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Abeokuta is the largest city and capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria. It is situated on the Ogun River; 64 miles north of Lagos by railway, or 81 miles by water. As of 2005, Abeokuta and the surrounding area had a population of 593,140.
Geography and agriculture
Abẹokuta lies in fertile country, the surface of which is broken by masses of grey granite. It is spread over an extensive area, being surrounded by mud walls 18 miles in extent. Palm-oil, timber, rubber, yams and shea-butter are the chief articles of trade. It lies below the Olumo Rock, home to several caves and shrines. The town depends on the Oyan River Dam for its water supply, which is not always dependable.
People first settled Abeokuta (meaning "under the rocks") in 1825 as a place of refuge from slavehunters from Dahomey and Ibadan. The village populations scattered over the open country to take refuge among the rocks surrounding the city. Here they formed a free confederacy of many distinct groups, each preserving the traditional customs, religious rites and the names of their original villages.
The original settlers of Abeokuta were of the Egba nation. Later, some members of other Yoruba clans came to the settlement. Baptist and Anglican missionaries from Great Britain began to serve the area in the 19th century.
In 1851 and 1864, the forces of Abẹokuta defeated Dahomean slave raiders.
In 1893, the Egba United Government based in Abẹokuta was recognized by the United Kingdom. In 1914, the city was made part of the colony of Nigeria by the British.
The "Rock of Abeokuta", as drawn c.1892
Notable natives and residents
- Chief Olufusibi Coker (also known as "Aderupoko") (b. 18xx- d. 19xx), was the first Oluwo of Itesi Abeokuta. He was born as the third son of Isaac Olufusibi Coker and Mama Sarah Taiwo. He became a prosperous farmer and trader. He became the first Oluwo of Itesi Abeokuta in 1897, after the death of Chief Lokunjobi, the junior brother of Mama Sarah Taiwo. Chief Olufusibi Coker was an outstanding philanthropist. He was given the title of the first Oluwo of Abeokuta in 1905 by Oba Gbadebo 1. During the war, he recruited his own soldiers and controlled the boundaries between Abeokuta and Ibadan (in Bakatari) and between Remo and Egbas (in Fidiwo) to check the advancements of the enemies. To this day, his descendants own the boundary lands in Fidiwo and Bakatari.
- Moses A. Majekodunmi Senator 1960, Minister of Health 1961-66, Administrator Western Region 1962.
- Chief Michael Augustus Oluwole Pearse, Veteran Journalist
- Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, politician.
- Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.
- Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, women's rights activist.
- Peter Olakeinde Sogbesan, pioneering civil-servant.
- Fela Sowande, composer
- Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize-winning author.
- Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, professor of pediatrics, former Minister of Health
- Amos Tutuola, author of The Palm-Wine Drinkard
- Fela Kuti, famous Nigerian musician and political activist.
- Ambassador G.O Olusanya, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
- Ernest Shonekan, businessman and former interim government head of Nigeria (four months in 1993).
- Jimi Solanke, famous actor, Musician storyteller and playwright.
- Asiwaju Taiwo Solanke, award winning broadcast media practitioner.