Posted by on 2/6/2003 11:06:43 AM

Ethnic Composition, Language, Culture and the Arts: Oyo State is broadly occupied by Yoruba speaking peoples. Within this broad grouping are four roughly defined subgroups with distinct Yoruba dialects, namely, the oure Oyo. lbadan.lbarapa and Okeogun.

Siktian Hotels, Ogbomoso
Siktian Hotels, Ogbomoso

Out of the four dialect defined subgroups, it is the lbarapa and OkeOgun areas that have retained stronger cultural homogeneity followed by the pure Oyo (areas of Oyo and Ogbomoso). lbadan is a product of a cultural mix of the Oyo, lfe and ljebu dialectal developments through its historic antecedents.

In addition, lbadan has been greatly influenced by migrants from other Yoruba cultural groups, notably the Ekiti, ljesha and Egba, and also by Hausa, lgbo, Urhobo, Ebira and Itshekiri migrants who have had a long history of settlement in different parts of the continuously expanding city and its environs. Despite the variations in the dialects of the four Yoruba subgroups described above, however, they all exhibit common cultural complexes.

Their lifestyles in relation to clothing, food, religion, indigenous economies, e.g. craft industries and farming practices, are similar. Their traditional festivals are similar though named variously in the different subgroups. The observance of the worship of Egungun (the masquerades), Oro, Sango (god of thunder), Orisa (the deities) and Ogun (god of iron) for instance, cut across all the four Yoruba sub-groups though the nomenclatures differ from place to place.

Premier Hotel, Ibadan
Premier Hotel, Ibadan

Similarly, their settlement pattern and structure, the morphology of their traditional cities; their philosophy and works of art exhibit common cultural complexes which are clearly represented in their cloth weaving and dyeing found in lseyin, Oyo and Ogbomoso. Wood and calabash carvings as well as the production of traditional talking drums are prominently displayed in the ancient city of Oyo, Ogbomoso and lseyin. The notable drums include Dundun, Ornole, Gbedu, Bata and Gangan.

Population Structure And Distribution: The 1991 National Population Census provisional results indicated that the population of Oyo State was 3, 488, 789. Fifty percent of the total population was male, while 49.9 percent was female. Oyo State has one of the largest numbers of urban centres with population of 50,000 or more. These include lbadan, Ogbomoso, Oyo, lseyin, Shaki, Eruwa, lgboho, Okeho, lgboOra and lgbeti amongst others. The population is therefore fairly uniformly distributed over the state.

Urban and Rural Settlement: The Yoruba speaking people of Nigeria are amongst the most urban of all black African peoples. Oyo State, being the nucleus of the Old Oyo Empire is a good representation of this phenomenon of intense urbanization within the southwest region of Nigeria.

Available records indicate that urbanisation in such big cities of Oyo State like lbadan, Ogbomoso, Oyo, lseyin and Shaki had existed long before the advent of the contact with Europeans (Okewole, 1987). By 1856, for instance, the population of lbadan was estimated at 70,000; that of Ogbomoso at 25,000, Oyo at 25,000 and lseyin was put at 20,000.

Intense development of cities within the state was also aided by the historic experience of prolonged interethnic wars which ravaged the old Oyo Empire. lbadan, the Oyo State capital, had at different periods of its existence, been the regional, provin cial, divisional and district headquarter.

This unique factor contributed immensely to its rapid population explosion. This is in addition to its refuge facilitating characteristic, utilized by surrounding regions from its inception. The growth of Ogbomoso followed a pattern similar to that of lbadan.

The interethnic and anti Fulani wars that ravaged Yorubaland during the 19th Century brought refugees into Ogbomoso from the surrounding settlements. Over one hundred and forty (140) chiefs were reported to have taken shelter in Ogbomoso during those wars.The case of Oyo, as the seat of the Old OyoEmpire, has been noted above. TheAlaafin provided protection to all his subjects in different parts of his domain.

Apart from its administrative functions, Oyo also served as a centre of trade in agriculture and crafts manufacturing. Other factors of traditional urbanisation in Yorubaland generally and in Oyo State in particular, include the farming practices along with the trading and craft specialisations, which formed the basis for the establishment of monetary transactions long before contact with the outside world.

Three main features of development pro grammes have aided rural development in the state since its creation in 1976. These include the rural electrification and water projects and construction of rural roads. These three elements not only opened up the rural areas to further development investments, particularly of cottage industries, they have helped in reducing the tempo of ruralurban drift within the state and aided the uniform distribu tion and stabilization of population density in the state.

Urban Primacy: Regardless of the stated government policy of fairness in distribution of social and economic infrastructure in the state, the situa tion on ground still indicates that there is overcon centration of these infrastructure and services in a few cities in the state, with lbadan preponderantly favoured in their distribution.

This lopsided exis tence of developmental impulses in a few favoured centres in the state has inevitably led to their developing pulleffects on their surrounding regional populations. Consequently, lbadan with five Local Governments by the 1991 population census has about 1.2 million inhabitants, compared to Oyo with about 275,000, lseyin with 170,500 and Ogbomoso with 166,000 people.