The Egun people are an ethnic group located majorly in Badagry, Lagos and some parts of Ogun state (SouthWest Nigeria). The people account for about 15 per cent of the indigenous population of Lagos state. The Eguns who live in Lagos state are majorly situated in Badagry, a coastal town located between the city of Lagos, and the border with Benin at Seme.
The Egun people are also referred to as Ogu. They are also found in neighbouring West African countries, notably the Republic of Benin and Togo.
Oral history puts it that the people were settlers in the Old Dahomey, presently known as the Republic of Benin. They are descendants of those who migrated from Whydah, Allada and Weme, which are now part of the Republic of Benin. This is a result of the Dahomean war that occurred during the 18th century. The people were said to have migrated to Badagry as early as the 15th century due to the need for security. Badagry served as the auction point for slaves captured during inter-village warfare.
Well, let’s know more about this ancient tribe.
Although the people belong to the Yoruba tribe of Southwest Nigeria, they speak a distinct language from the main Yoruba spoken in this land. They have varieties of dialects which include Thevi, Xwela, Seto and Toli. Gun is the main language spoken by the indigenes.
Common native food to the Egun includes pap (locally called Ekor) and stew, Benin red sauce, peanut sauce, and vegetable soup. They also have similar kinds of food to the Yorubas, which include eba, semo, fufu, amala among others. Some dishes are prepared specially for festivities and ceremonies. Jollof rice and fried rice are also very common. A pasty kind of cooked beans referred to as Ewa Agoyin with a special local pepper and palm oil sauce is a favourite among Lagos residents.
The people of Egun have an established monarchical institution. They call their traditional rulers Akran. This has its root in its historical migration from the Ketu kingdom in the 15th century. From the previous De Wheno Aholu Akran Gbafoe down to the present De Wheno Aholu Akran Menu Toyi I, the stool has produced 17 Akrans.
The town is divided into eight quarters. Each quarter is manned by each of the seven white cap chiefs while the eighth quarter, from where the De Wheno Aholu comes from, is administered directly by the crown.
The adjoining mainland districts are administered by their respective traditional rulers some of which are of oba status which are Alapa of Apa, Onilogbo of Ilogbo-Eremi, Aholu Gbedite, Ayaton of Ajido, Oniworo of Iworo and Oba of Ibereko.
The Egun people could be regarded as those who held the cradle of western civilization because of the introduction of Christianity to Badagry in 1842. This birthed the establishment of the first known school for western education in the country in 1843; a primary school established by the Wesleyan mission (Methodist Church) named ‘Nursery of Infant Church’. The school later became St. Thomas’ Anglican Nursery and Primary School founded by Rev. Golmer of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1845, inside the first storey building in Badagry.
The first secondary school was built for the people in Badagry over one hundred years later and was called Badagry Grammar School but in 1955 due to misunderstanding, the natives chased away the missionaries unceremoniously.
Due to their location on coastal lagoons and creeks, fishing remains their main occupation. This contributes significantly to the economy and nutrition of the Egun people, with buyers coming from Lagos metropolis and Yoruba hinterland.
In view of the economic importance of fishing, the state government established fish farms in the area and a fishermen’s training school at Yovogan Badagry.
The Egun people are warm and welcome lots of tourists to their land with an unforgettable history. These people have tried very hard to preserve their history and culture. Their land is a place to visit.
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