The reign of Baale/Aare Ona Kakanfo, Toyeje Akanni nicknamed Alebiosu; ‘one who shines like the moon’, is important because his ascension to the throne of Ogbomoso had far-reaching results and effects not only on the course of the history of Ogbomoso but indeed on Oyo Empire as a whole.
To be able to understand and appreciate the work and activities of Toyeje Akanni, we must examine the situation of things in Yorubaland. The first point to note was that the peace and order that reigned during the kingship of Alaafin Abiodun was no more. The very fact was that the Nupe, the Ibariba, the Egbas, and the Dahomeans had ceased to pay allegiance to Alaafin of Oyo.
With the death of Kakanfo Oyabi from Ajase and earlier on, Alaafin Aole had committed suicide, Afonja who was stationed in Ilorin forcefully made himself the Aare Ona Kakanfo, the (generalissimo) of the Yoruba army. One after the other, Adebo and Maku who came to the throne as Alaafin made a spirited effort with no success to checkmate Afonja’s excessive inordinate ambition to gain freedom.
Kakanfo Afonja was already power-drunk, allied with Alimi the Fulani Mallam for spiritual assistance and military help as will be seen becoming his undoing. Aare Afonja’s efforts to restructure the army with the aim of preventing further damage by the slave soldiers for their rapacity mobilized the slave soldiers to organize a mutiny, eventually resulted in Aare Afonja’s death.
As events were unfolding, Aare Oyabi who perfectly plotted the death of Basorun Gaa also fell apart with Alaafin Abiodun too, thus he too was unceremoniously removed for an unsatisfactory and unconvincing explanation. Thus, by the turn of the 18th Century, Toyeje Akanni with the death of Gbogun became the Otun (Deputy and commander of the right-wing) to the Aare Ona Kakanfo.
This was because as a warrior prince from Ogbomoso, the land of the brave, he had earlier taken part in war campaigns under warlords like Afonja, Ayo of Abemo, and Gbogun. He attained the military post of Otun Aare before becoming Baale of Ogbomoso. On becoming the Baale and Aare Ona Kakanfo at the death of Afonja, he was saddled to hold together the already disunited Yoruba nation and also to build and fortify Ogbomoso against invasion.
It was Alaafin Majotu who appointed Toyeje as the new Field Marshall of the Yoruba army after about five years of interregnum before Alaafin Majotu ascended the throne of Oyo. It should be noted that Toyeje ascended the throne of Ogbomoso as Baale after Adegun mounted the throne of Ikoyi as the Onikoyi in the midst of succession disputes in that town.
Meanwhile, Fagbohun the Baale of Jabata had predicted that if Afonja’s inordinate ambition was not stemmed or put on hold, trouble and unrest will not only befall Ogbomoso but will be disastrous and catastrophic for Yorubaland. Quite rightly and true to his prediction, Afonja’s alliance with his Fulani Jamaa aided his military campaign which signaled and set in motion the attack on Yoruba country led to Yoruba civil strife which progressively marked the eventual fall of Oyo Empire.
But before the fall of Oyo, Afonja’s alliance with the Jihadists turned out to be a disaster for his political authority was not only challenged but he too was killed in late 1823 and therefore Ilorin became a Muslim state, paid allegiance to Sokoto, and became an emirate in the Sokoto caliphate as Abdulsalam the son of Alimi who succeeded him received a flag of authority from Sokoto.
Before dwelling into the military campaigns which Toyeje commanded, it should be recalled that as Shehu Alimi (Saliu) gained fame and became known far and wide, he played host to Toyeje the Baale of Ogbomoso who was Afonja’s Friend and deputy as at that time. Some historians also claim that Mallam Alimi was so impressed by Toyeje’s Hospitality when he visited Ogbomoso as a friend of Kakanfo Afonja.
He then went ahead to appreciate Toyeje’s hospitality by burying some charms around the town and prayed that Ogbomoso would never be subjugated or subdued militarily by invaders whether then or in the future. An action many believed the Mallam eventually regretted after he took control of Ilorin and decided to conquer the Yorubaland.
HIS MILITARY CAMPAIGNS
The military campaigns of Toyeje Akaani Alebiosu followed the defeat of Oyo Army by Afonja who was ably assisted by the Jamaas, it became clear that discipline had broken down in Oyo Empire, with distrust and rivalry among provincial chiefs and among the nobility, both in the capital and elsewhere in the provinces, most subjects became recalcitrant. This was the situation Toyeje met and now that the Yoruba came under Kakanfo Toyeje, his preoccupation was to drive away the Fulani dignitaries from Ilorin.
Toyeje Akanni Alebiosu, the Field Marshal (Aare Ona Kakanfo) of Yorubaland led major wars against the Fulani-Hausa Jihadists in the second and third decades of the nineteenth century before the emergence of Ibadan as a military power. It saddens the minds that the Kakanfo’s aim of total victory against the Fulani was not achieved because Yoruba were not one in their plans.
Thus, his bid to salvage the Yoruba from the clutches of Fulani to drive them away from Ilorin led to a number of wars which he commanded as a shrewd, brave, forceful, strong-hearted, and purposeful leader.
The wars he commanded as the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland are:
- The Battle of Ogele (1824)
- Mugba Mugba War (1825)
- The Battle of Pamo
- The Battle of Ede
CONSOLIDATION OF HIS TOWN, OGBOMOSO
By the time of Toyeje Akanni as the Kakanfo, Ogbomoso had become the gateway to Yoruba country from the North and it became the target of Fulani Jihadists to pass through to reach the South in order to dig the Koran in the Sea, he was well prepared to make Ogbomoso the bulwark and indeed an impregnable city by digging and constructing trenches round the town stretching from Laka stream of Olukuewu’s Compound down to Oloko stream of Olutun compound up to Oke-Ogede, and each of the town gates (bodes) under the watchful eyes of the war chiefs in the town.
His other spectacular achievements were that by dint of hard work, he made Ogbomoso a town of great military warriors and fighters. He was also able to do this by himself having love for war and love for military men. So he invited some renowned military men like Bammeke and Ogunrobi to Ogbomoso and to exploit their energies, he married them to his daughters.
Notable warriors who fought along with Toyeje included Jagun Lajubuta, the great grandparent of Jagun Garuba Oyelude, equally Aareago Oluronnbi and Ikolaba Oluyanka accompanied Toyeje to Okesuna and Ayepe wars, apart from Balogun Lasinmiran from Ijeru ruling family who featured prominently in Mugba Mugba and Ede wars. In this turbulent period of unrest, upheavals sweeping across Yorubaland, Ogbomoso stood exceptionally as the constant star and remained as the Rock of Gibraltar.
In between his last days and the coming of his successor, Baale Oluwusi, many towns and villages already laid in wastes were moving into Ogbomoso as a mighty fortress and safety for their protection.
There may not be any Yoruba leader as Toyeje in the course of Yoruba history and would remain as the greatest Baale ever to reign in Ogbomoso. It is a tribute to Toyeje Akanni Alebiosu of Ogbomoso as kakanfo whose reign seemed to be an exception to the rule of kakanfo in Yoruba history for during his time in office he fought for the unity and oneness of the Yoruba race. There may be no Oba/Kakanfo as Toyeje Akanni Alebiosu as powerful and great from the beginning of Ogbomoso until it shall end, or probably until the coming of the white men.
Despite his war exploits, Toyeje Akanni died peacefully after the most distinguished renal military achievement and Ogbomoso had become a town or town of note having warlords, fame, safety, and security firmly put in place. Toyeje was survived by many sons, namely: Dairo, Makusanda, Lalude, Ojo Aburumaku and Oyedepo.
- Nathaniel Durojaye Oyerinde, Iwe Itan Ogbomoso
- Oyebisi Okewuyi (JP.) 2013, Ogbomoso in the Early Times, Modern Era and in Today’s Contemporary World, Published and printed by Johnny Printing Works, Beside Okelerin Court Area, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
- Samuel Johnson; The history of the Yorubas, Lagos, CSS Limited; 1921; pg. 126-128
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