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Alaafin Adelu

ALAAFIN ADELU, 1858 – 1876

It has been shown that the rise of the military posts of Ibadan and Ijaiye which gained increasing momentum from about 1830 had become a fait accompli by 1858 when Adelu ascended the new Oyo throne, succeeding his brilliant and illustrious father.

At this same time, the scattered Egba towns that were dislodge by Ibadan pressure from their forest home had established a confederate city at a naturally fortified craggy spot to the south at Abeokuta. These three towns represented the factors of challenge, secret fear and manoeuvres for the new Oyo sovereign.

Ijaiye had disapproved of the new succession constitution which paved the way for Adelu’s enthronement; but Ibadan, on the contrary, supported the enactment of Oyo nobility. The Oyo palace officials and the Oyomesi hailed the advent of the new king. Yet many obstacles still remained to be scaled.

We would also note that at the time of King Atiba, the set-up of chiefs in Oyo was a mixture of those who had acquired the status recently; through valour and loyalty, demonstrated in the military campaigns; and general service carrier of the prince, eventually King Atiba; and the old scions from Oyo-Ile whose ancestors had manned the chieftaincies as in an unbroken line of a dynasty. The dramatis personae have changed in Oyo and Ibadan for the younger elements except in Ijaiye where the old Aare Ona-Kakanfo Kurunmi still held sway like the rock of Gibraltar. In Ibadan, the former Balogun Oderinlo had given way to Ibikunle, who was former Toki, the Seriki’s nephew. Further, the renowned Oluyole, the Basorun, had died. Ogunmola had assumed the Otun insted of Lajumoke; Opeagbe, the Osi, had given way to Osundina. Thus many other changes in Ibadan had occurred in favour of the younger generation. But in Ijaiye, apart from the Aare, chiefs Labudanu and Amodu were still the active operators of the town’s domestic policy and its external relations. The measure of the Aare of disallowing any chief to store arms and even of eliminating the rising ones could not make for a town expanding and waxing strong.

Kurunmi had sensed the imminence of an armed conflict with either Ibadan or Oyo; and he started to look for allies. He quickly endeared himself to Eleduwe, the Borgu King who later invited him for support in a military campaign near home. The Alaafin could not allow an emergence of a military axis that would threaten his domain; so with the help of Saki, led by Baba Alausa, Kurunmi’s support army for Eleduwe was defeated at Kusu, a spot only twelve miles to Saki. Ijaiye war generals like Dayiro Labisi were killed, where Aganda-Epo and Amodu sustained wounds.

Saki gave about two hundred captives to the Alaafin at the end of this campaign but wasmagnanimously returned to Kurunmi in the end.

Adelu was the eldest son of his father. As a price, he was well exposed to the exertions of military campaigns raiding expeditions and all the facets of Jamaa life. Obedient and dutiful, he was beloved by his father. As a monarch, he eschewed injustice, encourage agriculture and industry. Thieves were summarily executed. He usually visited his farm during moon-light since he could not, as an Alaafin, move openly by day. He encouraged keeping of small livestock like goats. with a good taste in lifestyle and a talent for administration, he was the darling of Oyo people. The first missionaries (C.M.S. and Baptist) arrived in Oyo during his reign, and they were well received.

The immediate cause of Ijaiye War gyrated around the mode of disposal of an Ijana woman’s inheritance. This lady was called Abu. Because she did not have heirs or heiresses, and also as a result of the division among Ijana people, two conflicting traditional and constitutional inheritors were invited Kurunmi and the Alaafin. The Alaafin ensured Akingbehin Aleyo, the Ona Aka, had a strong and armed escort to forestall molestation. The Aare’s men under Amodu attacked this party with the treasures on their return; and about two hundred and forty captives, excluding minor chiefs like Aridede, Aleyo and Jingin, were marched to Ijaiye.

The Aare put a very high price of two pounds ten shillings on each of the captives if the Alaafin wanted to redeem them. Even Samu, an Oyomesi, that was sent to Ijaiye to mediate, had to escape via Iwo to save his head.

This was why the Alaafin invited the Ibadan’s, and later Saki, to crush Ijaiye. But the affair proved at first a cu-de-sac and the armed conflict lasted two years, from April 1860 to March 1862.

The war attracted allies on the two sides. The Egbas, the main Ijebu towns of Ijebu-Ode and Ijebu-Igbo; and many Oke-Ogun twons like Awaye, Erin and Iwawun threw their lots on the side of the Aare. Like some other places, Iseyin admitted freely the men on the two sides. On Ibadan side, were Berekodo, Ibarapa district, Saki and Kehere, the neutrality of Abeokuta, but it soon dawned on the latter that the Ibadan had dispossessed them of thier kolanut farms in the pressure southwards before 1830. There was also the rumour that if Ogunmola could subdue Ijaiye, the exercise would just be a springboard for an attack on Abeokuta.

The strategies perfected by Ijaiye were therefore, for the Ijebu’s to set up stockades to disrupt Ibadan caravans on the way to Ipara 9-day market; that while chief Ogunbona, the Balogun of Ikija, should set up a camp at Olokemeji to protect the rear and communications of their allies; the main Egba support army should assist directly in Ijaiye neighbourhood. It would be recalled that Sokenu, an Egba chief, who could not reconcile himself to an Ijaiye alliance did not survive the disagreement. Then, the Oke-Ogun towns of Awaye and Iwawun, to the west of Ijaiye, were to ensure both a secure route for ammunitions and food for the army and the populace.

Although the only person who could be a colleague age-wise of the Ibadan chiefs in Ijaiye was Arawole, the eldest son of the Aare. Ibikunle, the Balogun of Ibadan, had  tried to suppress the fighting instincts of the young elements like Ogunmola, the Otun, the Balogun reluctance to resort to war was based on several cogent reasons. He had seen the horrors of wars that drove them from Oyo metropolis to Ibadan with harsh consequences. There was a strong affinity between the people of Ijaiye and the Ibadan: it was not easy to fight a relation. Also, Kurunmi was an old man who could be allowed to fritter away his remaining days without an armed conflict. but with the constant instigation from Oyo and the ardour of young war generals like Ogunmola, the Balogun could not succeed for long in delaying the war. Thus, Oran-an-yan was propitiated and the insignia of war rose.

Since the war was partly to protect the Alaafin’s authority, the monarch not only gave money, forty slaves, beads and gowns, but he secured the attack of the Borgu King on Iran. Iran was a small town at the rear of Ijaiye where Amodu and Oyo armies had locked up horns. The Alaafin also provided the main Ibadan and Oyo camps at Iloraa (Ago-Oyo) with bullets and gun powder. This mass production of bullets engaged the services of a large number of Oyo smiths.

Three battles were fought before the Egbas under Anoba, the Balogun of Oba, and Somoye, the Balogun of Iporo, arrived at Ijaiye. Incidentally, the magazine of the ammunitions of the Aare was exhausted. The last of the engagements was very bloody and the Aare personally led a crack force to perforate Ibadan centre of attack. Generally, Ibadan mastered properly the acts of manoeuvring so that their attacks on the enemy were divided into formations, so that after the main charge, some salvos were still reserved to either protect a retreat or enhance a push. Their marksmanship was right, where those of the Egbas went over targets; and their retreats disorderly and unprotected. The Aare, himself, noted the immaturity of Egba army at Alabata. It was from a defeat arising from poor management that the Egba army charged Anoba with cowardice and asked him to give way to a better war general.

While Ibikule led the war personally in Ijaiye, Ogunmola was Ibadan main driving force. mounted usually on a tall horse, he had a small stature, but the will of steel. As Ibadan gained ground, their camp moved progressively from Alabata, to Ajibade ad lastly to river Ose, near Ijaiye town.

Famine had weakened Ijaiye. The Egbas who could provide food for their hosts’ children, were sending them to Abeokuta as slaves. The Baptist missionary, the Rev. T.A. Reid, and C.M.S. missionary, the Rev. Adolphus Mann, assisted greatly with relief. The later was good in surgery and was fully occupied helping to extract bullets from the wounded Ijaiye soldiers.

While the Balogun was facing the main Ijaiye army, and Aijenku the Aare-Agoro of the Egbas; Ogunmola and Osundina, his Osi, sneaked through Fiditi, Oyo camp at Iloraa, to Oke-Ogun in a swift campaign to cut off the supply lines, food and ammunitions of Ijaiye at Iwawun. the Aare immediately countered by dispatching Arawole, his eldest son; Amodu, his best war general; Adelakun Abese and Labudanu to fortify the towns. Built on a rugged hill, Iwawun could not easily be captured. but Ogunmola discovered a secret path through which the town was attacked and burnt down. five sons of the Aare including the eldest, Arawole, were killed. Erin was also defeated the same day.

Consistently Ibikunle was always observing the rule of noblesse oblige. So, when Ogunmola killed Arawole at Iwawun, the Balogun reprimanded him since the slain was the Aare’s heir. When one Olu-Ode, formally a native of Ikoyi who had taken refuge in Ijaiye and fought Ibadan with ferocity was caught, Ibikunle released him on parole. But unfortunately, Olu-Ode escaped back to Ijaiye to resume anti-Ibadan campaign; and so when next he was caught, his execution was carried out summarily.

After Iwawun, the fortunes of Ijaiye were predictably one of frustration, famine and losses. The Aare died in June 1861. Abogunrin, his head slave, took charge of the direction of the war. When on 15 March, 1862 the C.M.S missionaries (Rev. and Mrs Mann) with Lieutenant Dolbein of H.M.S Prometheus who had come to the town for the relief of his countryman left the town, the citizens felt the departure of the Whiteman was a portent of disaster. Abogunrin headed the remaining Ijaiye combatants to Abeokuta with their relations. Thereafter, many escaped to Fiditi, Oyo and Ibadan respectively, where they could trace their relations, but the bulk of the population who headed opposition to Ibadan and Oyo founded Ago Ijaiye quarters in Abeokuta under Abogunrin.

The consequences of Ijaiye war were manifold. What was lost to Oyo in lustre and fiat fell on Abeokuta and Ibadan; and the latter was challenging Oyo to a degree unknown to earlier history of its relationship with the Alaafin. Dr. J.A. Atanda’s appraisal in his chiefs in Yorubaland.Three studies in indirect rule (West AfricanChiefs,) edited by Michael Crowder and Obaro Ikime records:

Except in name, it (Ibadan) became the Alaafin’s master too. Indeed, outside Oyo town and a few villages around it, the Alaafin had nowhere to exercise his authority without a challenge from Ibadan. And as the Rev. J.B. Wood rightly observed in the middle of the 19th century, the fear was that Ibadan might absorb whatever remained of the authority of the Alaafin and established a Yoruba king in Ibadan in place of the Alaafin. However, the inability to win a decisive victory in the Kiriji war was probably what prevented Ibadan from taking this step.

In effect, it meant, Adelu was just not the only Oba who was the victim of this setback in the historical process that king Atiba dodged, but which actually pilloried the reigns of all the Alaafins until the inception of colonial rule in Oyo in 1893.

There was still sufficient evidence that Imeko acknowledged the Obaship and authority of Adelu. in its military encounter with Abeokuta and Ketu, battles in which the aggressors had recourse to the use of the modern weapons like sneider rifles; and marksman like Okenla, the Alaafin was appealed to by Imeko for support. The foremost loyalist of Ekun Otun, the Saki people led Alaafin’s campaign and with bows and arrows and traditional war charms, the Egba’s supported by the Owus and the remnant of Ijaiye attacked Ajase (Porto Novo), a coastal settlement that manage to preserve its vassal relationship with the Alaafin, Saki’s intervention saved the town. The Egba war generals like Akodu and Ogongonifila fell in the battle. This was in july 1874.

Adelu’s crown prince, Lawani Agogo-Ija, had moved to Ibadan to share in the joys of the conquests that the town had won through the energies of her new generation. He joined the Ibadan’s in Ekiti Parapo campaign, although he was always in the camp accompanied by his friend, Oyerinde playing ayo game.

For Oyo town and the immediate neighourhood, Adelu’s reign was one of law and order: there was tranquillity. The turmoil that arose from Ibadan’s unfriendly interaction with the Ijesa’s, Ekiti’s, Egba’s, Ilorin’s and Ijebu’s did not affect Oyo. The monarch had been a victim of equestrian accident which culminated in paralysis. The relationship between the crown prince and the favoured Ayaba, king’s wife, by the name Alayoayo, lent force to a rumour that the king was poisoned. But the reign had drawn to an immediate close. At the burial, the chilly sound of Koso drum and ivory trumpet in the dead of night was a pointer to everyone that Adelu had his ancestors. Several slaves and palace officials were immolated or committed suicide.

We can guess what the regime of a wise ruler who had accompanied his own father in the raids of the Jamaas earlier in the century would portend for the ordinary man. The populace would be happy and contented. Because, the monarch discouraged idleness and gave pride of place to hard work and industry. The many Christian Missionaries that came to his domain got good reception. He avoided the issues that could lead to armed conflicts at home and succeeded in enlisting the support of Ibadan and Saki in wiping the scores of such affronts that impugned on his monarchical fiat. Both luck and success attended his reign.