To start with, According to cissero;
“Not to know anything before you were born is to remain a child forever”
Its a must we know something about our origin even if not all.Knowing something about our origin would give us pride when we are outside the environment. After all it is a popular saying that; A river that forgets it source would definitely dry,The need to know more about our origin gives us the motivating factor to dominate more in some ethnic scenarios.
In this enormous work, Oyo as an entity will be recognized in two partial ways;
1.As The power to reckon with
2.As the citadel of Yorubas culture.
OYO AS THE POWER TO RECKON WITH
Before moving to the main subject matters in this article,We need to know brief origin of the Yorubas.
The origin of the Yorubas is still wrapped in myth and mystery.The Yorubas was said to have originated from mecca and From a tribe known as Qureshi tribe. The leader of the race back then known as Lamrud had an oracle priest known as Yar-haba.The unacceptablity of Islam by the tribe made them to be driven out the place referred to as Mecca. During the course of their journey in search for permanent settlement Lamrud and Yar-haba died on the way.Oduduwa later led the Yorubas to their permanent settlement and this is the reason why Oduduwa was referred to as Father of Yoruba’s and the founder of ile-ife.
In a bid not to forget The first oracle IFA priest of the the tribe, they immortalised Lamrud’s priest(Yar-haba) to be the name of the tribe and which was later converted to Yoruba.
Oduduwa the founder of ile-ife gave birth to one male which was known to be okanbi or Akanbi.Okanbi gave birth to seven sons and they were;Orangun,Ol
owu,Onipopo,Onisabe,Oba of Benin(Ewuare) and Oranmiyan or Oranyan was said to be the last born.
EARLY HISTORY: THE OLD OYO EMPIRE
The old Oyo Empire was said to have been established by the strongest but the last born of Oduduwa (Oranmiyan).The establishment of Oyo empire was due to the inability of Oranyan and his other brothers to revenge for their Grandfather’s eviction from Mecca. Oranmiyan refused to go back to ile-ife and turned to the north until he reached Bussa where Yoruba’s also called “ibariba”.Fortunately the chief of Bussa gave him one charm and he was advised to chain it to a snake.He was commanded to follow the snake for seven days and he should stop wherever the snake pause so as to establish a new kingdom.The snake stopped at a particular place and the place was referred to as “Oyo ajaka”The Hausas called it Katunga.Ajaka was oranyan’s first born.The place later became the capital Of Yoruba Kingdom.For so many years the official title of its King(oba)is ALAAFIN meaning the owner of the Palace. As a matter of Fact,Oyo is the only town that do use this title for its King due to their political influence throughout Yoruba community.
After successfully knowing the real facts behind Yorubas and The establishment of Oyo empire,let’s try to understand the reason why Oyo is the power to reckon with in Yoruba community.This will be known through the analysis of the hierarchical structure and political organization in the Kingdom
The first organ of the Empire is the King(Oba) known As Alaafin.He combined the spiritual and temporal powers in his office. In his spiritual capacity, he was seen and known by his subjects to be the companions of the gods that’s why they do call him Alase ikeji orisa.Alaafin has the right to exercise maximum control over the Empire.Due to this unlimited power,the small settlement under his empire do pay him tribute known as Isakole.Alaafin rules Constitutionally because he was also accountable to Oyomesi(Seven hereditary Kingmakers).
The second organ of government was the council of Oyomesi.These are the seven hereditary Kingmakers in the Empire. The leader was known to be Bashorun.It was the duty of of Oyomesi to elect a new king in place of the dead ones.They also acted as organs of checks and balances to the excess of the King.
Furthermore, another organ was the arm organization by an Army General known as Are-ona kakanfo who was further assisted by “ESO”.it was claimed that if the army suffer any defeat,the kakanfo must commit suicide. The army group had the constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the Empire.
Moreover,the recognized last organ in the administration is the Ogboni society made up of prominent diviners headed by Oluwo.The maintenance and preservation of the cultural values of the people were also delegated to them.They also possessed judicial power to decide on any case in the Empire, They checked the abuse of powers by the Oyomesi such as the rejection of Alaafin and they alos partcipate in the policy making process.
In addition, The Alaafin was also assisted by the provincial Governors in a bid to make sure every policy he implemented succeed very well.Each Provinces was administered by the Ajele or Oba.They guarantee the payment of tribute and paying of the homage to Oyo.The Aremo was the eldest son of ruling Alaafin but cannot succeeded his Father after his demise.He can only work or assist his Father (Alaafin) in the administration of the empire.
Also,the roles of the Paramount chief also came to limelight, Alaafin was assisted by three Eunuchs and they are;The osi-efa who is in charge of political affairs and customarily,The ona-efa is in charge of judicial matters and the otun-efa had to perform the religious duties for Alaafin.
THE EMPTY CALABASH
The council of elders were in the position to make sure that the customs and tradition were respected by both the Alaafin and the people. History had it that the Oyomesi could authorise Bashorun(prime minister) to send to the Alaafin,an empty calabash symbolizing the rejection by the people.The Alaafin had to commit suicide and this can only take place if the Alaafin was found acting unconstitutionally.
In 1976,it was Alaafin who advised the government through the state council of obas to elevate Olubadan and sound to the status of beaded crown obas.Alaafin did same thing during the coronation of onjo of okeho in 1979 and also for Okere of Saki
Conclusively, we could easily deduce from above research that Oyo empire is the only community in Yoruba land with such Democratic rules and principles,even in conformity with modern democracy.The arms of organ were duly in place Alafin is the Executive, Th Oyomesis are the legislators and the Ogboni society acted as the judicial arm.Mostof the obas were not absolute Monarch but a constitutional monarch whose powers were limited by the ogboni society and the Oyomesi.
The fact that Oyo is the power to reckon with can never be underestimated.The Alaafin of Oyo is the only king in Yoruba community with highest political influence even when the colonial masters invaded Nigeria as a whole,it wasn’t easy for them to captivate the Yoruba communities due to the established system in the Empire.Alaafin was given so much recognition in Yoruba Land even by the white because of their constitutional ways of doing things.I’m not disputing the fact that ile-ife is our spriritual origin but Oyo is the capital community for other communities in Yoruba community.Virtu
ally all the provinces under Oyo empire copied the system of Democratic principles.
OYO AS THE CITADEL OF YORUBA CULTURE
Culture is the total way of life of people in a particular settlement. The way they talk,The way they eat,the way they dress and virtually the way they do things especially in a particular nation. Yoruba people are very gregarious and sociable.The fact that they want to dominate every scenario can never be overestimated, its what they like to do.In Yoruba land they do have the way they greet their elders,The males will prostate and the female folks will kneel down to greet.Yorubas are the type that count respect alot as the part of their culture,A person that doesn’t kneel down or prostate to greet their elders are counted as arrogant fellows due to their inability to perform what the culture demands.
In Yoruba land, stinginess like covetousness is also regarded as abominable.Stinginess is not even a good thing in yoruba land because it is referred to as cunny act.As a matter of fact,stinginess is a strong disqualification for candidate aspiring to a throne or other subordinate position in town.Stingy chiefs are often deposed.
Equivocatingly,We find out thatwhen a Yoruba man is angry he often uses the language of diplomacy.He makes use of noncommittal expression and words which means the reverse of what he meant.For instance, “keep blood down in his internal system and spit out saliva” is a proverb advising a person to bide his own good time down before thinking of resenting a insult.In Yoruba parlance ” f’eje pupa sinu tu ito funfun jade”.
The interesting fact about Oyo is that,Oyo has been the citadel of Yorubas culture and the center of Yoruba history if you like. But more important than the town itself is its Oba-The Alaafin.Apart from Alaafin’s historical supremacy,his advise is always required to guide the government against delving into Illegality on instances where there is a confusion on who is to rule who.
Furthermore,Today, drumming is considered to be passing cultural heritage messages as in ancient times, although their relevance has dissipated and become more a matter of aesthetic entertainment. The palace drummers play a significant role in communicating to the king within the palace environment and during events.Such communication could be to herald the arrival of a visitor, the arrival of a particular chief or important dignitary. They serve as the king’s agents in alerting the king of impending danger or fortune by the various compositions they produce.This tradition, according to the drummers, is ancient and particularly important as they are also the first to get to the palace to wake the king up with their drum beat in an effort to boost his morale in ruling the Oyo kingdom each day.And to be candid with the above mentioned subject (drumming) virtually all the drums use in Yoruba land have connection in line with Oyo’s design most especially “Bata”.
Moreover,Most of the proverbs use in Yoruba Land are from Oyo and some of the proverbs will be pointed out.
1.”ohun re Oyo o’n kanju Alaafin ore bikan”(Don’t be in haste to visit Oyo,The Alaafin is going nowhere)
2.”Bi onirese Bani ohun fi’ngba mo,Eyi ti o ti fin Ole parun”(If the onirese said he is no more carving calabash, those ones he has done can never go into Extinction).The reason behind this proverb will be proven further. During sometime in the ancient Oyo, there existed one man that was a specialist in carving calabash. The man became so popular and also wealthy that he abandoned his work, people began their critics on him.When matter was taken to Alaafin he used the above words to ease the issue and also freed the onirese.
Inspite of the differences in Yoruba’s dialect, the facts that the ijebus,ijeshas,
ondos and ife to mention a few.They all subscribed to the Yoruba language spoken by Oyos,then Oyo cannot but remain as the citadel of Yorubas culture. This is because language is not only means of communication but a vehicle of culture. Most importantly,it is the written form of Yoruba language that providers the continuity with the past.Therefore,Oyo will ever remain the citadel of Yoruba culture!
NOTE:The Ekitis,Ijebus,ikales in ondo,Iseyins to mention a few will never write Yoruba in their dialect,No and Never.They will write it the way Oyo speaks the language.
A’JI SEBI OYO LAARI
(OYO LEADS OTHERS FOLLOW)
OLUKOKUN YUSSUF OLUMIDE(Ọ.Y.Ọ) writes from Oyo town,to celebrate with HRM OBA (DR.) LAMIDI OLAYIWOLA ADEYEMI lll (The Alaafin of Oyo) on his 81st birthday. (08167983770)