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The Egba tribe is a sub-ethnic group of one of the major tribes in Nigeria – the Yoruba tribe. They are a group of people domiciled in Ogun State, precisely Abeokuta. It is worthy to note that besides being one of the four major ethnic groups in Ogun State, they are also one of the most popular sub-ethnic groups in Nigeria as a whole.
The people of Egba are flanked by the Lagosians (people of Lagos), the people of Ibadan and Ibarapa in Oyo State, and the Benoise of the Republic of Benin (a territory formerly known as Dahomey). As a matter of fact, the Egbas have their history linked up with Dahomey.
Abeokuta was not the founding territory of the Egbas. Rather, fierce political and social circumstance was what led to their migration from their ‘original’ abode and settle at the place now known as ‘Abeokuta’.
The Egbas, a federation of three groups namely, Ake, Okeona, and Gbagura, are descendants of Orafiyan – Oduduwa’s son,who were living in Orile Itoko, an area under the Oyo Empire, and their leader was Chief Lamodi. Sequel to their freedom from their captivity under the Oyo Empire, in the 19th century, they experienced yet another insurgency from the people of Oyo. This attack caused the people of Egba to flee from their former settlement to a location “beneath the rock”, which is translated in Yoruba as “Abé̩ Òkuta”.
This rock – ‘Olumo’ was originally called ‘Oko Adagba’, because it was founded and occupied by a hunter called, Adagba. Hence, after the migration of the Egba people to Oko Adagba, the name was changed to the “Abeokuta”, and has remained the home of the Egbas.
CIVILIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT
The Egbas welcomed more migrants who were fleeing from their towns to settle at Abeokuta. As the population of the Egbas increased and Abeokuta expanded, the people became strengthened and were able to withstand the attacks of the Ijebus, Oyos and Ibadans.
By the 1840s, the missionaries settled in Abeokuta and this influenced civilization greatly among the Egbas. Christianity was introduced in 1842 and with it came formal education. Furthermore, the abolition of several governments and their fusion into one strong government endeared the British to the Egbas and therefore, strengthened them.
GOVERNANCE AND RULERSHIP
Governance in Egbaland is autonomous. The cabinet is comprised of the Alake of Egba, who heads the cabinet, and the sectional Obas: the Osile of Oke Ona, the Agura of Gbagura and the Olowu of Owu, as well as top Christian and Muslim officers. Whereas the Ogboni society exercised legislative and judicial powers, civil disputes were settled at Idi Ere – the Royal Court in Ake Palace.
L’ori oke ati petele
Ibe l’a gbe bi mi si o
Ibe la gbe to mi d’agba o
Emi ò f’Abeokuta s’ogo
N o duro l’ori olumo
Mayo l’ oruko Egba o
Emi omo Lisabi
Mayo! Mayo!! Mayo oo
Mayo! Mayo!! Mayo oo
Abeokuta ilu Egba
Nko ni gbagbe re,
Ng o gbe o l’oke okan mi
Bi ilu odo oya;
Emi o ma yo l’ori olumo
Emi o s’ogo yi l’okan mi
Wipe ilu olokiki o,
L’awon Egba ngbe.
Mayo! Mayo! Mayo oo!
Egba ’mo Lisabi
Omo Agbongbo Akala
Omo erin jogun ola
Omo o silekun pa ’lekun de
Omo a ridi ogo loju ogun egba niyin pupo
Ko si ohun ti won n se ni Mokka ti won kii se n’ilu Egba Alake
Won a maa mu semi semi ni Mokka,
Omi Odo Ogun ni won n mu l’Egbaa Alake
Won a ma gun Oke Arafa ni Mokka,
Sugbon n’iluu Egba won a maa gun Oke Olumo