Tinubu: Shrine of 5 deities, twin-tomb, mystery well

A tour of the inner chamber of the shrine emblazoned with white paint revealed that five deities were domesticated inside it.

Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

While learning Social Studies in primary school, we were thought that Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu, was one of the heroines who contributed to the growth, peace and well-being of the society. Though a wealthy trader and owner of retinue of slaves, the first Iyalode of Egba, Abeokuta, Ogun State, played a pivotal role in the emancipation of the Egba from the belligerent King Gezo of Dahomey.

Early life

Tinubu was born in the Ojokodo forest area of Egba. Her father’s name was Olumosa. She was said to hail from Gbagura and Owu sections of Egba. Tinubu was reportedly married multiple times. Her first marriage was to an Owu man. It bore two sons. After her Owu husband died, she remarried the exiled Oba Adele Ajosun in 1833 who, while visiting Abeokuta, was charmed by Tinubu. She moved with the exiled Oba to Badagry, which was traditionally the place of refuge for Lagos monarchs. At Badagry, she exploited Adele’s connections to build a formidable business trading in tobacco, salt and slaves.

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Tinubu’s role in Lagos

The exiled Oba Adele was still in Badagry when his successor, Oba Idewu, died. Prince Kosoko, Idewu Ojulari’s brother, was a major contender for the now vacant throne. Eletu Odibo, the chief kingmaker, thwarted Kosoko’s aspiration and Adele was invited to become Oba again. Tinubu accompanied Adele to Lagos, but the Oba died two years later. After Adele’s death in 1837, Tinubu supported Oluwole (her stepson) for the obaship of Lagos over Kosoko’s.

During Oluwole’s reign, Tinubu remarried one Yesufu Bada, alias Obadina, who was Oluwole’s war captain. With the support of Oluwole, Tinubu and Yesufu’s trading activities in Egba grew.

When Oluwole died in 1841, Tinubu supported Akitoye (her brother-in-law) for the Obaship over Kosoko’s. After Akitoye emerged Oba, he granted Tinubu favorable commercial concessions.

Further, she obtained a tract of land from Akitoye, which now constitutes part of the present-day Tinubu Square and Kakawa Street. Later, a conflict developed between Tinubu and some slave traders including Possu, a Kosoko loyalist. Possu and other traders tried to instigate an uprising against Akitoye because of Tinubu’s influence in Lagos. In the interest of peace, Benjamin Campbell, the British Consul in Lagos, asked Akitoye to exile Tinubu. After Akitoye died, Tinubu returned to Lagos and gave her support to his successor, Dosunmu.

Under Dosunmu’s reign Tinubu had a massive security force composed of slaves and she sometimes executed orders usually given by the king. Dosunmu grew wary of her influence in Lagos. Consequently, Tinubu was alleged to have played a part in an uprising against the returnee Saro traders. In May 1856, Tinubu was banished to Abeokuta.

Life in Abeokuta

In Abeokuta, Madam Tinubu traded in arms and supplied Abeokuta with munition in the war against Dahomey. Her activities in the war earned her the chieftaincy title of the Iyalode of Egbaland. While in Abeokuta, she allegedly opposed colonial policies in Lagos. In 1865, a fire engulfed the shops of some traders including some of her properties in Abeokuta.

Tinubu became involved in Abeokuta kingmaking activities as well, supporting Prince Oyekan over Ademola for the Alake of Egbaland’s title in 1879.

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Death and legacy

Tinubu died in 1887. Tinubu Square on Lagos Island, a place previously known as Independence Square, is named after her. Ita Tinubu (Tinubu’s precinct or Tinubu Square) had long been known by that name before the country’s independence, but it was renamed Independence Square by the leaders of the First Republic. She was buried at Ojokodo Quarters in Abeokuta.

Tinubu’s shrine

One of the legacies of Iyalode Tinubu is her shrine, located at Ojokodo’s Compound in Abeokuta North local Government. The shrine, which also housed a twin-tomb, was reinvented in 2014, during the 125th anniversary of the passing of Tinubu, by state government. Listed as as one of the tourist sites in the state, Tinubu’s Shrine attracts thousands of visitors annually. Apart from tourists and students on excursions, people visit the shrine to perform atonement and offer sacrifices for their spiritual well-being.


The shrine, according to one of the grandsons of the wealthy and powerful woman, Nurudeen Tinubu, who also serves as the priest and custodian of the shrine, was a mud building constructed by Tinubu’s mother.

He told Daily Sun that the twin-tomb in the shrine was where Tinubu’s mother and her own remains were buried. He disclosed that Tinubu herself instructed that she should be buried beside her mum.

A tour of the inner chamber of the shrine emblazoned with white paint revealed that five deities were domesticated inside it.

The first, Osun goddess, was Madam Tinubu’s favourite. This led to the revelation of Tinubu’s possession of a earthen pot, which contained water with healing power.

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The water in the pot, the priest explained, was inexhaustible and was potent against measles, chicken pox, small pox and other ailments.

He added that with upsurge in population, the pot “evolved” into a well to serve large number of the populace.

He, however, cautioned that the water, as potent as it is, can only be drunk, bathed with and used to wash clothes, and not for cooking.

Other deities in the Shrine include Ososi, Sango, Obatala and Erinle Nurudeen who claimed to be a successful butcher in Lagos, said he had to relocate to the shrine this year after he was told by an Ifa priest to come back home and be in charge of sacred shrine.

Another grandson, Rasheed Ademoye-Tinubu, said every December 3 is earmarked as Tinubu Day. He added that Iyalode Alaba Lawson usually plays a pivotal role in the celebration and remembrance of the influential first Iyalode of Egba.

He, however, disclosed that Ita Iyalode in Sokori area of Abeokuta, where her statue is erected, was a location where Madam Tinubu used to fry bean cake (akara) and pap (ogi), but laced with poison and sold them to warriors of King Gezo of Dahomey. This led to the death and decimation of the large army, and the eventual victory of the Egba people.

Waliu Bakare, another descendant of Tinubu, the Ojogodo’s Compound, being the ancestral home of Tinubu, remains one of the great compounds in Egba. He said the earthen pot which turned to a well, is offered a black cow as atonement every year. He expressed his disappointment that Iyalode Tinubu was not well celebrated for her contributions and sacrifice, to ensure that Egba people were totally free from the invading Dahomey warriors.

The post Tinubu: Shrine of 5 deities, twin-tomb, mystery well appeared first on – The Sun News.

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