Alaafin’s throne: The need to tread with Caution

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Bayo Olawale

Several comments have been trending on all available social media platforms and prints inclusive, over who succeeds the immediate past Alaafin, Late Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi who joined his ancestors on 22nd of April 2022. Prior to the befitting burial accorded to the late monarch on 4th June 2022, by the oyo state government and the entire Royal houses of Oyo, concerted efforts in form of inputs, comments and counsels have inundated the media on who becomes the next Alaafin.

Most importantly, the comment of the Oyo state Governor at the burial ceremony which clarified that the extant declaration will be adhered to putting an end to several agitations from other ruling houses claiming rights to contest for the position as descendants of Atiba who founded the present Oyo in 1838.

It is therefore pertinent to express that, going by the Governor’s assertion, the race is now streamlined to two existing ruling houses i.e Agunloye and Alowolodu.

Based on available historical facts, these two ruling houses aforementioned have been on rotation until 1905 after the demise of Oba Adeyemi Alowolodu (1) and the baton passed on to Agunloye when Oba Lawani Agogoja took over and reigned between (1905-1911) Haven spent 6years on the throne. In accordance with laid down arrangement, the process became truncated instead of reverting back to the Alowolodu ruling house to produce the succeeding Alaafin, the same Agunloye succeeded itself as Oba Ladigbolu mounted the throne at the expense of Alowolodu whose turn was short changed. Oba Ladigbolu ruled for 33 years (1911-1944) but it returned back to Alowolodu.

Ironically, history had it that Oba Adeniran Adeyemi (11) the father of the late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi (111) mounted the throne between (1945-1955) but was unceremoniously dethroned over political debacle that ensued for having sympathy for NCNC party as against Action Group of the then western region.

In a normal monarchical setting, when a king is dethroned knowing that in Yoruba land it is only when a king dies that such is being replaced ‘’ A ki nje Oba Alaaye’’ Meaning that you do not replace a living king. In any case the opportunity of replacing the dethroned king should have been offered to the Alowolodu whose turn had earlier been shortchanged. Instead, the same Agunloye was requested to produce the next king and thus brought Oba Bello Gbadegesin to the throne in 1956-1968. It was after the Oba joined his ancestors that the Alowolodu represented by the late Oba Lamidi Olayiwola emerged as the Alaafin In November 1970 and coronated on January 15th 1971. It is worthy of note that the contest of 1968-1970 was not a smooth event as the process escalated to the extent that Princes of Agunloye ruling house, namely: Prince Sanni Gbadegesin, Prince Olanite Ajagbe and Prince Afonja Ilaka were among the contestants that still joined the race even though it was Alowolodu’s turn. It is therefore not surprising that contestants are also rising from Alowolodu ruling house to contest or vie for the vacant stool of Alaafin.

Now that Oba Adeyemi has gone to join his ancestors only the deep can call to the deep, the need to correct the imbalances under the rotational arrangement can not be over emphasized. In the interest of fairness, equity and justice, the king makers (Oyo Mesi) need to summon the courage by straightening the curved line so as not to postpone the evil days while admonishing the Alowolodus’ not to sell out their birthright.

It is in the light of this, that posterity would perceive them as having a conscientious mind in performing their roles as king makers of the great Oyo kingdom.

Conclusively, considering the critical position of Oyo as the custodian of Yoruba culture and values, there is the need to ensure that probity is strictly allowed as the whole world is watching the process being adopted of selecting a new king.

Bayo Olawale writes from Ibadan

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