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Tucked away in the humid tropical region of Nigeria and geographically located within latitude 7015 north of the equator and longitude 5036 east of the Greenwich meridian, the ancient town of Ogho (Owo) was founded in the 11th Century, about 1019 AD. It lies 150 metres above sea level within the rain forest area of Nigeria and is abundantly blessed by nature.
Ogho is 48 kilometres east of Akure, the Ondo State capital and about 400 kilometres north-east of Lagos by road.
Like any other ancient town in South-West region of Nigeria, Ogho people are a sub-group of the Yoruba nation that lives in 9 ancient and historical towns namely; Ogho, Idasen, Iyere, Ipele, Usuada, Emure-Ile, Uso, Amurin and Upenmen.
The culture of Ogho people is very rich and this is evident in the arts and crafts, way of life as well as the celebration of her many colourful and historical festivals. History has it that many of Owo Chiefs and people of her neighbouring villages (which together constitute the ancient Owo Kingdom) were Princes and Princesses who had the milk of human kindness chained to their dear hearts.
The Owo people are highly traditional and have deep respect for the traditional institution. Though the religion of Christianity and Islam is widely spread, the cultural and traditional values are kept intact.
The ancestors of Owo people were said to have migrated from Ile-Ife (the cradle of the Yoruba race) about the 11th Century under the leadership of the first Ologho (Olowo) known as Ojugbelu also called Arere and Omalagaye. Ojugbelu was one of the 16 sons of Oduduwa, father of the Yoruba race who migrated from Ile-Ife to found the Yoruba nation. He alongside his brothers were said to have left Ile-Ife same day, departing from Ita-Ajero.
On their departure, Oduduwa gave one crown each to his 16 children but for his deep love for Ojugbelu, Oduduwa gave him a sword in addition.
Olowo Ojugbelu who was the junior brother of the Oba of Benin and Ojinman of Okuluse thereafter migrated eastwards with the Iloros: a large retinue made up of 2 groups, the Ugbamas (Youths) and the Ighares (Men of over 50 years who carry out the Ero Festivals).
During the migratory period, the Ugbamas carried out all manual labour while the Ighares were charged with the responsibility of supervision of all labour activities, a tradition that exists to date. Their first destination after Ile-Ife was Uji. There the greeting, ‘Leji wa gbo, wa to’ was developed by the Chiefs in saluting the Olowo in appreciation that the Olowo woke up hale and hearty from his first night rest outside Ile-Ife.
From Uji, the Owos advanced to Ipafa Hill near present day Idanre where they found comfort because of plenty of shade, edible fruits and vegetables that abound therein. Howbeit, they were forced to advance further due to the many thunder storms that threatened their existence. As they went further eastwards, the party came to a hill which was later named after Ojugbelu’s son, Olowo Imade who took over the mantle of leadership as a result of the death of his father in the course of the transit. Ojugbelu’s corpse was eventually embalmed and taken back to Ile-Ife where it was buried.
At Oke Imade (Imade Hill), the Owos found no water and when they saw a monkey, they followed it with the hope that it will lead them to water. They finally arrived at Igbo Ogwata also called Okiti Asegbo where they found water. Hence, monkeys became sacred animals and its meat a taboo to Princes and Princesses of Owo hence, the saying, ‘Omalogho aijerandon’. Okiti Asegbo is today the centre of Owo town.
History has it that, on the arrival of the Owo people to Okiti Asegbo, they met a group of people around the area under the leadership of one Elefene whom they conquered before their final settlement.
Owo whose English interpretation is Respect, Honour and or Dignity was an appellation given to Ojugbelu by Oduduwa because of Ojugbelu’s pleasant manners and later came to be applied to his descendants to date was said to be the capital of Yoruba between 1400 to 1600 AD.