Abeokuta was a city in Nigeria in the pre-colonial period of History. The city-state could boast of being with significant achievements. It existed as a sovereign nation for 20 years. Afterwards, the “sovereign nation” amalgamated with Nigeria. The city had its laws, Police Force, and Civil Service.
The head of its government was the Alake. He also led the Egba United Government. The amalgamation sparked the Adubi War in 1918, in which Abeokuta fielded 30,000 men but suffered heavy losses.
The people of the city-state founded Abeokuta in 1830 under the leadership of Sodeke. The original name for the region was “Oko Adagba,” meaning “Adagba’s farmstead.” The name Abeokuta means “under a rock,” symbolizing the protection offered by Olumo Rock during attacks. Notably, no one has fallen from the rock since its discovery.
Several notable “firsts” originated in Abeokuta. It housed the first church in Nigeria (St. Peter’s Anglican Church) and the first Baptist Church in West Africa. The city-state is also the home for establishing Nigeria’s first local government (Abeokuta South). The authorities also had plans to make the first university and secondary school of the country in Abeokuta. However, they were eventually built in Ibadan and Lagos, respectively.
Abeokuta is home to the first hospital (Sacred Heart Hospital), bridge (Sokori Bridge), and newspaper (Iwe Iroyin) in Nigeria.
Prominent figures from the city state include the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Adetokunbo Ademola) and the first Iyalode of Egbaland (Madam Tinubu). The city has produced notable individuals in various fields, such as academics, law, medicine, music, journalism, and politics. Many experts and community analysts believe that the Egba women are more independent than those from other Yoruba tribes in Nigeria.
The city state of Nigeria’s historical interactions include Egba chiefs engaging with the Queen of England since 1868—two former presidents of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan, hail from Abeokuta.