THE ALAAFIN OF OYO
1-His Imperial Majesty, Alaiyeluwa Oba Dr. Làmídì Oláyíwolá Atanda Adéyemí III. A former insurance executive, he became the 43rd Alaafin of Oyo in 1970. A well-learned man and a custodian of the Yoruba culture, he attended St Gregory’s College Lagos 1954-59 and remains one of the most influential monarchs in Nigeria. According to legend, the tribal marks on his face are exactly the type on the face of his father, Adeyemi II and his grandfather, Adeyemi I. Special care was taken in etching the tribal marks, as far as length, width, depth and symmetry are concerned. This special tribal mark is called Abaja Alaafin Mefa Mefa. Who says Nigerians are not rich in culture. According to the official Alaafin of Oyo website, the following are the Royal Emblems of the Alaafin:
The Sekere (traditional percussion instrument) – originated from Oyo.
The Lion – symbolises the fearless nature of the Oyos.
The Tortoise (Ijapa) – the royal pet, symbolises longetivity and reselience
The Bata or Sango drum – is associated with Sango, the deified 3rd Alaafin of Oyo who is worshiped as the god of Thunder and Lightning
The equestrian figure (the warrior on horseback) – symbolises the military expansion of the Oyo Empire through the use of cavalry (horsemen) from the 14th to the 17th century.
2-According to him, the Old Oyo Empire existed without break for 600 years. That’s quite impressive, you know. Especially when you realize that many of the most popular empires, like the famed British Empire, did not last half of that.
3-He was born on 15th October, 1938, and that makes him 75 years old. He was selected among other contestants to become king in 1968 but the government of the day refused and he was not crowned until January 1971, he was working as an insurance clerk then.
4-Aláàfin means one who owns the palace, aáfin. It can also mean ‘Lord of the Palace’, as it is from the aafin that he lords his authority over his people.
5- In times past, the Alaafin was an absolute ruler. Other names for the Aláàfin include Kábíyèsí (the One No One Can Question) Iku Baba Yeye(One Who Can Command Death or Pronounce It Upon His Father or Mother Or He Who Is Mother & Father To Death), Alashe (He Who Possesses Authority), Ekeji Orisha (Second-in-Command to the gods) NB: Translations can vary slightly.
6-Whoever enters the king’s courtyard must remove the shoes. Everyone except the Alaafin must have bare feet in his greeting courtyard.
7-The Kabiyesi’s eldest daughter is name Arewa, meaning ‘The Beautiful One’ in Yoruba.
8-He contested with 10 other people for the position of the Alaafin. The contest started in 1968 and did not end until 1970. That’s around the time of the Nigerian Civil War. He was declared winner three times but the government initially rejected the ruling of the Oyomesi on all the three occasions. The Oyomesi advises the Alaafin and is the highest decision-making body in the kingdom.
9-He is a boxer, and was a champion in those days (he still has his punching bag in the courtyard) and his favourite meals are amala (yam flour), iyan (pounded yam), abula soup and ogi (pap).
10-In terms of religion, he is a practising Muslim but describes himself as being liberal and a free mixer who was raised up in a strict Christian home and also went to a Catholic school.
11-He has a pond in the palace where he keeps gold fish, and there is also a tortoise in the courtyard said to be hundreds of years old.
12-At 74, he still does rope skipping. Kabiyesi o!
13-The Alaafin is said to communicate with the deities like Sango (the god of thunder) in their own language. I wonder how that is done. #Mysterythingshey? Scientific minds will have a very hard time swallowing this…lol! ?
14-His own father, Adéníran Adéyemí II was the Alaafin for 10 years (1945-1955) until he was forced into exile by the political party of Chief Obáfémi Awólówò, the Action Group in 1956. While his father was on exile, he was sent to live with the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Oladapo Ademola, the father of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Adetokunbo Ademola.
15-He was the first Yoruba monarch to become the Chancellor of Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
16-There are 24 seats in the royal chamber of his Palace, 12 on each side.
17-As at November 2013, news streamed in that 21 ancient rooms in the Palace were destroyed by fire caused by an electrical surge. Ile Alaafin to jo, ewa lo bu kun. The palace was also gutted by fire in 1990 during the Asipa crisis.
18-On his controversial relationship with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, he says: Let me put it this way: My relation with traditional rulers generally is cordial. But since you singled out the Ooni of Ife, you should have your reasons. I think he is in a better position to answer the question. For me, I have no problem with him at all as long as everybody knows his limit of authority.
- At a point, the Alaafin delayed the appointment of a new Chief Imam for the kingdom because members of the Ajokidero family producing the new Imam were very bitterly opposed and critical of the Alaafin during the conflict between the Oro cult and Muslims in Oyo Town.
- He is a recipient of a national honour, the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). He installed the late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO) as the last Aare Ona Kakanfo (Field Marshal or Generalissimo) of Yorubaland on 14th January, 1988 and also the talented singer, Queen Salawa Abeni whom he crowned the Queen of Waka Music (the Golden Voice of Africa) in 1992. Both truly deserve the honours (I’m actually listening to Salawa’s Cheer Up writing this…lol!) He is the 43rd Alaafin of Oyo. Alaafins are buried at the Royal Burial Ground called the BARA. Oh! Before I forget, the Alaafin’s son, Fitila Adeyemi (aka Tillaman, see his picture below) is one of the hottest singing sensations in Nigeria. Actually, make I no lie, the dude has some of the baddest beatzzzz in the industry, if you are still doubting me, you just search for Tillaman on YouTube. I have warned you beforehand o! ?
- In 2015, there was a controversy when photos emerged of the Alaafin and his queens praying in the front row during a prayer for an Islamic festival. See photo below: