Olukumi people

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This article is about a migrated group of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, for their related diaspora, see Lukumí people.
Migration pattern of the Olukumi

The Olukumi people are an ancient fragment of Yoruba people, located in Aniocha North local government area of Delta State, Nigeria. The Olukumis occupy eight communities west of the Niger river, and are together known today, as the Odiani clan in Aniomaland. Historically, the Odianis are the Yoruba clans in the Anioma cultural area.[1] Ugbodu town is considered the traditional headquarters of the Olukumi people and is traditionally headed by the Obi of Ugbodu. The present Obi is H.R.M Oloza Ayo Isinyemeze. Olukumi villages select leaders through the okpala obi system, which was a borrowed feature from their neighbors, and is a fusion of the Obi (Kingship) rulership system gotten from Benin, and the Okpala (Gerontocracy) system gotten from the Igbos. The Odianis today are known as Anioma people in delta state,together with the Ezechime who migrated from Edo land and idumuje clan who migrated from Esan land. The Anioma people are those from Aniocha,ndokwa,ika and oshimilli areas of delta state.


The Olukumis occupy an area just west of the Niger River's right bank. The area is rich in Chalk and Kaolin deposits which is known as "Efun" in Yoruba language, and "Nzu" in Igbo, which has been traditionally mined and used by the people of the area for various cultural purposes. Except on the Northern flank where the Olukumis share a common border with Edo state and Esanland, they are almost completely surrounded by Enuani communities.


The word Olukumi means "My confidant" or "My friend" in Yoruba.[2][3][4] Modern usage of the word remains just in the eastern Yoruba dialects of Owe (spoken around Kabba town)/Okun, Owo, Akoko and Igala (where it is known and pronounced as Onuku mi), but has been largely replaced by the word Ore in the Western dialects, and by extension generalized Yoruba speech.[5]

Olukumi Towns and Communities[edit]

s/n Town Origins Comment(s)
1 Ugbodu (Ugbodumila) Akure and Owo (Ogho) Traditional centre of Olukumi people. Founded by early settlers from Akure and Owo axis.
2 Ukwu Nzu (Eko) Ile-Ife via Usen (Usehin) After the founding of Usen town in Edo state by people from Ile ife, Agbe, the founder of Ukwu-Nzu is said to have come from there.
3 Ubulubu People from Ugbodu and Eko Efun A relatively late Olukumi town said to have been founded in 1800 by some Ugbodu people later joined by others from Eko efun people (Ukwu nzu).
4 Idumu Ogo
5 Ugboba (Ugbo Oba)
6 Ogodor
7 Ogbe Onei (Obomkpa) Owo
8 Anioma

Non Olukumi villages of Yoruba Origins[edit]

s/n Town Origins Comment(s)
9 Onichaku (Ubulu Uku) Ilesha Was founded by a warrior called Jowasoro who migrated from Ilesha in Osun State.
10 Ogbekenu villages of Onicha-Ugbo Ikare-Akoko Founded by people from the Akoko area of Ondo state.


The Olukumis according to their own oral traditions are said to have migrated from either the Owo, Akure or the Akoko areas of Yorubaland, depending on the Olukumi town in question. All the aforementioned towns are in Ondo state, in the eastern sections of Yorubaland. Ugbodu for instance claims to have migrated in waves from the Owo and Akure axis. Ugbodu lore further claims that shortly after their migration from Owo/Akure, they settled in Benin, from where they left to settle in a place called Ewohimi, which is an Esan-speaking community and is today located in Edo State. From Ewohimi they settled in Ugbodu as a result of a war that threatened them. A quarter of Ugbodu town named Ologhosa was named after an Owo (Ogho) general who led the early settlers.[6] They speak a variant of the Yoruba language which most closely resembles those of the South-Eastern Yoruba dialect grouping (SEY), which has surprisingly remained relatively intact, even hundreds of years in their new location after being detached from the main contiguous body of the Yoruba cultural area.[7]

About three or four generations after the establishment, one Agbe said to be a relative of the founders of Usen, a town now in Edo state near the Ondo state boundary and the town of Okada (they came from Ile-Ife) moved eastwards and settled near the Ugbodu people. He and his group were attracted to a chalk (efun) site and thus settled there. This was the beginning of the town of Eko Efun (Ukwu-Nzu). Gradually, the Ukwu Nzu people began to earn revenue from the chalk mines and they for this reason were called a people settled on a chalk mining camp. "Ago or Eko Efun" would mean "chalk camp" in Yoruba.

Due to the subsequent blend and location of their settlements with the Enuani speakers, they today speak both the Enuani dialect of Igbo language and Olukumi dialect tho heavily adulterated with any ani, in some of the villages, the Olukumi dialect is threatened, but the people are making active and conscious efforts to preserve the Olukumi language and culture. Some of these measures adopted by them have been aimed at ensuring the retention and rejuvenation of their Olukumi names by making sure olukimi children bear the names. Some of the adults have changed their erstwhile non olukumi names to olukumi ones. Prayers and recitals in their native language are also being encouraged, while making conscious efforts at speaking the language to their children and in their communities as a whole. Out of All the towns that make up the Odiani clan,only Ugbodu and Ukwunzu are bilingual,as the rest are solely Enuani speaking communities.

According to a report published on the Sunday Tribune of October 24, 2010 by Banji Aluko, they have also started to organize recitation and oratory quizzes and competitions in Olukumi as a way of preserving the language for the future generations.[citation needed] Digital and written documentation of the language is also ongoing among linguists. Chief G B Nkemnacho, a lawyer of Olukumi origin, has over the past forty years, documented his people's history as told by the older generation, being the very people who lived through it. Prior to his groundbreaking work, most of this history has been in oral form passed from one generation to the next.

Notable Olukumi People[edit]

  • Nduka Ugbade - (Former Nigerian football star and coach)
  • Helen Anyamelune - (Former Miss Nigeria)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Olukumi: How Anioma preserved an international language inn Nigeria".
  2. ^ Jacob Oluwatayo Adeuyan. Contributions of Yoruba People in the Economic & Political Developments of Nigeria. AuthorHouse, 2011. ISBN 978-1-467-0248-08.
  3. ^ Robert Sydney Smith (1988). Kingdoms of the Yoruba. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-299-1160-40.
  4. ^ Chudi Okwechime (1994). Onicha-Ugbo through the centuries. Max-Henrie & Associates. pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-9-783-2091-07.
  5. ^ "A Comparative Phonology of the Olùkùmi, Igala, Owe and Yoruba Languages, p. 2 of 4" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Olukumi: How Anioma preserved an international language inn Nigeria". January 27, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ugbodu Development Union UK branch Registered Charity Information and Projects". Retrieved April 1, 2018.

External links[edit]