Hello Presh Nation,
In the whole of Nigeria there are places you probably have not heard about and they have a lot of significance in the history of this country. We’ll be taking you round them one after the other. To start with, Today we’ll be Taking a look at the history of Saki a place in the heart of Oke Ogun in Oyo State, South west of Nigeria.
Saki is a town situated in the northern part of Oyo State in western Nigeria.
The are a lot of hills in and around Saki. Asabari (a story for another day) which is the highest among them is over 2,000 meters above sea level. The town lies near the source of the Ofiki River, the chief tributary of the Ogun River, about 40 miles (60 km) from the Benin border. Saki is about 184 kilometers North-West to Ibadan (The capital of Oyo state). It is situated in the Savanna land with scattered trees. An important stream called “Taba” flows through the town. It is this stream that supplied water to the citizenry of Saki throughout the year before the provision of pipe-borne water. The stream is still very useful until today. Another important stream which still flows through one side of Saki is “foofoo” which is now dammed to provide pipe-borne water for the town and villages. It has a population of over 350,000 inhabitants. It is referred to as the food basket of Oyo State because of its agricultural activities. It is the headquarters of Saki West local government authority.
Originally part of the Oyo Empire, Saki became a Yoruba refugee settlement after the destruction in 1835 of Old Oyo (Katunga), by Muslim Fulani conquerors.
Saki occupies a very important place among Yoruba towns.
According to the famous Yoruba historian, Reverend Samuel Johnson, the Okere’s (the king’s) palace at Saki was built “on the very spot” which the corpse of Ofinran, a deceased Alaafin born of a Bariba woman fell down and “had to be bound up afresh before the funeral cortege could proceed”. The funeral train was on its way to old Oyo from Igboho, the new capital of the Oyo Empire. It would be recalled that after the fall of old Oyo (‘Eyeo’ or ‘Katunga’) to an invading Fulani army from Ilorin circa 1837, an Alaafin, Eguguojo moved his palace up north to Igboho, northwest of Saki. Hence, and today, close to Igboho and within the precincts of the old Oyo Games Reserve lie the burial tombs of four Alaafins: – Eguguojo, Orompoto, Ajiboyede, and Abipa.
However, another historian, late Chief Ojo, the Bada of Saki gave the meaning of the town’s name as “Sa-kiri”, meaning ‘a fleeing refugee’. The fleeing refugees, according to sources finally found a respite on the Asabari Hill located in the town. Hence, the ‘oriki’ praise name of a Saki indigene is incomplete without the addition of ‘Omo Asabari’, (‘son of Asabari’).
Another historian has it in details that, Ogun, the eldest son of Oduduwa was said to have founded Saki. The historical fact behind this was that Lamurudu, the father of Oduduwa and his followers migrated to Niger area Bussau from Egypt, this was as a result of religious crisis. Ogun was on a journey, he discovered that Saki was a small village and it was just like a hunter’s camp. From Saki he went to Ibarapa, Lagos, Benin, Ife and again back to Saki. Ogun and Orisanla were sent to rule the people at Ife with a charm (Gbetugbetu) but because of the excessive drinking habit of Orisanla he could not carryout the assignment. The charm was taken from him by Oduduwa and both Oduduwa and Ogun went straight to establish Yoruba Kingdom at lfe. After the establishment of Yoruba kingdom, Oduduwa sent his children to different four corners of Yoruba Kingdom. Ogun was in Saki ruling. But it came to a time when Oduduwa became blind and Ogun took effective control of the kingdom. Saki, the ruling town of Ogun was taken temporarily as a seat of government of Yoruba kingdom. All directives came from Saki to other Yoruba towns because the acting head of the kingdom was at Saki. But eventually, the blindness of Oduduwa was cured by Ajibogun. However, Oranmiyan (the last son of Oduduwa) and Oke-kesi (the cousin of Oranmiyan) jointly founded old Oyo Empire. But traditions reveal that there was conflict between Oranmiyan and Oke-kesi over a woman and this caused Oke-kesi to leave old Oyo for Saki hiding at Asabari hill. With this, Oranmiyan sent some of his people to persuade Oke-kesi and return him to old Oyo off handed and Oranmiyan pronounced that “leave him” he’s running about” (Onsakiri). It could be therefore deduced that from the statement of Oranmiyan “N Sakiri” that “Saki was derived. More over, this time, Ogun was at Ife assisting the aged-man (Oduduwa) in the administration of Yoruba kingdom. Later, misunderstanding arouse between Ogun and his wife Efunseeke over an act of adultery between Efunseeke who was a trader in gold, silver rings and other articles and Gbayegborun a Goldsmith. Ogun was annoyed with his wife Efunseeke she later packed her bag and went back to Saki. Ogun looked for her to no avail. When Ogun knew that his wife returned to Saki, Ogun too went to Saki. When Efunseeke saw Ogun coming towards her she knew that Ogun would either force her to go with him or kill her. But Efunseeke didn’t want either. Efunseeke sank into the ground at what is now Ogidigbo. Ogun saw his wife sinking down, and he also sank at the same place which is the place where hunters and other Ogun worshipers sacrifice to Ogun annually. Saki was the first settlement of Ogun and there he ended his life. This is the reason why people usually say; Ogun is a stranger at Ire but a native of Saki. Akinbekun was said to be the first king of Saki. He was the son of Oranmiyan whom Egilolo (daughter of Kisra, the king of Ibadan) bore to him. Akinbekun met Oke-Kesi at Saki acting as the head of the town, but with arrival of Akinbekun from Ibariba to Saki, Oke-kesi handed the post of the king over to Akinbekun and he became the first recognized Okere of Saki. Further more, a very important event was attached to the period of Akinbekun as a king of Saki because the emergence of River-Ogun was as a result of conflicts between the Okere and his wife Modelewu. It was said that Akinbekun had a power garment that he used to wear to battle. After wearing the garment Modelewu would pray for him and he would win the battle. The garment however, had a restriction, that, It must not be beaten by rain and it must not be touched by a woman. On that particular occasion Akinbekun was not at home and he had dried his garment outside as the sun was blazing hot. Things turned around and it was about to rain. Modelewu with her good heart helped him to pack it, immediately he felt it and got home in no time. Modelewu who had a heavy breast hated being insulted with it. When the king got back he rebuked, insulting her with her heavy breast. This caused her to leave the town and later went on to become the river Ogun near Iseyin. Since that time, it has been forbidden for any reigning Okere to look at the river while passing through it. When Akinbekun was the king of Saki then, Oke-kesi happen to be OniSaki because Akinbekun met Oke-kesi at Saki.
By the early 1860s the Yoruba Mission established an Anglican church in the town.
The Okere of Saki is the traditional ruler of the town. Oba Kilani Olatoyese Ilufemiloye Olarinre who died Friday 5th April 2013, 2 days to the first anniversary of his coronation is the last Okere to have ruled Saki
Traditionally, the work of inhabitants in the olden days are blacksmith, goldsmith, farming, hunting and clay pot moldering.
Saki is an exporter of cotton, swamp rice, teak, and tobacco. The flue curing of tobacco has been important in the area since 1940. Indigo is grown in the area for local dyeing, and the town is a centre of cotton weaving. Yams, cassava, corn (maize), sorghum, beans, shea nuts, and okra are grown for subsistence. Cattle raising is increasing in importance, and there is a government livestock station. Saki has a government Hospital, many Private Hospitals and branch of UCH is under construction. There is a Baptist medical centre and a Muslim hospital
A 1,600-foot (490-metre) inselberg rises above the surrounding savanna.
The town is prominent in the production of aluminum pots (Ikoko) for cooking. Users of pots and sellers from far and near visit the town to purchase the product. Saki Sango Market has also brought the town into limelight as buyers and sellers attend the market every Thursdays.
Saki is an interesting place to be and there are a lot of fun places within the shores of the land. So we leave you today with this piece till we come your way next time with more places and their history, have a lovely day.