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Owo is a local government area in Ondo state, Nigeria.[1] Between 1400 and 1600 CE, it was the capital of a Yoruba city-state.[2] The local government area has a population of 222,262 based on 2006 population census.

History of Owo

In their oral tradition, Owo traces its origins back to the ancient city of Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba culture. Oral tradition also claims that the founders were the sons of the Yoruba deity Odudua, who was the first ruler of Ile-Ife. The early art-historical and archaeological records reinforce these strong affiliations with Ife culture. Owo was able to maintain virtual independence from the neighboring kingdom of Benin, but was on occasion required to give tribute. The transmission of courtly culture flowed in both directions between the Benin and the Owo kingdoms. The skill of Owo's ivory carvers was also appreciated at the court of Benin. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Benin's rulers increasingly utilized insignia made from ivory, and imported Owo's art objects and recruited its artisans for their own royal workshops.[6] There were other notable artworks that can be evidently supported.

Owo came under British rule in 1893. After Nigeria declared independence in 1960, it was part of the Western Region until 1967 when it became part of the Western State. Owo and its indigenes played significant roles in the politics of the first Republic in Nigeria. In 1976, it became part of the newly created Ondo State.

In June 2022, at least 50 worshippers were killed in a massacre at St. Francis Catholic Church.

The Palace of the Olowo of Owo is a cultural landmark in Nigeria, and is amongst the largest palaces in Africa.




Culture in Owo

Owo has the largest palace (Aghofen) in Africa which was declared a national monument by the federal government.[citation needed] Built by Olowo Rerengejen in the 14th century, the palace had as many as 100 courtyards (Ugha). Each courtyard had a specific function and was dedicated to a particular deity. The largest, said to have been twice the size of an American football field, was used for public assemblies and festivals. Some courtyards were paved with quartz pebbles or broken pottery. Pillars supporting the veranda roofs were carved with statues of the king mounted on a horse or shown with his senior wife. The most recent Olowo is Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III.


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