Battle royal that birthed Yoruba proverb ‘Olugbon who’s wise knows not Aresa too is wise’

Battle royal that birthed Yoruba proverb ‘Olugbon who’s wise knows not Aresa too is wise’

Long time ago, there was an altercation or disagreement between two classical Obas in Yorubaland, Olugbon of Igbon and Aresa of Iresa, over boundary line. Both are now in Surulere local government area in Ogbomoso zone, Oyo state. The incident must have happened before Iresa split into two – Iresadu and Iresapa.

Historically, they both migrated from Ile-Ife, the acclaimed cradle of Yoruba people. They reportedly left the ancient city along with the mystical Oranmiyan, the Ife prince, who founded Oyo-Ile.


One day long time ago, the two traditional rulers got locked in a heated argument over their boundaries, as they both had vast territories. Being brothers, they avoided settling the matter through engagement in warfare even though both ruled over war mongering towns.

To resolve the contentious issue they opted for dialogue in which they agreed each would rise in the morning on an agreed day and walk down in the direction of each other’s town and make the spot they meet up as their boundary line.


On the set day, Olugbon believing in his wisdom, set forth before the cock crowed hoping to have walked a very long distance covering wide swaths of land before meeting up with his brother king. Unfortunately for him, Aresa too, was up and doing, goaded to outwit his rival likewise, set forth shortly after dinner the preceding day. They thus came across each other very early in the morning to the chagrin of Olugbon, who unable to hide his surprise, exclaimed, “Why are you so early, Aresa?” Incidentally, that was the same question posed by Aresa. River Ijaiye where they came face to face became their boundary at the time.

Reigning Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Olushola Alao
Reigning Aresa of Iresapa Oba Moses Olayiwola Ajiboye III (Aresa of Iresaadu stool vacant)

This enthralling episode, it was, that birthed the popular proverb: “Olugbon ti o gbon, ko mo pe Aresa na gbon” – Olugbon who’s wise knows not Aresa too is wise.

This story is sourced from “Iwe Itan Ogbomoso” published in 1934 by Professor N.D. Oyerinde.


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