The death of Alaafin Adeyemi III and a glimpse into the old Oyo empire The Informant247

The death of Alaafin Adeyemi III and a glimpse into the old Oyo empire


By Bankole Taiwo James

Around 1300s, the history of Oyo begins when the kingdom was founded by Oranmiyan, the ancestral father and the first Alaafin of the kingdom.

As of the early 16th century, Oyo was still a minor state with little power ruled by Oranmiyan, the fourth Ooni of Ife and the youngest of Oduduwa’s sons, the father of Yoruba nation, who grew up to become a popular man endowed with great physical powers and prowess.

By the second half of the century, the power of Oyo began to grow when Alaafin Orompoto use the wealth derived from trade to establish a cavalry force and maintain a trained army.

Also, in terms of military expansion, Oyo empire expanded based on its favorable trade location and ability to manipulate the markets.

In the second half of the 18th century, the empire witnessed its decline during the reign of Alaafin Abiodun (1754-1789) as a result of internal political strife.

By the beginning of the 19th Century, Oyo lost control of lucrative trade routes which had been a major source of state revenue. By 1837, the Oyo kingdom had collapsed.

Oyo was ruled by an “Alaafin” (king), the owner of the Palace of the old Oyo empire and present-day Oyo tow as the absolute ruler.

The title was retained after the fall of the Oyo Empire as the official title of the ceremonial ruler of the contemporary natives of Oyo, Nigeria.

The Alaafin is said to be the political head of the Yoruba people and has the indispensable power to appoint a chieftain representing the entire Yorubaland.

The Alaafin is also called ‘IKÚ BÀBÁ YÈYÉ’ which is loosely translated as; ” THE DEATH, THE PATERNAL and therefore the MATERNAL meaning The One Who Can Command Death or Pronounce Same Upon His Father or Mother or He Who Is Parent To Death.

Over the centuries, several Alaafins had sat on the golden stool as the “ALAAFIN OF OYO”, The Grand Custodian of Yoruba Culture.

As of 2022, the Alaafin (Emperor) of Oyo was Late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III who was the 45th Alaafin on the throne.

Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi

The Alaafin, Oba Adeyemi was born on October 15, 1938, into the Alowolodu Royal House of the famous Oyo town and He died on 22 April 2022 at the Afe Babalola Teaching Hospital in Ado Ekiti after serving as the longest-reigning Oyo monarch in history (52 years).

He was crowned on November 18, 1970, succeeding Oba Gbadegesin Ladigbolu I. During his late childhood days, for a short period of time, he lived at Iseyin where he learnt the basics of Islamic knowledge.

Adeyemi was remarkably a lover of boxing. He was an amateur boxer before ascending the throne in 1970.

His father was Raji Adeniran Adeyemi born in 1871 and later became Alaafin in 1945. His paternal grandfather was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu, who ruled during the Kiriji War, and was the last independent ruler of the Oyo Empire before British colonialism.

Alaafin Adeyemi I’s father, and Adeyemi III’s great-grandfather was Oba Atiba Atobatele, who founded New Oyo.

Atiba’s father, his great-great-grandfather, was Alaafin Abiodun and was a direct descendant of Oranmiyan, the founder of the Oyo Empire.

Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi III is the son of Oba Adeyemi II, the former Alaafin of Oyo. Oba Adeyemi II was deposed and sent into exile in 1954 .

After the end of the civil war, in 1971 Lamidi Adeyemi succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II.

After the death of Alaafin Bello Gbadegesin, Oranlola (Baba Iwo) of Alowolodu was contacted by the Oyomesi to become the Alaafin.

Oranlola then called for a meeting within Alowolodu royal family. He informed them of his meeting with Oyomesi and that he suggested his son, Sanda ‘Ladepo. All the members of the family agreed to this except Baba Salami Dudu.

Baba Salami Dudu suggested Prince Lamidi Adeyemi a son to Alaafin Adeyemi Adeniran ll. This made the struggle for the throne of Alaafin become more intense to the extent that some of the princes from the larger royal families in Oyo became contenders.

After several conspiracies and clandestine plots, Lamidi Adeyemi emerged as the new Alaafin of Oyo in 1970 and was crowned on the 14th January, 1971.

Alaafin was married to Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi, his senior wife. However, he had about twelve junior wives. His father had over 200 wives. Adeyemi did not match his record.

His junior wives included;

  1. Ayaba Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi
  2. Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi
  3. Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi
  4. Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi
  5. Ayaba Badirat Ajoke Adeyemi
  6. Ayaba Memunat Omowunmi Adeyemi
  7. Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi
  8. Ayaba Moji Adeyemi
  9. Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi, and
  10. Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi

After ascending to throne, Adeyemi was appointed as the chancellor of Uthman dan Fodiyo University in Sokoto between 1980 to 1992.

Also In 1990, during the military regime of the former Head of State, President Ibrahim Babangida was appointed as the Amir-ul-Hajj in recognition of his commitment to the consolidation of Islam in Nigeria.

Late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi is not just a king or a monarchy, but a man of class. In September 1984, he was quoted to have said: “Traditional rulers should be seen as the perfect embodiment of the culture of the place, as well as the synthesis of the aspirations and goals of the nation.

“This is not only in social values of veracity, egalitarianism, justice and democracy; but in dress, utterances and comportment; even the mere necessary trivialities (sic) that mark Nigeria and the locality as a distinctive entity.”

This speech from him proves that he is very learned, scholarly, and sometimes bombastic.

He died on 22 April 2022 at the Afe Babalola Teaching Hospital in Ado Ekiti. He was the longest-reigning Oyo monarch in history after 52 years of reign.

His death is described as a great loss to the people of Oyo town, the traditional institution in Oyo state and Nigeria as a whole. He died at the age of 83

List of all Alaafins from inception

Below is the list of names and years of the past Alaafin who ruled Oyo both during the ancient times and present day.

  1. Oranmiyan
  2. Ajaka (eventually dethroned)
  3. Sango- Became a deity (god thunder and lightening)
  4. Ajaja
  5. Aganju
  6. Kori
  7. Oluaso
  8. Onigbogi- Conducted evacuation of Oyo-ile probably around 16th century
  9. Ofiran- built the city of shaki
  10. Egunoju- founder of Oyo igboho
  11. Orompoto(probably a Queen)
  12. Ajiboyede
  13. Abipa- 1570-1580
  14. Obalokun- 1580-1600 (he was not buried in the Royal burial ground, hence the suppressed name)
  15. Ajagbo(1600-1658)
  16. Adaranwu(1658-1660)
  17. Kanran(1660-1665)
  18. Jayin (1655-1670) appointed the first awujale of ijebu land
  19. Ayibi(1678-1690)
  20. Osinyango (1690-1698)
  21. Ojigi(1698-1732)
  22. Gbaru (1732-1738)
  23. Amuniwaye (1738-1742)
  24. Onisile (1742-1750)
  25. Labisi – 1750-1750
  26. Awonbioju – 1750-1750
  27. Agboluaje(1750-1772) celebrated Bere festival
  28. Majeogbe (1772-1775)
  29. Abiodun(1755-1805) celebrated bere festival
  30. Aole
  31. Adebo
  32. Maku(1802-1830)
  33. Majotu (Ilorin afonja seized by fulani)
  34. Amodo (1830-1830)
  35. Oluewu (1830-1834) King during the fall of ancient Oyo
  36. Abiodun Atiba (1837-1859) -Founder of modern oyo, he also celebrated bere Festival
  37. Adule (1858-1875)
  38. Adeyemi I (1875-1905)
  39. Lawani Agogoija (1905-1911)
  40. Ladigbolu – Jan. 15, 1911-Dec. 19, 1944
  41. Adeniran Adeyemi II- Jan. 5, 1945-Sept. 20, 1955
  42. Bello Gbadegesin(Ladigbolu II) – July 20 1956- 1968
  43. Adeyemi III-Present Alafin of Oyo (14 Jan. 1971- 2022).

Source: The Informant247 Naija News

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