BRIEF HISTORY OF OGUN RIVER POPULARLY KNOWN AS "ODO OGUN" - The Naija Weekly

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

BRIEF HISTORY OF OGUN RIVER POPULARLY KNOWN AS "ODO OGUN"


Ogun River is the waterfront originating in the isolated area of Saki, adjoining the Oyo National Park and gliding through Ogun State to empty into the Lagos Lagoon. 

Weaponry needed for the defense of Abeokuta was transported from 1830 to 1890 through this river that was also used for trade and commerce. Toll barriers were erected at Iseri and Aro, along the river for collection of revenue in the days of the Egba United Board of Management (1865-98) and successive Egba United Government (1898-1914). 

The Ogun River provided the native government with negotiation power in its relation with colonial Lagos, being an important trade route connecting coasts of Lagos, Badagry, and Abeokuta. 




TRADITIONALLY

River Ogun, which literarily means (the River of Medicine) flows through three States namely Oyo, Ogun and Lagos before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. 

When people see the magnitude, essence and the symbolic nature of the River at the present day Ogun State they may conclude albeit erroneously that the River essentially had its source from the State.  However, Ogun River, which the present day Ogun State is named after had its source at a remote place which is some few kilometers outside Saki. 

History has it that the River according to local historians emanates from the consequence of the royal squabble between Okere Akinbekun the first Monarch and his wife Ekunfumi.  He had warned his wife not to make any attempt for whatever reason to enter the room where his charms are kept.  In the same manner the wife had warned the King not to use her big bursts to abuse her no matter the offence she must have committed.  

One day the King went out on his usual hunting expedition but left his bow and arrow outside the house.  On noticing that it was about to rain, the wife took the items into the “forbidden room” where the King’s charms were kept.  The King arrived later and noticed that the arrow and the bow he left outside were no longer there His Majesty made enquiries from the wife.  The wife then told him that he had kept them in the room when she noticed that it was about to rain.  

The King was very displeased and he rained abuses on his wife by making specific references to her big bursts in what seems to be retaliation.  Dissatisfied with her husband’s remarks she packed her things including the pot with which she used to prepare the local herbs for her child and left the palace.  When the King could not find her he sent some emissaries to look for her and bring her back to the palace.  

At a point the King’s men eventually found her outside the town but she refused to listen to their pleas.  As she was about to escape from the King’s emissaries, she fell down, the clay pot she carried also fell with the water in the pot gushing out continuously to become a pool of water, which later turned out to be the source of River Ogun located in Saki East Local Government Area.  

As a mark of recognition of the circumstances that led to the source of River, one its tributaries at a location close to Iseyin was named Ibukere or Ibu Okere (meaning the pool of Okere) which the Oba retains the ownership till today. 

A further reading on the mystery of Ogun River is contained in the lucid account given in the Yoruba drama book entitled: Ekunfunmi Ayaba Okere written by Sesan Onibode (the Aare Isembaye of Sakiland).






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