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History & Meaning of the name “Elu” in Ile-Ife

Everywhere I mention my name as Eluyemi Elufowora, almost the next question I hear is what’s the meaning of this Elu Elu self. Lol. I have also been asked by many young Elus who are just answering the name but doesn’t have any serious answer to provide beyond saying it is typical Ife people name. Lol.

Well, they are right but there are Ife extraction of Elu in towns like Okeigbo – Of course Oke Igbo are Ifes by Origin with up to date 90% similarity with Ife culture, language, names and tradition. Derin Ologbenla, an Ife Ooni elect founded Oke Igbo town, home of Late D.O fagunwa. Just like Oke Igbo, Ifetedo town is also largely Ife where people still share ancestral family compounds, and common ancient names.

I have also seen an Elu person from Modakeke. Very strange. Lol. May be we the Elus should look out for more of our progenies, because the truth is that all Elus are IFEs except the likes of Tony ELUmelu. Lol

What's the meaning of Elu in Ife

Well, I wrote this explanation last year and feel it will be more better to put this in archive for generations unborn to see and to avoid answering different people over and over on this.

Now, what’s the meaning of Elu? Simply put Elu is a special prefix name for the Ifes. It has historical footings from the formation days of the Ife township itself – Làtì ìgbà ìwásè in the olden days of early Ife before the present Ile-Ife.

Elus are the earliest Ifes by genealogy after which others now refers to “Ifes’ came, and they are six in numbers by classes.

Hence the general saying, that “Ife mefà, Elu méje” – the Ifes are 6, Elu are 7.

By Oral history, “ELÚ is literally corrupted from Ìlú in Old Ifè Language and they the the aboriginal Ifes. The word Aborigines by dictionary meaning means, “a person, animal, or plant that has been in a country or region from earliest times”.

According to a learned source and findings of Ife scholar Late Chief Omotoso Eluyemi, the Apena of Ife, (See: Eluyemi, O., Oba Adesoji Aderemi: 50 Years in Ife History, 1980, Ife Printing Press): the Ife mefa (6 Ife) are: Obalufe, Obajio, Obaloran, Obadio, Lokore & Apata.

While the Elu Meje (7 Elu) are: Obalesun, Obaluru, Ompetu, Obawara, Obalaaye, Obalejugbe, Owa Fegun – These are the oldest roots in Ife and history of civilization explained each better and archeological studies vis-à-vis integration and movement.

See the brief history of Oranfe Onile ina

The scholars view concluded that, the 6 Ifes were those who were related to and worked with Oduduwa to establish his rule while the Elus were old Ifes (the heads) who opposed Oduduwa’s usurpation of power.

Being a special brand of Ifes, with a special name, many families adopted the style of immortalizing the names and it became a fad, with successive generations not knowing bthe meaning as many only assume may be it means a name of a deity and the common among many others is that it means Eledumare or Oludumare, so, it may be just like Olu in Oluwa. This is totally incorrect and no historical account is available for this.

Today, Elu is now chiefly being referred to as common compound additional prefix to names across Ife township- Quarters, and a name that the Ife people flaunts with sense of pride in it. As awon “Elu” – the Elus. Even this my blog name is christened Omoelublog to immortalize my heritage from Ife, as I’m N’jasa Iwara-Ilode with common unit as Ajo Iwara and Ajo Ilode.

Summarilu, Elu before names by syntax is an ancestral style to distinguish the kind of Elu from the other.

You are Elu + Kanmi – Elukanmi, just like Ade + Kanmi – Adekanmi.

When you will see Osunfowora , Fowora, Ogunfowora, ours is Elufowora – The Elus that has money to buy.

Elujoke means the Elus jointly celebrate and care for this one.

Eluyemi means – Elu suits me well.

Elutilo – Elu has gone, (Possibly when an Elu person died).

Elujoba – An Elu has become a King.

Elugbaju – Elu is becoming popular..

Elu Omo Elu means Elu the son of Elu.

Eluwande – Elu came visiting.

Eludire – Elu has become good things.

So, You all could get it now. Lol

Note: Elu has nothing to do with Eledumare, Oluwa, deity, or one river goddess, it is Chiefly a name for the earliest groups of first Ifes.

You may also read my Article on Ile-Ife: 13 Interesting things about the town Ife.

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  1. Eluwole Adesakin

    I love this write up.have been anxious to know the meaning of ELU for year. God bless the author of this write up.

  2. Elujulo Oreoluwa

    Broda Elu! Ese o. I have boldly explained to a lot of people after reading your write up some years ago. It gave me peace and assurance. Lol. It’s such a burden to bear a name you don’t know the meaning of especially when you’re curious like myself.

  3. Thanks so much for this clarity. This is profound and remarkable. I want to commend you for digging deep. Initially, I also thought it is the name of a deity. I strongly considered changing my name from Elutunji to Olutunji or Adetunji during my high school days especially when I was about registering for SSCE but thank God I didn’t. My father gave my siblings and I names with the prefix “Elu.” And to the glory of God, the name has brought me so many good lucks, and people who have never met me before just feel like doing me a favour and giving me preferential treatment. This write-up has put my worries to rest.

  4. Thank you so much for this clarification and documentation for the next generation. The first thing people ask me when they hear my name is Elu’s meaning , and do tell them it means Oluwa until I stumbled on an article early this year, and your write up corroborated the report. By the way,I am from Odeomu, and history has it that our fore-fathers migrated from Ile-Ife. We all have Elu as a prefix of our names till now. Once again,thank you for sharing this.

  5. Finally my Dad and i know better, we were of the notion that ELU was probably an Ile-ife idol. Thanks

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