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Alaafin Stool: Who’s Next? The Struggle for Succession Begins •ATIBA Ruling House, Adelu (Agunloye) or Alowolodu?
The sudden death of the most revered king in Yoruba race and a foremost custodian of Yoruba cultural and traditional heritage, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, pop’s the above question of who occupies the Stool? The answer to this question becomes imperative at this critical moment, the search for which prompted the visitation to some perceived ousted, rightful claimant to the throne of the Alaafin of Oyo Kingdom by AKÉDE OYO.
AKÉDE OYO team had an exclusive Chat with Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin ATIBA, who is a descendant of the Alaafin ATIBA, from the Olawoyin family tree.
Baba used the period to commiserate with the entire oyo people, the OyoMesi headed by the Chief Bashorun, all ATIBA descendants, he equally appreciated the Atiba Local Government chairperson Hon. Kafilat Mojisola Olakojo as well as all chairmen of other Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, the Governor of Oyo state, Engr. Seyi Abiodun Makinde and the entire oyo state people for the show-of-love since the sudden occurrence.
He equally commiserated with the Mogaji Of Adeyemi family, the deceased children, wives and all Chiefs of the Alaafin.
As against the popular belief that there are only two ruling houses in Oyo Kingdom, which are the duo of Adelu and the Alowolodu families. Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin stressed that Alaafin ATIBA was the first to occupy what is seen to be the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo today, he reigned between 1837-1859, Alaafin ATIBA had numerous sons, but was only survived by eleven, as his death drew nearer, he invited all his eleven surviving children which include, Adelu, Adelabu, Adesokan, Olawoyin, Tella Okitipupa, Tella Agbojulogun, Adeyemi Alowolodu, Adesiyan, Adediran Baba Ese Apata, Lanite and Abidekun, he informed them all that they’re all rightful claimants to the throne and if he eventually dies, there’s no specific order of ascension, all of them could show interest and leave the decision to the king makers, assuring them that the Kingmakers would follow the due process in selecting the rightful person to ascend the throne.
The process though wasn’t ambiguous or secretive, all Intending successor of the Alaafin having shown interest and verified their authenticity as true sons of the crown. All names would be presented before the Ifa Priest and divination would be made, it was whoever the Ifa chose, which represents choice of the gods that became the King as practiced in the initial successive periods.
Initially, whoever sought to become the Alaafin would need to be authenticated by the Baba Iyaji. Baba Iyaji is also a prince from Oyo-ile (Old Oyo Empire) who was made the overall head of all princes of Alaafin Atiba by Alaafin Atiba himself. As a result, whosoever wasn’t authenticated as a true son of the crown would not be presented to the Ifa Priest. Baba Iyaji and the Bashorun, who heads the OyoMesi would work together on the names of the candidates to be presented to the Ifa Priest for divination.
Meanwhile the process became unstructured after some successive tenure. Subsequent to the reign of ATIBA, Adelu (otherwise known and called Agunloye), the first son of ATIBA ascended the throne and ruled between 1859-1875 and was succeed by Alaafin Adeyemi I from the Alowolodu family tree, after him, the crown was once again returned to the Adelu family when Lawani Agogoija was made the Alaafin between 1905 and 1911. Thereafter, another son of the Alowolodu family succeeded Agogoija in 1911, Siyanbola Olanikeoe Oladigbolu, ascended the throne, who ruled between 1911 and 1944. Then, another Alowolodu family took over the Stool in 1945, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II was installed. He left the throne for Bello Gbadegesin Oladigbolu in 1956 who later descended from the throne in 1968. From the foregoing, the crown has only been rotating between the Adelu (Agunloye) and Alowolodu family for a very long time, leaving the remaining nine families out of the claim for the throne. These were made possible by several intrigues and influences of both families on the kingmakers, Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin ATIBA explained.
in order to correct the wrongs, the selection process was made so competitive in 1968 when the need to enthrone another King came up after the demise of the Alaafin Bello Gbadegesin. 54 candidates indicated Interest for the throne, spread across the entire eleven family trees that are descendants of the Alaafin ATIBA, the process became so stiffened, the aspirants at different stages of the process screened and reduced to three where I, Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin was one of them.
Since 1968, the tussle was dragged up till 1970 where just three of us were remaining in the race, We were Prince Sanda Oladepo Oranlola Adeyemi, Prince Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi who later became the King and Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin, all these three could trace their matriarch to queen Moyosola, who had two sons Alowolodu and Olawoyin for Oba Soliu Abiodun ATIBA. At this juncture, we were strongly advised by the government of the day to reconcile amongst ourselves and produce one person. All efforts put in place to achieve the objective proved abortive there was no understanding among the trio of us.
During the said time, Prince Lamuye, an Iwo man was the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, meanwhile, Oladepo Oranlola, the third contestant’s mother was from the same compound in Iwo, so there was an element of bias in the commissioner’s dealings, he was obviously in support of Oladepo, this was what saw him out of the office and then Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo was later appointed as the Commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs.
After the replacement of the commissioner, myself together with members of my family were invited by the commissioner and his team members, we exchanged pleasantries and he told me on that faithful day, that the then system recognized only two ruling houses, which were the Adelu and the Alowolodu families. He urged us to allow the Adeyemis produce the heir to the throne and after the coronation, they government would constitute a panel of inquiry that would determine the number of families that have right to the throne. On this note, I pulled out of the race and returned home. This development culminated in the installation of Prince Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi as the Alaafin Adeyemi III.
After the coronation, the inquiry panel headed by Adekunle O. Ladeinde was constituted in 1973 and resumed duty where all the concerned parties were invited, information elicited were critically scrutinized, all historical facts relating to the lineage were traced and established. Truly, ATIBA had eleven male children who succeeded him and are equally rightful to the throne. The report of the Panel was in two volumes, we only had access to volume two, the volume one we believe is hitherto with the government since 1974 when the panel concluded its assignment. Consequently, a letter dated 8th December, 1976 and signed by the then Oyo Local Government Council secretary, S. O. O. Opadiran was distributed wherein the government made a new declaration providing for only one ruling house called ATIBA ruling house to include all the descendants of Atiba.
It is pertinent to state unequivocally here that from the Adelu (Agunloye) side we’ve had four Kings and on the Alowolodu side we’ve had three kings, we’ve not had any king from the remaining nine other families who are equally entitled to the throne which is unfair.
It will be unfair if after the demise of Alaafin Adeyemi III, any of the Adelu and Alowolodu families is made King. It’s time for any of the nine remaining families of the ATIBA ruling house to rightfully lay claims to the throne.
Of the entire 54 candidates that jostled for the throne between 1968 and 1970, I Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin seems to be the only one alive today. I’m 86 years old.
In view of the present situation, I am appealing to Oyo State government and the king makers (Oyomesi) to allow the good history of our progenitor to take its due course in the selection of the next Kabiyesi as doing this will uphold tenaciously the integrity of our ancestor in the areas of sincerity, transparency and fairness.