HISTORY OF OGBOMOSO
Ogbomoso (also pronounced Ogbomosho) is one of the major cities in Nigeria. A Yoruba land located in South-Western Nigeria, the city was founded around the mid 1600s. Ogbomoso people predominantly belong to the Yoruba ethnic group According to the 2006 census the population was approximately 645,000 but in recent times the population has climbed to more than one million people.
According to a pioneer Baptist Missionary who recorded his travel in The Romance of Missions in Nigeria; Rev. S. G. Pinnock described the town in these words: “Ogbomosho in 1891 was a walled city, the gates of which were closely watched by day and securely closed by night. There was little or no communication between it and Oyo and Ilorin which were only thirty miles to the north and south. The town, picturesque and well watered was isolated from the rest of the Yoruba towns. Political relations were maintained with the Ibadans, for the country depended on its security on the warriors of Ogbomosho and Ikirun. The strength of Ogbomosho lay in the wall and moat surrounding the town, and the warriors made full use of it by sitting close and tight”
Farming, agriculture and general commerce form the backbone of Ogbomoso’s economy. Agricultural products include yams, cassava, maize, and tobacco remain notable agricultural products of the region. The main street in Ogbomoso is the Oyo-Ilorin road. One of the prominent landmarks is the central mosque, which towers over the traditional walled compounds of private houses and the parts if the old wall that remain. Ogbomosho has other mosques, several churches and is the headquarters of the American Baptist Church of Nigeria and its theological seminary. The closest airport to Ogbomoso is Ilorin Airport which is approximately 42 miles away. There are two radio stations namely Parrot FM and Ajilete FM. It has a television station, NTA ogbomoso.
A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW OGBOMOSO WAS FOUNDED
Ogunlola was of Ibariba descent. He came to the area now known as Ogbomoso in pursuit of his hunting profession. He stayed under ajagbon tree (still by the side of the palace) and used the branches for hanging gears. The whole place was at this time (around the middle of the seventeenth century), a dense jungle. He Ogunlola was an expert archer and brave hunter. Later he and his wife, Esuu, built their hut by the side of the ajagbon tree.
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Ogunlola noticed smoke oozing from some nearby locations. He took courage and approached these places and discovered other hunters. The first one named Aale was a Nupe elephant hunter who had his camp in a place known today in Ogbomoso as Oke-Elerin (Elephant Hill), the second called Onsile at the site now known as Ijeru quarters was an Otta Prince who left his place because of chieftaincy dispute. His descendants became Baales of Ijeru, the third Orisatolu an hunter who had camp at Isapa quarters. and the fourth rarely mentioned in history is Akande of Akande quarters. The descendants of the first three of these hunters are still today the Bales of Oke-elerin, Ijeru and Isapa quarters respectively. There is no more Bale Akandie. He later went to invite them to his camp. Ogunlola established his supremacy over these hunters because his wife was very good at preparing tobacco snuff and corn-wine which always attracted the tree hunters to his camp. Apart from that, disputes were always settled in Soun Ogunlola’s camp as the settlement became bigger.
Ogunlola was a very fierce man. Esuu feared what might be her fate whenever she offended her husband; particularly when there was no one near their hut to act as check on him. She therefore designed a mound near the hut and by consensus they decided that whenever Ogunlola wanted to beat up Esuu, if she could escape and embrace the mound, whatever the nature of the offence, he must spare her. This mound is named Lorungbekun (Olorun-gbo-Ekun) meaning God listened to cries in English and is still within the Abata enclosure in the palace.
After the discovery of these hunters, Ogunlola took the initiative to invite them to form Egbe Alongo (The Alongo Society). The Primary objectives of the society were:
- Defence against Sunmoni (slave prowler) raids
- Group hunting of wild animals, and
- Mutual assistance.
Esuu, the wife of Ogunlola introduced the worship of Orisapopo to Ogbomoso. This object of worship is the same as Orisala and is worshipped in different towns under different names. The worshippers are distinguished by white beads worn round their necks and wearing only white dresses. Drinking of palm wine is forbidden to them. The mane orisapopo was probably derived from the fact that Ogunlola’s hut was on the north-south route therefore the Orisala being worshipped in the hut was name “Orisapopo” (idol by the highway).
The importance and influence of ‘Orisapopo’ among the citizens of Ogbomoso is immense. It can be described as the patron “Orisa” of Ogbomoso.
THE TALE BEHIND THE NAME OGBOMOSO AND HOW OGUNLOLA BECAME THE FIRST SOUN OF OGBOMOSOLAND
Marauders led by their leader “IDAGIRI” constituted themselves in the habit of incessantly threatening the existence of small Villages that can not offer any assistance. Idagiri and his subjects invaded villages that later merged to become a city now known as Ogbomoso. Ogunlola a great hunter fighting like a well prepared soldier with his supernatural power subdued and destroyed the forces of the arch enemy. In preparation of the historic feat, Asunke, a beautiful young girl was given to Soun in marriage. Baba Ijesa was not pleased with the decision of the Villagers giving away his betrothed Wife away in marriage so he tried to assassinate Ogunlola while sleeping. In self defense, Ogunlola being a strong man killed Baba Ijesa. Ogunlola was found guilty, so Olugbon handed the comdemned to the Badirun, Baba Ijesa’s son and because Ogunlola saved Badirun’s life from the hand of Idagiri and his marauders, he prepare a symbolic sign “AROKO”, the traditional method of writing letters to take to the Monarch, His Excellency, the Alaafin[KING] of Oyo.
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During the time Ogunlola was sent to Oyo to receive judgement from Alafin, the Ibaribas under the leadership of Elemoso attacked Oyo-Ile, Ogunlola was already in detention there, awaiting trial for an alleged offence. Elemoso caused a devastating havoc among Oyo’s so much that they feared him in battle. Elemoso consequently laid total siege on Oyo causing famine and untold hardship among the people. Ogunlola therefore, told the Alaafin that if he could be released, he would kill Elemoso. This was granted. Ogunlola after studying Elemoso’s tactics took proper aim and shot him down from his hiding place Ogunlola quickly beheaded him and brought the severed head to the Alaafin. Elemeso’s army was therefore routed.
Alaafin of Oyo was so impressed by Ogunlola’s prowess that he, the Alaafin, requested him to stay in the capital Oyo-Ile instead of returning to his settlement. Ogunlola politely declined saying “Ejeki n ma se ohun” meaning “let me stay yonder” His majesty, the Alaafin, granted Ogunlola’s wish to return to his settlement. “Ejeki n ma se ohun” meaning “let me stay yonder” was later shortened to Soun which became he title of kings in Ogbomoso.
Later, travellers passing to and fro, used to refer to the settlement as of him who beheaded Elemaso meaning “ido eni ti o gbori Elemoso”. This was later contracted to Ogbomoso and finally to Ogbomoso.
Eventually the authority of Ogunlola became greater and more respected. He was consequently made the head of the settlement under the title of Soun to reflect his request from the Alaafin, ‘let me stay yonder’. His compound by the Ajagbon tree then became the Soun’s palace and a rallying point for all Ogbomoso citizens.
Ogbomoso, because of her strategic location, quickly grew from a village status to a medium size town. Her people were also renown warriors. During the Fulani wars of the 19th century many towns and villages, about 147, were deserted while their people took refuge in Ogbomoso. The influx of people further enhanced the size and strength of the town.
THE OGBOMOSO ANTHEM / OGBOMOSO SONG (YORUBA)
Composed by: Late Mr. D. Oladele Ajao
Former Senior Tutor, Baptist College, Iwo
(Harmony done by Rev A. B. Adeleke)
Ogbomoso Folk song
ORIKI OGBOMOSO / THE PANEGYRIC OR EULOGY OF OGBOMOSO
- Iwe Itan Ogbomoso (Ogbomoso History) by Late Professor N.D. Oyerinde
- Pa Ogunleye
- Ogbomoso – The Home of the Brave [www.ogbomoso-city.org]
- The history of the Yorubas: from the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate; Johnson, Samuel, d. 1901; Johnson, O. (Obadiah)
- Chernow, Barbara A; George A. Vallasi, eds. (1993). “Ogbomosho” . Columbia Encyclopedia (5th ed.). Columbia University Press; 1997.
By Johnson Okunade
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