Celebrating five decades of grace: Alaafin 50yrs Jubilee on the throne (January 14th, 1971-2021), the chronicle of Oba Adeyemi reign

Celebrating five decades of grace: Alaafin 50yrs Jubilee on the throne (January 14th, 1971-2021)

The contest to Oba Adeyemi III emergence began 1968, when he was invited along with ten others from the ruling house to contest for the vacant stool of Oyo Empire.

Alaafin Oba Adeyemi III after he was crowned as he walked into the stadium venue of the coronation ceremony, Durbar stadium, 1971

As it was the custom of the land, there were three parameters with which the constants were judged.

First was eligibility, second was popularity and third, the stamina for huge responsibilities of the office of the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III emerged the first; defeating ten others after a vigorous screening exercise.

However, to what observer attested to be a political inference, the then government ‘refused to endorse his appointment, saying the procedure was not right.

Presentation of staff of office to His Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, The Alaafin of Oyo by General Adeyinka Adebayo at the Durbar Stadium, Oyo on the 14th January, 1971

So the process started over again with same result the second and the third time. Interestingly, despite the immense pressure upon the Oyomesi against his candidature by the government, the Oyomesi stood its ground. Thus the process was put in abeyance until civil war. When the whole process started over again.

The Alaafin, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III was given his staff of office on that sunny Thursday January 14, 1971 in Oyo by the Military Governor of Western state, Brigadier Robert Adeyinka Adebayo.

Foreigners in attendance at the coronation
Alafin sekere at the coronation

Oyo Empire Chronicle:

According to Wikipedia, the Oyo Empire was the Empire of Yoruba of what is now Western, northern central Nigeria and the northern part of the Fon kingdom in the present Benin Republic. Oyo was founded in the 15th century and became one of the largest West African kingdoms (states). It has increased due to the excellent organizational and administrative capacities of the Yoruba people. The wealth that has been gained from the business and its strong rides.

Oyo Empire

Tradition says that Oyo Empire was founded by Oduduwa’s youngest son, Oranyan around 1300 AD. Some even say Oranyan was his grandson. What seems certain is that Oyo was one of the latest Yoruba kingdoms to be founded and to start with, one of the most junior: but it soon became important. Oyo was the largest and most populous (100,000 people lived in the capital alone). This is because of his clear ascendancy throughout Oyo. The Alaafin was the most powerful Yoruba ruler. Also, the Oyo Empire came nearest to bringing all the Yoruba people under one political influence.

The capital of this kingdom was not the present Oyo, 30 miles from Ibadan, but the place on the border of the Western and the Northern Regions close to the River Niger and about 30 miles from Ilorin. Whereas Ile-Ife and many Yoruba towns were situated in the evergreen forest, Old Oyo was to be found in the savannah belt close to the Niger.

The Old Oyo Empire warriors

Oyo owed its rise to its position. The soil around it was fertile, and farming was its most important occupation. But apart from farming, Oyo became the leading trading centre south of Niger. In the first place, Oyo traded with all parts of the Yoruba country. There were well-known routes for trade connecting it with all the most important markets of those days. The routes were guarded. Traders gathered at agreed times and places and travelled together in caravans. In this way, Oyo became an important centre for gathering the produce of the rainforests to sell to people of the drier savannah.

Also, the Oyo Empire had the best weavers and some remarkable blacksmiths whose products were in great demand. Oyo traded not only across the Niger to Kano where they met traders from the far north of Africa, but they were also in touch with places like Gao, Timbuctoo, and Jenne on the Niger. From this distant trade, Oyo imported such articles as salt, leather goods, antimony and glassware. But the most significant imports were horses which formed the basis of the political power of Old Oyo.

Before horses were introduced, Oyo was a small kingdom struggling with Borgu and Nupe for a foothold in that very strategic centre near the Niger. Then, probably about 1550, Nupe conquered Oyo. The Alaafin and his chiefs first took refuge in Borgu and then built a temporary capital at Igboho. It was at this time that Oyo began to think of improving their army and making it as powerful as those of their northern neighbours by using horses and training soldiers who could fight on them. With this cavalry, Oyo quickly became more powerful than Borgu and Nupe.

In 1660, Old Oyo was rebuilt, the Alaafin became dominant among the Oyo, and the Oyo people began to create an Empire. They conquered Sabe and Ketu and expanded both sides of the River Ogun to the coast. Through Porto Novo, which they called Ajase, they traded with the Europeans. By 1695, the coastal people feared Oyo horsemen so much that the very mention of their name made them tremble. With this cavalry force, Oyo reached its zenith in the 17th century and maintained it till the latter part of the 18th century. Thus, it became the most powerful political state in the Yoruba country and south of the Niger.

The Oyo Empire grew to become the largest Yoruba state. It rose through the outstanding organizational and administrative skills of the Yoruba people, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry.

The Oyo Empire was one of the most politically important states in the entirety of Western Africa from the mid-7th to the late 18th century, holding sway not only over most of the other kingdoms in Yorubaland.

Alaafin Oba Adeyemi III as a child sitting at the feet of his father Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi II, throw back picture.

The collapse of the empire is still the worst tragedy that has befallen the Yoruba people till today. If the empire has not disintegrated, there would have been no need for the amalgamation of 1914.

The British would have met an empire and negotiated with the people of that empire of same national identity, same national consciousness, same culture and same lifestyle. There would not have been clamour for restructuring. It is argued today that the amalgamation is like a curse now. A union that has become damnable. A nuptial facing possible divorce.

His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III shortly after coronation

No Alaafin in modern times has celebrated 50 years on the throne. The nearest was Alaafin Siyanbola Onikepe Oladigbolu who reigned from 1911 to 1944 while Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi II only ruled from 1945-1955. Alaafin Atobatele Atugba ruled from 1837-1859. Alaafin Aloworodu Adeyemi ruled from 1876 to 1905. In modern times, the shortest reign was Alaafin Amodo who reigned from 1833 -1835. Alaafin Adeyemi III has been very fortunate. Oyo has witnessed a lot of growth during his reign. The Alaafin was given his staff of office on that sunny Thursday January 14, 1971 in Oyo by the Military Governor of Western state, Brigadier Robert Adeyinka Adebayo.

He has seen the entrances and exits of 21 governors namely, Major General Adeyinka Adebayo (August 1966- April 1971), Brigadier General Christopher Oluwole Rotimi (April 1 -1971 –July 975), Admiral Akintunde Akinyoye Aduwo (July 1975-August 1975), Col. David Medayese Jemibewon (March 1976-July 1978), Col. Paul Tarfa (July 1978-October 1979), Chief Bola Ige (1 October 1979-1 October 1983), Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo(1 October 1983-31 December 1983), Lt. Col. Oladayo Popoola (4 January 1984-September 1985),Col. Adetunji Idowu Olurin (September 1985-July 1988), Col. Sasaenia Oresanya (27 July 1988-August 1990), Col. Abdulkareem Adisa (September 1990-January 1992), Chief Kolapo Olawuyi Ishola (2 January 1992-17 November 1993, Navy Capt. Adetoye Oyetola Sode (9 December 1993 -14 September 1994), Col. Chinyere Ike Nwosu (14 Sep 1994-22 Aug 1996), Col. Ahmed Usman (22 August 1996-August 1998), Comm. Pol. Amen Edore Oyakhire (16 August 1998-28 May 1999), Dr. Lam Adesina (29 May 1999-28 May 2003, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja (29 May 2003-28 May 2007), impeached in January 2006, reinstated in December 2006; Chief Christopher Alao-Akala(12 January 2006 -(29 May 2007-29 May 2011), Chief Abiola Ajimobi (29 May 2011-29 May 2019), and the incumbent Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde (29 May 2019. In fact the present governor of Oyo State, Oluseyi Makinde was four years old when Oba Lamidi Adeyemi ascended the throne on January 14, 1971.

His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III 50 years of cornation

His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III full text message on the occasion of his 50th anniversary on the throne:

Today, on the 14th of January, 1971 makes it exactly 50yrs I ascended the throne of my forebears as Alaafin. It was a dream come true, a prophesy foretold that the heavens had accented to when I wrote that piece of article and published it “I SHALL BE NEXT ALAAFIN” .

God and posterity had been favorable to us all in Oyo because all who looks back to the Oyo they knew then, the one I met and what it had transformed to today, definitely, they would all understand that the era of Adeyemi have brought so much development to Oyo.

As a traditional ruler it was never an easy feat or walk in the park to get to where we are today in Oyo and definitely this is not the time to rest because there is still so much to achieve, so many development ideas to be implemented and so many mountains to cross.

On behalf of my myself, my family, I want to thank all the good people of Oyo for their unflinching support and love for me as their king because as a family we have stood together since I ascended and we are still standing together and we are going to continue to stand together because “awa onilu ao oni fe ko tu”.

Let us all continue in our strides and efforts in making Oyo great, we have no two home, we can not deny our home and sincerely we all love this town irrespective of the economic situation of our country because we want our town to develop even more, I Alaafin Oba Adeyemi III will always be in the front of the vanguard for the development of Oyo, Oyo State, Yoruba land and Nigeria.

Today, I join you all in celebrating this once in a lifetime event of seeing an Alaafin celebrating a golden jubilee on the throne in our generation because it is only God who have made such happen. I thank you for all your love and support, God bless you all. Ajise bi Oyo l’ari, Oyo koni se bi enikan”.

Ile Oyo a gbe wa. Ipinle Oyo a San wa si rere. E se ooooo


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