12 things to know about the oldest tortoise in Africa, Alagba

Arogbonlo Israel

It was a sad news for the people of Ogbomoso on Thursday as  Alagba, a giant female land tortoise believed to have lived in the palace of the king of Ogbomoso for 344 years died.

The death of Alagba has been making rounds over the social media for the past few hours while some persons still find the story unbelievable.

It's against this background VANGUARD gathered some documented facts as provided by the Private Secretary to Oba Oyewumi, Toyin Ajamu on the origin of Alagba.

Here are some notable things to know about the oldest tortoise in Africa, Alagba:


Alagba was born in the year 1675 in the old Oyo town, which is now being referred to as Ogbomoso.

In deference to its age, it is called Alagba, which means ”the elderly one” in Yoruba.

In Ogbomoso, where the legendary tortoise lumbers about in the palatial grounds of the king, it is almost a sacrilege to refer to Alagba as a mere tortoise. The tortoise played host to many monarchs in Ogbomoso in the past.


Alagba became popular upon the ascension of the throne of the current Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi.

The tortoise has its own good shelter and health support during its sojourn on earth.

Thus, Alagba became popular because Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, Soun of Ogbomoso used his personal resources to cater for her well being.

The tortoise had two staff members of the palace, dedicated to her.

They provided food, health support and other logistics, so as to make sure she gets the best treatment. Oftentimes, Kabiyesi Oladunni Oyewumi shares great moments with Alagba.

On a daily basis, Alagba, had tourists visiting it from different parts of the world.

Last days on earth

The sacred tortoise, which was the oldest in Africa, was sick for a few days before her demise in October 2019.

The palace household, Ogbomoso community and stakeholders in the tourism sector are reportedly mourning Alagba’s passage because of the great impact left behind.

Plans are underway to preserve Alagba’s body for historical records.

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