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Òwu Kingdom: A Tale of Originality Conquest And Resilience

By Oludamola Adebowale
30 October 2022   |   10:00 am
There is an old song about Òwu that goes thus: Òwu la kọ́ dá o Bí ẹ délé, Ẹ bèèrè wo. Òwu la kọ́ dá o Bí ẹ dÓwu Ẹ bèèrè wo. Òwu la kọ́ dá o Bí ẹ déFẹ̀, Ẹ bèèrè wo. Òwu la kọ́ dá o Bí ẹ débẹ̀, Ẹ bèèrè wo. Translation:…

There is an old song about Òwu that goes thus:
Òwu la kọ́ dá o
Bí ẹ délé,
Ẹ bèèrè wo.
Òwu la kọ́ dá o
Bí ẹ dÓwu
Ẹ bèèrè wo.

Òwu la kọ́ dá o
Bí ẹ déFẹ̀,
Ẹ bèèrè wo.
Òwu la kọ́ dá o
Bí ẹ débẹ̀,
Ẹ bèèrè wo.

Translation:
Òwu was the first to be created
When you get home, you can ask
When you get to Òwu you can ask
Òwu was the first to be established
When you get to ife you can ask
Òwu was the first to be created
When you get there, you can ask around.
Unlike most towns and establishments in Yorùbá land, the place of the ancient kingdom of Òwu stands differently. The earliest recorded narrative around the Òwu kingdom was in 1818-1820, and according to the traditional song and history, the Òwu Kingdom was the first Yorùbá town.

History records that the first fruit of Oduduwa was the Olowu, and she was a woman; the second child was also a woman called “Alaketu” and the rest of the offspring- five- were male.

Legend has it that Olowu visited her father with her first child- a boy- in ile-Ife. In order to keep her son busy as they had a conversation, Oduduwa placed a crown on his head. As the Olowu got ready to return to her husband’s place, Oduduwa took the crown on the little boy’s head but this act attracted a struggle and wails from the boy. Sensing that the boy will not stop crying, he left the crown with him.

That is why the appellation of the Olowu goes thus; “Olówu ọmọ a sun kún gb’ade” which translates to “Olowu he that cry to have the crown given to him.”
Having taken several journeys, the people of Òwu changed settlements until they finally settled at Ago-Òwu, and earned the spot as brave and great farmers.

The nineteenth century was a difficult and chaotic period in Yorùbá history. The order of the day was slave raiding, inter-tribal war, and conquest. Not to mention that the Ibadan Nation, the era’s super-block, used terror to exercise domineering power over all other Yoruba towns. As a result, major towns and settlements in Yoruba towns, including the Òwu settlement, were destroyed.

Besides this, in 1827, the raging armies of the Ijebu Nation and the ife soldiers attacked, raided and sacked the Òwu Ipole settlement. Other armies from different parts of the Yoruba Nation and the belt of the Niger river also preyed on other weaker settlements. But like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, the Òwu kingdom did survive all the attacks thrown at it.

In 1885, the Owu’s installed their 1st Oba at Oke Ago Òwu in Abeokuta and since then a system of leadership has been established.

The name of the first Olowu was Ìgè Àdùbí as seen and heard in the Appellation of the Òwu people.
Genealogy of the Olowu of Òwu from inception:
Oba Pawu 1855-1867 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Adefowote 1867-1872 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Aderinmoye 1873-1890 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Adepegba 1893-1905 (AYOLOYE Family)
Oba Owokokade 1906-1918 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Dosunmu 1918-1924 (AMORORO Family)
Oba Adesina 1924-1936 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Adelani Gbogboade 1938-1946 (OTILETA Family)
Oba Salami Gbadela Ajibola 1949-1972 (AYOLOYE Family)
Oba Adebowale Oyegbade 1975-1980 (AKINJOBI Family)
OBA Michael Oyelekan April 29th, 1987 -May 8th, 1987 (AKINOSO Family)
Oba Olawale Adisa Odeleye 1993-2003 (LAGBEDU Family)
Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu Amororo II From 2005-2022

The Òwu Kingdom is not only significant in Yoruba history; it also represents a bridge between the cultural essence and heritage of the Yoruba Kingdom.

The iconic 189 year building in Òwu, known as “Itapa Olowu,” is a major historical and cultural landmark. Built in 1834, it is said to be the first building in Òwu Kingdom. The building represents more than just the cultural identity and wealth of the Òwu Kingdom; it also represents the Òwu people’s historical greatness and resilience.
Every new Olowu is said to spend time in an ancient house before being crowned. Hopefully, the ‘Itapa Olowu’ will become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with full documentation of Òwu’s history for posterity’s sake.

Ọmọ Olówu-Òdùrú
Ọmọ A-jí-fepé-ṣeré
Ọmọ A-tẹ́ní-gboyè
Ọmọ A-fọ̀kọ̀-gboyè
Àtẹ́wọ́ mẹ́wẹ̀ẹ̀wá ni wọ́n fi ń gboyè nílé Òwu
Ọmọ Adégoróyè
Ọmọ Èpè-ò-jà
Ọmọ Lágunnárè tí í lèjìgbàrà ìlẹ̀kẹ̀
Ìgè Àdùbí l Olówu àkọ́kọ́
Ọmọ A-jí-fepé-ṣeré
Ará Òwu kì í ránró
À-wí-ì-mẹ́nu-kúrò ṣáà ni tÒwu
A kì í bímọ fọ́mọ Ajíbọ́ṣìn, ká pòṣé owó níná
Pátákò tẹ́ ẹ rí ni wọ́n fi ń diwó fáyaba
Ọmọ-owó-ilé-ò-jẹ́-á-bèèrè-owó-epo
Ọmọ owó kẹfun à ń sọ̀.
A kì í gbowó odò lọ́wọ́ Òwu Akẹ̀sán
Ta ni yóò gbowó odò lọ́wọ́ Òwu?
Ẹri a gbólúwarẹ̀ lọ
Ẹnu là á wú powó
Ẹnu là á wú pòwò
Ẹnu là á wú pòdèré-kókò nílé Òwu
Ọmọ-atóótí-má-mà-tí
Ẹlẹ́sẹ̀ bí ẹ̀gbẹ̀ ìlẹ̀kẹ̀.
Ṣèbí Ẹ̀gbá lAké
Ẹ̀gbá lÒwu
Ẹ̀gbá lará Ọ̀wẹ Mọ̀jàlà
Ẹ̀gbá lará Ọ̀wẹ Ìmólú
Ẹ̀gbá lará Ìtokù
Ọmọ Lágunárè tí í lèjìgbàrà ìlẹ̀kẹ̀.
To the new Olowu of Òwu HRM Oba Saka Matemilola, Kabiyesi o. May your reign bring glory and greatness to the kingdom of Òwu.