• Toll Free: +234 902 908 8832
  • Email us: enquiries@ajisebi.com
  • Working Hours: 08:00-18:00 (Mon - Sat)

Alaafin Ajiboyede


Ajiboyede succeeded to the throne. He was a most successful King but he was a tyrant. During his reign, the country was invaded by Lajomo, king of the Tapas. The King marched against him; brave deeds were done on both sides; at last, however, the Yorubas were routed, and the King would have been slain but for a circumstance which not only saved his life, but also turned the tide of victory in his favour.

When it became apparent that the battle was lost, Ajanlapa the Osiwefa hastily exchanged dress with the king, and told him to escape for his life. He put on the King’s crown and his robes, and the Tapas supposing him to be the King turned their attention chiefly on him, and showered upon him such a number of darts, that in falling his body was propped up by shafts of the arrows. As the crown fell off his head (like Gbonka Orogbori of the proceeding reign) a coward observed his teeth with the face set as if he were grinning; thinking he was laughing at their futile efforts he concluded at once that they had supernatural beings opposed to them! He was alarmed, communicated with fears to his comrades, and they could be rallied, the stampede had become general, and the pursued now became the pursuers; the Yoruba’s returned to the charge, and the Tapas were completely routed; and put to the sword. Lajomo their king was taken and the victory was complete.

The King was grateful for his life being saved by the devoted Osiwefa that took counsel of all the Oyo nobles as to what honours he should bestow on Ajanlapa’s son. He wished him to be his constant attendant, to be about him night and day, and that he should be free of any part of the palace. But such a post cannot be held by any other than an eunuch and to make him so would seem cruel and ungrateful; but the Oyo’s counselled that unless he is so, he cannot enjoy the full liberty desired by the King. A painful necessity that seemed to be, but the King yielded to that advice, and he was emasculated.

This circumstance accounts for the great honours attached to that office to this day. The Osiwefa is always the first as well as the last in the king’s bed chamber. If the King is ill, he takes his place on state occasions, putting on his robes and the crown; in war, he often appears as the King’s deputy invested with all paraphernalia of royalty, including the state umbrellas, the kaakaki trumpet, etc. Thus Ajanlapa by sacrificing his life converted what would have been crushing defeat into a triumphant victory, and so saved his country from humiliation, and purchased royal honours for his family and his official successors for ever. To mark this victory as well as long reign, Ajiboyede celebrated the Bebe festival.

The Bebe is akin to a jubilee of golden age of a king’s reign. There have been but few such in the history of the Yoruba’s. It lasts for 3 years, and during this period liberty of speech and action is granted to everyone, high and low, rich and poor throughout the kingdom, without fear of being accused of sedition of treason. No riot or fighting is to be heard of anywhere, all provocations must suppress while the Bebe lasts, for no one is to be prosecuted during that period. All is peace. The King’s Ilari’s are rarely seen about on duty at this time, and when met, need not command that worship and deference usually accorded them. No toll or tribute is paid. Everyone appears in his holiday dress. Country folks go to Oyo to enjoy themselves without fear. Festivities mark the occasion. Provincial and feudatory kings and princes, and those of adjacent countries pay visits to Oyo to offer congratulations; presents are given and received in a lavish manner. The corridors and courtyards of the palace, and all the trees in the King’s market used to be decorated with hangings of cloth of various hues, native and foreign make, as with bunting. One deplorable act, however, is a blot on the Bebe celebration; it is always accompanied with human sacrifices offered to the memory of all preceding Kings from Oduduwa downwards; two to each, and their blood mingled with those of animals slaughtered without number is poured out, for the King and courtiers are required to have a religious dance upon it; and this part of the ceremony is regarded as the highest act of worship and of thanksgiving.

The Bebe is sometimes termed the Iku or funeral rites, as if intended to mark the close of a long reign, from the fact that the few Kings who celebrated it died a short time after.

The three years festivities were over, the King lost by death his first-born son, Osemolu to his inexpressible grief. All the Oyo nobles who came to sympathize with him were by his orders put to death, alleging that their feigned condolence was but a mock sympathy, for since he was fasting from grief, their hands smelt of food recently partaken. An insurrection against him was quite ripe when a Moslem priest from the Tapa country called “Baba-kewu” sent his son “Baba-Yigi” to remonstrate with him for his unjust and cruel acts of avenging his son’s death on innocent people, when his son had died a natural death. “This,” said he “is a sin against God who took away the life of your son.”

The King pondered seriously over this message, and became convicted of his tyranny. He convened an assembly of the Oyo citizens, and publicly asked their pardon for his unjust acts.

He was making preparations for removing the seat of government back to Oyo when he died. This is the fourth and last King buried at Igboho. The Basorun of this reign was Ibate.