The 2013 Owu Day Festival Announced

Prince Adeshina, Chairman Planning Committee.

Prince Adeshina, Chairman Planning Committee.

The annual festival of Owu Kingdom, the Odun Omo Olowu, also known as Owu Day Festival which is usually featured in the first week of October anyway has been confirmed for Saturday 5th of October as the staging date of the 2013 edition.

The chairman of the Planning Committee, Prince Adekunle Adeshina, the Omoleefon of Owu Kingdom announced to his committee members at their recent meeting at the Owu Palace on Oke Ago Owu in Abeokuta that the Olowu and paramount ruler of Owu Kingdom, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu has approved that date for the staging of the climax and highlight of the week long festival which crescendo is to take place at its usual venue of the Gateway Secondary School at Ita Iyalode in the Owu Quarter of Abeokuta.

It should be noted that this venue like many similar educational premises in Ogun State has recently been totally revamped and given a facelift by the government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, he himself an Owu man stemming from the Molashin compound on Totoro Rd, Abeokuta. All the roads leading to the venue have also been transformed into first class 8 – lane avenues backed up with blinding street lights as a part of the transformation of the whole city of Abeokuta amidst many other major cities of Ogun State.

As promoters of Owu cultural heritage, Owulakoda.com celebrates the milestone achievements of one of its sons, Governor Ibikunle Amosun in his milestone efforts of enhancing the image of the state, just as we also celebrate the laudable achievements of another Owu icon, ‘Baba Iyabo’ Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Balogun of Owu Kingdom and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who entrenched the nation solidly into its path of democracy, and reigned the longest and arguably the best in the history of the Nigerian nationhood.

Owulakoda also gathered that the 2013 festival is also being planned to be the best and most sophisticated by far in the series, with special emphasis being placed on outreach to both the Diaspora and the rurals. New special features are also being planned to complement the scheduled events of the day. The festival Programme shall also be remarkably overhauled and expanded into new realms while the World Wide Web shall feature significantly as a major tool of information dissemination.

In brief, one should expect the 2013 Odun Omo Olowu/Owu Day Festival to be simply stunning. Ba atiri!

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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

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Odun Omo Olowu 2012

Olowu Adegboyega Dosunmu enters the arena

The 2012 edition of the annual Owu Abeokuta ‘oktoberfest’ has been…and gone.

Accompanied with the now characteristic pomp and pageantry, this years’ event also featured its own unique attributes – For instance, the ‘Isan (pronounced; e-shan) Dance’ which had withered into obscurity and stayed dormant over the past 42 years was resuscitated, and contested strongly with the ‘Igesu’ (Yam Cutting) ceremony for the highlight slot of the whole fiesta!

As explained on page 23 of the Festival Brochure, the Isan Dance was devised primarily to mark the longevity of the reign of the Monarch, as he is presented with one Isan (whip) at every Odun Omo Olowu festival, which he is expected to keep in a safe corner of the palace and serves to enumerate the number of years of his reign. It was a form of ‘abacus’ basic counting device and calendar for logging the King’s reign.

When a dancing youth presented the Isan to the Olowu who was attired in a pastel blue shaggy costume and a tall white domed crown frilled with hanging face beads, he rose in all his majesty from his throne, defied the heavy downpour of rain and danced like a pro with all royal dignity to centre stage where the whip was received from him for storage. Little wonder that the last known Olowu to perform the Isan Dance, Oba Salami Ajibola abandoned the ritual some 2 years to the end of his reign when he became too feeble to perform the demanding royal dance with the Isan whip!

The 2012 Odun-Omo-Olowu festival had started under the characteristic canopy of blazing sunshine when suddenly during the Isan Dance, the heavens broke, and showers, nay, torrential downpours of torrents of blessings cascaded down from the firmament in the semblance of rain! Believe me, if anything at all was disrupted by the altered mood of the weather, it was for the better…because the roaming wanderers, sellers and beggars who were obscuring visibility in the centre piazza rapidly scampered for shelter and enabled a clear visibility for the dramas staging on stage!

As events proceeded under the downpour, the ‘Igesu’ rituals were staged when the Olowu had to dance to centre stage to perform the cutting of the new yam flanked by brilliantly attired cultural dancers. Here too, complicated dance steps were witnessed from the chief Arugba, who despite her heavy stock build and girth performed some near impossible complicated foot movements as she danced with her offerings of yam to the throne of the monarch in order to invite His Royal Majesty to come and cut the new yam.

At the inception of the ceremony, a dramatic, choreographed entry of the major chiefs of Owu viz, the Olowu accompanied by his Coronet Obas, Owu Baloguns, Cabinet members, the Olori and Iyalode and Ologun Chiefs had taken place, each group making their entries through the gateways of the well crafted Royal Hut staged at the entrance to the event Piazza. Particularly entertaining here was the dancing of the Monarch and later his Baloguns in front of the huge Royal ‘gbedu’ drums.

Cultural displays and variety shows of sorts were interspaced with the whole event from beginning to the end, much to the delight of the large and diversified crowd recorded this year, much to the credit of the Planning Committee who had gone that extra mile to tour the rural areas during the formative stages of their planning to mobilize the rural Obas, Baales, local chieftains and citizens. That grassroots endeavor which was the hallmark of this year’s presentation is also depicted in the make-up of the event brochure which is available on owulakoda.com for full and free download. Calendar Almanacs commemorating the festival and souvenir carrying bags were also freely distributed at the event.

As a footnote, perhaps the main recognizable disruption of the rain was to corrupt the major photo files of the digital camera we used in recording the events…so we shall have to rely on 3rd party sources to illustrate the festival in due course.

In conversation with Prince Adeshina – Chairman 2012 Owu Day Planning Committee.

The annual Owu Day Festival tagged ‘Odun Omo Olowu’ is no mean feat. Its implementation takes several months of gruelsome planning and mind-boggling expences for it to record a success. It is a week-long affair which this year will span from Monday 1st of October through Sunday the 7th. The highlight of the whole week as usual shall be at the Ita-Iyalode venue where variety shows and the Yam-cuttting festival shall be staged in the presence of the Who is Whos of Owu, Nigeria and the International Diplomatic services on Saturday 6th of October, starting by 10am.

The burden of ensuring a successful outing shall once again fall on the shoulders of Prince Adekunle Adeshina. Last year, he took over the planning of the annual festival from the ever-vibrant work-a-holic General Ekundayo Opaleye, the Balogun Erunmu who had successfully staged the event for many years and was literally screaming for relief in the form of a successor. Well, he got it – in the form of Prince A.A. Adeshina.

But…who is this Prince Adeshina?

Owulakoda.com went to town to unravel this myth! Below are excerpts of the respondent’s utterances during a fact-finding conversation between the Owu Peoples’ website, Owulakoda.com and Prince A.A. Adeshina in his tastily adorned Okelewo office on Lalubu Street, Abeokuta:

(Note: The statements reproduced below are not necessarily rendered verbatim, but represent the approximate intended thoughts and objectives of the respondent, as best as we can determine).

Prince Adeshina speaks:

“Yes I am aware that there was a lot of confusion in staging last year’s event. We had lofty objectives, we spent a lot of time at the planning stage, but i guess we measured below expectation in controlling and coordinating. Our team was new at the job, and we were all green and did not fully understand the intricacies involved, but at any rate we learnt our lessons the hard way and we are doing everything possible to block all loop-holes and dramatically improve on last year’s performance.”

“Oh! Mistakes in the programme brochure. I am personally spending more time with the printers this year and ensuring correct pagination, proof reading, and content layout. Suggestions are welcomed. You will see the improvements.”

“We are also going to make a more effective use of space and likely include some historical accounts similar to what was incorporated in the 2002 Owu calendar. The Olowu is currently on vacation, and I expect he will furnish us with some vital historical materials when he returns next week”.

“So far we have released posters, fliers and letters of the occassion, and all other areas of preparation are in top gear. The final stages of preparation will ensue when Kabiyesi returns from his annual leave soon.”

“This year we have even gone extra miles in mobilizing the people. We have visited all the Obas and Baales of the kingdom in their respective domains, inviting their opinions and suggestions, letting them know our intensions and how they can fit in and mobilize their populace for a combined effort in staging expectedly the most successful festival we’ve ever had so far.”

“We also held meetings with all the Alakosos in Abeokuta at the palace where we similarly let them into the broad picture of our plans, spelling out their expected involvements for successful management”.

“While we were on tour of the rural areas to meet the Chieftains, I hired the services of a proffessional photographer with his digital cameras to take photographs of the Obas and Baales in group with their chiefs. I did the same with the Alakosos at the palace. In fact the photographer is on a retainership to do photographic sessions at the palace. The object of this exercise is to build up a database of well-taken photographs which we can use at any time to improve the quality of our presentations at anytime we have a special event to stage in the kingdom. Any of our chiefs can just walk-in to the palace to have his picture updated, digitally.”

“We’ve had a few drawbacks in manpower, some vital members of the planning committee haven assumed new professional appointments which has compromised their available time, but nevertheless, we have not allowed that to get in our way as we have redoubled our efforts to compensate”.

Profile of Prince Adeshina:

His name in full is Adekunle Akanbi Adeshina. Male, tall, light complexioned with good looks. In fact to the trained eye, there’s an intricate aura of dignified royalty that emanates from him in gentle oozes! He is a sibling of the Otileta Ruling house of Owu, which qualifies him as a bonafide Prince of the Kingdom, in fact…he is the President of the ‘Koruwa’, the Council of Princes and Princesses of Owu Kingdom, which is represented by 5 members from each of the 6 Ruling Houses in the kingdom. In this capacity, he also deputizes for the Olori-Omoba in the Cabinet and Olowu-in-Council. The Olori-Omoba (currently Prince Bola Ajibola) is the overall leader of all the Princes and Princesses. In addition, Prince Adekunle Adeshina was installed with the princely chieftain title of ‘OMOLEEFON’ of Owu Kingdom in the year 2008 by Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, a title that had previously been proposed to him 13 years ago by the late Olowu Adisa Odeleye, but which he had artfully side-stepped because he “wasn’t prepared for chieftaincy affairs then”. At that time, Oba Odeleye had scheduled 2 chieftaincy titles per Ruling House. The lot that befell the Otileta house were ‘Omoleefon’ and ‘Omoniinu’ titles.

He grew up in the commercial buzzling Lagos where he attended the St. Paul Breadfruit school on the Lagos Island, from where he proceeded to the Eko Boys High School for his secondary education. He then crossed the seas to England for tertiary education at the Polytechnic of North London on Holloway Rd, after which he proceeded to the University of Surrey in Guildford. He is a Mathematics graduate.

He had started early in his preparations for political, traditional and commercial leaderships: He was the Chairman of the Nigerian Students Union of London from 1967-70, President, Nigerian Students Union of U.K. & Ireland in 1971 to 1974, and also a representative of the West African Students Union (WASU).

His first employment was in London with the International Business Machines (IBM) with duties in Computer Programming.

He returned to Nigeria to join IBM (Nigeria) at Western House, Broad St Lagos, before they later moved to Lapal House on Igbosere Rd, Lagos. On quitting IBM, he went straight into his own private business. During the 3rd Republic experiment of General Babangida (IBB), he started making waves in politics as the Federal House of Representatives member for Abeokuta North between 1991 and 1993 “before we were all thrown out when Abacha seized control” (he retorted).

He was the founding PRO of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which later synthesized to AC, in Ogun State, an office he held from 1998 to 2000.

In 1999, Prince Adeshina was appointed as the Chairman of Ogun State Teaching Service Commission. He was so favoured in the position that he was highly prevailed upon to take up the job again by Principals and Headmasters in the present dispensation, but tactfully declined “due to advancing age and the rigours of that office” (he added).

He is the current Chairman of OPIC (Ogun State Planning & Investments Corporation), an appointment he took up in March 2012. His responsibilities over the board of the corporation include Town Planning, Survey, Estate Management, building affordable houses to complement efforts of the ministry of housing, and managing the Agbara Estate Free-Trade Zone among others.

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Akinale Day 2011 Celebrations

Towulade Ogunleye & Olori with Royal Guests

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On saturday, October 29, 2011, all was agog at Akinale, an Owu township a stone-throw from Wasimi on the Lagos – Abeokuta carriageway.

Why?

It was on that day that Akinale celebrated its Day, barely 3 weeks after the annual Odun Omo Olowu in Abeokuta where it also was all pomp and pageantry. In fact it now appears that the month of October was created by Odumare specially for the Owu to frolic (just like the Germans do at Oktoberfest) wherever they may be, perhaps through the interceding grace of their quasi-mythical ancestor, Obatala, who was reputed to have played a major role during creation!

The theme of this Akinale Day was “Honor the heroes past, motivate the present and build capacity for succession”. In interpreting this theme, Oba Femi Ogunleye, the Towulade of Akinale identified 4 ancient Owu warriors who were prominent heroes in the “war of unity and survival of Abeokuta as a federal nation in pre-Nigeria era”. These were AKINDELE GBALEFA, AKANNI LAPELEKE, AWAYE SONLU, and SANGOJINMI GUDUGBA who were valiant war generals of the Egba allied forces during those…

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