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Regional News of Thursday, 10 June 2021

Source: www.mynigeria.com

Abeokuta: Olumo rock, home to several caves and shrines

Abeokuta Abeokuta

Abeokuta was a sovereign nation for 20 years and 11 months before the British amalgamated her with the rest of Nigeria. She had her own laws, Police Force, Civil Service and was well organized.

The Alake was the head of the defunct government known as the Egba United Government from (1 February 1893- 1 January 1914). The amalgamation with the rest of Nigeria did not go down well with the Egba people and this resulted in the Adubi War (1918).

Abeokuta, town, capital of Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria. It is situated on the east bank of the Ogun River, around a group of rocky outcroppings that rise above the surrounding wooded savanna.

It lies on the main railway (1899) from Lagos, 48 miles (78 km) south, and on the older trunk road from Lagos to Ibadan; it also has road connections to Ilaro, Shagamu, Iseyin, and Kétou (Benin).

Abeokuta (“Refuge Among Rocks”) was founded about 1830 by Sodeke (Shodeke), a hunter and leader of the Egba refugees who fled from the disintegrating Oyo empire.

The town was also settled by missionaries (in the 1840s) and by Sierra Leone Creoles, who later became prominent as missionaries and as businessmen. Abeokuta’s success as the capital of the Egba and as a link in the Lagos-Ibadan oil-palm trade led to wars with Dahomey (now Benin).



In the battle at Abeokuta in 1851, the Egba, aided by the missionaries and armed by the British, defeated King Gezo’s Dahomeyan army (unique in the history of western Africa for its common practice of using women warriors). Another Dahomeyan attack was repulsed in 1864.

Troubles in the 1860s with the British in Lagos led the Egba to close the trade routes to the coast and to expel (1867) missionaries and European traders. After the Yoruba civil wars (1877–93), in which Abeokuta opposed Ibadan, the Egba Alake (“king”) signed an alliance with the British governor, Sir Gilbert Carter, that recognized the independence of the Egba United Government (1893–1914).

In 1914 the kingdom was incorporated into the newly amalgamated British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. The Abeokuta riots of 1918 protested both the levying of taxes and the “indirect rule” policy of Lord Frederick Lugard, the British governor-general, which made the Alake, formerly primus inter pares (“first among equals”), the supreme traditional leader to the detriment of the other quarter chiefs.



Modern Abeokuta is an agricultural trade center (rice, yams, cassava, corn [maize], palm oil and kernels, cotton, fruits, vegetables, shea butter, and rubber) and an exporting point for cocoa, palm produce, fruits, and kola nuts. Rice and cotton were introduced by the missionaries in the 1850s, and cotton weaving and dyeing are now traditional crafts of the town.

Abeokuta is the headquarters for the federal Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority with programs to harness land and water resources for Lagos, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo states for rural development.

Irrigation, food-processing, and electrification projects are included. Local industry is limited but now includes fruit-canning plants, a plastics factory, and sawmills.

Near the town are the Aro granite quarries, which provide building materials for much of southern Nigeria, and a huge modern cement plant at Ewekoro.

Abeokuta was a walled town, and relics of the old wall still exist. Notable buildings include the Ake (the residence of the Alake), Centenary Hall (1930), and several churches and mosques. Secondary schools and primary teachers’ colleges at Abeokuta are supplemented by the Federal University of Agriculture, which specializes in science, agriculture, and technology, and the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic.

Abeokuta was founded in 1830, with Sodeke as her leader. The initial name of Abeokuta was “Oko Adagba” meaning “Adagba’s farmstead”-Adagba was an Itoko farmer. Sodeke who led the Egbas met him there.

Abeokuta is a SwiftTalk Internet and WAN Service Town.

The first church in Nigeria was completed in 1898. The Cathedral Church of St. Peter which is the first church in Nigeria is located in Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The First Baptist Church in West Africa and the first local government in Nigeria (Abeokuta South) are in Abeokuta.

The first University in Nigeria should have been located in Abeokuta but due to infighting, it was established at Ibadan as the University of Ibadan in 1948.

The first secondary school in Nigeria was sited in Abeokuta before it was relocated to Lagos as CMS Grammar School due to unknown reasons.

The first hospital in Nigeria, Sacred Heart Hospital, is in Abeokuta and still functioning.

The first bridge in Nigeria (Sokori Bridge-1903) built by a Nigerian (Mr. John Adenekan) without European supervision is in Abeokuta.

The first Newspaper in Nigeria (Iwe Iroyin) was founded in Abeokuta in 1859.

The first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers and the first woman to drive a car was from Abeokuta. They both married each other. They were also the first male and female admitted to Abeokuta Grammar School.

The first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Adetokunbo Ademola) was from Abeokuta. He was the son of the longest-reigning monarch (Alake) in Egbaland.

Okukenu Sagbua I, was the first Alake of Egbaland. He was enthroned on August 8, 1854. His descendant, Okukenu Sagbua IV is the current Alake of Egbaland.

Alake Gbadebo I, was the first monarch in Nigeria to visit England on a state visit. He spent 20 days at sea-May 5-25, 1904.

The first time a white man came to Abeokuta on January 4, 1843, everybody (both young and old) left their homes and market places to catch a glimpse of Henry Townsend, the white man.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865) which interrupted the U.S cotton trade to Europe, Abeokuta exported cotton to England.

The most influential woman in the history of Egbaland and the first Iyalode of Egbaland was Madam Tinubu. Tinubu square in Lagos and Ita Iyalode in Abeokuta are named after her. She died in 1887.

In 1893, the Egba United Government was recognized as an independent nation by Britain. She had her own laws. Many developments were made until 1914 when she was amalgamated to form Nigeria. The Sokori Bridge was constructed in 1903 and Abeokuta Grammar School was founded on July 16, 1908.

In 1925, Josiah Jesse Ransome-Kuti (1855-1930) Fela’s grandfather, became the first Nigerian to release a record album after he recorded several Yoruba language hymns in gramophone through Zonophone Records.

The most enlightened clan among the Yoruba tribe is the Egbas. Her chiefs had been interacting with the Queen of England as far back as 1868 which continued till a century later. English and Egba monarchs did exchange gifts.

The only South Westerners ever to rule Nigeria are from Abeokuta (Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan).

It is widely believed that Egba women are more independent than any other Yoruba tribe in the country e.g Eniola Soyinka, Elizabeth Adekogbe, and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti.

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