Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Terminologies in Owu kingdom, it's sources and meaning


There are some terminologies peculiar to the Owu Kingdom and we may well start to throw our searchlight on some of them.
As shall be found, many, if not all of them, are derived from Owu historical sources or incidents.


Oduru is one of the commonest terms that are attached to the Owu.
Invariably, an Owu is called ‘Ọmọ́ Olowu Oduru‘ (a scion of the Olowu who is otherwise called Oduru).
The origin of this term revolves around Orongbodu (now coined as Ogbogbondu).

 He was Owu’s greatest hero cum king who, when about to change mortality for immortality, assured the Owus of his preparedness to come to their defence should enemies besiege their gates, but later withdrew this offer when the Owu expressly doubted his words by calling him up when no war existed.

At a time in his lifetime on the Owu throne, he invited his babalawo (ifa diviner) to enquire through the oracle the prospects of his living long.

‘Yes’, the oracle said, but there were some sacrifices to be performed in order to actualize the prediction. He was told he had to provide an Odu (big earthen pot), a goat, iron chains and a substantial sum of money. Ogbogbondu braced himself promptly for this irubo (performance of necessary sacrifice). He fetched all the prescribed items and his babalawo proceeded to prepare the required ritual.
Briefly put, Ogbogbondu performed the prescribed ebo riru (sacrifice observances) and he lived long. Because of this procedure which he went through, the Olowu earned the epithet ‘Olowu to fi ikoko odu ru ebo (the Olowu whose sake a ritual was prepared in a big pot). With time, this became abbreviated as Odu-ru. And so today, all Owu are scions of Oduru!


Osege is a cloth of great width. It was as strong as it was spacious. On putting it on, it gave the picture of someone who is well to do. But, it was a product coveted by both the rich and the poor. It was certainly the envy of every Owu indigene, male or female, in those days. It is no longer available nor is it in vogue, largely because of the dynamism in trends and culture.
A saying which signposts its popularity goes thus: A bimo l’owu a f’osege pon-on – Iwo osege, emi osege. Osege o je a m’oloro l’owu!

TRANSLATION : An Owu is ever born into a family of osege wearers You wear osege just as I myself do. Osege cloth makes it difficult to identify the wealthy in Owu. The inference is that you can call an Owu a dandy if you like, but there is no gainsaying the fact that he is well-dressed; that the habit of good appearance is inborn in him or her.


This piece is particularly relevant to the Owu in Abeokuta. Presently, there is an area known as Amukankan somewhere on the fringes of Totoro quarters of Owu in Abeokuta.

The word Amukankan is a title given to someone proficient in reciting verses from the texts known as Odu Ifa; someone that could be summoned to recite Ifa verses at short notice wherever the need arises. It is an abbreviation of Amukankan-wole-Edu (a reciter quick to respond to the call to appear in the conclave of ifa).

Edu is another name for Ifa.
The bearer of that title at Ago Owu (Owu quarters) in Abeokuta was an Owu Ifa priest whose name was Fasolu

He was famous, and practiced for long at Abeokuta, until he was bitten by the bug of Lagos and came under the spell of the coastal city.

 In Lagos he acquired even greater fame and prosperity, to the extent that he was given the nick-name Ajanaku, an abridge form of Ajanaku ti m’igbo kijikiji (an elephant whose presence in the forest is intimidating)

The implication was that Fasolu was a dignified person. That sobriquet stuck to him so much that it metamorphosed into his name and his descendants bear that name till today. He ministered to the high and low in Lagos through his Ifa practice and he settled in the Okepopo area of the city

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