(culled from an address by the Olowu, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu at the 8th Owu Day Celebrations  in 2007)

logo2Much had been written about Owu people but concerning our origin, many things remain unclear. From the present Kwara State, through Oyo, Osun, Ogun to Lagos State, you will find remnants, even large settlements of Owu people, prospering and playing great leadership roles but all records as to our origin remain speculative and unclear. Albeit, we know certain facts viz:

(1)        That most Yoruba people settled around the region of old Oyo which is very close to the present Niger State.

(2) That within the said region of old Oyo, Owu was very prominent and even ruled the waves. Owu collected tribute from the Bariba, the Borgu and had ruled over old Oyo until the reign of San go. All this happened because they (Owu) also settled within that very region. (See Johnson’s “History of the Yorubas” p.149). Their presence in that region was indisputably powerful.

(3) There is a place called “Owu Orile”, some ten miles north of the town of Awe which oral evidences claim to be the original homestead of Owu. Spreading for miles on the north eastern side of the settlement is mostly Igbo Owu.

(4) The name Olowu was a derivative of the savannah crop called Owu (cotton). Here again is another pointer to the fact that the original homestead of the Owu people was in the savannah and not in the southern forest region.

(5)          All the Owu settlements in the northern part of Yorubaland (below River

Niger) are older settlements than the settlements in the southern forest region.

Considering the southward movements of Owu people, the earliest record showed their encounter with the pre-1820 first settlement of Ibadan. (See “Iwe Itan Ibadan by Oba L.B. Akinyele, Olubadan of Ibadan, 1955-1964). Although, every movement was as a result of war, Owu did not fight Ibadan but instead entered peacefully. This is because Ibadan leaders had earlier sent them an Olive branch. They knew that Owus attack on them was imminent. Ibadan even offered them a place to settle, spreading from Ita Lisa in Ibadan to the place now known as Owu Ipole near Ikire. This pleased the Owu leaders to the end that they agreed to live peacefully with Ibadan but soon, Ibadan suffered two attacks in quick succession from Ife and other people to the end that Ibadan was routed twice. In 1821-26, the Ijebu Ife attack also devastated Owu Ipole.

The Owus ran out of their heavily fortified city about 1826. They escaped through their southeastern gate in groups and entered their assailant territories through Ijebu Igbo and spread southward, settling in places like Ikija, Omu, Ayepe and other places. However, the main body of Owu escapees went towards the new settlement of

Ibadan. It is important to state that the present Orile Owu is the same place as Owu Ipole, earlier referred to, where Owus from Iwo and other places resettled in the early 20th century.

The main body of escapees from Ibadan marched across Ogun river and finally arrived at Oke Ata near Abeokuta where Sodeke and other Egba leaders persuaded them to settle about 1834. Again, Owu fought side by side with Egba in the Makun and other wars against Ado Odo and Dahomey in 1842-45. Owu contingents fought and routed Awori at Itori, Yobo, Ifo, Atan, Ota and also occupied those places till today.

Yes, Owu people had fought wars, won battles and settled in very many places between the Niger river and the sea (Owus in Lagos State; Epe, etc.), yet their main stream had settled among the Egbas in Abeokuta BUT, THEY ARE NOT EGBAS, neither are they lJEBUS. (See Johnson’s “History of the Yorubas, p.18). Owu settlements in Ijebu and Abeokuta were not as a result of direct battles or victory over them, but mostly on friendly terms.


Owu’s settlement in Abeokuta was not based on any form of hostility. The Egbas owned most part of the land and they settled Owu on the part of Abeokuta that we still occupy.


Owu was a major factor in the 1842-45 war against Ota and Ado Odo. It is interesting to note that halfway through the war, Sodeke devised a way for the Egba contingent led by Ayikondu to desert the warfront (see Ajisafe, Iwe Itan Abeokuta, p.73), employing the services of his friend (the enemy), Gezo, the Dahonean war leader. As an Awori Ota King, declared in 1935, the conclusion of the war of Otal Ado Odo was led by Gbalefa, the Owu General and his Owu contingents and that is how Owu people not only conquered but occupy the now Gbalefa Peninsular.


It is to be understood first and foremost that the Administration of Abeokuta is based on strict historical factors which clearly spells out areas of authority of each of the first 4 kings in Abeokuta, viz, Olowu,Agura, Osile and Alake. The largest part of the land of Ibadan through Bakatari, Odeda, Osiele to the eastern part of the old Igbo Egba is occupied mostly by Gbagura. Some of the Gbagura land which voluntarily declared their allegiance to the Alafin included Awe, Kojoku, Agerige, Aran, Fiditi, Abena, Akinmorin, Doba and Oroko. If today all these were to be added, Gbagura would be the largest Egba land. Agura is the key king over these traditionally Gbagura land.

Egba Oke Ona owns the land that spreads north of Ona River and ran along the east fringes of Remoland and through Siun/Owode to Abeokuta.

The Egba forest which spreads from the southern part of Oyo through part of Oke Ogun down to the present Abeokuta ends at Oko Adagba and includes such independent towns as Ake, Ijeun, Oba, Igbein, Ijemo, Itoku, Imo, Emere, Kemta, Iro, Igbo, Erunwon, Itesi, Ikopa, Iporo and many other towns. Most all of them and their villages have zeroed-in in Abeokuta. The first Alake was installed in Abeokuta in August 1854. Today, there are ten of them: –

(1)        Okukenu                   1854- 1862

(2)       Ademola I                  1869 -1877

(3)       Oyekan                      1879 -1881

(4)       Luwaji                        1885 -1888

(5)       Sokalu                       1891 -1898

(6)       Gbadebo I                  1898 -1920

(7)       Ademola II                 1920 -1962

(8)       Gbadebo II                1963 -1971

(9)       Lipede                        1971- 2005

(10)     Okukenu (IV)            2005


(1)   Pawu                                     April    1855 -1867

(2)   Adefowote                            1867 -1872

(3)   Aderinoye                             1873 -1890

(4)   Adepegba                             1893 -1905

(5)   Owokokade                          1906 -1918

(6)   DosunmuI                             1918 -1924

(7)   Adesina                                 1924 -1936

(8)   Gbogboade                           1938 -1946

(9)   Ajibola                                    1949 -1972

(10) Oyegbade                             1975 -1980

(11) Oyelekan                               1987 -1987

(12) Odeleye                                1993 -2003

(13) DosunmuII                            2005

Owu is ruled by Princes selected from six ruling houses: Amororo, Otileta, Ayoloye, Akinjobi, Akinoso and Lagbedu. These kings are assisted by a core of chiefs known as Ogboni and Ologun. This core of chiefs is headed by the Balogun who has under him Otun, Osi, Seriki, Aare Ago and Jagunna. Ogboni has as their head, the Akogun, Obamaja, Orunto, Oyega, Osupori and Omolasin. Olosi is the Ifa priest of the Olowu. Originally, we have 3 townships namely Owu, Erunmu and Apomu.

In the reign of Oba Odeleye (1993 2003) the number of our townships expanded to 22 and this eased the administration for Owu tremendously. By tradition, Olowus were selected by six kingmakers, but two more chieftaincies were added in 1964 including Balogun and Olosi.

Alakosos who now assist the Oba in governing the 22 townships were introduced in 200I and the experiment is working out well.

Ogboni culture was not originally part of Owu’s administrative structure; it was adopted only after the Owus settled in Abeokuta as an imitation of the Egba culture. Even then, it was not fully accepted and that was why we never had an “Iledi” (ile Ogboni), the traditional house of the Ogbonis. The Owus are called “Agboro­gbimo”, hence a return back to our cultural value is imminent by establishing the “Igbimo” in place of the Ogboni.

We have recently reorganized our administrative process. What we have now is an Olowu-in-Council with a Cabinet of 7 chiefs including: Balogun, who is also the Prime Minister of the Kingdom, Olori Igbimo (the old Ogboni system actually never existed in practice with Owu, and had now yielded place for “lgbimo”), Olori Omooa. (Princes here always had a say in Owu administration but now are officially recognized and brought into the system), Olori Parakoyi (who is now charged with the duties of development throughout the kingdom), Balogun Apomu (Apomu and Erunmu are also brought fully into the system), Onroko or Balogun Erunmu: and lyalode. These seven chiefs minister to the vital needs of the kingdom under the leadership of the Olowu.

All the ruling house chiefs and others are now working under the Olori Igbimo. Each township is set up a miniature of this “federal” system.

Further changes will take place that may cause us to seek legal coverage in terms of amendments to various relevant declarations.

The Cabinet will meet monthly. Owu Traditional Council will meet 6 times a year. Owu Council of Chiefs will meet 3 times a year. An Olowu Constituent Assembly

of Chiefs, Obas, Baales and people will congregate once a year, a week before Owu Day Celebration.

All these changes are geared towards a more efficient Administration of the kingdom.

It is no more chieftaincies for the asking and certainly no more “business as usual”.


It is our plan to foster greater unity among the various Owu settlements across Nigeria. The movement was started in early 80s by our immediate past Balogun Akin-Olugbade. Our present Balogun OLUSEGUN OBASANJO is bent on making all Owu settlements get closer for economic, social and political growth. It is part of his duty as Balogun


We are planning big for our towns, villages and land. God helping us, we shall succeed. We are in an era of recovery.

230 comments on “History/Migrations

  1. I would like to know more, if you know, about the village of Awowo, which is an Owu village, and the role it plays in the Owu confederacy. My great-grandfather’s name is Oga (Joseph Oga) and I believe he was a chief with the title Oganla. As my great grandfather has been gone for a while and I am abroad, I have been creating a family tree and now I am documenting the Owu side of my family, so any information is valued. Ẹ ṣe gan o.


  2. Thank you for this historical analysis. I am pleased with the opening sentence of this write up “Much had been written about Owu people but concerning our origin, many things remain unclear.”
    Let’s get it clear that the Owus first settled at Ago Owu which also is the present Orile Owu, near Ikoyi ile, Gbongan and Ikire. Oduduwa himself prepared the land for his grandson, Asunkungbade. Certainly the Owus are warriors. As guerrillas, fighting wars and external attacks left the their homeland scattered. While returning home from various battle fields, made very many of them settle in different towns with the permission of their host ruler. Those who were able to find their way back
    return to their ancestral home, (Ago) Orile Owu. Very many Owu indigen that returned back have two or more hometowns. Those returnees looking for farmlands later travelled out of Orile Owu to nearby towns like Gbogan, Odeomu, Iwo, Kuta, all the Origbo mejeje to do their businesses, married, bear children there and became indigens.


  3. Hi sire, am from ilesha and I bear the name olowu, do you think I have anything to do with the descent of oduduwa. If yes, how?


    • With all due respect, your historical assumption is not quite accurate, Mr Johnson Alawode. I will refer you to the point 5 of the above article on ‘The Migration History of Owu’, which reads thus:
      “(5) All the Owu settlements in the northern part of Yorubaland (below River Niger) are older settlements than the settlements in the southern forest region.”

      That statement already suggests that Owu Ìpólé (aka. Ago-Owu, Orile Owu) is a relatively recent settlement, the original one which Asunkungbade ruled over, being somewhere in the present Kwara State, just below the River Niger, somewhere in the vicinity of the original Ọ̀yọ́. Research is still ongoing to determine its precise location in the region.
      As for your postulation on the scattering of the Owu people because of their not returning home after military expeditions. That cannot be accurate in accord with the saying that “ilé laabọ̀ oko”. They were mostly forcefully displaced as a result of the wars of the 1820s at their Owu-Ìpólé, Owu-Ogbere and Erunmu settlements! I will write more on this later.


  4. Hi sire, am from ilesha and I bear the name olowu, do you think I have anything to do with the descent of oduduwa. If yes, how?


    • In a nutshell, I don’t think so!
      First, Oduduwa predated the title of Ólówú, which was only bestowed to his grandson Ajibosin (aka. Asunkungbade).
      The name Olowu is a common title in many Kwara state settlements, as a result of a perceived previous influence of the original Owu Kingdom in those areas.
      It is however possible that you may be the descendant of Owu refugees who settled in Ilesha after the war triggered by the occurrences at Apomu market in the 1820s, and who chose to retain the title of their dynasty or place of origin. Of course, there are other possibilities.


  5. Gud morning sir, i am writting a project on the origin of the war between the owu people and the allied forces of ijebu nd ife in the 19th century.pls sir pls if u can recommend any book for me,I will be grateful.thank u sir.


  6. Gud morning sir, i am writting a project on the effect of the war between the owu people and the allied forces of ijebu nd ife on the people of owu in the 19th century.pls sir pls if u can recommend any book for me,I will be grateful.thank u sir.


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