Igbomina people



The Ìgbómìnà (also colloquially Igboona or Ogboona) are a subgroup of the Yoruba ethnic group, which originates from the north central and southwest Nigeria. They speak a dialect also called Ìgbómìnà or Igbonna, classified among the Central Yoruba of the three major Yoruba dialectical areas. The Ìgbómìnà spread across what is now eastern Kwara State and northern Osun State. Peripheral areas of the dialectical region have some similarities to the adjoining Ekiti, Ijesha and Oyo dialects.


Geographical spread

Traditional Ìgbómìnàland consist of Four local government areas (LGAs) of Kwara State: Irepodun, Ifelodun, Ilorin East and Isin LGAs, as well as two local government areas of Osun State: Ifedayo and Ila LGAs. The major Ìgbómìnà cities in Osun State are Oke-Ila Orangun, Ora, and Ila Orangun, while the major Ìgbómìnà cities in Kwara State which has most of the Ìgbómìnà land and population include: Omu-Aran, Òbà, Ajasse Ipo, Eleju of Eju-land, Eku-Mesesan-Oro (Ijomu-Oro, Iddo-Oro, Okerimi-Oro, Afin-Oro, Okeola-Oro, Ibode-Oro, Otun-Oro, Iludun-0ro, Agbeola-Oro), Edidi (Edidi-ona, Edidi Idera, Edidi Oja), Oke-Onigbin, Isanlu Isin, Ijara-Isin, Aran-Orin, Rore, Esiẹ, Omupo, Omugo, Ipetu-Igbomina, Igbaja, Ora, Oke-Ode, Owu-Isin, Oro-Ago, Ahun, Arandun, Shaare, Oke-Aba, Owode Ofaro, Ikosin (Ile Ire District Headquarters where the popular ancient Igbo Ejimogun market was located) Idofian, Okanle, Fajeromi, Odo-eku, Oko, Ola, Idofin, Idera, Iwo, Agbonda, Agbeku, Olayinka, Alakuko-Irorun, Edidi, Ijan-Otun, Agbele,Oke-Oyan, Omido, Okeya, Afin-Ileere, Babanlomo, Agbamu, Ijan, Owa-Kajola, Alabe, Pamo-Isin, Egii-Owu, Owa-Onire, Durosoto, Koko-Afin, Maloko,Oke-Oyan, Oreke Mabu, Babanla, Olomi Oja, Omirinrin, Faje, Ajengbe, Alasoro, Eyin Afo, Idofin Igbana, Idofin Aga, Ekudu, Manasara, Oko Adigun, Kudu- Isin, Oke oyi, Alegongo, Sabaja, Oponda, Oree, Agunjin, Apado, Eleyin, and Yaru.

Ìgbómìnàland is adjoined on the west and northwest by major neighbours such as the Oyo-Yoruba region, on the south and southwest by the Ijesha-Yoruba region, on the south and southeast by the Ekiti-Yoruba region, on the east by the Yagba-Yoruba region, and on the north by the non-Yoruba Nupe region south of the Niger River. Other minor neighbours of the Ìgbómìnà are the Ibolo sub-group of the cities of Offa, Oyan and Okuku in the west.


Archaeological chronology and ancient history

Over 800 carved stones, mostly representing human figures, have been found around Esie in western Igbomina, Iji-Isin, Ijara and Ofaro villages. It is not known who created the sculptures, but they appear to have been created around 1100 AD.

Archaeological and linguistic evidence suggest that the Ìgbómìnà people may have predated the surrounding peoples except perhaps the Nupe and the Yagba. Ìgbómìnàland definitely predated the Oduduwa era as evidenced by oral traditions of royal and non-royal migrations from Oduduwa’s Ile-Ife which met existing dynasties in place but displaced, subsumed or subjugated them. It appears that aside from more recent conflicts in the last two centuries, the Oyo, Ijesha, and the Ekiti may have in more ancient times, pressured the Ìgbómìnà, captured territory in the plains and restricted them into the more rugged and lower-quality land of the Yoruba hills. The Ìgbómìnà, on the other hand, appear to have pressured the Nupe and the Yagba and taken territory away from them in places, but also losing territory to them in other places.

Major upheavals, conflicts and wars as well as epidemics have resulted in major ancient dispersals and migrations such as the Òbà diasporas documented in the oral history, oral poetry and lineage praise songs of several Ìgbómìnà clans. Some of the towns in Igbomina are known for historical events or things, an example is the Gegele hill in igbaja.


Recent history

The Ilorin Provincial Gazetteer (1918) dates the settlement of Igbaja, one of the Igbomina towns, as late 17th or early 18th century, while the Igbaja District Gazetteer (1933–35) puts it about 1750 AD. By 1800, the Alafin (supreme ruler of Yoruba) had consolidated his power over the Igbomina and placed an Ajele (Governor) in Ilorin to safeguard his interests. The Sudan Interior Mission came to Oro Ago in 1911, to Agunjin before 1918, and to Oke Oyan, Igbaja, and Oke Aba in the 1920s. Starting in the 1930s, primary and secondary schools were established, resulting in changes to the traditional ways of life.


Igbomina Tribal marks

The Igbominas are by some classed with Qyos, and by others with Ekitis. It will, perhaps, be more correct to say they are Oyos with Ekiti sympathies. They occupy a midway position between the two ; and so their facial marks are parallel like those of Qyos, but long and far apart like those of Yagbas, yet not convergent in front. On the whole, speaking generally, the finer and more closely drawn lines, are more elegant than the same drawn bold, and too far apart.



Igbomina people speak a Central Yoruba dialect called Ìgbómìnà or Igbonna, a Yoruboid language that belongs to the larger Niger-Congo language group. Igbomina dialect is akin to the adjoining  Yagba, Ilésà, Ifẹ, Ekiti, Akurẹ, Ẹfọn, and Ijẹbu areas that are classified under Central Yoruba dialects of the larger Yoruboid languages.



In terms of social relations, the people are highly communal and rely heavily on the values of kith and kin, emphasizing love to one another and providing support where required. In the cosmopolitan cities, the Igbomina breed concentrates in identifiable settlements retaining the ideals of their origin and reliving the values of the fore bearers. In Lagos for instance, the people are found in high density on Lagos Island , Apapa, Mushin , Agege and Alimosho Local Government Areas. They are largely hard working and humble in disposition, two virtues which have given them such phenomenal economic success that their wealth as a people is now legendary. The story of their hosts and neighbours were busy parading non - existent superior air, these people ignored the whiff and burrowed down into tending their trade. By the time the arrogant hosts cared to check the ground, proof of the real equation was iron cast. The air was gone, respect ushered in.


Indigo “snake” cloths of the Igbomina Yoruba

Unlike Ilorin, which was and still is one of the major centres of narrow strip aso oke cloth weaving by Yoruba men, there were rather few narrow strip weavers among the Igbomina. Instead it was known for the wider cloths woven by women on the upright single heddle loom. As recently as the 1960s almost all Igbomina Yoruba households would have included one or more women weavers, producing cloths both for use within the family and for sale in the market.

Found only in a small group of villages called Isin near the town of Oke Onigbin (“the hill of snails”) elejo cloths were the most prestigious and complex of a series of cloths that a woman would weave in preparation for her daughter’s wedding and would present to the bride as part of her trousseau. Only in the wealthiest families  or those where the mother was a particularly skilled and dedicated weaver was the elejo wrapper produced, others made do with one or more of the simpler designs.

Woven from hand spun local cotton and dyed with indigo, these cloths varied in design, with some such as the above example combining the snake motif with others such as stylized animals and birds, the rectangular Koran board etcetera. They date from between about 1900 and 1950.

For all of them however the snake motif remained the dominant design feature, allowing us to distinguish these cloths from other styles of marriage cloth woven in neighbouring areas. In fact each locality, at least in this part of the Igbomina area, seems to have had it’s only distinctive variation on the prestige marriage cloth tradition. So far I have been able to identify only three or four of these through field collecting, while other styles I have found in markets remain to be pinned down to a specific geographical origin.