THE REVOLUTION AGAINST ALAAFIN AOLE AROGANGAN
None of Alaafin Abiodun‘s numerous children succeeded him on the throne. Aole, a tall and handsome. Prince, a cousin of the late King was elected in his stead. But unfortunately, Alaafin Aole Arogangan’s reign was a very unhappy one; it marked the commencement of the decline of the nation until it terminated in the tragic end of the fifth King after him.
Laiye Abiodun l’a fi igba won’wo
Laiye Aole l’adi adi kale.
In Abiodun’s reign money we weighed by bushels
In Aole’s reign, we packed up to flee.
But there was nothing more in his actions than in those of his predecessors to warrant this saying, on the contrary, he was probably too weak and mild for the times.
On the Alaafin Aole Arogangan’s accession, according to custom when the time came for him to send out his first expedition, he was asked who was his enemy, that they should fight him. Alaafin Aole Arogangan named the Bale of Apomu , and hence Apomu was doomed.
Apomu was the market town where Oyos, Ifes, Owus, and Ijebus met for trade. It was situated in Ife territory, and in the border of the Olowu’s dominion. Raiding and man-stealing were rife at those times. Oyos particularly were in greater danger, as they came from afar.
During the last reign several Oyos were stolen and sold here, and hence King Abiodun sent orders to both the Olowu and the Ooni of Ife to keep a strict watch and prevent the recurrence of these practices. The Ooni and the Olowu in turn sent strict orders to the Bale of Apomu to be on the watch, and arrest any offender.
Alaafin Aole Arogangan who was then a private man used to trade in these parts with a friend who was also his attendant; and on one occasion, he bartered away his friend for merchandise!
The Ijebus were actually taking him away when it was reported to the Bale of Apomu that an Oyo man was being sold away. Fortunately for the man by the prompt action of the Bale he was rescued at a certain spot named Apata Odaju (the rock of the heartless), perhaps so named from this circumstance, and brought before the Baale.
Investigation soon showed who the slave-dealer was; but as Aole was an Akeyo (Prince) and could not more severely be dealt with, in order that justice may not miscarry, he was ordered by the Bale to be severely flogged. This was the reason why Alaafin Aole Arogangan now named the Bale of Apomu as his enemy.
When the Baale of Apomu heard that war was declared against his town on his account he took refuge in the court of the Ooni of Ife his over-lord, and whose orders he had obeyed.
But as the offense was against the Suzerain, even the Ooni could not save him; so this faithful Baale, in order to save his town and his people from destruction, committed suicide, and his head was cut off and sent to Oyo to appease the offended monarch!
But an expedition must in any case be sent out, Alaafin Aole Arogangan was, therefore, approached again and asked to name his enemy for the second time since Apomu was not raided due to the bravery of the Baale of Apomu.
But Alaafin Aole Arogangan replied, “My enemy is too formidable for me” Being pressed, he named the powerful chief Afonja (who eventually became the Kakanfo and his nightmare) residing at Ilorin with great reluctance, as he foresaw evil ahead.
After the death of the Kakanfo Oyabi, Afonja of Ilorin demanded the title; but as a Prince (through the mother) the title was below his rank, for the Kakanfo ranks after the Basorun, but being the highest military title, it suited his restless nature best, and so he obtained it, almost by force.
But Alaafin Aole Arogangan was unwilling to initiate any civil war, and refused to take any action against Afonja after he had granted him the title.
Hitherto, Afonja alone was his enemy, the other chiefs were as yet loyal to him, but circumstances occurred, one after the other which created a disaffection between him and the Basorun and the other chiefs, fanning into a flame the destructive fire already smouldering in its embers.
The cause of quarrel between Alaafin Aole Arogangan and Asamu the Basorun was this :—
One Alaja-eta a Hausa trader at Oyo was plundered of his goods, under the pretext that he was bringing bad charms into the city. Among his confiscated goods was his Koran which he prized more than all his other stolen property.
He appealed to Alaafin Aole Arogangan, and he, from a sense of justice ordered that all his goods be restored to him. All but the Koran were accordingly restored.
The Hausa again appealed to Alaafin Aole Arogangan for this his most valued treasure; Alaafin Aole Arogangan insisted that search should be made and the lost Koran be restored. The Basorun in whose possession it probably was, or who at any rate knew where it could be found, refused to restore it and told the King it could not be found!
His Majesty felt this keenly as an insult to his dignity; Alaafin Aole Arogangan was heard to say “Is it come to this that my commands cannot be obeyed in my own capital? Must it be said that I failed to redress the grievance of a stranger in my town? That he appealed to me in vain?”
Turning to the Basorun and pointing upwards he said, ” Very well then, if you cannot find it my father (meaning the deified Sango) will find the Koran for me.”
As the god Sango is reputed to take vengeance on thieves and liars by burning their houses, so the next day, when lightning struck the Basorun’s house, great was his rage against the King for being instrumental in convicting him of theft and lying!
The ceremony of appeasing the god by the devotees, entailed heavy expenses on the Basorun who, had it been another man’s house might have gone shares with the Alafin in the fines imposed upon the sufferers.
He knew where the trouble came from, for he noted Alaafin Aole Arogangan‘s words “My father will find it for me.” In this way be became the King’s enemy.
Another circumstance occurred which added the Owota one of the Esos to the list of Alaafin Aole Arogangan‘s enemies. One Jankalawa who had offended the late King and who had escaped to the Bariba country when he sought to kill him, now returned after the King’s death and was flaunting about the streets of Oyo under the protection of Lafianu the Owota.
The late King‘s wives were angry at this and complained to Aole against Jankalawa. Said they “You have inherited our late husband’s wives, his treasures, slaves and his throne. Why not make his cause your cause and his enemies yours as well? Why do you allow this Jankalawa to stalk so defiantly about the streets of Oyo?”
By thus appealing to him from day to day, Alaafin Aole Arogangan yielded to their entreaties and remonstrances, and ordered the arrest and subsequent execution of Jankalawa. The Owota’s pride was wounded, because he was not respected by Alaafin Aole Arogangan, in that one known to be under his protection should be so summarily dealt with.
Thus the Basorun and the Kakanfo found an accomplice in the powerful Owota. A conspiracy was formed but not being ripe for execution, they awaited a favorable opportunity.
At length the time arrived when an expedition must be sent out, and Alaafin Aole Arogangan was again asked “Who is your Majesty”s enemy?” He replied, “I have told you earlier that my enemy is too formidable for me, and besides we are the same kith and kin.”
However, he advised that as the last campaign ended at Gbeji, the war should be prosecuted from that place. But in order to gain their object in view, which is the removal of the Kakanfo, the King’s Councillors advised that the Kakanfo and the army should be sent against Iwere.
Iwere is a place fortified by nature and by art, and impregnable to the simple weapons of those days, and as the Kakanfo by the oaths of his office must either conquer within three months or die, and Iwere is impregnable, he will have no other alternative, but as in honor bound to make away with himself.
It was, however, arranged that he should not be forewarned, but decoyed as it were to that place until he found himself at the foot of the hill on which Iwere was built; hence it was given out that war was declared against Gbeji. But the royal party leading the army received private instructions to lead the army to Iwere and when there to inform the Kakanfo that that was the place he was sent against.
But private intelligence had reached the Kakanfo at Ilorin, of all the plots and intrigues going on in the capital. However, he with his accomplices in the city deferred the execution of their design till after their arrival at the seat of war.
The army at length stood before Iwere and the Royal party, consisting of Alaafin Aole Arogangan‘s brother, the Eunuchs, and the principal slaves, and their men, pointing to it said “This is the town to be taken by the order of the Alaafin.”
The time was now come for the mutiny to break out. The Basorun and the Owota at the head of the troops from the city, the Onikoyi and the Kakanfo leading those from the provinces now alleged as a pretext for the mutiny that “If the King had not aimed at our destruction, he would not have ordered us to this impregnable town. And besides, is not this the maternal town of Alaafin Ajagbo? Are there not Kobis in the Queen Mother’s palace there?”
The watchword was now given “O Ya” (now is the time) and so the whole army turned their swords upon the royal party and massacred them!
Chief Opele of Gbogun in particular was famous as a swordsman; he made himself notorious on that occasion, and took to himself a name “A ri agada pa aburo Oba ” (one who has a blade for slaying the King’s brother).
The siege was immediately raised, and the whole army stood before the city for forty and two days. Alaafin Aole Arogangan sent word to say if they have returned from the expedition, whether successful or unsuccessful, let them come in for an interview.
The insurgent chiefs sent word back to say that the royal party had offended them and that the result had proved unfortunate. “Very well,” said Alaafin Aole Arogangan, “in any case, come in for an interview.”
Several weeks passed, and they were still encamped before Oyo irresolute as to what they should do next. At last an empty covered calabash was sent to Alaafin Aole Arogangan—for his head! A plain indication that he was rejected.
Alaafin Aole Arogangan had suspected this all along and was not unprepared for it. There being no alternative His Majesty set his house in order; but before Alaafin Aole Arogangan committed suicide, he stepped out into the palace quadrangle with face stern and resolute, carrying in his hands an earthenware dish and three arrows.
Alaafin Aole Arogangan shot one to the North, one to the South, and one to the West uttering those ever-memorable imprecations, “My curse be on ye for your disloyalty and disobedience, so let your children disobey you. If you send them on an errand, let them never return to bring you word again. To all the points I shot my arrows will ye be carried as slaves. My curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the seas, slaves will rule over you, and you their masters will become slaves.“
With this he raised and dashed the earthenware dish on the ground smashing it into pieces, saying ” Igba la a pa a ki pa awo, beeni ki ori mi o, mo se to! to! ” (a broken calabash can be mended, but not a broken dish; so let my words be—irrevocable!) He then took poison and died, after which the camp was broken up, and each of the chiefs repaired to his own place.
Thus ended an unhappy reign of about seven years, and Prince Adebo succeeded him on the throne.
Asamu Agba-o lekan was the Basorun of Alaafin Aole Arogangan’s reign.
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