Owena

Owena Market in Owena, Ondo State
Roadside view of Owena market. Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.

Owena; town on on the Benin/Ilesa highway, straddled between Ondo and Osun States. Following creation of more states from the defunct Western State, Owena initially fell within the old Oyo State; but when the old Oyo was balkanized, leading to the creation of Osun State, the town was brought under the new state, while a section of it was merged with Ondo State. The location of the town puts it in a vantage position with easy access to traders from different parts of the country.

Owena has a population of close to 40,000 people (2006 est.) The title of its traditional ruler is Loja and the first person to mount the stool was Olajikobiti. He reigned for about five years from early 1970 before another monarch, Oba Oderinde succeeded him. Oba Oderinde’s short tenure was followed by conflicts among the people over the choice of a candidate for the throne. Before, it was the Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland who has authority to appoint a candidate for the throne. He was said to have picked the first two Obas of the community until another town, Ikeji, also in Osun State, challenged the authority in court. He won and the right was later given to Ikeji. ¬†Oba Adeniyi, who is presently in exile following crisis over his selection is a nominee of Ikeji. The first school in the community, The Apostolic School was established in 1971.

 

Owena River

The Owena River; which runs through the community serves as a boundary between the Owena at Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State and the other one at Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State. A water works constructed by the defunct Wfestern Region government, which foils within the Owena in Osun State is being managed by Ondo State government. This was so because it was discovered that though the area where the water works is located is now part of Osun State, it supplies water to many towns in the present Ondo State, which made the state government to take over its management. Owena market remains one of the largest markets in the South-West where virtually all farm produce can be purchased at a very cheap price. The large availability of kola nuts has been one of the main reasons why some Hausa became ‘indigenes’ of the town, because they trade in kolanuts. They had built houses and got married there, while some of them had bagged chieftaincy titles in the community.

 

History

Owena was founded by some families that migrated lfon-llesa in search of a fertile land where they could farm to eke out a living. Among prominent families that first discovered the parcel of land close to where it is now named River Owena are Oreofero, Abiola and Fadahunsi, all from llesa, in the present Osun State. The nearness of the location to River Owena made it attractive to the people who later decided to settle down there and continued with their forming. This happened early in 1950. Other people from Igbajo, Iresi, Iree and Otun-Aye, all in the present Osun State later migrated and joined the early settlers as a result of the fertile land and the closeness to the river which encouraged planting of different crops. The earliest houses were made of mud with raffia palm leaves as roofing. The first house built with corrugated iron sheet was built by the Fadahunsi family and the place is being used today as an office by the Power Holdings Company, PHCN. Others, thereafter joined and erected more structures. Migrants from Kwara and Hausa from the northern part of the country later joined the people to settle at the Owena river bank. The community later derived its name from the river.

 

Westerner May 11, 2009

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