BASORUN GAA: THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF OYO-ILE (OLD OYO EMPIRE)
WRITTEN BY JOHNSON OKUNADE
Basorun (also called Bashorun) Gaa (Also called Gaha) is without doubts one of the most controversial and notable powerful figure in the history of Oyo-Ile (Old Oyo Empire).
As a Basorun, the way he made and unmade Alaafin (emperors) of the Old Oyo empire points out the fact that Yorùbá’s system of government was perfect and gave room for check and balancing. As powerful as the Alaafin is, the Oyomesi (Kingmakers) presided over by the Basorun (Prime Minister) can keep him in check.
I’m sure this Yoruba saying is coming to your mind right now: “b’ó ba l’áyà ko sè’kà, b’ó rántí ikú gáà ko sòótó” which translates: “If you are audacious in doing evil continue, but if you remember Gaa’s death, adhere to the truth”
Basorun Gaa was the son of Basorun Yamba, a well loved and respected Basorun of Oyo-Ile.
Basorun Gaa, the chancellor of the empire and president of the seven Oyo Mesi (Kingmakers), his power and influence were immeasurably greater that those of the remaining six Oyo Mesi put together.
A Basorun’s power is absolute. If the Alaafin is ultra-tyrannical and withal unconstitutional hence unacceptable to the nation it is the Basorun’s prerogative as the mouth-piece of the people to move his rejection as a king in which case the Alaafin has no alternative but to take poison and die.
Basorun Gaa harnessed this power and became the most feared man of his time. He was fearless, powerful and brave to the terror of all including some Kings he made and unmade.
The potent spiritual charm he possesses was like no other; It was said that he had the powers to transform into any animal he wished. He was feared to the extent that he became more authoritative than the Alaafin who made him the Bashorun. No one was bold enough to question him or put his tyranny to check.
BASORUN GAA AND ALAAFIN OLABISI: Alaafin Labisi spent only 15 days as the king. committed suicide because of pressure from Basorun Gaa. 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.
BASORUN GAA AND ALAAFIN AWONBIOJU: Alaafin Awonbioju spent 130 days in the throne. He was Installed by Gaa after Alaafin Labisi. Alaafin Awonbioju And Basorun Gaa eventually grew apart, he was subsequently killed by Basorun Gaa when he refused to prostrate for him.
He reigned for only 130 days.
BASORUN GAA AND ALAAFIN AGBOLUAJE: Alaafin Agboluaje was a very handsome prince installed by Basorun Gaa after he killed Alaafin Awonbioju.
Aláàfin Agboluaje’s reign was peaceful and long. His kingdom was big and prosperous because he did the bidding of Basorun Gaa at every moment.
Basorun gaa made him fight the king of Popo who was his friend and destroy his kingdom. In frustration, Alaafin Agboluaje committed suicide before the expedition arrived.
BASORUN GAA AND ALAAFIN MAJEOGBE: Alaafin Majeogbe the king after Alaafin Agboluaje tried to defend himself against Gaa and his sons who were now too powerful.
Basorun Gaa and his household were snatching and taking anything they like. People’s belongings and property were vandalized and maliciously damaged by the notorious members of his family. The houses and property of the innocent citizens were set ablaze; wives of innocent citizens were forcefully taken away from them.
Force labour was unnecessarily imposed on people and freedoms of people were taken away from them. The period was recorded as the most turbulent period in the history of Oyo kingdom. They collected all the tributes and were cruel.
Alaafin Majeogbe eventually died, but not before he caused Gaa to be paralyzed by poison.
BASORUN GAA AND ALÁÀFIN ABIODUN:
The king after Alaafin Majeogbe, 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.
Maybe you know this song:
Láye Olúgbón mo dáborùn méje
Láye Arèsà mo dáborùn mefà
Láye Abíódún mo ra àrán, mo ra bùbá, mo ra sányan baba aso
Àfòle ló le pé ile yi kòdùn o a fi òle
The song talks about how a accommodating the economy was during the reign of Abiodun, only the lazy would say otherwise.
Lot of atrocities climaxed Basorun Gaa’s tyranny. Aláàfin Abiodun couldn’t take it anymore, enough is enough: “Alubàtá ò kí n dá orin, ó tó gé”
The third Aare Ona kakanfo (The Generalissimo or Field Marshall) of Yorubaland, Oyabi of Ajase was equally a powerful man. Oyabi was based in the garrison town of Jabata from where Aláàfin Abiodun sent for him to help in vanquishing Basorun Gaa. The Eso were lead into the city like Caesar did across the Rubicon River and Basorun Gaa was killed by Oyabi.
There was a civil strife between the two powerful men, but Gaa caved in by decoy. He changed to an inanimate object in a bid to escape the wrath of the people he had traumatised. Kakanfo Oyabi through his mystical power, uncovered the decoy, reverted Gaa back to a human being and disarmed him completely.
Kakanfo Oyabi of Ajase handed Gaa back to Alaafin for appropriate sanction and the king who was still bitter about the misconduct and abuse of office and power of Gaa, recommended that Gaa be sentenced into instalmental killing.
Basorun Gaa was tied to a stake at Akesan market and Alaafin Abiodun ordered that every citizen cut a pound of flesh from his body and drop it in a huge fire in front of him.
He was made to smell the odor of his own flesh, his nose was not allowed to be cut and flesh from his left part of the chest was excluded too (to prevent him from dying quickly).
The remains of his body were later burnt in fire to prevent the re-incarnation of this wicked man. What a terrible route to death!
“b’ó ba l’áyà ko sè’kà, b’ó rántí ikú gáà ko sòótó” which translates: “If you are audacious in doing evil continue, but if you remember Gaa’s death, adhere to the truth”
Thanks for your time; Àrìn’nà ko ire, Àkò’yà ibi. Ire ní ojó gbogbo!
Drop your opinion in the comment session below, I’m open to correction or constructive critiquing.
Written By Johnson Okunade
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