Ogbomosho (also Ogbomoso) is a city in Oyo State, south-western Nigeria, on the A1 highway. It was founded in the mid 17th century.
The City is considered one of Nigeria’s largest urban centers. The majority of the people are members of the Yoruba ethnic group. Yams, cassava, maize, and tobacco are some of the notable agricultural products of the region.
An early missionary described the town: “Ogbomosho in 1891 was a walled city, the gates of which were closely watched by day and securely closed by night. 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..”
The tale behind the name Ogbomoso
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.
Ogunlola noticed smoke oozing from some nearby locations. He took courage and approached these places and discovered other hunters. The first one named Aale at a site now called Oke-Elerin quarters, the second called Onsile at the site now known as Ijeru quarters, the third Orisatolu at Isapa quarters and the fourth 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.
Egbe Alongo (Alongo Society)
Ogunlola, after the discovery of these hunters, took the initiative to invite them to form the Alongo Society. The Primary objectives of the society were: Defence against Sunmoni (slave prowler) raids Group hunting of wild animals, and Mutual assistance. At the take off of the society. Ogunlola was, made the chairman. After each day’s hunting, they retired to Ogunlola’s hut where they were treated to beans and other meals and were served with sekete wine brewed by Ogunlola’s wife from fermented guinea corn. They also engaged in discussing current affairs and planning.
Later, other settlers came and built their thus and huts formed the nucleus of a small village. Ogunlola‘s hut became the place for setting disputes and other matters. He, Ogulola had the final say. The groups of huts being on the north-south highway from Oyo-ile became popular as aroje (a place to stop for refreshment and other ‘knick-knack’ by travellers.
Esuu, the wife of Ogunlola introduced the worship of Orisapopon 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 palmwine 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.
HOW OGUNLOLA’S SETTLLEMENT BECAME OGBOMOSO AND OGUNLOLA BECAME SOUN
During the time the Ibaribas under the leadership of Elemoso attacked Oyo-Ile near Ilorin, Ogunlola was already in detention there, awaiting trial for an alleged offence. Elemooso 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 and Ogunlola was shown where he could find Elemoso.
Ogunlola after studying Elemaso’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 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 a ma se ohun” meaning let me stay yonder” His majesty, the Alaafin, granted Ogunlola’s wish to return to his settlement.
Later, travellers passing to and fro, used to refer to the settlement as of him who beheaded Elemaso meaning “ido eni ti o gb’Elemoso”. This was later contracted 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 Sohun 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.