Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Brief History of Odigbo in Ondo State


The origin of Odigbo is Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yoruba Race. Uja is the progenitor of Odigbo people. Uja was the only son of his parents. 

His father was Akintirin, while his mother was Usero, the eldest daughter of Oranmiyan, who was then the Ooni of Ile-Ife. Her only son was Uja Akintirin. Usero had a uterine sister whose names were Atiba and Olu.

 Atiba got married to a Benin indigene. She conceived and gave birth to twins. At that time, giving birth to twins was regarded as transgression that carried a death penalty for the mother and her twins.

Oranmiyan did not want his beautiful daughter and her children to suffer through cruel death. Oranmiyan’s solution to this dreadful problem was to arrange how to sneak Atiba and her twins out of Ile-Ife. Oranmiyan had to consult Ifa Oracle to decide who qualifies to lead the flight of Atiba and her twin children (Orere, male) and Pupupu (female) out of Ile-Ife. 

Ifa oracle predicted, among other things, that Uja was the hunter divinely appointed to lead the lives-saving-fight out of Ile-Ife. The oracle had predicted that Uja would kill an elephant in whose belly he would find treasures of tremendous value.

Oranmiyan settled all domestic issues with all involved. He pleaded with Usero to patiently tolerate the departure of Uja, his son, and Atiba, her sister. Uja cut some palm fronds and hewn them together into a hamper big enough to contain the twins: Orere, the male and first child, and Pupupu, the female and junior child. Uja’s mission was successful. 

All those who took part in the voyage also survived. However, before they set out on their journey, Oranmiyan handed over to Uja a beaded Crown to be held in trust for the twins. Orere disclosed to Uja his plan to seek for greener pastures elsewhere. Uja advised him to take Atiba, his mother along with him wherever he went. He also gave Orere the beaded crown which Oranmiyan gave Uja to hold in trust for the twins.

Orere departed for the unknown. His mother, Atiba, then more popularly known as Olu, accompanied Orere. She slept and never woke up and up till this day, is the place where Olu slept and died in her sleep, known as ILE-OLUJI. It was not long after Orere’s departure that Pupupu got married to a man of Benin origin. She accompanied her husband to Benin.

 Thereafter, she gave birth to her first male child named Aigho. Before long, Pupupu’s marriage hit the rock when the relatives of her husband accused her of some wrong doings. The allegations were neither investigated nor proven. Pupupu could not put up with what she called false accusations. She therefore packed her bags and baggage with Aigho, her only son, and she headed for “Idi-Edo” now known as Ondo.

In her luggage was the beaded crown she cunningly got from Orere. She had promised Orere she would return the crown as soon as she was done using it but she never did.

 Pupupu’s departure from Benin coincided with the desperate search in Ondo for someone who had a beaded crown in his or her possession. When Pupupu arrived at the searching point in Ondo, her luggage was scrupulously searched and a beaded crown was found therein. Pupupu was made a “king” but her administrative style was ineffective. Within a very short time, Pupupu was dethroned. The Ondo Community thus made a declaration that no woman in Ondo would ever be enthroned to reign as a King.

Uja found his way to Odigbo with his team. They got to “Igi-Meta” and found Aija stream. Uja got to Odigbo, and in the course of his hunting for games, he came face to face with an elephant and succeeded in killing the animal and found two beaded crowns in its belly. The occurrence prompted Uja to desire to go back to Ife to show the then Ooni his “mementos” that earned him the privilege of being ordained as a Prince in Ile-Ife after the honour bestowed on him, he was told that age-old Ile-Ife tradition forbids him to stay in Ile-Ife. At a little beyond middle age, Uja and Usero, his mother left Ile-Ife for Odigbo. 

Uja and his co-founders of Odigbo agreed on the rotation of the Ruling Houses among five families at Odigbo. The pact remained unchanged up till today. Uja regarded himself as a King. Oranmiyan himself ordained him at Ile-Ife.

Uja took a long time to settle down. He got married to a lady. The lady begat a male child who was named Orunja, the heir of Uja. Usero, the mother of Uja, named him Orunsero, meaning Usero’s heir. The two names: Orunja and Orunsero, belong to one and the same child. Uja, the father of Orunja, laid solid foundation for his only son, Orunja or Orunsero. All the territories founded by Uja were firmly ruled by Orunja, his son.

Odigbo (Odi-Igbo) meaning an impregnable forest in the wilderness.

 In those days, enemies plundered communities to take away resources and sometimes women and children. The plunderers’ attempts were always restricted or thwarted.

 They would kidnap women and children, and in their attempt to run away, they would encounter some stone walls. They would suddenly experience eclipse of the sun in broad daylight. When they were caught, they always narrated their stories of woe. This earned the town, the name

Agbabu remains the only River Port in Odigbo land. Uja, on one of his numerous exploits, got to the river bank one day and saw what appeared to him as a moving house on the river. Many hours of waiting brought the “moving house” to the shore. 

After exchanging compliments with one another, the captain of the ship fired three gun shots into the air. Uja shouted, Agbabu! Literally interpreted, it means the blast of a gun. 

That name Agbabu subsists to date. Uja and his co-hunters provided an everlasting link among Odigbo, Ondo, and Ile-Oluji.


“History of Odigbo” by High Chief EZEKIEL IBITAYO AKINFOLARIN, The Odunwo of Odigbo Kingdom.

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