Thursday, September 21, 2023

History Of The Egba People – One Of The Most Successful Subethnic Group In The Yoruba Kingdom

The Egba people are the Yoruba-speaking subethnic group in Ogun central; South-Western part of Nigeria.

Egba’ was rumored to come from the word ‘Egbalugbo’ which means ‘Wanderers towards the forest’. The founders of Egba – the first dwellers were said to have migrated from the Oyo Kingdom to the forest.

They were initially under the Oyo Kingdom till the fall of the Empire in the 19th century which the broke away into the forest to startup life on their own. Egba people were the original founders of Abeokuta city and shared lands with the Owu people.

The Egba people were the main traders in the city of Abeokuta which is the capital city of Ogun State. In 1851, the Egba kingdom went to war against the King Gezo of Benin Republic (formerly known as Dahomey) in Abeokuta over the tribe that will dominate the Palm Oil trade. With the help of the British missionaries who supplied them arms. King Gezo of Dahomey after launching a reprisal attack in 1864 still lost the battle, giving way for the Egba who totally took control of the business sector.

Egba people were said to be the direct descendants of the Orafiyan who was the son and successor of Oduduwa. Till the 18th century, Egba people lived in Orile-Itoko, under the Oyo Empire till Lisabi Agbongbo-Akala led the Egba people to a victorious war, making Lisabi the founding father of the Egba Kingdom.
Having faced many attacks between 1825 to 1830 from the Dahomey, Oyo kingdom, and the Ibadan slave hunters, the Ifa Oracle instructed Chief Shodeke to migrate the Egba people to the Western area surrounded by granite rocks called ‘Oluwa Fimo’ which means ‘God has put an end to our wandering’. It was later trimmed down to ‘Olumo’.

There is a common saying in Yoruba; “Egba ko l’olu, gbogbo nwon ni nse bi Oba.” They were known to bed the kingdom without a king with the belief that everyone is equal. They have no King but head chief. There is the Ogboni town council who has the king still under their eye watch (The Aro, Oluwo, Apena, Ntowa, Bala, Basala Baki, Asipa, Asalu Lajila, Apesi, Esinkin Ola, Bayimbo, and Odofin are the titles in the Ogboni Council. They also have important ranks like the Seriki and Balogun.

The Egba people are known for their intellect, for being artistic. They are good in the agricultural field which their economy majorly depends on. Their tribal marks which they call the Abaja Oro (The upright Abaja) which is three perpendicular lines of about three inches each which is not common again since modernization made them different from other Yoruba tribe.

In Egbaland cultural festival like the Egungun festival comes in a grand style. Their major food is Amala and Ewedu soup. They can boast of palm oil, rice, beans, cotton, maize, timber, yam, rubber, cocoa, palm fruit, and kola nuts. They get their water supply from the Oyan river dam.

Among the notable people from Egbaland are Wole Soyinka, Fela Kuti, and MK Abiola.

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