THE IMPERIAL PERIOD OF OLD OYO EMPIRE (OYO-ILE) – 1600 to 1800
1600 to 1800
GET STARTED BY READING: THE HISTORY OF OLD OYO EMPIRE (OYO-ILE)
Arose from friction of the time of Sango and Nupe, when Onigbogi had dispatched the 70 Eso to Ita-Ibidun war, Etsu Jubrilla of Nupe descended on the city and drove Onigbogi to Gbere in Bariba country near Saki and he died there.
The unsuccessful introduction of Ifa also caused disaffection. Ofiran who succeeded his father, moved other people to Kasu and the deity of Ifa and Egungun were decently organized. The latter was introduced from Nupe. The corpse of Onigbogi was re-arranged in Saki. One Item of importance was Sokia, an unofficial with coat of mail; “Sokia to wo ewu irin”
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.
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.
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 later became the Alaafin instead.
Orompotoniyun, the only female Aláàfin of Oyo in history’s reign was remarkable for her investment in military resources to cope with the imperial aspirations of the next century. The employment of organized horsemen and foot-men in military formation which she copied from the kingdom’s northern neighbours.
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.
ALAAFIN ABIIPA OBAMORO (THE GHOST CATCHER)
His effort was to carry out the last wishes of his father, which was to remove the seat of the empire’s Government back to the ancient capital.
The nobles however, and those born at Igboho were strongly opposed to the removal, but could not prevent or dissuade the king from carrying out his purpose; they therefore had recourse to a stratagem by which they hoped to thwart his purpose.
The design of removing the seat of Government to Oyo by Aláàfin Abiipa was now successfully carried out and Oyo from that time was known as “Oyo Oro” meaning Oyo of the Ghosts.
- The arrival of the first white man
- The sending of envoys to Portugal of France
- The introduction of common salt
Alaafin Ajagbo the next Oba succeeded his father Obalokun. He was war-like and launched several military expeditions. His reign was very long, up to 140 years. He had a friend at Iwoye called Kokoro-igangan,
Alaafin Ajagbo expanded the empire to cover Weme in Popo country, Ile Olopa, Onko and Ikereku, his maternal town. Under him the first Aare Ona Kakanfo, Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye was appointed. He led the Eso and everybody in war.
Alaafin Odarawu ruled after Alaafin Ajagbo. His reign was very short. He had a bad temper. He ordered for the destruction of a town called Ojosegi. He was eventually rejected by the noblemen and ended up committing suicide.
Alaafin Karan was a tyrant. He was cruel and harsh. He tortured and killed many of his subjects for slight offences. He was so wicked that the proverb ‘as cruel as Kanran’ is being used by the Yoruba to describe anyone perceived of extreme cruelty. The people eventually rebelled against him. He was killed in a coup by the army, backed by the noble men. He fought fearlessly and perished in the inferno that engulfed the palace.
Alaafin Jayin was Kanran’s son and was made king after his father’s horrible death. He was of a gentler disposition than his father but he was effeminate and his son fell in love with one of his wives. In rage, he killed the boy. He was eventually deposed and tragically committed suicide. The Awujale of ijebus was crowned during his reign.
Alaafin Ayibi He was the late king’s grandson and the son of the beloved prince whom the king killed. Unfortunately he proved unworthy of the honour and respect done him; he greatly disappointed the hopes of the nation. He was a tyrant and took pleasure in shedding blood. Like his grandfather, he was deposed and he committed suicide.
Like his immediate predecessor, Alaafin Osiyago was equally strong willed. He was excessive in actions, amassing wealth that he did not live to enjoy. His children fought each other and his foster son, whom he had adopted as the Aremo(heir) was killed by his daughter.
The king was eventually poisoned. For a long time after Osinyago, the throne was vacant and the country was ruled by the Basoruns (Prime ministers)
He was elected to a vacant throne. He was warlike, extending his domain to Dahomean territory in present day Benin republic. He was nevertheless, a good king. He sent out a large expedition to bring all the Yoruba under his control. The expedition is said to have reached the Northern part of the River Niger.
Despite the king’s stern disposition, he was too indulgent of his son. The Aremo’s cruelty and excesses eventually caused his father’s rejection. The king was deposed by the noble men and he committed suicide.
Alaafin Gberu was crowned after him. He was a wicked king, who liked making charms. He fought a bitter conflict with his Basorun who was his friend and both of them were deposed. Just like his predecessor he committed suicide.
Alaafin Amuniwaye succeeded Alaafin Gberu. He was a good king initially but soon became weak because of his low morals. He had a affair with the wife of his medicine man. He died of magun while having intercourse with the woman.
Under Alaafin Onisile, great cultural advances were made. Beads were used on “Shekere” instead of cowries. He was a great warrior and the Calvary grew under him.
He was a great warrior and of great courage. He was brave and warlike, and he was also very artistic.
BASORUN GAA WITH ALAAFIN LABISI, ALAAFIN AWONBIOJU, ALAAFIN AGBOLUAJE AND ALAAFIN MAJEOGBE
Alaafin Labisi spent only 15 days on the throne. committed suicide because of pressure from Basorun Gaha. This unfortunate king was elected to the throne but not allowed to be crowned.
His Basorun, Gaa became very powerful, conspired against him and killed all his friends. Labisi eventually committed suicide when he could not rule. Gaa remained powerful, long after him; installing kings as he pleases.
Alaafin Awonbioju spent 130 days in the throne. Installed by Gaa after Labisi, Awonbioju was killed by Gaa when he refused to prostrate for him. He reigned for only 130 days.
Alaafin Agboluaje was a very handsome prince installed by Gaa. His reign was peaceful and long. His kingdom was big and prosperous. Basorun gaa made him fight the king of Popo who was his friend and destroy his kingdom. In frustration, the king committed suicide before the expedition arrived.
Alaafin Majeogbe the king after Alaafin Agboluaje tried to defend himself against Gaa and his sons who were now too powerful. They collected all the tributes and were cruel. The king eventually died, but not before he caused Gaa to be paralyzed by poison.
Alaafin Abiodun had a long and peaceful reign. He was handsome, wise and dignified. His reign was so significant that it has since passed into proverbs. The Yoruba believed that Oyo Empire actually started declining after his death. He defeated Basorun Gaa and his children. Gaa eventually died. Abiodun fathered over 660 children. One of his sons killed him by poison.
Commerce and Agriculture bloomed under Abiodun and the nation assumed it’s greatness. He kept a zoo of wild lions and elephants
Alaafin Awole Arogangan. He was Abiodun’s cousin. Under him, the kingdom disintegrated as the provinces became tired of Oyo’s tyranny and slavery was rife. He was probably too mild and weak, and had an enemy in Afonja, the Kakanfo who was very powerful.
Afonja was stationed at Ilorin with the major part of Oyo’s calvary. Afonja, the Basorun and the Onikoyi eventually led a rebellion against him. As their forces surrounded the city, Aole committed suicide, after cursing Afonja and his co-conspirators. The Oyo empire, and indeed the Yoruba nation, never recovered from this tragedy.
Alaafin Adebo, the next king after Aole ruled for only a year, between 1796 and 1797. He became king nominally, but never really had powers. The whole land rebelled during his reign and the chiefs clamoured for territories.
Afonja declared independence first, and many provinces followed. Afonja won a great victory against the Oyo armies with the help of Alimi, a Fulani and Solagberu, a Yoruba Muslim. He fought several battles in which he subjugated and destroyed many Yoruba cities. Ilorin later became part of the Sokoto Caliphate when the Fulani took over.
Alaafin Maku’s reign was short and tragic. He reigned for only 2 months in 1797. He led an expedition against Iworo and was defeated. He committed suicide in Oyo. The period that followed was the Yoruba civil wars of the 19th century.
Between 1800 and 1897, the Yoruba fought a series of wars that decimated huge portions of the country and caused a considerable amount of internal migration. Many large cities were destroyed completely, never to be rebuilt. New cities sprang up, from refugee camps or military bases.
After a period when the throne was vacant, Alaafin Majeotu was elected to the throne. He reigned from 1802 to 1830. His reign was full of wars and rebellions. In 1823, Dahomey rebelled, defeated the Oyo army and gained complete independence.
Ilorin became a formidable force and started a conquest of Yorubaland, destroying and looting cities in its campaign. The Owu war(1821-1826) also occurred in which the town of Owu was completely destroyed. The Owu are settled in Abeokuta
1830-1833 Alaafin Amodo. His reign lasted for three years. He was initially weak, but later proved himself to be a wise and decisive king. He came to the throne at a time when the kingdom was distracted by anarchy and confusion. The Fulanis were having an eye on the capital of Yoruba-land. None of the provincial kings now paid tribute to Oyo or acknowledged the authority of the King. He was virtually King of the capital only.
The Ilorin army plundered Oyo for the first time in his reign, but did not destroy the city. Amodo later united some of the Yoruba chiefs who had turned their backs on the empire. They raised an army and besieged Ilorin but they were betrayed by the Edun of Gbogan, who was the Kakanfo and the army dispersed.
Gbongan was later besieged by Ilorin and the Edun defeated. After defeating both the Kankafo and the Onikoyi, and rendering the Alaafin powerless, the Ilorin cavalry easily captured most of the northern Yoruba towns. After that, they turned their conquest southwards, towards the Ijesha tribes, where they faced stiff resistance. At this time, the remnant of the Oyo and Egba armies began to attack the Ijebus, because of their participation in the Owu war. The whole Yorubaland again became embroiled in civil war.
Alaafin Oluewu lasted for 2 years, between 1833 and 1835. During his reign, the Fulani empire had already captured Ilorin after an internal coup and transformed it into a Fulani emirate. Oluewu was then bound to Shita, the Emir of Ilorin.
However, he refused to embrace the Islamic religion and sought help from Borgu to defeat the Fulanis. Initially, he recorded some success in battle, but a final putsch to recover the northern part of Yorubaland from the Fulanis led to his death and that of many of Oyo’s leading nobles. Ilorin (under the Fulani) eventually destroyed Oyo.
In 1835 Old Oyo Empire collapse (Oyo-Ile), razed by the Fulani Jihadist. Are-Ona Kakanfo Afonja, the Yoruba Generalissimo and the head of Ilorin, invited a Fulani scholar of Islam called Alim al Salih into his ranks. He hoped to secure the support of Yoruba Muslims and volunteers from the Hausa-Fulani north in keeping Ilorin independent, but with no success, Oyo Empire collapsed.
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 1600 to 1800
CONTINUE BY READING: THE RISE OF NEW OYO – 1835 TILL DATE
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