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Alaafin Abiipa

ABIPA

Prince Abiipa succeeded to the throne, being the fourth and last King who reigned at Gboho. His first effort was to carry out the last wishes of his father, viz., to remove the seat of government back to the ancient capital.

The Nobles however, and those born at Igboho were strongly opposed to the removal, but could not prevent or dissuade the King from carrying out his purpose; they therefore had recourse to a stratagem by which they hoped to thwart his purpose.

When they knew that the King was about to send to inspect the old sites, and to propitiate the gods as a preliminary to reoccupation, emissaries were secretly despatched by them to proceed the King’s messengers. The Basorun sent a hunchback, the Alapini an albino, the Asipa a leper, the Samu a prognathi, the Laguna adwarf, the Akiniku a cripple. All these emissaries are considered in this country as unnatural beings, suffering the vengeance of the gods, hence they termed “Eni Orisa” (the belongings of the gods). They are usually kept as priests and priestesses to Obatala and other gods, especially the albinoes, dwarfs, and hunchbacks.

As the King’s messengers were about to offer sacrifices at the place appointed, these counterfeit apparitions who, according to instructions had posted themselves on the hill Ajaka, at the foot of which the palace was built, by proconcerted plan suddenly began to shout “Ko si aye, ko si aye” (no room, no room). At night they roam about the hill, hooting and cooing with lighted torches in hand, and they were taken for the spirits of the hill refusing them readmission to Oyo.

This report was very distressing to the king, and he was at a loss what to do. The Ologbo or Arokin (chief cymbalist) shrewdly suspecting the real facts of the case advised his master to send hunters to investigate the truth of the matter. Boni, Igisubu, Alegbata, Loko, Gbandan and Olomo were the six famous hunters sent. They armed themselves with weapons and with charms to meet any contingency for self-defence.

When these hunters discovered that they were human beings they came upon them, and one of them took his aim and would have shot one of the deformed beings, had he not cried out and begged for his life. They were taken alive and brought before the King; and being questioned they were obliged to betray their masters who were at this time ignorant of what had taken place. The King adopted a most characteristic way of administering to his Nobles a silent rebuke which told.

At the weekly meeting of the King and the noble men for the Jakuta sacrifices (which occur every 5 days) after the usual proceedings and religious ceremonies of the day were over, and they retired into the banqueting hall for refreshment as was their wont, the King on this occasion sent each of the noblemen a calabash full of beer by the hands of his own emissary the “apparition” of Oyo! The Basorun saw with ineffable surprise his hunchback whom he thought was playing the ghost at distant Oyo emerging from the King’s inner apartment with a calabash full of beer for him, the Alapini his albino, and so with all the others, each one being waited upon by his own emissary! Instantly a deep silence pervaded the room and the rest of the time was passed in ominous stillness. The King and his Nobles parted without a word being spoken on the subject. The noblemen, however, showed their resentment by poisoning the Ologbo the Kings adviser; but he in order to show his love and esteem for the deceased, ordered for him a semi-state funeral, and had his body wrapped in ass’s skin to be taken to Oyo for interment. From this incident, King Abipa was nick-named Oba Moro (the King who caught ghost).

Another nick-name given to the King that had the connection with this event was derived from his head slave Bisa, a Bariba, who was his favourite, and one time had great influence with his master. The King found out that Bisa was an accomplice with the Nobles in thwarting the designs. His Majesty now adopted a characteristic method of administering him a very sharp rebuke which he never forgot.

He one day called Bisa, and told him that Eleduwe (the king of his native country) was dead, and that the Baribas have sent him to pay the ransom of Bisa, who has been elected to the vacant throne. “Now Bisa, will you go?” “Yes, your Majesty” replied Bisa, “and your majesty may be sure of this, that when I ascend the throne, the Bariba country to its utmost limits will be free and open to all Yoruba’s.” The King then re-joined “Why do you wish to go to your country and yet you were trying to prevent me going to my birthplace and ancestral home? Therefore, you shall not go.” Bisa begged hard, but his master remained resolute, hence he was nick-named “Ogbolu Akohun, Akohun Bisa jale” (Ogbolu the refuser who totally refused Bisa’s entreaties). From this time Bisa lost all influence with the King. The design of removing the seat of government to Oyo was now carried out, and Oyo from that time was known as Oyo Oro i.e. Oyo of the ghosts.

Those famous hunters remained three year with the King in the capital as his guests, until he was perfectly settled. When they were about to return home, the King in order to do them honour, sent a special messenger with them as his representative, and lest this servant of his should a source of expense to them, he was allowed the privilege of receiving tolls for his livelihood. He became really the new Governor of the town with the title of Onibode (receiver of customs). Hence that title is bestowed on the chief ruler of Gboho to this day.

The remaining act of this King was the consolidation of his kingdom. He buried charms in several places in the city that it might never be destroyed by war. When his “medicine men” asked for a new born babe to be used as an ingredient in the composition of the charm, it happened that one of his wives had just then been confined; this being reported to him, he ordered the new born babe to be brought in its blood as it was, and he handed it over to the men to be pulverized and used for their purpose. This act is to this day highly commended by the people, and the King accounted a great public benefactor who so loved his country, that he sacrificed his son for the welfare of his people.

Oyo was never destroyed by war after this event, but all the same, when the hour of retribution came, the blood of the innocents was avenged, for she suffered the fate of all cities destroyed by war. She was deserted, and thus she ruins unto this day. Ibate continued as the Balogun of this reign also.