The Brief History of Osogbo

The early history of Osogbo is essentially the legendary account of the spirit-world; it is the history of the early people whom we call the spirits and fairies. This is in line with Yoruba traditions, which use mythical stories to explain the origins of the ruling families of an early Yoruba state.

Osogbo according to Yoruba oral history, had been founded as early as Oduduwa period. Oso-igbo, the goddess of Osun River, was the Queen and original founder of Osogbo. She was credited with many important achievements, which helped to establish the settlement.

image                      OSUN DEVOTEES

She lived in a beautiful surrounding and possessed magical powers, which inspired her people and frightened their enemies. Traditions acclaim her the goddess of fertility, protection and blessings. She possessed the ability to give children (through birth) to barren women and power to heal the sick and the afflicted by means of her medicinal water from the river.

The Kingship history of Osogbo dates back to the 1670s. Owa Laage was the 6th Owaroki of Ipole-Omu. He gave birth to three children who were Lajomo (the eldest), Larooye and Sogbodede (the youngest). Lajomo succeeded his father as the 7th Owaroki of Ipole Omu. When he died, Larooye, his younger brother succeeded him as the 8th Owaroki of Ipole Omu.

During the reign of Larooye, the town experienced drought which lasted for a long period. A hunter from Oyo (Olutimehin) who was an acquaintance of Larooye on one of his hunting expeditions on instruction of his friend, discovered a stream and immediately rushed down to Ipole Omu to inform Larooye of his discovery. When he was told, Larooye immediately proceeded to the stream with him which is now popularly called Osun River in the present day Osogbo and confirmed Olutimehin’s discovery.

image                         Arugba Osun

Larooye made series of consultations and divinations and when the results/revelations favoured the migration of his kingdom to the newly discovered site. He moved to Osogbo with his younger brother Sogbodee while the descendant of Lajomo refused to move with Larooye to Osogbo.

Larooye built his new palace at the present day Idi-Osun while Olutimehin built the ogun shrine now know as Idi-Ogun; Since then Osogbo has maintained her central location and remained as centre for economic activities. At Osogbo, Larooye ruled as the first Oba with the title of Ataoja (a contraction of A-Tewo- Gbeja).

During the migration of Larooye from Ipole-Omu during the famine which led to the discovery of Osun River, the descendants of Lajomo refused to migrate with the two other brothers. This is why none of the descendant of Lajomo has ever become the Ataoja of Osogbo because their father never ruled in Osogbo.

Hence, Larooye became the first traditional ruler (1st Ataoja of Osogbo) in 1670 and ruled for a period of 90 years until his death in 1760. He had no son but only begot a daughter called Abogbe who married an Offa man called Oyejin Lokuso and they gave birth to Matanmi. 

On the demise of Larooye, his younger brother Sogbodede became the 2nd Ataoja of Osogbo and ruled for 20 years between 1760 and 1780. Sogbodede begot Aina Serebu and Oyelekan. Aina Serebu succeeded his father as the 3rd Ataoja of Osogbo and ruled between 1780 and 1810 spanning a period of 30years. Aina Serebu begot two children namely Obodebewa and Gbeemu. 

After the demise of Aina Serebu, Oyelekan’s child called Adeyinka had some confrontations with Gbeemu over succession rights to the Ataoja stool and this snowballed into a royal crisis. In the bid to douse the crisis, Abogbe (the only child of Larooye) who was a female, was chosen (since Laro has no son) and was appointed the first regent of Osogbo. She spent 2years between 1810 and 1812. When Abogbe passed on, the crisis was still on and Obodebewa (daughter of Aina Serebu) was appointed again as a regent in 1812. 

She was there as a regent until her death in 1815. Ojolalele (Obodebewa’s husband) was a hunter and farmer. He designated his brother, Lahanmi (Progenitor of Oyipi royal family) to look after his wife the regent (Obodebewa) at the palace while he was away on his farming and hunting expeditions. Lahanmi, a craftsman, treacherously approached Alaafin of Oyo and told him that he had discovered a scheme by which Ijesa properties would be appropriated by Oyo. 

He requested to be crowned as the substantive Oba of Osogbo. His head was shaved as amark of installation as a king and was escorted by army of Oyo to Osogbo where he enthroned himself as the new Ataoja and drove Obodebewa into exile. In protest against this ascension to the throne by Lahanmi, the princes of Osogbo confiscated the royal crowns and other paraphernalia of office such that four successors/children of Lahanmi who successively reigned as Ataoja of Osogbo never wore crowns. 

During the reign of oyipi, some of the Matanmi family were given chance to be the Ataoja of Osogbo. Oladejobi Oladele Matanmi I ruled in 1854 – 1864 while the time of Atanda Olukaye Olugbeja Matanmi II was in 1903 – 1917. Then in 1920, the entire people of Osogbo rose against the Lahanmi (also known as Oyipi) forceful successors to the throne of Ataoja of Osogbo and insisted that a person from the royal lineage and rightful heirs to the stool be installed as the Ataoja of Osogbo.

  Consequent to the above, the descendant of both Larooye and Sogbodede held series of meeting for the purposes of resolving the crisis. It was then resolved among the contending families (Lahanmi, Matanmi and Sogbodede) that ascension to the throne will be rotated between two groups: the first group being Lahanmi/Matanmi representing the female section (since both are from Abogbe and Obodebewa) while the second groupwas the Sogbodede (Sogbo) group representing the male section. It was then resolved that Sogbo ruling house being the only male section/descendant should produce the next Ataoja.

The only royal families categorized under Sogbo ruling house are Oluawo-Oba and Gbeemu. Lahanmi/Matanmi represented the female section on the basis that Matanmi ascended the throne through Abogbe (the only daughter of Larooye) and that Lahanmi ascended the throne through Obodebewa (another female from Sogbodede) As a result of the resolution, Kolawole Alabi (a great grant child of Sogbodede) was subsequently installed from the male section in 1920. He passed away in 1933. 

Then Samuel Oyedokun (from Lahanmi/Matanmi, female section) ascended the throne of Ataoja. After Oyedokun, another descendant of Sogbodede in person of Samuel Adeleye Adenle ascended the throne in 1944 from male section. When Adenle passed on in 1975, Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi III ascended the throne in 1976 on platform of Lahanmi/Matanmi (female section). He reigned until 2010 when Allah took his soul. In or about 1957, the custom and tradition regulating the selection and installationof Ataoja was codified into chieftaincy declaration and the Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 was made which created two ruling houses in accordance with the existing custom.

These were Lahanmi/Matanmi Ruling House and Sogbodede Ruling House.  

Tradition claims many people fleeing the Fulani Advancement settled at Osogbo following the fall of old Oyo which as a result, made Osogbo to increase in population largely due to migration from other Yoruba towns and villages.


Published by oloolutof

Urbanologist, Geographer, Traditionalist and Oral historian. ​I am a versatile, personable, computer literate and goal – driven achiever. I have good communication skill with ability to interact at different levels. I am self –motivated, can easily assimilate new ideals and quite adaptive to work in different environments. Studied in University of Jos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and University of Calabar.

6 thoughts on “The Brief History of Osogbo

  1. Trust you are doing well Ogbeni .

    I have sent an earlier mail to you, may be you didn’t see it . In the mail i reminded you of our days together, during your masters program at Obafemi Awolowo University, while I was in my undergraduate level. You were in BABA70s room. We are at the same block post graduate hall , we were quite close. I have been following your initiative on the story of Yoruba , very informative and enlightened , keep up the good job bros. However, I will appreciate if you can delve into the history of ODUDUA/ILE IFE and BENIN KINGDOM. AS at today the story is controversial. It will be beneficial if you can throw more light on this controversial issue , by telling the actual story if you are well acquainted ,so that the record can be set straight, and probably put to rest the controversy and the lies behind it .

    While I await you good response. Take care and remain bless.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. tanks for d history u are on d right path , however can u shed more ligth bcos read history whc indicate dt oso igbo came across wen osun d wife of sango dt was into ‘Aro dida’ had a incidence wia by d forest spriti(oso igbo) broke osun godess’ pot for aro dida nd dismess dem to d river flowing dis cause N-H

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you sir for the record keeping. I read the piece several times and I did not see any mention of Ataoja Oyeyinka Kofoworaola. any reason why?

    Liked by 1 person

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