The Brief History of Idanre

Oba Arubiefin IV, The Owa of Idanre.

Olofin Aremitan the younger brother of Olofin Oduduwa led a group of people from Ile Ife after the demise of Oduduwa owing to the ensuing power struggle with the heirs to the throne of Oduduwa.

On the death of Oduduwa, Olofin Aremitan left Ile Ife with a group of people and settled first at Ijama in the present day Ile-oluji with Jegun Orere. A short while after, perhaps after only a season, he moved to Epe, It was believed that a group of people parted from Olofin at Ijama; and he bade goodbye to the rest at Epe. From Epe, Olofin moved out with those we might regard today as the fathers of Idanre and settled at Ojanla, not far from river Owena. From this time on, Idanre had maintained its distinct almost completely separated from all other children of Oduduwa.

The exact reason that led Olofin to leave Ife is the power tussle that no doubt erupted between Oduduwa’s heirs after the death of this powerful King. Olofin ruled Ife briefly after the death of Oduduwa as a regent but his reign was marred by jealousy, in-fighting and acrimony. Defeated in his bid for power, he set out to found another settlement with his followers, going eastward through Ujama, Epe, Urede, Ojanla, Jaleja, Utaja (his last stop where he called Ufe’ke), and crossing the Urore river. In some accounts, he was accompanied in these travels by the early leaders of Idanre.

After the death of Olofin Oduduwa, Olofin Aremitan took with him a few valuable and the most treasured belongings of Oduduwa. These include among others the ancient crown of Oduduwa, Oreghe, Ugwan, a pair of irunkere or horse tail and certain medicine for their preservation. These were supposed to be the common property of all the children of Oduduwa. It is related orally that some of the property he could not take with him while leaving Ile-Ife he sent Ajija to bring them for him.


Idanre people lived in caves, safeguarded by the protective charms of Olofin. Olofin lived with the Idanre people at Utaja for about forty years. Seeing that he was getting too old and could travel no further, he eventually died in a cave at Utaja-Idanre called Uwo-Akota, meaning the cave of wasps. Relics that are claimed to have belonged to Olofin remain in the cave until this day. Uwo Akota was located on the West side of Utaja at the foot of Aghagha Hill on the Eastern path to Oke Idanre.

Olofin Aremitan was succeeded by his lieutenant Agboogun who inherited all his properties as well as the old enemies. Agboogun was the armour bearer of Olofin and his name indeed makes reference to this; “Agberu Ogun” means he who carries his master’s tools of war. Agboogun sought to protect his people from invasion by surrounding enemies and decided to relocate his community from the foot of the hills to Oke-idanre, the top of the hills. In those days, the new settlement was called, “Ufe Oke,” which loosely translates to ‘Ife atop the hills’, thus providing some connection to ancient Ile-Ife.

One of Agboogun’s lieutenants was an explorer and hunter named Egunren and it was he who sought out the ideal location for the Idanre people to reside at Idanre Hills. Agboogun feared for the safety of his people in the valleys, where it was easy for other tribes to raid and enslave the people. He thus met with his followers, who were split into several groups, to deliberate on a more secure place to settle for the Makanres (Idanre people). These groups included Logunro, who led the Urowo people, Asalu who led the Usalu people, and Jemiken, who led the Udale people. One of these followers was a hunter called Egunren, who had gone up Aghagha hill on one of his hunting expeditions.

He reported that he had found a secure location up in the hills, where enemies could not easily attack. Agboogun led his followers to Oke Idanre, where they first settled the Oba at a place named Usalu up in the hills. However, this region was thought to be too exposed, so another location was chosen, close to Egunren, “the hunter’s cave”, where the people would mobilise; presumable under the lead of Egunren who was the leading warrior.

Agboogun settled at Odeja. The building of the palace took over 30 years to construct. As he was getting old, he decided to relinquish the palace on to his son, Baganju, on the condition that he would perform rites at Odeja for his father after the former’s death. Baganju was thus the first Owa to occupy the old palace at Oke Idanre. However, the traditional accounts are generally in agreement in considering Agboogun the first Owa of Idanre up in Idanre Hills, with Baganju as the second.

Oke Idanre hill consists of high plain with spectacular valleys interspersed with inselbergs of about 3,000 ft above sea level. Its physical attributes include Owa’s Palace, Shrines, Old Court, Belfry, Agbooogun foot print, thunder water (Omi Apaara) and burial mounds and grounds. It also has diverse and variegated eco-systems of flora and fauna. Oke Idanre contains very important bio-physical and land form features whose interaction with the physical features created an enduring cultural landscape within the setting.

The names of the past Obas in Idanre and some of their outstanding achievements are as follows:

1. Owa Agboogun

Following Olofin’s decease, his most able lieutenant, Agboogun became the leader of the people and their eventual first King. Agboogun was the armourbearer of Olofin and his name indeed makes reference to this; “Agberu Ogun” means he who carries his master’s tools of war. Agboogun sought to protect his people from invasion by surrounding enemies and decided to relocate his community from the foot of the hills to Oke-idanre, the top of the hills. In those days, the new settlement was called, “Ufe Oke,” which loosely translates to ‘Ife atop the hills’, thus providing some connection to ancient Ile-Ife. One of Agboogun’s lieutenants was an explorer and hunter named Egunren and it was he who sought out the ideal location for the Idanre people to reside at Idanre Hills. Agboogun established and ruled over seven quarters and family groups for ease of administration. The quarters were named: Irowo, Isalu, Idale, Ijomu, Isurin, Okedo and Odeja. As Agboogun became increasingly old and frail, it became more difficult for him to handle the responsibilities of kingship and tensions between the seven heads of families began to emerge. The community decided it would be prudent to have a new King to replace Agboogun, a proposal with which he agreed.

2. Owa Baganju

Deliberations between the heads of the seven quarters and the leaders in the community resulted in Owa Baganju ascending to the kingship of Idanre. His emergence marked the first clear cut establishment of a royal lineage for Idanre. The heads of all the other seven families would henceforth be Heads of Quarters, whilst Owa Baganju’s descendants would be the paramount rulers of Idanreland. Owa Agboogun abdicated the kingship and gave his daughter, Agbamudu in marriage to Owa Baganju, hence confirming his approval of the new monarchy arrangement. Nevertheless, Baganju continued to honour Agboogun as his leader, especially during high feasts or the performance of the annual traditional Ije (Iden) festival when Baganju would wear the full regalia of office as King.

He would go to Agboogun to pay homage, conduct some rites and receive blessings from him.

Baganju and Orosun. During the reign of Owa Baganju, Orosun, the beautiful lover of Olofin Aremitan returned to Ufe-Oke from Ikori her hometown to resume her relationship with Olofin Aremitan, only to find out that Olofin had passed away. Orosun remained in Ufe-Oke (which was later renamed Idanre) and eventually married Owa Baganju.

Oral history records that Orosun travelled down to Ikori (in Akoko area) where she met and fell in love with Olofin Aremitan, the founder of Idanreland. Orosun was one of the many wives of Olofin Aremitan.

From Ikori, she went with Olofin to Utaja (in Idanre). Subsequently, Orosun went to Akoko to collect her belongings so that she could return to Idanre to settle down with Olofin as his spouse. However, before she returned, Olofin unfortunately passed away and the people had moved to Oke-Idanre. Orosun followed the Idanre people to Oke Idanre and eventually became espoused to Agboogun.

Orosun was generally loved by Idanre people owing to her love for children despite not having one herself (she had offered her only child as a human sacrifice whilst in Ile-Ife). She was known as a healer of sorts, often cooking herbs with her ‘Ikoko Aremo’ to cure children of their illnesses.

At some point, perhaps as a result of political intrigue, Orosun became the target of communal hatred and she was eventually assassinated at the foot of the highest hill in Idanre. After her death, the people consulted the Ifa Oracle who revealed that Orosun had being unjustly treated and the oracle mandated that Orosun be given a proper burial ceremony, be deified and sacrifices be offered to her annually. The highest mountain in Idanre, at the foot of which she reportedly died, is named after Orosun and the festivals continue to be held in her honour yearly during the reign of Baganju.

During the reign of Baganju, a new hereditary chieftaincy title called Mananre was created for the Okedo quarters. During his reign also, around the time of the annual Ije festival, a certain Laamogun attempted to steal the ancient crown of Oduduwa, which Olofin had brought from Ile-Ife and was handed down to the successive kings of Idanre. The attempt was thwarted, a crime for which Laamogun paid with his life. When Owa Baganju died, he was laid to rest at Okedo, a street which later took up the appellation, “Ode Oba”, i.e. the street of the king.

3. Owa Beyoja

The successor to Owa Baganju was Owa Beyoja. His name derived from his successes in fending off the incursions of the people of Oyo during the Eyo (Oyo) wars. Legend records one of such encounters in which Owa Beyoja learned of the impending invasion by the famed Oyo army coming from Ile-Ife on horses. Beyoja instructed every able-bodied man in the Idanre community to produce as much palm wine as they could. The palm wine would be laced with poisons and placed in several strategic locations for their enemies. The Oyo warriors unsuspectingly drank the poisoned wines and many of them died. Those who survived or avoided the poisoned drinks proceeded towards Idanre and attempted to fight their way to the top of Idanre Hills. On getting to a flat rock which came to be known afterwards as Okuta Eleyo, the Oyo warriors were ambushed by the well prepared Idanre warriors who decimated the rest of the Oyo army, leaving only a very few to escape to an enclave called Oba Ile.

4. Owa Jarungan

Owa Jarungan was the son of Baganju, the second King of Idanreland.

5. Owa Ogbogbomudu

Owa Ogbogbomudu was the grandson of Owa Agboogun and son of Owa Baganju through Agbamudu, the daughter of Agboogun whom he gave as a bride to Baganju. It was during the reign of Ogbogbomudu that a man known as Ojomu-Olumuse witnessed the practice of killing and eating bats at Use Ekiti. He discovered a cave close to Utaja where there are plenty of bats and initiated the practice of bat hunting in Idanre, which eventually evolved into a festival. Another cave, originally named Uwo Jisun with a retinue of bats was discovered by chief Laja. The name of the cave was later changed to Uwo Owa. Together, these two caves form the locus of frenetic activity by the young men of Idanre during the annual Osu Ise Festival, usually held in February.

6. Owa Agunmanyan Alajula’de

Ajula’de refers to his sword, reportedly given to him as a present from the Oba of Benin when he visited Benin as the first Oba of Idanre to do so. Supposedly, this Oba of Benin was his maternal brother.

7. Owa Amuwaro.

8. Owa Bogede.

9. Owa Sofin.

10. Owa Oganyeri (Aj’inamurobomaku)

He was driven from Idanre because of some malady, but was cured and returned to the throne and held power for many years before he died.

11. Owa Oluodo.

12. Owa Obojo.

13. Owa Olugharere.

14. Owa Resilebete.

15. Owa Elegbehoho.

16. Owa Ogedemeru.

17. Owa Orile.

According to historians, traditional cloth making started at Idanre during Owa Orile’s reign.

18. Owa Yiworo.

Alade Market was founded during his reign.

19. Owa Kulumo.

20. Owa Arowojoye.

During Owa Arowojoye’s reign, the people of Akure went to war against the people of Benin and Idanre became military allies with Benin to fight against Akure.

21. Owa Ajikansekun.

22. Owa Agunleye.

During the tenure of Owa Agunleye, Idanre fought small military skirmishes with the people of Ondo and also entered into an alliance with the people of Ilesha to defeat the Oyo people.

23. Owa Arubiefin I. Owa Arubiefin I came to the throne in the 19th Century experiencing the incursion of the British colonialists into western Africa. He reigned until 1912 during which time, a signed a peace treaty with the United Kingdom, Christianity was introduced, and the site of the Anglican Mission at Oke Idanre was granted.

24. Owa Gbolagbeye Arubiefin II.

According to the rules of succession, his brother, Aroleye Arubiefin was meant to become King but because the brother had become a Christian, which the leaders of the traditional religionist community disliked, Owa Gbolageye Arubiefin II was instead enthroned as king. The community leaders preferred Owa Gbolagbeye Arubiefin II as king because he maintained loyalty to the traditional religionists’ worship and practices.His reign witnessed sectarian conflict between the religionists and Christians, with the Christians suffering tremendous persecution.Owa Gbolagbeye Arubiefin reigned for only seven from 1913 to 1919 with the last four years marred by severe ill-health.The Native Court on the hills was established during his reign.

25. Owa Aladegbule Aroleye Arubiefin III.

The father of the present king (at December 2019), Owa Aroleye Arubiefin III enjoyed a long reign from 1919 to 1976. It was during his reign that the settlement at Ilutitun (now called Alade) was established in 1930.The indigenous peoples also descended from the old town of Oke Idanre down to the new town of Odode Idanre in 1934. Christianity expanded during his reign, schools were built, and the modernisation began in the two new settlements.The main source for Idanre written history, the ‘Intelligence Report on Idanre District,’ which was compiled by T.B Bovell-Jones was also compiled during his reign. This document remains the only written records on old Idanre discovered so far apart from the Colonial dispatches by Thomas Gilbert Carter KCMG.

26. Owa Frederick Adegunle Arubiefin IV (1976 – Present)

The Obaship institution with crown at Alade and Atosin began during his reign along with the expansion of the Oluship in other Idanre settlements.More administrative divisions were established by creating more quarters e.g. Yaba Quarter, Opa/Odole Quarter, and Eto Quarter.

  • Owa Agboogun led Idanre people from Utaja to Oke Idanre.

  • Owa Baganju, choses the site for the building of the old Palace at Oke Idanre.

  • Owa Beyoja successfully defended idanre territory against the invading Oyo Soldiers

  • Owa Jarugan, the son of Baganju

  • Owa Ogbogbomudu

  • Owa Agunmanyan is the first Owa of Idanre to visit Ado Bini

  • Owa Amuwaro

  • Owa Bogede

  • Owa Sofin

  • Owa Oganyeri(Ajinamurobo maku)

  • Owa Oluodo

  • Owa Obojo

  • Owa Olugharere

  • Owa Resilebete

  • Owa Elegbehoho

  • Owa Ogedemeru

  • Owa Orile

  • Owa Yiworo, Alade market was founded during his reign

  • Owa Kulumo

  • Owa Arowojoye

  • Owa Ajikansekun

  • Owa Agunleye

  • Owa Arubiefin I (1832 – 1912)

  • Owa Gbolagbeye Arubiefin II (1913 – 1919)

  • Owa Adegbule Aroloye Arubiefin III

  • Owa Dr. Frederick Adegunle Aroloye JP. OFR. (1976 – till date)


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.

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