The Yoruba Global Council (YGC), a prestigious Diaspora based Yoruba socio-cultural organization, joins the entire world, especially descendants of Oduduwa both in Nigeria and Diaspora, to mourn the passing away of one of Africa’s and indeed, Nigeria’s most powerful kings, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, whose painful demise took place on Friday 22 April, 2022 at the age of 83.
Oba Lamidi Adeyemi (popularly referred to as Iku Baba Yeye) was born on October 15, 1934 into the Alowolodu Royal House and as a member of the House of Oranmiyan to Raji Adeniran, an erstwhile Alaafin of Oyo and Ibironke of Epo-Gingin, who incidentally gave up the ghost when Oba Lamidi was young. In 1954, Oba Lamidi’s father was deposed and exiled for alleged political affiliation with the Nigerian Council and Nigerian Citizen (NCNC) and coupled with the fact that he pitched his tent against Bode Thomas, the deputy leader of the Action Group. Raji Adeniyan is said to have had over 200 wives. Perhaps, this was one feat late Lamidi Adeyemi was trying to break before his death. Interestingly, his paternal grandfather was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu who held sway during the Kiriji War and was the last imperial monarch of Oyo Empire prior to British colonialism.
The ever jovial and athletic Alaafin Adeyemi III began his education at a Quranic school in Iseyin, a stone-thrown city from Oyo town. He later went to Oyo town where he stayed with the headmaster of St. Andrew’s Primary School and he eventually proceeded to dwell with the Alake of Egba, Oba Oladepo Ademola, in his palace. However, his education suffered momentary setback following the tension mounted on his father, Oba Ademola, to abdicate his throne to live in exile at Osogbo due to the 1947-48 demonstration of Egba Women against ‘Tax without representation’ led by Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Fortune, however, smiled on him in 1948 when he attended Obalende Modern School and later proceeded to Tinubu Methodist School in Lagos. In the wake of his primary education, he was offered admission into Igbobi College and St. Gregory’s College, Obalende. He opted for the former and finished there with very good grades. Although, he decided to read law in the university, his dream was thwarted his father’s deposition as the Alaafin in 1946. But undeterred, he secured a job at the Royal Exchange Assurance in Lagos and while on the job, he wrote a number of articles under pen names in newspapers, writing about himself and life personal experiences. Two of his famous articles were: ‘I SHALL BE GREAT’ written in 1968 and ‘I shall be the next Alaafin’ written a year after. It was indeed a dream come true when he ascended the exalted throne in 1970!
The story of Iku Baba Yeye would remain sketchy without a brief periscope into events leading to his ascension as the Alaafin of Oyo. In accordance with royal tradition, the Oyomesi, following the transition of Alaafin Belo Gbadegesin, had contacted Baba Iwo of Alowolodu to succeed the late Alaafin.
Baba Iwo later convoked a meeting within the royal families where he informed them of his meeting with the Oyomesi and he had suggested his son, Sanda ‘Ladepo’ to become the new Alaafin. All but Baba Salami Dudu consented to his proposal/ Baba Salami Dudu nominated Prince Lamidi Adeyemi, a son to Alaafin Adeyemi Adeniran II. The development created dynastic wrangling among the royal princes such as Aremo Sanni Gbadegesin, Prince Olanite Ajagba, Prince Afonja Ilaka and Prince Sanda ‘Ladepo’ Oranlola as to who would step into late Gbadegesin’s shoes.
As it turned out, Lamidi Adeyemi was chosen by the kingmakers on November 17, 1970 as he moved into the palace in the wake of rounding off the necessary rites under the tutelage of the Oyomesi. In the process, he was inducted into the mysteries of various gods like the Ifa mysteries and the Sango mysteries.
He underwent all these inductions in order to directly represent these deities on earth. The colourful ceremony, typified by pomp and pageantry, held at Durban Stadium, Oyo Town and he was presented with the staff of office by the former military governor of the defunct Western Region, Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo.
The legendary monarch goes home
Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III contributed markedly to the growth and development of the Yoruba traditional institution and Nigeria as a pluralistic state. One, he was able to use his influential position to empower and better the lots of many Obas, thereby lifting many non-crown wearing kings to the status of beaded crown weavers and consistently fighting for the improvement of their welfare at all times. Two, in 1975, the head of state, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, included the Alaafin in his entourage to the Hajj.
He was also honoured with the national honour of CGR at the National Art Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos in 1979. Three, in 1980, the Federal Government appointed Kabiyeesi Alaafin Adeyemi III as the pioneering Chancellor of the newly founded University of Sokoto, now Uthman dan Fodio University, for the first-four year tenure.
In January 1988, the Alaafin installed Chief MKO Abiola as the Aare Ona Kankanfo in recognition of the former’s immense contributions to the social, economic, cultural and political development of not just Yorubaland but Nigeria as a whole.
In recognition of his fervent commitment and zeal to the consolidation of Islam in Nigeria, the federal government, again, under the former military warlord, General Ibrahim Babangida, appointed the Alaafin as the Amiru Hajj Operation to lead the Muslim faithful across the 21 states of the federation in 1990.
Unlike many misogynists, Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III was a women aficionado. He was indeed a lover of women and he demonstrated penchant for women by marrying over 18 beautiful wives. His first wife, with whom he loved to attend most events, is Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi.
Others include Ayaba Rahmant Adeyemi, Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi, Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi, Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi, Ayaba Badirat Adeyemi, Ayaba Omowunmi Adeyemi, Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi, Ayaba Moji Adeyemi, Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi, Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi among others.
The late indefatigable Alaafin Adeyemi III was blessed with many children.
On this note, the Yoruba Global Council (YGC) wishes to use this medium to express its heartfelt condolences to the Alaafin’s immediate royal family, his wives and children and the entire Yoruba race both at home and Diaspora.
OBA LAMIDI OLAYIWOLA ADÉYEMI, ALAAFIN ÒYÓ.
Àtàndà omo Ìbírónké
Olóko n kominú Igi àdárò,
Ìgi àdárò n komínú olóko,
Olàyiwolá ló padà figi àdárò
Sun isu je láàddà oko.
Ikún fagbárí selé,
Àtàrí ò jóòrùn kó pàgbòn îsàlè,
Olóbòunboun níí jó tii fapá ara rè dá gbèdu.
Kèngbè so bí àdó dàgbà,
Ológunséésé ní so bí ení fiyùn méjì kanra won.
Oláyíwolá a borí èsín lónà Kóso.
A bìbí èsín lónà Bàrà,
A bòògún yí kiri gbìn lájà.
Yí Kiri, yí Kiri,
Apá èkúté ilé ò káwúsá
Enu yíyí kiri ló mo.
Àtàndá le e rí le e kápólápó
Àtàndá le e rí le e kófàlófà
Àtàndá le è rí le e
kóbon lùbon le e kápatalápata.
Àtàndá jálápó tapótapó
Ó jólófà tofàtofà
Ó jóníbon tìbotìbon
Ó jálápata tapatatpata
Ó dà wón sódò Ajagaaàsè.
-Prof Amusan is the spokesman, while Prince Segun Akanni is General Secretary, Yoruba Global Council