Aro: The Founder of Ilaro Town

Aro: The Founder of Ilaro Town

Aro, a skillful hunter, warrior, and ruler in Yorubaland, originated from Oyo. His story begins when reports emerged of foreigners disturbing the Yoruba people with the intent of trading them as slaves.


Aro, whose statue appears in the photo above, was a formidable warrior who, accompanied by his leopard, migrated to settle in Igbo Aje. There, he and his warriors were able to attack the enemies, who were primarily slave traders.

Aro successfully restored peace to his people by fighting off slave traders from neighboring Dahomey, now known as Benin Republic.


He later founded Ilu-aro, meaning “the town of Aro.” The town’s name was eventually shortened to Ilaro for easier pronunciation, and he settled there.


The history laid down by Aro in Ilaro persists to this day. Apart from restoring peace, Aro demonstrated his power by entering the ground with his leopard, Amotekun, as he grew old. He instructed his people to call on him in times of trouble, such as war, by pulling the chain attached to the leopard and himself.


The place where he entered the ground with his leopard is now called the Orona Shrine. It has been renovated for tourism and historical purposes and serves as the site for the coronation of every new king of the town.


So, basically, Ilaro was founded in the 18th century by Aro who migrated from the Oyo town to settle down in Igbo Aje, a little hill situated at the centre of the town from where he and his warriors could sight enemies (mostly slave traders from the neighbouring Benin republic known then as Dahomey) on attack from a long distance.


In honor of this legendary warrior, Ilaro observes the Orona Festival annually.

His remarkable life continues to be celebrated and remembered in history.

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