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Okun People

Encyclopedia » History

Okun people are Yoruba descendants in Kogi-State. Kogi is a multi ethnic state and Okun people make up 20% of the total population in Kogi State, smaller than the other two major completely different tribes, Igala and Ebira. Okun people spread across six local government areas in Kogi State, known as Kabba-Bunu, Yagba-West, Yagba-East, Mopa-Muro, Ìjùmú and Lokoja local government Areas. 

            The Okun people speak varied dialects; Owé, Ìyàgbà, Ìjùmú, Bùnú and Oworo, but their language is generally called Okun, Okun has become a form of greeting among them.  They understand one another to a greater extent and large numbers of them speak Yoruba. Their dialects are influenced by various factors. Such factor is that Kogi state shares boundaries with Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Anambra, Enugu, Edo and Abuja. Also, The Nupe wars of the 19th century and interaction with the Hausas due to geographical zoning left an indelible mark on the Okun people and their dialects.

            According to findings, Okun people migrated from Ile Ife when Yoruba’s were spreading to occupy more lands, before spreading out, each and everyone was instructed to report to Ile Ife for a yearly meeting. The man that led group of young people to a location (now called YAGBA) in Kogi state did not return over a long period of time. He eventually returned and explaining that he lost the larger part of his acquired land to some other migrants. He was blamed for the loss and said in Yoruba; ''ÌYÀ ÀGBÀ LÓ JEMÍ'' meaning that invasion of his acquired land was due to lack of having elderly people with him. Since then, they started mocking him at Ile Ife, calling him Iya Agba. They associated this name with him whenever they wanted to send messages across to him after returning to his occupied area, now called Yagba.

            Okun people faced lots of challenges, ranging from geo political zoning, marginalization and problems of social identity. Their problem started during the colonial era when they were politically ceded to the Northern protectorate by Lord Lugard, the Governor-General of Nigeria. The abolition of the provincial and regional administrative units in 1967 led to their merging with Ilorin to form old Kwara state. Then, Igala was merged with old Benue State. However, on 27th of august 1991, Okun people was removed again and merged with Ebira, Igala from Benue state and some other tribes to form Kogi state.

            Concerning Identity problem, some people regard them as being a part of the Yoruba’s in South West while others claimed that Okun people are not Yoruba’s. Okun people bear Yoruba names like Edo people, lots of them speak Yoruba and many of their settlements are named in Yoruba language such as Kajola, Egbeda, Egbeda Ega, Okedayo, Odo Ere, Odo Eri, Ife, Iyamoye, Agbaja, Igbo Nla and Obajana.

Prominent Okun People

·         Senator Smart Adeyemi

·         Dino Melaiye

·         Yomi Awoniyi

Updated 3 Years ago

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