THE VICISSITUDES OF IKOYI
THE VICISSITUDES OF IKOYI
The fall of Adegun at the Kanla war left the kingship of Ikoyi vacant. There were two aspirants to the title; Siyenbola, the son of the late Adegun, and Ojo, the son of Adegun’s predecessor. The majority of the people was for Siyenbola, and Ojo’s partisans were but few. Ojo, however, went to Oyo to have the title conferred on him by the Suzerain as of yore, and he succeeded in obtaining the Alaafin’s favour in his claim.
King Amodo was glad for this mark of recognition and hoped for the gradual return of the provincial kings to their allegiance. He, therefore, made Ojo take a solemn oath that he would ever be loyal to him. His Majesty strictly charged him against making any league with Edun the rebel chief of Gbogun through whose town he must pass to reach his home at Ikoyi.
This charge was occasioned by the treacherous conduct of Edun at the Kanla war by which the Alaafin lost the day. “I am a King,” said Amodo, ” and you are now a king. Kings should form an alliance with kings and not with a commoner.” The King justly anticipated what would happen, for when Ojo the new Onikoyi reached Gbogun on his way home, Edun sought his friendship and alliance, and pressed him to take an oath with him, that they would always be faithful to each other.
Ojo stoutly refused to take the oath, alleging that it was unbecoming for a king to take an oath with one not of royal blood. But Edun was a man of power, and the Onikoyi was already in his clutches being in his town and he felt he could do whatever he liked with him; he, therefore, insisted that the oath should be taken before the Onikoyi could leave his town.
Ojo was in a dilemma, his oath of allegiance to the Alaafin forbade him to disobey the King’s charge, and now he was at the mercy of this miscreant. He had now no option, the oath must be taken and the only way out of it the Onikoyi could find was to delegate one of his attendants to perform the business for him, as the fitness of things required from the inequality of their respective ranks.
The Kakanfo considered this an insult to his dignity, and he resented it by ordering Atanda one of his own attendants to take the oath with the Onikoyi’s delegate.
Whilst this was taking place at Gbogun, tidings reached Ikoyi that Ojo had succeeded in obtaining the title from the Alaafin, and Siyenbola who had usurped it, therefore, fled from the town with all his party to Ilorin. The remnant of Ojo’s party at home who did not accompany him to Oyo met him at Esiele with the news that the town had been deserted from disgust that he should reign over them.
The Onikoyi was too weak to proceed to occupy Ikoyi with his small party, he, therefore, remained at Esiele. A week after this, the Ilorin horse came against Esiele to espouse the cause of Siyenbola, and they had seven days of hard fighting, but finding it not such an easy business to rush the town, as they had supposed, they retreated home to make full preparation for a regular siege at the ensuing year.
The siege was accordingly laid in the following year. Esiele held out for a long time, being heroically defended by its Balogun Kurumi, and another notable war-chief Dado. When they could hold out no longer, the war-chiefs deserted the town, leaving mostly the women and children at the mercy of the conquerors. Ojo the Onikoyi was slain, and Siyenbola having now no rival obtained the title of Onikoyi from the Emir of Ilorin, and returned with those of his party who went with him to Ilorin to re-occupy the town.
Thus, Ikoyi was re-peopled but no longer as a vassal state of Oyo but of Ilorin. The city was rapidly refilled by those of Ojo’s party that escaped the fall of Esiele and they now acknowledged Siyenbola as their king. Esiele also was again re-peopled, as it was not actually destroyed by war but deserted under stress. The inhabitants were permitted to remain as they were because the siege was laid against the town on account of the late Onikoyi—no longer alive.
Shortly after this, there was a serious complication between Edun of Gbogun the Kakanfo and Dada the Bale of Adeyi which broke out into a war. Edun marched his army through Esiele to besiege Adeyi, but Fasola the Bale of Esiele hearing that the Kakanfo’s army was to pass through his town having hardly recovered from the effects of the late war, and dreading the devastation and pillaging of farms consequent on such a march, deserted the town. So Esiele was again desolate, the people finding refuge at Ogbomoso and Ikoyi.
The expedition, however, was unsuccessful. The Kakanfo’s army suffering many reverses, it had to be given up.
THE GBOGUN WAR AND FALL OF EDUN THE KAKANFO
Gbogun was the last of the powerful towns in the country and as the aim of the Fulanis was the subversion of the whole country, a pretext for war was soon found in order to lay siege against her. Abdulsalami the Emir of Ilorin threatened the Kakanfo with war if he refused to pay allegiance to him; Edun accepted the challenge and began at once to make a vast preparation, offensive and defensive.
Ikoyi being already a vassalage of Ilorin and a neighbouring town, Edun regarded her as an enemy and insisted that it should be deserted at once or he would take her by surprise. Siyenbola the Onikoyi sent ambassadors to Gbogun to arrange terms of peace but Edun refused to hear of any such thing and threatened to destroy the town the next day, if not deserted at once as he would not afford the Ilorins a base of operation against him at such close quarters.
There being no alternative, Ikoyi was a second time deserted and Siyenbola escaped to Ilorin. Gbogun was soon besieged by the Ilorins and desperate battles were fought, the defenders fighting heroically and could not be overwhelmed until at last the city was reduced by famine and thus Gbogun fell, the last of the powerful towns of Yoruba.
Edun the greatest Yoruba general of the day escaped by way of Gbodo where he was overtaken, being hotly pursued by the Ilorin horse. He had with him a handful of veterans and such was the terror his very name inspired that the pursuers did not dare to offer him battle. The men of Gbodo were torn between two opinions whether they should afford protection to their fallen general or allow him to escape in peace.
But the pursuers insisted on his destruction, saying “If you allow him to escape, your lives will go for his life as you will show yourselves thereby to be an enemy to the Emir of Ilorin.” This decided the men of Gbodo; in order to save themselves, they took up arms against the fallen general and overwhelmed him and his faithful few, the brave man himself falling under a shower of darts fighting gallantly at the head of his little band.
His head was taken off, raised upon a pole and carried in triumph to the camp and from thence to Ilorin; Oduewu his eldest son and some of the distinguished war-chiefs who were taken being compelled to ride behind it in order to grace the triumph of the conquerors. On the 3rd day after their arrival at Ilorin Oduewu succeeded in purchasing the head of his father and had it decently buried to save himself from disgrace.
After the fall of Gbogun, Siyenbola returned the second time to Ikoyi. Fasola the Bale of Esiele, who had escaped with his family and a few followers to Ogbomgso, also returned to his town. On his way to Esiele, he was the guest of Siyenbola the Onikoyi for three days. He and his sons Sinolu and Abosede and his eldest daughter Omotajo were feasted on the flesh of an elephant just killed and brought to the Onikoyi.
This was regarded as an auspicious omen.
- Samuel Johnson; The history of the Yorubas, Lagos, CSS Limited; 1921; pg. 126-128
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