The Egbado people also now known as Yewa, are amalgamated agriculturalists and artisan textile processing Yoruboid-speaking people that forms a sub-set of the Larger Yoruba ethnic group, inhabiting the eastern area of Ogun West Senatorial District, Ogun State, in south-west Nigeria, West Africa. In 1995, the Egbado people changed their name to the Yewa, which is the name of the River Yewa that passes through their land. Yewa ethnic group now comprises 4 local Governments: Yewa-South, Yewa-North, Imeko-Afon and Ipokia while the Ado-Odo/Ota LGA forms the 5th Awori part of the senatorial district
Egbado (Yewa) Egungun Masquerade, Alabala Type, Nigeria
Unlike other Yoruba sub-ethnic groups that points at only Ile Ife as their original home, the Egbado people appear to have migrated from different places - possibly from the Ketu, Ile-Ife, or Oyo - to their current area early in the 18th century. Historically, Egbado people lived in the of Egbaland near River Ogun. Their name Egbado was contracted from Egbaluwe, "the wanderers towards the river- probably an allusion towards the river Yewa, which runs through their land to the lagoon at Badagry.
The new Olu of Ilaro, His Royal Majesty, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, Asade Agunloye IV and his people
Tradition of their origin is their oldest towns are Ilobi and Erinja, who have traditions of migration from Ife via Ketu. The Ilobi, indeed, claim that their ancestor , Onidokun Leke, was a member of Oduduwa`s house. The later arrivals in the area were Ado and Ipokia, of Awori and Anago descent respectively. Other Egbado towns such as Egan, Igua, Aiyetoro have been founded by a\Anago groups moving - or possibly, returning- eastwards from Dahomey.
Egbado (Yewa) Gelede Society Daytime Masquerades Resting before Performance,Yoruba, Idahin Town, Ketu Region, Nigeria, 1971.
Egbado towns, most importantly Ilaro, Ayetoro, Imeko, Ipokia and Igbogila, were established in the 18th century to take advantage of the slave trade routes from the inland Oyo empire to the coast at Porto-Novo. Other towns were Ilobi and Ijanna, which were strategic in protecting the flanks of the slaving routes. The Egbado were subject to the rule of the Oyo kingdom, which managed them via governor Onisare of Ijanna. The Oyo were unable to deploy their cavalry force to protect the routes, due to tsetse fly and lack of horse-fodder - and thus had to rely on the Egbado to manage the routes. The historians Akinjogbin, Morton-Williams and Smith all agree that by the early 18th century this route to the coast was heavily engaged in slave trading, and that slaves were the mainstay of the Oyo economy.
In the Olden days of Yoruba mighty Oyo Kingdom, they were very loyal subjects of the Alafin before the revolution that altered the political state of the country. The Olu or king of Ilaro was the greatest king of the Egbados, having about 443 ruling chiefs under him, himself a crowned vassal of Oyo. The Egbado were subject to frequent attacks from other groups such as the slave-raiding Dahomey (who seized, among others, Princess Sara Forbes Bonetta), and various tribes who wished to force open their own slave-trading routes to the sea.
The ancient custom was for the Alafin to crown a new Olu every three years. After the expiration of his term of office the retiring Olu was to take 10 of his young wives, and whatever else he chose and proceed to the metropolis, and there to spend the rest of-his days in peace. There was a quarter of the city assigned to them known as Oke Olu (the quarter of the Olus).
The parting between these young wives and their mothers was most touching. The relatives generally accompanied them as far as to Jiga , and the wailings and lamentations on such
occasions were as one mourning for the dead.
By the 1840s the Egbado had come under the control of the adjacent Egba group, who used the Egbado territory to forge routes to Badagry and the port of Lagos. By the 1860s the Egba abandoned the route because the British were actively using their formidable navy to try to abolish the slave trade. As a consequence the Egba expelled British missionaries and traders from the area in 1867.
After 1890 the Egbado asked for a British protectorate and got a small armed garrison, thus becoming independent of the Egba. The area became part of the British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914, as Egbado Division in Abeokuta Province. The administrative headquarters were later transferred away, after the creation of the new Ogun State subsumed the old Abeokuta Province.
In the year 1902 the head chief of Ifo died, an Egbado town about 6 hours distant from Ilaro. Sir William MacGregor, then Governor of Lagos, asked the chiefs of the town who their overlord was, to appoint a successor, they replied the Alafin of Oyo. He was much puzzled at this. He told them he was too far, they
had better apply to the Alake of Abeokuta. Evidently they at least were not affected by the revolution.
The Egbado are known for developing a popular style of music, called Bolojo, in the 1970s. Their population level is uncertain, but may be around 500,000.
Egbado speaks North-West Yoruba (NWY) dialect which is also spoken by Abẹokuta, Ibadan, Ọyọ, Ogun and Lagos (Eko) areas.
Nigeria - Yoruba Gelede Mask (Art Institute of Chicago). Nigeria (Egbado region) Yoruba peoples. Headdress for Gelede (Igi) Early/mid-20th century
Gelede of porcupine, Egbado-Yoruba, Nigeria, 1978. Photo by H.J. Drewal and M.T. Drewal. Submitted by Henry Drewal.
Animals in other Gelede masks may be used for satiric purposes to criticize antisocial actions or attributes. Porcupines, because of their voracious appetites and slow, sluggish movement, are sometimes a metaphor for gluttonous or selfish persons. A headdress depicting a plump porcupine devouring a corncob conveys its greed and thus warns/reminds the audience about proper social behavior.