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.

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EGBA IN OWU HISTORY

Reproduced below is the extremely revealing and informative Historical account written by the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu in the official Brochure of the just concluded 2012 Odun-Omo-Olowu:

Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu C.O.N.,           Olowu of Owu Kingdom

In the beginning of times, the people known as Egbas were offshoot of Oyo.  They lived in hamlets scattered in the Egba forest South West of Oyo under a high-handed leader – Alafin whose Ilaris exploited the Egbas until their hero, Lisabi, liberated them, and they became a united nation under him.

However, this widely spread people belonged to three distinct branches as follows: the Gbaguras – the largest in land area under the leading King known as Agura.  They settled in the Northern part of Egba forest.  The second was the group known as Egba Oke-Ona because the area they occupied borders on Ona river and spread into the land of Remo province.  The third was Egba Agbeyin to the west of the forest.  Some of the Egbas also claim to come from Ife.

OWU

The Owus were originally savannah dwellers, who had their settlements near the Nupes.  Infact, writers up  to the 11th and 12th centuries mistook them for Nupes because of their warlike posture.  Usman Dan Fodio called them (Noofes in his writing).  They were also cotton farmers and Ifa (oracle) worshippers.  Their forefathers who were cotton farmers also went on long war expeditions and explorations and reached as far as Ife in the forest region.  Agbonmiregun – Setilu – was a well known Ifa priest and was the father of Obatala, a chaste man who also travelled far and near in what became known as west Africa.  He was a great man who later married Oduduwa’s first daughter – Iyunade, by whom he got his first son, Ajibosin.

This Ajibosin was the darling grandson of Oduduwa who cried to get the crown from his grandfather and became known as Asunkungbade.  He was later sent back to his father’s home town at Enpe where he became know as Omo Baba Olowu (son of a the cotton grower – father Obatala).  Ajibosin was reputed to have many children including 6 males: Ayoloye, Amororo, Otileta, Akinoso, Akinjobi and Lagbedu (Ola-n-gbendu).

It was Ayoloye who on one of his war expeditions took refuge in Ibadan and took “Nkanlola” daughter of a leading Ibadan chief as wife, and had to sacrifice her to appease a river.  This was the event that sent Owu parking from Ibadan, and finally led them to a land close to Ife where they settled under Amororo.  This is the place that replaced “home”.  This was Owu Ipole.  They left great landmarks in Ibadan including river Ogbere  (Ifa diviner of Olowu after whom the river was named).  The Anlugbua shrine near Orita Bashorun etc.

The Owus, having gone through harrowing war time experiences over centuries, built a formidable fortress the type that had never existed in Yourba land (see Mabogunje’s Owu in Yoruba History).

In 1821, under Olowu Akinjobi war broke out as a result of Oba Amororo who died in 1817 trying to stop slavery among the Yoruba people of that region.

Oba Akinjobi who succeeded Amororo had no answer to the intrigues of his enemies and detractors of Owu’s posture against the infamous slave trade.  Amororo had earlier arrested and tortured an Oyo crown prince for carrying on slave trade.  He also fought and defeated Ife for the same reason.  The posture of Owu against slave trade met the displeasure of Ijebu who mounted toll gate and collected money from the hintherland Yorubas who carried slaves to Lagos via Ijebu.

THE OWU WAR 1821 – 27

The immediate reason for hostility was that an Ijebu woman accused an Owu trader at Apomu market of short-changing her on (Atta Liya) alligator pepper.  She claimed to have bought six bags of the pepper, but on getting home one of the six bags ran short of two peices of the pepper!!!  The strange thing is that none of the other Yoruba women and men on that market day was able to broker peace.  The fracas led to full scale war (1821-1827) that finally drove the Owus out of Owu Ipole!  Even the Ooni whose Ife army had once been defeated by Owu not only joined the battle, the Ooni personally put a curse on anyone who would settle on the devastated Owu Ipole.  Ibadan and Oyo joined the battle; Owu was completely surrounded and embattled for 4 years but the enemies could not scale the walls which enclosed Owu.

EGBAS REFUSAL

The combined forces of Ijebu, Ife, Oyo and Ibadan tried to persuade the Egbas to join the war against Owu, but they refused.  That was remarkable but we need not say more about it.  However, as a result of their failure to join the forces of Owu detractors, the combined army turned against Egbas and one by one they burnt down the towns and village of the Egbas.  For two years the unsuspecting Egba towns were attacked and they and their many people and neighbours including some traders were burnt down and driven out of their peaceful settlements.  This way and that, the Egbas and their hemmed neighbours ran out and finally became refugees under the Olumo Rocks on a land they finally named Abeokuta.  These events took place between 1824 – 27.

REMARKABLE FRATERNITY

The combined forces returned to Owu Ipole, bent on burning the city down to ashes.  When they finally broke through the barriers of great Owu walls, the enemies found old incapable women and some children whom they carried away to Ife … bulk of the men and leaders had carried their goods, artefacts and their Ifa out on a trek that lasted over six years, during which their wearied escapees had settled here and there especially in Ijebu land and Ibadan which they re-entered through Remo land.  Yet the main stock encouraged themselves to press on aiming to get to Iseri in present day Lagos.  They crossed the Ogun river at Opeji and about 1828 – 29 landed at Oke-ata near Abeokuta.  They heard news of some of their relatives settling down with the Egba refugees in Abeokuta but they were bent on getting to Lagos.

EGBA IN OWU HISTORY

Within two years the “temporary” sojourn in Oke Ata had spread to nearby Aro, Olomore, Kurere, Idiori and some parts of Imala.  For nearly two years the Egba leaders headed by Sodeke came to persuade them to join them in settling in Abeokuta and through the persuasion of General Sodeke and Agbo of Gbagura who were war acquaintances of Balogun Olufakun, Laara, Gbademu and Adetaloye they agreed to join the Egbas to live in Abeokuta.

THE PLOY OF EGBAS

Within the two years of their settling down in Abeokuta between 1827 -1830, the Remos, the Dahomey had attacked the new settlement of Abeokuta using the Kobape/Sokori route (the Remos) and the Isaga/Sokori route – the Dahomeans to attack the Egbas.  It was for this reason that the Egbas never dared settle in that area, so they saw an opportunity to get the Owus to settle on that dangerous route of their enemies.  Infact, in the settlement arrangements that had gone on, they had persuaded the Owus to settle along Ogun river banks of Sokori; and also told them to occupy all that land areas up to Lagos where they (the Owu) originally intended to go.

Within their first five years of settling in Abeokuta, the Owu had faced and warded off Dahomey attacks on at least two occasions in 1839 and 42.  It was on one of such attacks that the Owu army discovered that the Dahomean army comprised mainly of women – one breasted amazons.  Enraged, the Owus challenged the Egbas to summon courage and together in 1845 they successfully put an end to the incessant attacks of the Dahomeans.

The Owu Armies led by their generals chased the Dahomeans even into their own home of Porto Novo.  The cannon that Owu seized from them is still in Owu Palace today.

TWO PEOPLE; ONE SETTLEMENT

When one considers the plight of both the Egbas and the Owus especially when one considers the circumstances which have brought both from their homesteads to this Abeokuta, one cannot but think of both as having a common destiny.

They have both charted a common part, fought and won victories over common enemies and they are fully integrated and made full successes of themselves in their new land of refuge – Abeokuta.

UNITY IN SEPARATION

There had been forces – social, political and economic – that had drawn us together.  I believe that having been so drawn together, we should not allow such powerful conditions to now set us apart.  Our fore fathers did not war against each other.  History had brought us who were neighbours to the same situations, under same political umbrella – that is now not protecting both from inclement social conditions.  What must we do?  We are only two in number – Egba and Owu.  This is undeniable.  There are four kingdoms, but two people!  This seems complicated but certainly not beyond our comprehension.

The original set up was very good: Four Kingdoms, Four corners (origun merin) viz;

  1. Abeokuta (main city) and environs for Alake
  2. Abeokuta / Ibadan axis for Agura
  3. Abeokuta / Lagos axis for Olowu
  4. Abeokuta / Sagamu axis for Osile

Please note that in this 21st century all Egbas (that is a covering name for the two peoples (Egba and Owu) have four townships;

  1. Egba comprising of Egba Alake, Gbagura and Oke Ona
  2. Owu comprising of 22 townships

All occupy every parts of the four corners of Egbaland.  (Please note that the term Egbaland is a convenient term that means Egba and Owu).  In the same breadth and as have been explained above, Abeokuta IS NOT EGBALAND; it is a city belonging to both Egba and Owu.

SHARING

If there is anything to share, it is the land area – nothing more.  Let Egba occupy the 3 corners and Owu her only 1 corner.

As for any other thing (IF ANY) let such be shared at a ration of 75% Egba and 25% Owu (75% to Egba and 25% to Owu).  If you will ponder a while before you begin to protest, that ratio is in agreement with all earlier proposals and postulations.

POLITICAL

I am not a politician, neither is any of the other 3 Obas a politician (I guess), but if politicians should continue to have a hand in traditional and historical unity herein postulated, they can create either 2 (Egba and Owu) traditional councils or else 4 (Egba, Owu, Gbagura and Oke  Ona) traditional councils.

Let me end with the favourite, proclaimed and acclaimed declaration of all the Obas of Egbaland:- ‘’And now exist faith, hope and charity … but above all these Love is the greatest’’

Alayeluwa, Olowu Kangunere, Akobi Oodua 
OBA DR. OLUSANYA ADEGBOYEGA DOSUNMU, CON
Amororo II,

Olowu and Paramount Ruler of the Ancient Owu Kingdom

You may go to the Discussion Forum to enter conversation on this article.

Apomu Pioneered Abeokuta!

The Owu people have been displaced from their homelands quite a number of times in the course of their history, starting from their original homestead in the Savannah region below the River Niger discovered by their progenitor, Ajibosun a.k.a. Asunkungbade, first grandson of Oduduwa, up to their last known major habitat at Owu-Ipole now known as Orile-Owu, where their most recent displacement triggered by the Owu Wars took place. The new city of Abeokuta later became the major recipient of the troupes of Owu refugees searching for new homes after the Pan-Yoruba invasion forces that sacked their city of Owu-Ipole swore that it would never be rebuilt again.

By 1824, the ancient market town of Apomu was already invaded and destroyed by this alliance of troops principally from Ijebu, Oyo and Ife. Sangojimi Gudugba, one of the valiant warrior/hunters of Orile Apomu had escaped to Ibadan with a large contingent of Apomu citizens while the capital city of the Owu people was being besieged by the invaders, a siege which lasted over 6 years.

At Ibadan, Sangojimi had met with the acquaintance of the town’s Baale and won his favor well enough to be given a beautiful bride and an appointment as one of the Baale’s military counselors.
A further meeting with fellow warrior/hunter,Sodeke, who was then the deputy leader of the Egba refugees in the town…

(Click here for full story)

A Dialogue With The Olowu of Owu

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In a recent dialogue with Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, the Olowu of Owu in his Palace office situated on a lofty hilltop in Oke Ago-owu, Abeokuta, and strewn with the portraits of many of his predecessors both hanging from the walls or arranged on the floor in a gallery fashion, the monarch made many candid no frills ‘breaking news’ assertions to Owulakoda.com on a host of contemporary and historical issues:

OLOWU OF OWU

OLOWU OF OWU

Oba Dosunmu is the 13th Olowu to be crowned in Abeokuta. He sports a doctorate degree in Theological studies, similar to his immediate predecessor the late Oba Adisa Odeleye who also bore the tag of Phd in the field of Architecture (a feat which he exhibited in the design of the ultra modern Owu Palace).

It is by no mean feat, nor mere coincidence that collectively, the two ‘doctored’ Olowus have instituted more sweeping changes and thereby generated more controversies, and possibly also cultivated more oppositions and foes than all the 11 obas who came before them combined and multiplied! And this is an objective statement. No exaggerations!

However, there are those who love them immensely too for exhibiting more scrotums (balls) than their predecessors and contemporaries in response to the peculiar situations at hand. Must be that knowledge and erudition propel men to great endeavors in the semblance of opium! It is for each individual to adopt a stance on these issues. How do you stand?

Below are some excerpts of the ‘private’ dialogue with Olowu Dosunmu which was discussed in Yoruba inter-spaced with the English language.

Private, because this was not an interview session and was not designed for publication. However the ‘parrot’ residing inside of me cannot hear without echoing (‘Echoes of Anlugbua’) in the classic ‘basket mouth’ fashion, so I finally succumbed to the temptation of sharing some guided moments of the marathon apocalypse discuss with you my brothers and sisters who fate and antecedents have bonded together. The unguided ones, I have deliberately left out. The beauty of this presentation is that the subject is free and natural and speaks from the depth of his heart without any public relation gimmick or ego-conscious manoeuvring!

Let it be known that I have secured no permission whatsoever to publish these details, but in doing so, I have adopted some critical responsibilities and have used my relative juvenile, but cultivated wisdom to cloak or omit some pronouncements which may be too provocative for dissemination, but nevertheless were candidly spoken with all the valiance and self-assuredness that only a thoroughbred Owu citizen can muster…and who better qualifies for this than the king of Owu himself? I only hope he forgives me for this unauthorized unilateral exposé (and if he doesn’t? Well the deed is done. Let him kill me now – (spoken like a true Owu kamikaze suicide bomber. LoL)!

Furthermore, if there are any errors or inaccuracies, they are most likely mine (and I apologize and stand to be corrected). And although I have tried as best as I can to recollect the Olowu’s statements, I cannot guarantee absolute precision in the dissemination. Lastly the arrangement of the pronouncements as rendered here are strictly mine, as I have made efforts to join together some rather disjointed but related fragments in order to generate a readable flow (remember the statements are excerpts from an informal dialogue that was not rendered for publication). And of course, all my own retorts during the conversation have been totally suppressed here.

Click here for the Excerpts from the dialogue

Oba Odeleye speech

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The Creation Of Owu Townships:

YOU ARE WELCOME: GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU COME

INTRODUCTION

Once again August of another year has come. You all have heeded our clarion call to come home to Owu, Abeokuta. You are WELCOME. God bless you as you come to the 3rd Owu-Day Festival Celebrations.

Billboard of Oba Odeleye at Sokori Township, Abeokuta

When we ascended the exulted, throne of Owu Abeokuta in October 1993, our one prayer wish was that God should mercifully renew OWU KINGDOM and its people, in all its ramifications. How God was going to do it, we did not know, but we had the deep and implicit faith that our prayer had already been answered at the “inner realm”. We give all glory and adoration to our God of love and light.

The previous two Festivals in the years 2000 and 2001 were very successful and rewarding. This 3rd Festival has surpassed the previous ones. For this we are grateful to God, and to you beautiful sons and daughters of Owu, and our numerous friends and well-wishers.

We pray that the grace and blessings of God will be your double portion, in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WHY OWU-DAY FESTIVAL

On our ascension to the throne nine year ago, we were saddened and dismayed that many family houses and compounds were desolated, dilapidated and overgrown with weeds. Many young and able-bodied persons had deserted Owu Abeokuta for Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and other major cities of Nigeria, either in search of employment opportunities or in fear of the myth of being killed by wicked or envious neighbors. The resulting desolation was awesome and pitiful.

We decided to establish a non-religious, but all embracing socio-cultural gathering that can attract our sons and daughters back home every year:-

i. To engender and promote fellowship;

ii. To encourage the rehabilitation or reconstruction of family houses and compounds;

iii. To encourage the establishment of cottage and small-scale industrial ventures;

iv. To promote the expansion of commerce and business activities;

v. To alleviated the pervading level of poverty through family support and encouragement; and VI To engender, re-kindle, and promote civic pride in the advancement ofOwu nation and people.

THE RESPONSE SO FAR

Olowu Odeleye

Olowu Adisa Odeleye

Our people’s response to our clarion call has exceeded our imagination and expectation. Owu people all over Nigeria and the diaspora have responded with glee. They come from Lagos, Ibadan, Warri, Port Harcourt, Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Benin Republic; indeed from everywhere including London and Texas in the United States of America. The response this year is obviously greater.

Also, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated family houses or compounds have commenced in earnest. A typical case in point worthy of emulation is the complete rehabilitation and expoansion of the Latasu Family Compound at Owu Ogbe Town, Abeokuta by Olootu Gbolahan Ogo-Oluwa Bankole, of Premier Paint fame. Several other eminent sons and daughters are renovating, rehabilitating or expanding their family houses to contemporary modem standards.

We are pleased indeed for this enthusiastic response to our call to RENEW OWU physically, morally and spiritually.

THE RE-STRUCTURING OF OWU TOWNSHIPS

An essential step forward in the renewal of Owu Abeokuta and its people is the physical and administrative restructuring of Owu Townships.

When we arrived Abeokuta 168 years ago (in 1834), we were classified as 3 Townships; VIZ: Owu, Erunmu and Apomu. Over the years, this classification gave the wrong impression that we are the smallest group of the federating units. There were two fallacies in this conception:

  1. Because we were the last to arrive, only a comparatively small space was available for our teeming contingent and a larger majority of Owu People found space in the numerous towns and villages established far and near from Abeokuta;
  2. Because the Owu people are largely homogenous, no cognizance was taken of the number amidst of Owu family compounds among which there was family differentiations. Owu was therefore wrongly assumed to be one township.

Whereas the family compounds making up units of many Egba Townships were

Akin-Olugbade Social Center, Abeokuta

Akin-Olugbade Social Center, Abeokuta

relatively few’ (often  ranging between 10-20), in Owu there are over 300 compounds, in Erunmu 19 and in Apomu 8.

Surely, this anomaly calls for a re-structuring to correct previous mis-representation, and to allow for proper decentralization of the administration of urban infrastructures and facilities, and social units.

This re-structuring exercise had engaged our attention for the past two years culminating in the intensive efforts of the Owu Central Committee charged with the actualization of the project. This, Central Committee, working for the past nine months has produced a re-structuring plan indicating 19 Townships for Owu, 1 for Erunmu Owu, and 1 for Apomu Owu. This gives a total of 21 Townships for the Owu section of Abeokuta urban area. See Appendix A for the list of the new structure.

All Owu villages and towns in the Abeokuta North Local Government, Ewekoro Local Government, Ifo Local Government, and Ado-Odo/Otta Local Government areas can trace their family compounds to these 21 Towns in Abeokuta.

Today, we thank God that an anomaly, which had persisted for 168 years is now being corrected for the proper edification and development of the Owu domain in Egbaland. Now that the administration of the Owu people in Egbaland is being decentralized by the appointment of leaders and Chiefs for each of the 21 Townships in Owu, we expect a rapid transformation of our domain for the economic, social and physical benefit of our people.

Long live the 21 Township, Long live Owuland.

DEVELOPMENT OF OWU CENTRAL MARKET ABEOKUTA

Another effort at the Renewal of Owu is the desire for Economic Enhancement.

Last year we made an effort to Launch a Development Fund for the Construction of Owu Central Market at Ita-Iyalode, Owu, Abeokuta. Obviously, a project of this magnitude cannot be started and completed with funds raised at only one launching activity.

Some of the N3.5 million (Three Million Five Hundred Naira Only) realized last year is being expended towards the acquisition of the site, and the preliminary preparation of the project’s technical documentation.

We have proposed a project estimate of some N100million (One Hundred Million Naira only) for the phase one of the CENTRAL MARKET. You will all help us to actualize this dream if you donate generously towards the project fund. It is my earnest hope that nobody leaves this arena without honouring us with a donation, however little.

We pray that God will abundantly reward you for you thoughtful, kind and generous contribution to the Fund.

I again heartily bid you WELCOME and wish you a happy and enjoyable OWllJ DAY FESTIVAL, and at the end travelling mercies home.

God Bless You All

His Majesty

OBA (DR.) OLAWALE ADISA ODELEYE, Lagbedu 1

The Olowu of Owu, Abeokuta.

An address by Olowu Lagbedu 1 on the occasion of the 3rd Owu-Day Festival Celebration on 24th August 2002 at the Coronation Ground, Ita-Iyalode, Owu, Abeokuta.