Oriki Egba History Of The Egba People Origins And Cultural Significance

Oriki Egba- history of the Egba People: Origins and Cultural Significance

The Egba people are a Yoruba-speaking ethnic group in Nigeria, primarily located in the southwestern part of the country. They are known for their rich cultural heritage, which includes a unique dialect, traditional music, and dance. The history of the Egba people is a fascinating one, with a long and complex story that spans several centuries.

The Egba group was originally part of the Oyo Empire, which was a powerful kingdom in West Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, following the collapse of the Oyo Empire in the first half of the 19th century, the Egba people became independent.

They established their own kingdom, which was centered around the city of Abeokuta. The Egba people were known for their agricultural and trading skills, which helped them to establish a prosperous and vibrant kingdom.

Over the years, the Egba people faced numerous challenges and setbacks, including attacks from neighboring kingdoms and the arrival of European colonizers.

However, they were able to maintain their independence and preserve their cultural heritage, which has been passed down from generation to generation.

Today, the Egba people are an important part of Nigeria’s cultural landscape and continue to play a vital role in the country’s social, economic, and political development.


Origins and Early History

Migration and Settlement

The Egba people are a subgroup of the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria. The origin of the name Egba is still disputed, but it is believed that their ancestors migrated from the region of the Oyo Empire to the Egba Forest.

According to legends, the original homelands of the Egba people were established by Yoruba migrants who came from other Yoruba tribes. The word Egba may come from the word Ẹ̀gbálugbó, which means wanderers towards the forest.

The Egba people settled in the Egba Forest and formed what is now known as the city of Abeokuta. The Egba Forest was a strategic location because it offered protection from slave raiders who were prevalent in the region at the time. The Egba people established a number of towns and villages in the forest, including Ibadan, Ijebu, and Oyo.

Formation of the Egba Nation

Initially, Egba-land was part of the old Oyo Empire before they gained independence through a man called Lisabi in the late seventeenth century, who united with some Yoruba groups for an onslaught against the Oyo Empire between 1775 and 1780. The Egba people were organized into a confederacy of towns and villages, each with its own ruler. The Egba confederacy was formed to resist the expansion of the Dahomey kingdom, which was known for its raiding of neighboring kingdoms for slaves.

In the early 19th century, the Egba people were raided for slaves by the Dahomeyans until they were absorbed in the 1840s and 50s by the more powerful Egba kingdom at Abeokuta. As a subject town, Ilaro served the Egba as a trading post on the Ogun River.

The Egba people were able to establish a strong centralized government, with the Alake of Egbaland serving as the paramount ruler of the Egba people. The Egba people were known for their military prowess and their resistance against colonial rule.


Socio-Political Organization

The Alake Leadership

The Egba people are led by the Alake, who serves as the paramount traditional ruler of the Egba people. The Alake is responsible for the overall welfare and development of the Egba people.

The Alake is chosen from one of the five ruling houses in Egbaland, and he is assisted by other traditional rulers and chiefs in the administration of the Egba kingdom. The Alake is highly respected and revered by the Egba people, and his decisions are usually accepted without question.

Clan and Family Structures

The Egba people are organized into clans and families. The clan is the largest social unit in the Egba society, and it is made up of several families. The Egba society is patrilineal, meaning that descent and inheritance are traced through the male line.

The family is the basic unit of the Egba society, and it is headed by the eldest male member. The family is responsible for the upbringing of its members, and it is expected to provide for the welfare of its members.

Religious Beliefs and Practices

The Egba people have a rich and diverse religious tradition. They believe in a supreme being called Olodumare, who is the creator of the universe. They also believe in the existence of other deities and spirits, who are believed to have the power to influence human affairs.

The Egba people have various religious practices and rituals, which are performed to appease the gods and to seek their blessings. These practices include sacrifices, libations, and divination.

In summary, the Egba people have a well-structured socio-political organization, which is based on the Alake leadership, clan and family structures, and religious beliefs and practices. The Egba society is highly organized and hierarchical, with a strong emphasis on respect for authority and tradition.


Colonial Era and Modern History

British Contact and Treaties

The Egba people had their first contact with the British in the early 19th century, during the disintegration of the Oyo Empire. In 1830, the Egba refugees, led by a hunter named Sodeke, founded a principality at Abeokuta.

The British recognized the Alake (meaning king of Ake) as the supreme ruler among the four rulers and established treaties with him. The treaties were aimed at ending the slave trade and promoting legitimate trade.

Egba United Government

In 1893, the Egba people established a united government under the leadership of the Alake of Egbaland. The government was recognized by the British and was known as the Egbaland Protectorate. The Egba people were able to maintain their autonomy and were not directly ruled by the British.

Post-Colonial Developments

After Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the Egba people continued to play a significant role in the country’s politics. The first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, was an Egba man. In 1976, the military government of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed created new states, including the creation of Ogun State, which is predominantly inhabited by the Egba people.

Today, the Egba people continue to be a major sub-tribe of the Yoruba people and are known for their rich cultural heritage. They have made significant contributions to Nigeria’s development in various fields, including politics, education, and business.


Culture and Heritage

Art and Craftsmanship

The Egba people are known for their skilled craftsmanship and artistry. They are particularly renowned for their woodcarving, which is often used to create intricate masks and statues. The Egba people are also skilled in weaving and textile production, creating beautiful fabrics and clothing using techniques passed down through generations.

Festivals and Ceremonies

The Egba people have a rich cultural heritage, which is celebrated through a variety of festivals and ceremonies. One of the most important of these is the Egungun festival, which is held annually to honor the ancestors. During this festival, masquerades are performed, and the community comes together to celebrate their shared history and culture.

Another significant festival is the Oro festival, which is held to appease the spirits and ensure the prosperity of the community. During this festival, women and children are required to stay indoors, while men perform traditional dances and rituals.

Language and Literature

The Egba people have their own distinct language, which is part of the Yoruba language family. This language is still spoken by many members of the community, and is an important part of their cultural heritage.

The Egba people also have a rich literary tradition, with many important works of literature written in their language. One of the most famous of these is the “Oriki”, which is a type of praise poetry used to honor important figures in the community.

Overall, the Egba people have a rich and diverse cultural heritage, which is celebrated through their art, festivals, and literature. Their traditions have been passed down through generations, and continue to be an important part of their identity and sense of community.


Oriki Egba

Egba mo’lisa

Omo gbongbo akala

Omo erin jogun ola

Omo osi’lekun pa’lekun de

Aridi ogo loju Ogun Baba t’emi la royin ogun baara fagbe

Ko sohun ti won n se ni mecca

T’awa kii se Legba Alake

Won n mumi semi semi ni Mecca

Awa n mumi Odo Ogun legba Alake

Won n g’Arafa ni Mecca Awa n gori Olumo l’egba tiwa

Won bimi L’ake

Mo gbo lenu bi jeje

Won bimi ni Gbagura

Mo gbo lohun bi oje.

Edumare bawa da ilu Egba si



Egba Anthem

Lori oke o’un petele

Ibe l’agbe bi mi o

Ibe l’agbe to mi d’agba oo

Ile ominira

Chorus: Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo; Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo

Abeokuta ilu Egba

N ko ni gbagbe e re

N o gbe o l’eke okan mi

Bii ilu odo oya

Emi o f’Abeokuta sogo

N o duro l’ori Olumo

Maayo l’oruko Egba ooo

Emi omoo Lisabi

E e

Chorus: Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo; Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo

Emi o maayo l’ori Olumo

Emi o s’ogoo yi l’okan mi

Wipe ilu olokiki o

L’awa Egba n gbe

Chorus: Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo; Maa yo, maa yo, maa yo o; l’Ori Olumo


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the historical significance of Abeokuta in Egba history?

Abeokuta is a city in Ogun State, Nigeria, and it holds great historical significance for the Egba people. Abeokuta was founded in the early 19th century by the Egba people as a refuge from slave raiders. The city grew rapidly and became a major center of trade and commerce in the region. Abeokuta played a significant role in the political and economic development of the Egba people, and it remains an important cultural and historical center to this day.

What are some traditional foods associated with the Egba people?

The Egba people have a rich culinary tradition, and there are several traditional foods associated with their culture. Some of the most popular dishes include amala (a type of yam flour), ewedu (a soup made from jute leaves), and egusi soup (a soup made from melon seeds). Other traditional dishes include pounded yam, efo riro (a vegetable soup), and akara (a type of bean cake).

Can you explain the importance of Oriki in Egba culture?

Oriki is a form of praise poetry that is an important part of Egba culture. Oriki is used to honor and celebrate individuals, families, and communities, and it is often recited at important ceremonies and events. Oriki is also used to pass down important cultural knowledge and traditions from one generation to the next.

What does traditional Egba attire look like?

Traditional Egba attire is characterized by bright colors and intricate patterns. Men typically wear a buba (a loose-fitting shirt) and sokoto (trousers), while women wear a buba and iro (a wrap skirt). Both men and women often wear a gele (a headwrap) and agbada (a flowing gown) for special occasions.

How do the Egba people typically greet each other?

The Egba people have several traditional greetings, depending on the time of day and the social context. In the morning, it is common to say “E kaaro” (good morning), while in the afternoon, “E kaasan” (good afternoon) is used. In more formal settings, such as at a wedding or other ceremony, people may use the greeting “E ku ise” (well done).

What are the notable events in the Itan ilu Egba (History of Egba)?

The Itan ilu Egba is the history of the Egba people, and it is filled with many notable events and figures. Some of the most significant events in Egba history include the founding of Abeokuta, the reign of the legendary king Lisabi, and the establishment of the Egba United Government in the 19th century. Other notable figures in Egba history include the warrior Balogun Ogunmola and the writer Amos Tutuola.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours