Kabba kingdom is situated in the Northern hemisphere of the equatorial forests of Nigeria; somewhere around the beginning of the Savannah region. It can be classified as one of the gateway regions to the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). Kabba serves as a junction of seven major roads from different parts of the country. The advantages of this central location are however not yet evident in its level of development but it has the trappings of a great kingdom with time.
Kabba kingdom is surrounded by mountains and green habitats which make up for a beautiful aerial view.
Kabba is a town in the western senatorial district of kogi state in Nigeria. Kogi state is a multiethnic state with three different tribes and Kabba is located in Okun (the yoruba speaking tribe of the state). Kabba people are referred to as “Owe” people.
More often than not, the story of how Kabba was established have caused controversies as there are different and conflicting accounts from different sectors of the community.
Some group of people claim that Kabba was established by three hunters who were brothers from Ile Ife and were looking for where to settle down after leaving Ile ife, they arrived at a location and decided to settle down there. After some time, they decided to move ahead for further exploration of their new home. They got to another location and decided to offload their belongings; they stayed there for some time but later moved further ahead in search of a better place to stay.
The place they finally chose is the “Kabba” we have today.
However, they never forgot their first two settlements; they visited them from time to time and they referred to their first settlement as odo ilu which means “down town” in English Language. That first settlement is now referred to as “Odolu”.
Their second settlement was called “Katu” because that was where they first offloaded.
That is the reason Kabba town is today referred to as “Kabba Oloke Meta” which means (Kabba with three mountains). The three Mountain each representing Odolu, Katu and Kabba (the three settlements.
Another group opined that Kabba was established by a Saudi Arabia prince (known as Obaro Odide) over two thousands of years ago. The prince was said to have opted to leave the comfort of his home due to instability in the arid region. He was said to have settled in many places with his family during his trip before he chose to make “oke-aba” (now Kabba) his final destination.
It is important to note though that the Prince who finally arrived Kabba was not the same as started the journey. Due to the distance and ageing, the first “Odide” (Saudi Prince) died, his son (Odide II) took over and died along the line as well. The prince that finally chose to settle in Oke-aba was infact “Odide V”.
The latter account seems more tenable to me though because in the first prognosis, the early settlers were said to be hunters. Since they were hunters and not tourists, I see no reason they will travel from Ile-Ife to Kabba (over 4hrs by car) just to hunt; considering there were no other means of transportation other than trekking at that time. This means the journey would take take (if not months).
Clans and Hierarchy
It is pertinent to note that Kabba kingdom is divided into three major communities
Kabba community is made up of six clans, Katu has three clans while Odolu has five. In essence, Kabba kingdom is comprised of thirteen clans.
The founding father (Obaro Odide) automatically maintained supremacy over the whole of the kingdom during his lifetime. Not much have changed in the traditional hierarchy of Kabba kingdom as his direct descendants who make up the Ilajo clan have maintained the status of the royal family. The Ilajo ruling family is made up of three houses (Mokelu house, Ajinuhi House and Ajibohokun House). The title of Obaro of Kabba was rotated among these three houses.
The supremacy of the Ilajo Royal Family was however put in jeopardy in 1960 after Oba D. O Aka who wasn’t a member of the ruling (Ilajo) family succeeded Obaro Atobatele Ologbonyo Arokoyo as Obaro of Kabba. He reigned for twenty-two years and after his demise, power was returned to the Ilajo Royal family.
Worthy of note is the fact that Kabba operates a tripodal traditional ruling system which is made up of The Obaro, The Obadofin, The Obajemu.
The Obaro is the overall head and is saddled with the responsibility of appointing the two others.
The Obaro is produced by the Ilajo Royal Family in Kabba, Odolu people produce the Obadofin and Otu produces the Obajemu.
Kabba kingdom has been ruled by a total of twenty three “Obaros” till date. Twenty-two of who were said to be produced by Ilajo clan while one emerged from the “Akumejila” clan. Akumejila means twelve clans. The clan is said to be a coalition of twelve of the thirteen clans in Kabba kingdom with the Ilajo clan on another side.
Kabba traditional titles are classified into three main groups
1. The Igemo 2. The Orota and 3. The ololu.
All regular traditional titles in kabba fall in this category. People who are bestowed with Igemo titles are referred to as “red cap chiefs”. This is because Igemo title holders wear small red caps called “Odi” in Kabba. All chiefs are accorded high level of respect by the community people. The Igemos however are like the lower house chamber in the traditional council of Kabba Kingdom.
These set of chiefs are above the “Igemo chiefs” in the pecking order as they boast of two traditional titles each. They also wear longer red caps than the “Igemo” to show their supremacy. Orota chiefs are believed to possess supernatural powers which makes them capable of communing with the dead and spiritual beings. For this reason, they are not only highly respected but sometimes feared.
The Obaro is the bearer of the “ololu” title which means “owner of the town”. He is all superior and is saddled with the responsibility of bestowing titles on all chiefs and Orotas. He chooses who gets what and his supremacy can never be questioned.
The indigenous dialect of Kabba people is referred to as “Owe”. Owe dialect is a subdivision of Okun language ; which itself is a division of Yoruba language. In other words, Yoruba language birthed Okun language and Okun language in turn birthed Owe dialect. As a result of this, Kabba people understand and speak the general Yoruba Language effortlessly.
This affiliation with Yoruba means an average Yoruba man can understand (to some extent) the Owe dialect if rapt attention is given to it.
However, civilisation has altered the Owe dialect in some ways as very few indigenes of Kabba speak the indigenous owe dialect these days. What we have now is a concatenation of Owe and general Yoruba dialects.
Below is a list of common household items and their indigenous names in Owe dialect.
– Salt = oun
– Spoon = Ìyanję
– Big spoons = ípøn
– Shea butter = Èkùmę
– Cup = Ìlemù or Ikere
– Cutlasses = Abęri, Ògòdøn,
– Water pot = àmù
– pot = isa
– Slippers = Ęda
-broken mud pot= apade.
-knife = Uhin or Ihindo
The list continues.
Much like the totality of the language itself, this aspect has not been unaffected by the waves of civilisation or coexistence with other cultures.
Below are some of the basic greetings and common words in typical owe dialect.
Good morning ====> Kouro
Good Afternoon ===> Køhøn
Good Evening =====> Kurølę
Goodnight =======> Odoorø
Well done ========> Kigba
Welcome =========> Kabø
Thank you =======> seun/kuwømi
Till then==========> Odokorin
How are you =====> Are wø
Where to? ========> Kayada? Or Kawęre?
Mother ==========> Iye or mønø
Come and eat =====> A jęun
What did you say? => Kwa hø?
Yes===============> eh or Bę kø.
Sorry =============okun (it is however important to note that the word “okun” is a general greeting and can be used in many varying situations or ways).
Get up ============> kalę
Sleep =============> hun
More to come
NB: It is a common thing for people attach d “ę” prefix to some of the above words when the are used to refer to people older than them. This is however wrong as the original Kabba dialect doesn’t implement respect but the culture does.
Food and Delicacies
Kabba people like every other gave some special delicacies and meals perculiar to them only. These meals were passed down from the early dwellers and are still prepared till date; though some are not so common.
Some of such meals include :
This is a very common delicacy among Kabba people and it is prepared with beans. Beans is boiled and sieved dry and then fried with palm oil; adding salt to taste.
This delicacy is prepared by grinding Guinea corn with water to form pasty substance. The paste is then fried in palm oil after being shaped with bare hands.
This is a form of beans cake but it is fried with palm kernel oil.
Other local delicacies are akara gbado, didin kolo, bobolo, tankelekan and many more.
Festivals and memorable days
There are many festivals celebrated in Kabba but only a few a very popular. They are
-new yam festival
Marriage has always been a very cherished ceremony in Kabba kingdom. In the days of old, whenever a female child is born, they stay a short while with their parents before the parents decide to send them to relatives to serve as foster family. This act was to train the child more and help her learn to adapt to new environment and people.
If any man developed interest in a girl and intends to marry her, he starts by giving her gift items in a bid to get her to like him. By default, the girl first rejects the advances in order not to look cheap. The man on the other hand is expected to persevere till the girl starts getting comfortable with him. The man then starts visiting the family of his wife to be; giving her parents gifts and sometimes money. This is to prove to the girl’s parents that he is serious and financially stable enough to cater for their daughter. The girl’s parents then conduct underground checks on the man’s character, family background and other things to determine if he is worth their daughter. If he scales through the test, he is allowed to bring his parents to seek their daughter’s hand in marriage.
The man (with his family) then visits the girl’s parents with big tubers of yam, wine and kola nuts to make their intentions known. The oracle is consulted to determine the date best suited for the wedding ceremony and to enquire whether the ceremony should be low keyed or glamorous.
After the wedding ceremony, a young girl from the (called Olosumeta) from the bride’s family follows the bride to her new home for three months. This is to prevent the shock of suddenly losing total contact with her family. The young girl returns home after three months.
Kabba town boasts of a big archive of historical events but I will pick on only two.
Legend has it that in 1936, a particular man was driving through Kabba and he was obstructed by Kabba Youths who were celebrating a festival; the man was alleged to have threatened to arrest all of them. Later in the evening of that same day, all the youths were alleged to have decided to leave the town; nobody seem to understand the reason for their action.
An elder of the community *name withheld* was said to have pursued them on a horse and eventually brought them back to the town.
In another development, history has it that some people in times past were regularly terrorising Kabba people. Each time the people came, Kabba people would run up a hill while their attackers chased after them. The elders of Kabba were said to sought diabolical help to combat the invaders. One fateful day, the invaders came as usual but as they very chasing Kabba people up hill as usual, the elders ordered an attachment of the rock to fight for them. This attachment was said to have rolled in the direction of the invaders, killing them all.
However, it was alleged that after the operation, the rock couldn’t return to it’s position. It remained on land but has no root. The rock is said to be there till date. The scene of this mass slaughter is called ÌLØHÌN.