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Historical Sites: Alagba of Ogbomosho, turtle of three centuries



Historical Sites: Alagba of Ogbomosho, turtle of three centuries

Ogbomoso is a sprawling town strategically located along Ibadan-Oyo-Ilorin road. The major highway that links the southern part of the country with the north through South-west axis runs through Ogbomoso. This historic city, which is one of the places that have been a source of attraction to visitors and tourists, is the palace of the town’s traditional ruler, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, Ajagungbade III. For those visiting the place, what appears to be the magnet drawing them there is a tortoise of more than 300 years popularly called ‘Alagba’ by residents.


‘Alagba’ is a Yoruba word to mean ‘the elderly one’. This can only be the word to describe the age long or centuries-lived male turtle of Ogbomosho. The turtle is said to have lived about three hundred years in the palace of Soun of Ogbomosho. Alagba seems to be most celebrated local celebrity in Ogbomosho. Since Alagba is believed to be older than everyone in Ogbomoso, permutations about its true age relies heavily on oral history.


Its present age was arrived at by situating it with the period of the Soun who reigned then. Some of the locals have said that the male land turtle was brought to the Soun’s palace about three centuries ago by the then ruling king, Soun Ikumoyede Ajao the third Soun of Ogbomosho who reigned from 1770 to 1791.


The Soun had initially brought the turtle to keep as a pet but on getting to the palace he noticed that the turtle possess some mystical power and since then it has been treated so. Since its arrival in the palace, the tortoise, which is said to have mystical powers plays host to different calibers of people including royal fathers, tourists from foreign countries, ailing individuals seeking divine healing and people seeking longevity.


The elderly turtle of Ogbomosho resides in detached apartment provided for it in the palace of the Soun but daily moves out its apartment round the palace.


Alagba is said to be guided by the Soun himself and three other caretakers. This old turtle weighs over 100kg and eats normal foods as humans. The turtle despite his age is able to carry of different sizes and age about on its back, but until recently that the incumbent Soun has stopped people from climbing the turtle. Tourism is never complete in Oyo State without visiting the ancient giant male land turtle. It is a sacrilege to call Alagba a mere tortoise in Ogbomosoland. Even as a tourist, one is expected to observe some respect for the sacred turtle.

According to gender, you are expected to prostrate or kneel before touching the turtle, the turtle should bot also be referred to mere as a normal turtle but it’s to be called Alagba. Alagba has drawn attention of people all over the world to Ogbomosho as it receives not less than 150 visitors daily.
No other myth was passed to present day dwellers of Ogbomosho but to believe that this legendary turtle was older than them and it’s powerful mystically.

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