Olowu palace in Abeokuta, 19th Century
The Olowu palace in Abeokuta; 19th Century. Photo: studyblue.com

Owu is an ethnic Yoruba subgroup popularly known as one of the four arms of the Egba by virtue of its historical association with the latter especially since 1834 when they arrived in Abeokuta after a devastating war. Tension had grown between Owu and neighbors, firstly, Ife, whose Apomu market town they confiscated in c.1810, and Ijebu, after a domestic strife at the same market town with Ijebu traders in c.1821. Ife and Ijebu allied against Owu and with the corporation of a third force, the mercenary Oyo refugee soldiers fleeing from the war-torn areas of the fallen Oyo Empire. Orile Owu was destroyed. Before this time, the people of Owu lived in Owu Ipole as close neighbors to the Egba in the homestead in areas now lying within Osun state boundary.

Historian, Mabogunje corroborates Omer-Cooper in his appraisal of Owu town as one of the earliest and most important city-states in southern Yorubaland. In this account, the people were described as hardy, brave, and courageous in war. They were, according to Johnson, noted by their neighbors for hardihood, stubbornness, haughtiness and ‘liberal attitude toward certain values’. The people are now domiciled in over 20 locations in the southwest Nigeria region even to Kwara and Edo states.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer