OROMPOTONIYUN AJIUN: THE BRAVE FEMALE ALAAFIN OF OYO

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The 10th Alaafin of Oyo was a female “king” that reigned Oyo in the imperial era, Alaafin Orompotoniyun Ajiun (usually referred to as Orompoto), was Alaafin of Oyo from 1554-1562.

Her father was the 7th Alaafin of Oyo, Alaafin Onigbogi. When Alaafin Onigbogi was on the throne, Oyo was in Ibariba Land. After he died, his first son, Ofinran was crowned Alaafin of Oyo after him in 1512.

After Alaafin Ofinran became king, he decided to move from Ibariba Land and move to the place where Oyo-Ile was later situated, near Igboho. After making his decisions, he told his subjects and his siblings; prince Egungun Oju (also known as Egun Oju), princess Orompotoniyun, and prince Ajiboyede. They all agree with Alaafin Ofinran on his decision.

The Royal family and their entourage left Ibariba Land. Whilst on their way, one of the King’s “Olori” gave birth to Prince Tella Abiipa.

Alaafin Ofinran died before they could get to Oyo-Ile. Prince Egungun Oju was crowned Alaafin of Oyo in 1534 when they got to Oyo-Ile. It was Alaafin Egungun Oju that led the people of Oyo to the Oyo-Ile, very close to Igboho before it was razed to the ground in 1835 led by a Fulani scholar of Islam called Alim al Salih and his Army of Fulani Jihad. It was Are-Ona Kakanfo (the empire generalissimo) Afonja, master of Illorin, that invited Alim al Salih into his ranks.
Those that survived moved to Ago d’oyo / Oyo Atiba where Oyo town is right now.

About the same time that they inhabited the land, the Nupe people also started occupying the land and both Oyo and Nupe people started fighting for supremacy over the land.

Alaafin Eguguoju also died shortly after they settled down in Oyo-Ile. The remaining siblings of Alaafin Ofinran (Alaafin Onigbogi’s children) were princess Orompotoniyun, and prince Ajiboyede.

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Prince Ajiboyede was still a little prince and Alaafin Ofinran‘s son, prince Tella Abiipa was but a toddler. The Oyomesi wanted to use one of the two, without considering the age factor but princess Orompotoniyun Ajiun insisted that she is the legitimate heir to the throne.

The Oyomesi also insisted that it has never been in history that Oyo had a female king. They told Princess Orompotoniyun that they cannot crown her as the king, they would rather use either of the little prince Ajiboyede or toddler Tella Abiipa as the Alaafin of Oyo.

Princess Orompotoniyun felt offended, and told the Oyomesi that she’ll show them that she’s “male” and brave, not illegitimate and female like they claim. She promised to show them the reason why she is entitled to the throne. She asked them to meet her at the palace in seven days time.

From that day, princess Orompotoniyun started dressing like a prince, not a princess. She started acting and dressing like a male.

On the seventh day, when the Oyomesi got to the palace, princess Orompotoniyun removed the “male” agbada she wore. The Oyomesi were not surprised that princess Orompotoniyun had little or no breast at all.

This did not surprise the Oyomesi, they were not moved, they just hissed and responded: “it’s not new seeing a lady that has a very small breast on her chest, that does not make you entitled to the throne, you are still a female”.
“even dressing and acting like a royal prince doesn’t change anything. You remain a princess, a princess has never been crowned in our history. It won’t happen now”

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Orompotoniyun just smiled and remove her trousers. To their surprise, they didn’t only see what looked like a penis but also a scrotum sack with two scrotum balls dangling below the penis. It’s why she used to eulogize herself thus: “Emi Ajiun, a ri òbò sẹgun ọtẹ”.

Terrified, the Oyomesi immediately prostrated for the princess and started eulogizing her and chanting, Kabiyesi o. She was immediately crowned alaafin of Oyo.

Ruling from the town his predecessor and brother, Alaafin Egungun Oju founded (near Igboho). Her valour and leadership laid the foundation for the then powerful “old Oyo Empire”. An empire that united the whole Oduduwa race as a Yoruba Nation and even subjugated various towns up to Togo and Dahomey (Now Benin Republic) with the Alaafin as the Emperor.

Just like the famed warrior queen from northern Nigeria; Queen Amina of Zaria, Alaafin Orompotoniyun Ajiun led men to war. She fought and conquered all battles waged against Oyo or by Oyo. In 1555 (a year after she became Alaafin of Oyo), she totally vanquished the Nupe warriors that had terrorized Oyo-Ile for long.

Alaafin Orompotoniyun Ajiun’s grave

Alaafin Orompotoniyun was reportedly masterfully skilled on horseback, and created a specialized order of cavalry officers within her army that was known as the Eso Ikoyi. She used horses extensively in military battles, it’s why “BBC Yoruba” describes her as a valiant warrior that vanquished her enemies on horseback.
Her reign was peaceful and tranquil.

Written by Johnson Okunade

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