THE HISTORY OF OLD OYO EMPIRE (OYO-ILE)
THE PERIOD BEFORE 1500A.D
The Oyo Alaafin is an integral portion of the Yoruba nation that descended from the historical figure, Oduduwa or Olofin. According to historians, the Yorubas arrived in their present homes in waves from the ancient Meroe of the East of Sudan.
From Oduduwa descended Okanbi who was the father of these Obas:
- Oba of Benin
- Orangun of Ila
- Onisabe of Sabe
- Onipopo of Popo
- Oranmiyan (Alaafin)
A fighter and a warrior, the administration of Oyo kingdom came to bloom under his successors: Ajaka Ekun, Sango, Aganju (with regent Iyayun, a female, when the monarch died and before Kori came of age to rule) and Oluaso.
Oranmiyan led an expedition to Benin and subdued the people. Reigned for 13 years and returned to Ife.
All this made Oranmiyan declare that only a son of the soil can cope with the attitude of the Igodomigodo people and call the land “Ile – Ibinu”, meaning “Land of Vexation”. On leaving Ile-Ibinu (later Ibini, and corrupted to “Benin” by the Portuguese), he stopped briefly at Ego where he took Erinwide, the daughter of the Enogie (or duke) of Ego, as a wife. Eweka I was the result of this union.
Oranmiyan was never to return to Benin. Oranmiyan is recognized as the first Oba of Benin and founder of the Eweka dynasty, which is still ruling today.
Ajaka was a calm and gentle king. Unlike his father, he was of a peaceful disposition, loved animal husbandry and encouraged it. Being too mild to be warlike, and with the provincial kings encroaching on Oyo, he was deposed and replaced by fearless and violent, Sango.
He went to Igboho where he remained in retirement for seven years. After the death of Sango, he returned to the throne.
With this admiration and respect of the masses, Sango was crowned the third Alaafin of Oyo while the rescued Alaafin Ajuan (Ajaka Ekun) was exiled.
- He shifted the capital from Oko in the vicinity of Ogbomoso to old Oyo on the famous tributary of Niger River, called River Moshe.
- He established the hegemony of the Alaafin over the Owu near Ogbooro and in conflict. The later fled to Iwu Ogbere an area between Ife and Ijebu.
- Sango was the product of an intertribal marriage between a Nupe lady and the Alaafin.
- He extended the area of Oyo Empire and so was able to exercise power over stretches of rivers Niger and Ogun.
- Particularly, Osun and Oba waterways were named after his “said” deified wives. They represent viable religious and duties over a wide range of Yorubaland.
When Sango was Alaafin of Oyo, Aganju Sola settled comfortably in Shaki (present-day Oyo state) and was already known as a famed warrior. He was said to walk with a sword and was known to fight by shooting fire. He was a lover of nature and animal. He was known to go into the wilderness for days. At a time, he came back with a Leopard which he domesticated and kept in his Palace.
Aganju was noted for erecting one hundred and twenty high rise gables and installing bronze and brass pillars as a way of enhancing the beauty of Oyo-Ile Palace. He liked aesthetics and he greatly beautified the palace.
Alaafin Aganju Sola was posthumously deified.
Alaafin Oluaso ascended the throne. Oluaso, Alaafin Kori’s son was a handsome prince. His reign was long and peaceful. He was wise and had many wives and children. He was said to have had up to 1, 460 children. He also built 54 palaces for the most influential princes.
Allowing for historical telescoping of areas of events forgotten or badly remembered, bards could trim the issues to ensure intelligent presentation. But the areas thus covered could nearly approximate to about 1000A.D to 1500A.D.
CONTINUE BY READING: THE IGBOHO AND IMPERIAL PERIOD – 1600 to 1800
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