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Alaafin Kanran


Karan succeeded Odarawu, but he proved to be an unmitigated tyrant. He tortured many of his subjects by ordering them to be scourged front and back until they expired; so great were his cruelties that his name has passed into a proverb “as cruel as Karan” and this led to a speedy termination of his reign.

He sent an expedition against Aga Oibo, and there the conspiracy against him was quickly developed. When the insurrection was ripe for execution, they sent a message home to him craving for his fan, as it has been told them by divination that the town cannot be taken except the King’s fan be offered as sacrifice to the gods. This was complied with, and a portion of the sacrificial meat was sent to him to partake of.

As soon as he had tasted thereof, it was said to him “The King has eaten his own fan, his word is now of no value,” i.e., his commands have returned to his own mouth. This is a characteristic round about method the Yorubas have of conveying intimations of what they intend to do. The army is now absolved from a charge of disobedience if they withdraw fromt the siege for the King has recalled his words! All those who stand by him were included in the plot. Iba Biri was elected to be the Basorun in place of Woruda who had succeeded Akidain. The Agbakin’s son was chosen to succeed his father, and so on with the other titles. This done, they raised the siege and encamped against the city demanding the King’s abdication or death.

The King unwilling to die offered a stout resistance. He was personally courageous and brave, but he had the whole of his army against him. When they entered the city, he held out against them in the palace; overcome by odds, he shot arrows until his hands were swollen. Dislodged from within the courtyard he climbed to the top of the roof, and there he sat fighting until the palace was set on fire and he perished in the flames. Thus ended a short and inglorious reign. He was succeeded by his son Jayin. Woruda was the Basorun of this reign.