Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Dr Raphael James with Alagba

In the town of Ogbomoṣo lives the oldest living creature on earth. Ogbomoṣo is believed to have been founded in the mid- 17th century. Back in the 17th century it was fenced round with a gate just like the Benin kingdom, for security reasons. The fence was a high security advantage for the town as the gate was secured by her warriors both at day and night. History have it that one ‘Ogunlola’ a hunter landed in the area in the late part of the 16th century and took refuge under a tree, the ‘Ajagbon’, he later invited other hunters, ‘Aale’ in the present day ‘Oke-Elerin’, ‘Onsile’ at Ijeru and ‘Orisatolu at Isapa.

Ogunlola, brought them together and formed ‘Alongo’ Society. The four hunters worked as a team until when Ogunlola was captured into captivity by the Alafin of Oyo, he later gained his freedom when he killed ‘Elemoso’ who was terrorising the Alafin. Elemeso’s army was therefore routed. Alaafin was so impressed by Ogunlola’s prowess he granted Ogunlola’s wish to return to his settlement. Later, travellers passing to and fro, his settlement statered calling the place “ido eni ti o gb’Elemoso”, meaning (the settlement of the man who beheaded Elemaso). “ido eni ti o gb’Elemoso” was later contracted to Ogbomoso. Ogunlola became greater and more respected. He was consequently made the head of the settlement under the title of ‘Soun’ to reflect his request from the Alaafin, ‘let me stay yonder’. His compound by the Ajagbon tree then became the Soun’s palace and a rallying point for all Ogbomoso citizens.
Royal Majesty Oba (Dr) Oladunmi Oyewunmi Ajagungbade (CON, CFR)

That place where Ogunlola started it all is the present palace and the current Soun (king) is the 92 years old, Royal Majesty Oba (Dr) Oladunmi Oyewunmi Ajagungbade (CON, CFR)

In the palace lives ‘Alagba’ the wise tortoise believed to be over 300 years old. A giant male land tortoise based on oral history, has lived over 300 years. It is said that the tortoise was brought to the palace by Soun Ikumoyede Ajao, the third Soun of Ogbomoso, who reigned between 1797 to 1825.

If Alagba was brought in between 1797 to 1825, the question will be how old was Alagba before he came to the palace. 1797 – 2018 is 221 years. Invariably Alagba is over 221 years old 

Dr James in front of the palace of Afin Ogbomoso

As a historian and an adventurer, I don’t doubt historical facts, I only dig deep into them. Tortoises, symbolize longevity in some cultures and they generally have one of the longest lifespans among all the creatures.

One of the oldest tortoise ever recorded is ‘Tu'i Malila’, which was presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook shortly after its birth in 1777. Tu'i Malila remained in the care of the Tongan royal family until its death by natural causes on May 19, 1965, at the age of 188. There was also a koi named Hanako, died on July 17, 1977, at the age of 226-years. 

Adwaita in the Alipore Zoo in India was claimed to be among the oldest living tortoise until its death on March 23, 2006. It was brought to India by Lord Wellesley, and handed over to the Alipur Zoological Gardens in 1875, the West Bengal officials said records showed Adwaita was at least 150 years old, but the zoo officials said he was 250 years old.

‘Harriet; at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, was believed to have been brought to England by Charles Darwin, Harriet died on June 23, 2006, at 176 years old.

‘Timothy’ lived for about 165 years and died in 2004, she was believed to be the United Kingdom's oldest living creature as of then and was carried as a mascot aboard various ships in Britain's Royal Navy. There is also ‘Jonathan’, a Seychelles giant tortoise living on the island of St Helena, said to have been born in 1832. That is 186 years old as of 2018. He was brought to the island in 1882, and there is a photo of him taken in 1902.

the King and his Prince Oyekunle by his side 

The female Greenland shark is believed to be the world’s oldest vertebrate, speculated to have been born between 1501 and 1744, so she is probably between 274 and 517 years old as of 2018.  Then if we judge base on the lowest possible date of birth which is 1774, then our own dear ‘Alagba’ in Ogbomoso at over 300 years remains the world oldest creature.

Dr James in front of the Recreational hall in the palace
I am inviting the UNESCO team as well as more researchers to confirm this by visiting our own dear ‘Alagba’ and give him the proper recognition that it deserves. 

My 13 year old son, Ikemsinachukwu my official photographer for the tour

I present to you ‘Alagba’ the world oldest living creature on earth as at 2018   

Alagba the over 300 years old tortoise 

1 comment:

  1. It is very useful information and I have learnt lot of things from this blog. Mark Hutchinson is a very experience man which is working in wild life field from many years.