN Olawunmi into exile, and upon whom the newly established crown which was to translate to the crown of the Olowu was entrusted. They are constituted among the first original seven Owu citizens, the first being Ajibosin the child Oba himself!

According to tradition, two kings could not co-habitate in the same domain, so when Ajibosin was made an infant king, he had to go on exile from Ile-Ife, his grandfather’s domain, to pioneer his own kingdom.

The 6 Iwarefas were appointed to accompany him, guard him, guide and counsel him into adulthood and into becoming a worthy king. He was first sent to his father’s homeland amongst the Tapa/Nupe people which also correlates with the original homestead of many notable Lagosian aborigines!

These 6 Iwarefa were Akogun, Obamaja, Orunto, Osupori, Oyega and Molashin. They also double as the original traditional King makers of the kingdom called Afobaje.

It is suggested in some quarters that they may have been accompanied on that historical expedition by the Olosi who was Oduduwa’s resident ifa priest. However it is more accepted that Olosi although never an Iwarefa was included into the ranks of Afobaje (kingmakers) only in Abeokuta at the same time when Adegbenro instigated the inclusion of Balogun Owu, a title he was then holding, into those ranks.

Each of the Iwarefa have their individual and distinct functions in the core traditional culture and religious rites of the ancient kingdom.

Anlugbua:

An ancient Owu war hero venerated worldwide as the symbol of Owu courage and steadfastness, who is mythically reported to have disappeared into the ground with the promise to re-emerge in order to assist his people at anytime they were threatened by enemies and if he was alerted through a pull on the exposed end of a chain he was reported to have dragged with him underground.

An incident once occurred when in order to confirm this capability he was summoned when actually there was no war and any need to do so. Anlugbua reportedly rose from the ground to behead all within his reach only to recognize thereafter from their facial marks that he had slaughtered his own people. He sank back into the ground a saddened man with a resolve never to emerge again in the same manner.

It is pertinent to note that virtually all Owu settlements, big or small, lay claim to Anlugbua disappearing into the ground within their communities and likewise they build shrines for him and celebrate him in annual festivals. However indications exist that he may have been a native of Owu-Kuta called Akindele Onilu-Ogba, who may actually have done his underground disappearance act at nearby Owu-Ogbere which was at that time possibly the main Owu homestead situated beside Ibadan.

There are also some Owu communities who believe that Anlugbua was actually Ajibosin the Asunkungbade and first Olowu himself!

Epe:

A short war cutlass made of brass which is also the symbol of Owu authority and military might, used by their warriors, with which they are reputed to be battle daredevils and conquerors, who would defy all the odds of personal safety and charge at their enemies in a frenzied rage.

It was one of these Epes (still in safe custody within the Kingdom at Abeokuta) that triggered the Owu war which fused into the Yoruba wars of 100 years when it was accidentally used to fatally lacerate an Ijebu trader at the International Apomu market near Owu Ipole by the then Akogun Owu, Olugbabi Awalona, who was the market Marshall.

Keke Olowu:

Traditional facial mark of the Owus to distinguish them from other tribal groups, especially when on war expeditions. The Keke or Gombo consists of four or five perpendicular and horizontal lines placed angularly on each cheek ; they occupy the whole space between the auricle and the cheek bone ; three small perpendiculars are also placed on the horizontal lines on both cheeks The Keke-Olowu, an Owu variation of these is like the Keke or Gombo with the lines discrete or interrupted and links each ear with the side of the cheeks. It was common prior to the later adoption of the agbaja-olowu.

Abaja Olowu:

The Abaja are sets of three or four parallel and horizontal lines on each cheek ; they may be single or double, each line being from half-an-inch to one inch long.

The Abaja-Olowu in distinction from other abajas has 3 perpendicular etchings fitting neatly above 3 horizontal ones and are very thin and narrow in contradistinction from the very bold ones worn by other tribes. This is further accentuated with an additional 3 small horizontal etchings on the forehead called ‘keeta’.

Furthermore, members of the royal families would have an additional 6 markings on the forearm with a further 3 below the navel.

Orile-Owu:

An Owu homestead of the 18th to 19th century where the people rose to military and commercial prominence among the southern Yoruba states. The city at its peak was reported to possess two huge circuits of defensive walls of up to 12 feet in height and about 2 meters width at its bases. The outer and more prominent wall which also enclosed the royal farms had a very wide ditch lying over 12 feet deep and strewn with thorns, spikes and other dangerous things spanning all around the city circumference at the outer periphery of the walls, which may have totalled up to 20 miles in length.

Stories emerging from Owu-Ile near present day Oyo and Awe claim that one of the Princes from their community named Akinfala actually founded Owu Ipole after eloping due to a royal tussle for the crown. Consequently the settlement is better known to them as Owu-Akinfala. Another of their princes by the name Akindele was said to have founded Owu Ogbere at about the same time.

Orile Owu, previously known as Owu Ipole at its time of prominence is also reputed to be the site of the great Owu War triggered from the Apomu International market which fanned the 100 years long pan-Yoruba wars of the 18th and 19th centurlies. Owu Ipole was resettled some 80 years after its destruction as Ago-Owu before experiencing a further name transformation to Orile-Owu.

While Orile-Owu (Owu-Ipole) enjoys the reputation of being the largest and most prominent homestead of the Owu people in the 19th century, there is suggestive evidence that it may actually have shared that prominence with its neighbouring Owu-Ogbere for a while until the latter was sacked perhaps about a decade earlier sending out a flood of Owu refugees to further boost Owu Ipole in population and prominence.

Owu Ogbere:

Now defunct, Owu Ogbere developed from the vast expanse of land given to an Olowu at the fringe of Remo-land by the Baale of Ibadan when the former haven been expelled from the sub-Savannah region, presumably the settlement of Ahoro (Owu Ile), was going to pass through the Baale’s domain. In order to forestall any misunderstanding or confrontation with the much feared Owu who were erstwhile the most powerful force in the whole of Yorubaland, the Baale sent emissaries to the approaching Olowu to acquire as much land as he would desire near the borders of his own territory. Ibadan was then an Egba Gbagura settlement of the statute of a large village or small township.

The resulting Owu-Ogbere probably grew to great prominence in the 18th and 19th century and was only sacked in the aftermath of the unfortunate ‘Nkan’ saga when combined military forces attacked it to enact revenge on the Olowu, an alliance which sent Owu Ogbere packing from the Baale of Ibadan’s land mostly to nearby Owu-Ipole, Owu-Kuta, Erunmu etc.
It too had featured an outer and an inner ring of defensive walls in a similar manner to Owu-Ipole.

Chronological details suggest that Owu Ogbere may have existed side by side with its more prominent cousin Owu Ipole and perhaps even came into existence prior to the latter, and may have been sacked approximately only some 10 years before Owu Ipole which is now known as Orile Owu.

The Nkan incident :

Nkanlola was the name of the very beautiful daughter of the Baale of Ibadan who was given in wedlock to the Olowu when the latter came to settle near them at Owu-Ogbere. As the tale goes, the Olowu who was either an Oba Akinjobi or Ayoloye went on a war expedition and was greeted by a devastating storm which threatened to seal off his path at a river crossing. On consultation with his Ifa Priest, he was told that he would have to sacrifice something to the gods as thanksgiving if he were allowed to accomplish his expedition successfully.

On his return journey to the river after his initial successful crossing, he proceeded to offer his thanksgiving sacrifice, but all his offerings were rejected only to be informed through Ifa divination that he had to sacrifice his wife as originally promised. Perplexed that he never made such a bargain, he was reminded that the name of his wife was Nkan (‘Something’), and that he had agreed to offer something (nkan) to the gods if his plea was granted.

With extreme sadness and reluctance as he seemed to have been conned by the gods due to his misunderstanding of their expectation, he had to succumb to the sacrifice, which infuriated the Baale of Ibadan, Nkan’s father, when he heard that his daughter had been sacrificed. He proceeded to assemble aid from some combined regional forces to expel the Owus from Ogbere. The inhabitants of Ogbere were thus displaced to such settlements as Owu-Kuta, Erunmu, Apomu etc with the majority however probably going to further fortify Owu-Ipole (Orile-Owu) with their population.

The Sango event:

Sango was the junior brother of Ajaka, the son of Oranmiyan who succeeded that first Alaafin and founder of Oyo.

He was summoned by the Oyomesi (Oyo Senate and Supreme Council) from his mother’s land in the Nupe territory to succeed his brother Ajaka who had been deposed by them presumably because he was seen as too weak to respond to the Olowu’s demands in those days when Owu was then the foremost military force of the region, and by extension the whole of Yorubaland.

When Sango assumed office as the Alaafin (logicaly the 3rd in the series) he defied the Olowu and was able to repel his attack, perhaps aided by Elempe of the Nupes who were also under the sovereignity of Owu, and instilled strong fear in the latter by use of fire breathing antics!

Thus liberated from Owu’s persistent domination, the Oyos embarked on a heavy program of militarization, purchasing war horses in huge numbers from their Bariba and Nupe neighbours in order to sustain their independence and expand their territory.
Sango’s military focus was to be his undoing as he perhaps neglected the common welfare of his subjects and became unbearable such that the Oyomesi who had initially brought him in also had to ease him out especially after an unfortunate lightening accident instigated by Sango himself where he virtually lost his entire household, wives and children.

The Oyomesi thus recalled his exiled brother Ajaka to resume his monarchy.
Sango was however glorified after his suicide at Koso followed by that of Oya, his favourite wife, and was deified as the god of lightening presumably in memory of his fire breathing antics that rescued Oyo from Owu, and perhaps also as consolation for the self inflicted tragedy while practising his control over the elemental forces of lightening.

The Apomu Market incident:

When Owu Ipole (now Orile-Owu) was at the height of its prominence as a city state in the 19th century, its most important satellite town was Apomu situated some 20km away from its walls with a market which was the most prominent south of the River Niger, competing commercially with the likes of the Kano and Timbuktu markets in the desert region of Africa. Located in Ife territory and originally governed by the former, the Apomu market was the commercial nerve centre of the Owu City-state of Owu-Ipole (Orile-Owu), which must have derived much of its commercial wealth and funds for its military expeditions and defense from its trading revenues as the Owus were not noted for slave trading, but in converse were even engaged by the Alaafin of Oyo to help prevent the menace and protect its citizens who were among the many who would flock regularly to trade their wares and crafts at the famed Apomu market. For its commercial strategic placement, Apomu was secretly or openly desired by many of the powers at play in the Yoruba nation, including Ife, Oyo, Ijebu, Ikoyi, Ilesha and Ibadan. This is the origin of the popular Apomu cliché that goes “Apomu suru, oko ilu banti banti” (ie. Tiny Apomu which lords it over all the high and mighty communities)!

On this fateful occasion, a dispute involving the sale of alligator pepper occurred between an Owu farmer/trader and an Ijebu woman which resulted in the infliction of fatal wounds on the woman. The market erupted into riot and things happened in quick succession which resulted in the declaration of a full scale war on Owu by the Awujale of Ijebu assisted by Ife and war mercenaries from Oyo and Ibadan.

The Pioneering of Abeokuta:

The city of Abeokuta which now holds the enviable position of the largest concentration center of Owu indigenes on earth is reportedly pioneered by the Egbas led by Sodeke, their leader. This is true indeed, but represents only the half truth!

The complete truth is that Oko Alagba now named Abeokuta was jointly pioneered by the Egba contingent led by Sodeke, the Egba Seriki after Lamodi lost his life resulting in the exodus from Ibadan, and a warrior/hunter named Sangojimi Gudugba at the head of an Apomu-Owu contingent. They came together, slept together, fought together and camped together up to Osiele which was their original settlement in Abeokuta. The scarcity of water however drove them on and at Adatan they split up with Sangojimi and his Apomu contingent opting to go forward to encamp at Oke Saje, while Sodeke opted for going left to Isale Ake to pitch camp near a major stream.
All this while, Orile-Owu was still under the siege of the combined forces of the Ijebus, Ibadans, Ifes, and Oyos – which lasted all of 7 years.

However the first group of Owu escapees from the Orile Owu siege who were to join Sangojimi at his new location at Ago Owu came exactly 6 years and 7 months after the Apomu contingent arrived at Oke Saje while the main body of Owu refugees came not long after and were first detected at Arakanga where the news of their approach brought jitters and apprehension among the Egba settlers who were not yet sure of their mission and intentions. Later when news of their encampment at Oke-Ata nearby at the other side of the Ogun River was brought to them, Sangojimi was to confer with Sodeke, and Agbo (the Gbagura leader who had hosted the first small group of Owus before their transfer to Sangojimi) that their best option was to invite the Owu contingent to join the emerging settlement as equal stake-holders in its defense and development, thereby any possible confrontation with the unpredictable Owus would be averted, while at the same time they would have won the strongest military allies they could ever hope for as partners who would help in boosting the defense of the then extremely fragile new settlement called Abeokuta.

Owu prominence past and present:

1st Yoruba Super-power tribe – Owu (then in the Savannah region) was the oldest organized Yoruba settlement with a crowned King after Ile-Ife. It was a regional power wielding authority even over Oyo which became a powerful empire only after Sango was able to free it from the control of the Olowu through his fire-breathing antics.

Madam Tinubu – The first Iyalode of Egbaland of Gbagura and Owu extraction with the courage of many men who engineered the deposition of Oba Kosoko, and the return of Oba Akintoye both in Lagos, and organised the defence of Abeokuta from invading forces among numerous other remarkable feats.

Baale Olugbode – The Owu Kuta warrior who became Baale of Ibadan, only a few decades after Orile Owu was vanquished by the same Ibadan led allied forces.

G.W. Johnson – The Owu and Ijesha returnee (from Sierra Leone) who in 1865 conceived the Egba Unites Board of Management, which regulated government in Abeokuta appreciably enough for the British Colonial Government to grant the city its independence in 1893, some 67 years before Nigeria as a nation enjoyed the same priviledge.

Alake Ademola 1 – The son of an Owu man from the Ademola compound Oke Ago Owu who was also the Jagunna of Owu in 1862 became the 2nd Alake of Abeokuta. His grandson was also installed Alake Oba Ademola ll.

Balogun Akin-Olugbade – Owu political and industrial icon who was the chief whip of Action Group, & succeeded Awolowo as the leader of the opposition in Nigeria’s first Parliament. He built a hospital & social center for the people of Abeokuta and was the Aare-Ona Kakanfo before his elevation to Balogun of Owu.

Olusegun Obasanjo – Retired Army General who hails from the Olusanmi compound in Sokori, Owu Abeokuta is the only 3 term and longest in office Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He revamped the Owu National Movement now called RUOP which was originally founded by Balogun Akin Olugbade, his predecessor in the office of Balogun Owu Abeokuta. A one time leader of the Eminent Personalities group and contender for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations. He is the current Balogun Owu.

Gbenga Daniel – Former Governor of Ogun State and Aare Ajibosin of Owu Kingdom. His mother was Owu from Omu Ijebu.

Ibikunle Amosun – Former Senator, and current Governor of Ogun State. Hails from Molasin compound in Owu Abeokuta. His great grandfather wathe 4th Molashin Iwarefa-Afobaje (Kingmaker) in Abeokuta.

Wale Babalakin – Lawyer (Senior Advocate) and business tycoon of Owu Gbongan extraction. Son of Justice Babalakin.

Taiwo Akinkunmi– An Owu indigene who designed the Nigerian National flag…and it is still flying high!

Owu l’a koda:
A phrase popularly used by Owu people to denote that Ajibosin (alias ‘Asunkungbade’), the first Olowu was also the first among the offsprings of Oduduwa to receive a crown from the great progenitor of the Yoruba race, and his Kingdom of Owu was the most ancient and most powerful in the whole of Yorubaland outside Ile-Ife!
Detractors however sometimes like to slant the pronunciation of the phrase to mean ‘Owu is the paint carrier’, an assertion that makes no sense whatever, whichever way you may look at it.
Another meaning which could be derived from a pronunciation slant of the phrase means “Owu the sword-bearer”. Sword-bearers (Akoda, also known as Tetu and Jagun) were the Royal guards and king’s executioners in the days of old…a qualification that is utter nonsense in the light of the first royal statute awarded to Olowu ahead of the rest of Yorubaland. My argument to such in this guise is that it is impossible for Owu to have ever been Akoda since they got their crown at childhood ahead of every other oba in Yorubaland. Children and royalties are never known to be akodas. If there is any cause at all to consider servitude as Akoda, it could only have come from the realms of the detractors themselves since Owu got its crown ahead of others – and royalties do not serve commoners! Perhaps they had even been Akodas to Owu itself generations earlier when Owu was the regional power before Oyo (through whom the Egbas for instance came to being)!

The Internet is also a host of this phrase in the form of Owulakoda.com and Owulakoda.me, the names of the authority website of the Owu people hosted with the following Internet domain addresses or URLs; http://owulakoda.com, http://owulakoda.me . The website is a compendium of Owu and Yoruba history, culture and interactive discussions about the Owu heritage.

The Life of an American Slave

slave train

Charles Ball

Charles Ball, a slave from Maryland, was born in about 1780 . His grandfather was brought from Africa and sold as a slave. His mother was the slave of a tobacco planter. When the planter died when Ball was four years old, he family were sold separately, with his mother going to Georgia: “My mother had several children, and they were sold upon master’s death to separate purchasers. She was sold, my father told me, to a Georgia trader. I, of all her children, was the only one left in Maryland. When sold I was naked, never having had on clothes in my life, but my new master gave me a child’s frock, belonging to one of his own children. After he had purchased me, he dressed me in this garment, took me before him on his horse, and started home; but my poor mother, when she saw me leaving her for the last time, ran after me, took me down from the horse, clasped me in her arms, and wept loudly and bitterly over me.”

Ball stayed with his father: “He was an old man, nearly eighty years old, he said, and he manifested all the fondness for me that I could expect from one so old. He was feeble, and his master required but little work from him. He always expressed contempt for his fellow-slaves, for when young, he was an African of rank in his native land. He had a small cabin of his own, with half an acre of ground attached to it, which he cultivated on his own account, and from which he drew a large share of his sustenance.”

When he was about 12 years old, his master, Jack Cox, died. Ball later recalled in his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Charles Ball (1837): “I was sorry for the death of my master, who had always been kind to me; and I soon discovered that I had good cause to regret his departure from this world. He had several children at the time of his death, who were all young; the oldest being about my own age. The father of my late master, who was still living, became administrator of his estate, and took possession of his property, and amongst the rest, of myself. This old gentleman treated me with the greatest severity, and compelled me to work very hard on his plantation for several years.”

Ball was allowed to marry but in 1805: “I married a girl of color named Judah, the slave of a gentleman by the name of Symmes, who resided in the same neighborhood. I was at the house of Mr. Symmes every week; and became as well acquainted with him and his family, as I was with my master.” Mrs. Symmes employed Ball’s wife as her chambermaid. Ball commented that he regarded this “as a fortunate circumstance, as it insured her good food, and at least one good suit of clothes.”

Ball was later sold to a cotton plantation owner in South Carolina while his wife and children remained in Maryland. “I had at times serious thoughts of suicide so great was my anguish. If I could have got a rope I should have hanged myself at Lancaster. The thought of my wife and children I had been torn from in Maryland, and the dreadful undefined future which was before me, came near driving me mad.” Ball made several attempts to escape but was captured and became another man’s slave in Georgia.

Ball escaped again and this time reached Pennsylvania. Later he managed to get back to his previous home in Maryland. “It was now clear that some slave-dealer had come in my absence and seized my wife and children as slaves, and sold them to such men as I had served in the South. They had now passed into hopeless bondage, and were gone forever beyond my reach. I myself was advertised as a fugitive slave, and was liable to be arrested at each moment, and dragged back to Georgia. I rushed out of my own house in despair and returned to Pennsylvania with a broken heart.”

With the help of Isaac Fisher, a white lawyer, wrote his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Charles Ball (1837). It included the following passage: “For the last few years, I have resided about fifty miles from Philadelphia, where I expect to pass the evening of my life, in working hard for my subsistence, without the least hope of ever again seeing, my wife and children: – fearful, at this day, to let my place of residence be known, lest even yet it may be supposed, that as an article of property, I am of sufficient value to be worth pursuing in my old age.” Afraid of being recaptured, Ball moved again and its is not known when and where he died.