The Ọwọrọ ethnic nationality represents a group of people around the Niger-Benue confluence speaking a Yoruba dialect called Oworo. They are generally classified as part of Northeast Yoruba (NEY) of the Yoruba people.[1]


The origin of the Oworo people by oral tradition is linked to three brothers who left Ile-Ife to hunt around the present day Oworo Land. The successful adventure caused them to name the place 'owo mi ro' which means 'my hands are full of blessings'. Another Legend called Ako meaning "meeting", says that people came from several locations to converge on the present day Oworo land. This legend accommodates the group (clans) of Oworo that claim not to be of Yoruba descent[2][3] Ade Obayemi however opined that Okun people, the Northeast Yoruba people including Abinu(Bunu), Owe, Ijumu, Ikiri, Iyagba and Oworo located in Kogi State did not migrate from Ile-Ife but are aboriginals in the Niger-Benue Confluence.[4]

Europeans, like Temple O., who made early contact and wrote about the Oworo people referred to them in their writings as 'Aworo'.


Main article: Oworo dialect

Oworo people speak a dialect of Yoruba, linguistically similar to other Okun dialects.[3] Virtually all Oworos can fluently communicate in Yoruba. They can as well converse to a great extent with speakers of other Okun dialects since the languages are mutually intelligible.[5] In addition to speaking Oworo, those in the eastern axis can also speak Igbira Igu( Egbura).


Oworo land is located on western bank of River Niger by the Niger-Benue Confluence and bounded to the north by Igbira Igu(Egbura), northwest by Kakanda, west by the Abinu and to the south by Ebira land. It is a mountainous terrain. A number of Oworo communities are on the Agbaja Plateau. Some Oworo towns and Villages includes Agbaja, Obajana, Tajimi, Emu, Jakura, Omuwa,Otada,Agbodo,Adamogu,Otuga,,Gbonla-Odo,Aleke,Igaa,Ojigi,Owara Igaachi, Igbonla, Ogbabon, Ijiho, Karara, Banda, Oyo, Irimi, Gbaude, Iwa, Osokosoko, and Felele (The northern suburb of Lokoja town).[6]

Culture and Political Structure

Oworo culture bears grave resemblance with those of Bunu, Ikiri, Yagba, Ijumu and Owe people who are together with the Oworo people referred to as Okun, the word used in greeting.[1] Like the Bunu people, Oworo people were known for their bassa-like cat whisker marks.[7] The women were known for weaving of a cloth called Arigidi, a cotton textile, and also weaved abata (aso ipo), a red textile used by Oworo, Owe and Bunu for the burial rights of important people.[8] The men are traditionally hunters and farmer. Fishing is also practiced in the riverine communities of the eastern axis of Oworo land. The people practice Christianity, Islam and African traditional religion. Prominent among Oworo festivals is the Oluwo festival. It is a triennial festival of the worship of Olu-iho (the king of all holes) which is the Agbaja end of a 2km long natural tunnel.[citation needed] The advent of Christianity and Islam has reduced the importance and worship of several gods (ebora) and as well lessened the importance and observation of several egun or egungun festivals which have their roots in the worship of ancestral spirits.[2]

Historically, Oworo was organised into cities states, with each state having her own leader. However, with the advent of Nupe hegemony, the central kingship system began in the 19th century, the first Olu being Olu Okpoto.[4][9][10] The current Olu of Oworo is Alhaji Mohammed Baiyerohi.[11]

Mineral resources

Oworo Land is rich in mineral deposits. The major minerals include iron ore on the Agbaja Plateau,[12] Marbles in Jakura and Limestone in Oyo-Iwa Community.[13]Dangote Group is currently exploring the limestone in Oyo-Iwa axis of Oworo land in the production of cement in it Dangote Cement factory located at Obajana.


  2. ^ a b , Orungbami T.S. "Oworo People of the Niger-Benue Confluence Area" JHL Nig.Ltd, Lokoja, Nigeria.
  3. ^ a b Funso Afolayan. "Yoruba state(other than Ife and Oyo)" , 24 July 2015, Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "The History of Okun Yoruba: Research Direction", Yorùbá Identity and Power Politics , Editors: Toyin Falola, Ann Genova, Volume: 22, Publishers: Boydell & Brewer, University of Rochester Press (February 2006) Page 111-126
  5. ^ Arokoyo Bolanle, "A survey of Okun phonology"
  6. ^ Maurice Arxhibong,"Oworo land: Where the tongue includes Igbo, Yoruba words and chief bears Nupe title" Retrieved 14 October 2015
  7. ^ Olantunji Ojo(2008). "Beyond Diversity: Women, Scarification, and Yoruba Identity". History in Africa, Volume 25 pp. 347–374 available on
  8. ^ Elisha P. Renne(Jul,.1992)"Aso Ipo, Red Cloth from Bunu" African Arts.Vol. 25, No. 3, Special Issue: West African Textiles, pp. 64–69,102. Published by: UCLA James S. Coleman African Studies Center.DOI: 10.2307/3337002.
  9. ^ Ade. Obayemi(1978) "THE SOKOTO JIHAD AND THE 'O-KUN' YORUBA: A REVIEW" Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria.Vol. 9, No. 2 , pp. 61-87.Published by: Historical Society of Nigeria.
  10. ^ Apata Z.O (1995)."ADMINISTRATIVE INTEGRATION AND CONFLICT IN NIGERIA, 1840-1940: THE CASE OF NORTH-EAST YORUBALAND", Transafrican Journal of History Vol. 24, pp. 106-122.Published by: Gideon Were Publications.
  11. ^ NAN, "Agbaja iron ore mining to last 100 yrs - Minister" "Daily Trust", Nigeria, June 2014, Retrieved 14 October 2015
  12. ^ Abinbola AF(1997) "Petrographic and Paragenetic Studies of Agbaja Ironstone Formation, Nupe Basin, Nigeria". Journal of African Earth Science. 25(2):169-181 DOI: 10.1016/S0899-5362(97)00096-1
  13. ^ Anonymous."Executive Summary, EIA of DIL Quarry Project". Retrieved 14 October 2015.

DEPARTMENT OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES, UNIVERSITY OF IFE SEMINAR SERIES 1:624-651. Ife-Department of African Languages and Literatures, University of Ife, Nigeria.