The Yorubas are the main ethnic group in Ogun. Abeokuta (which translates to ‘under the rock’), the state capital, was founded around 1830 by a hunter called Sodeke who was the leader of the Egba refugees that fled when the once-powerful Oyo Empire crumbled under the weight of internecine wars. Abeokuta later gained prominence as the capital of the Egbas and faced several invasion threats by the Kingdom of Dahomey (located where the modern-day Republic of Benin lies). However, with the help of some European missionaries and British officers, the Egbas were able to repulse the threat of Dahomey. The exposure with Dahomey resulted in cultural interaction as well: the Egun, one of the prominent tribes in Ogun State, are said to have migrated from there.
Ogun State was originally part of the Western Region in the three-region structure of 1954. With the creation of twelve federal states by General Yakubu Gowon’s military government in 1967 it became part of the Western State. In 1976, Ogun was carved out of Western State by the military administration of General Murtala Muhammed.
Ogun State indigenes belong to the Yoruba ethnic group, comprising mainly the Egba, the Yewa, the Awori, the Egun, the Ijebu and the Remo. The two dominant religions in the state are Christianity and Islam. Traditional religion is still practiced, though not by a large proportion of the people.
Writer and political activist Wole Soyinka is Nigeria's first Nobel Laureate. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986 and was described by the Committee as one "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence".