Mayo, mayo ,mayo o
I had the privilege of accompany some friends on an excursion to the city Abeokuta. Even though Abeokuta is less than 100km form Lagos where I grew up, I have no memory of previous visits.
Abeokuta means ‘refuge among rocks’ as the city originally grew around granite inselbergs which formed a place of refuge for people fleeing the wars in the area in the early 19th century. Today Abeokuta is the centre of Egbaland (a sub-group of the yoruba people) and the capital of Ogun State with more 400000 inhabitants.
The excursion was a cultural but I had my eyes open for rocks on the way. The road we took (directly form Ibadan to Abeokuta) did offer the expected inselbergs as the longer alternative route (west through Eruwa and Igboora) would. But Abeokuta itself has interesting ones including the famous Olumo Rock.
As a hard-core geologist putting elevators on a rock like that are a minus, you won’t catch me dead paying N500 for a ride in them.
The main attraction of the Excursion was a visit to the palace of the Alake of Egbaland: His Majesty Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo Okukenu IV.
Since we were ‘lead’ by a friend of the royal family we had priviledge access with the Olorin (Queen) herself showing us around the Ake (palace) and telling us about the history of Egbaland.
Of the many Anecdotes she told one of the most interesting was how the royal family began answering the name Gbadebo. Form it’s founding in the first half of the 19th century the Egbas were ruled by a number of warrior chiefs with the Alake as the “first among equals” until Lord Lugard made the the Alake supreme traditional ruler of Egbaland. This first supreme Alake took the title of Okukenu I. A problem was his not having a son to succeed him; but it happened that on his way to receive the crown a message got to him that one of his wives had finally given birth to a son. It is said that when he was told of this he said:
Eni ti o n gbade bo
the person who is bringing the crown
Hence this male heir took the name Gbadebo I. Gbadebo I’s son took the name Gbadebo (the second) also. The current Alake, who should now take the name Gbadebo III decided , in order to maintain the family name, to take the name Okukenu (now the fourth) hence the name Oba Okukenu IV.
Another one was the story behind the ancient bible kept in the palace. A Bible was given to the first Oba in the 19th century by Queen Victoria when he asked for the secret of good governance but was lost in a fire in 1897. Another copy was sent in 1904 by King Edward VII which still exists.