Alaafin writes on ede town, An indelible footprint on the sand of history
A goodwill message delivered by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, at the coronation ceremony of the 13th Timi of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal Laminisa I, on Wednesday 5th March, 2008 at the palace ground, Ede.
In West African sub region, the Yoruba stands out clearly as a distinct entity with its elegant culture and rich historical heritage. The Yoruba were the first to build a superb political structure for the administration of their people, backed up with a very strong military might.
During the 16th century and thereabout, the Alaafin of Oyo, as the supreme Ruler of the Yoruba Nation, saw the need to protect the territorial integrity of the Oyo Empire. The Military function led by the Are Onakakanfo, had 70 War Chiefs with 16 in the upper cadre and 54 in the lower cadre.
The founder and historical head of Ede, Timi Agbale Olofa Ina, was one of the great lords leading the Yoruba Army at that time of both internal and external aggression around Yoruba land. He was in the Upper Cadre of the military chiefs. The first Ede settlement, established as a military outpost in the sixteenth century by the Oyo authorities had to be shifted to the other side of the Osun River round 1818-1819. One account of the movement had it that when the Afonja, the Aare Onakakanfo, based in Ilorin who betrayed the Alaafin as he joined hands with the Fulani Jihadists to declare Ilorin independent of Oyo control and went further to organize invasion of Yoruba towns like Osogbo, Ede, Ejigbo, Ilobu etc, all in the Province. The old Ede settlement had to be shifted for strategic reasons. It was this account of incessant invasion that made the security of the town precarious that forced the people to relocate to the present site of Ede. There is no doubt that if Ede was to be safe from Fulani attack it needed a neutral barrier to shield her. The man who had this political foresight was Timi Kubolaje Agbaran.
However, another account said Timi Agbale had two sons, Lanodi. After the death of Timi Agbale, the monopoly of the throne by Lamadu and his descendants forced Lalemo’s decendants to move away from Ede Ile to their own town which is the present Ede.
After leaving Ede Ile for the Omo Lamodis, they consulted Ifa oracle, who told them to continue their exodus until they crossed a big river-the Osun river. On crossing the Osun River, the Ifa oracle asked them to proceed until they finally settled at a point a little across the Osun river.
By the time they settled in the new Ede, the eldest brother (Oyefi) was said to be too old and died. So, the next most senior son, Agbonran became the first Timi of the present Ede. The other brothers: Ajeniju and Arohanran, took their turns to ascend the Timi stool. By the time it got to the turn of Oduniyi, the old man had died and his younger son, Abibu langunju, ascended the throne. It is on record that despite his many travail, he remained the longest serving Timi, having reigned for 60 years before he died at a ripe age of 90 years.
But there was no controversy that during his reign, Timi Agbale Olofa Ina rose to the Head of Yoruba Army in Ibolo Province of the Oyo Empire, saddling him with the responsibility of warding off any from external invasion, especially the Fulani Jihadists.
History recorded Timi Agbale Olofa Ina as a very powerful warlord who was described in Samuel Johnson’s History of the Yoruba from the Earliest time of the Beginning of the British Protectorate, as “an archer, noted for his deadly arrow who more than justified his appointment as Aare Onakanfo by the Alaafin”. At the peak of his reign, it was almost a sacrilege to address Timi Agbale without the appellation “Olofa Ina”.
Between 1824 and 1840, Ede was involved in the various wars of resistance fought to repel the Fulani’s invasion into the Yoruba territory. Among the notable wars fought were: Ogele and Mugba Mugba wars; the Ede-Ogbomoso war’ among others. And not until 1835 when Alaafin Oluewu appealed to all Yoruba leaders/Chiefs to sink their differences and come together as a people from the same origin that peace began to reign in the land. He essentially warned them to be curious of the danger in any disunity in their ranks because of the rampaging Fulani Jihadists who had established a strong foothold in Ilorin and were ready to expand more into the cost region of the west.
At the time, the reigning Timi was Bamgbaiye Ajeniju who was reputed as the richest Timi that ever reigned in Ede. Timi Bamgbaiye Ajeniji was said to have such a large number of goats and sheep in his garden that he lost count of their figure. The animals were said to be so many that they ate up all the green grass in the large garden. He was in the saddle during those turbulent period in Yorubaland.
In essence, what one is trying to draw out is the strategic position of Ede and Its rulers in the scheme of things in Yoruba land. When loyalty was failing, in this face of personal and individual ambition, the loyalty of the founding fathers of Ede never failed the Yoruba Nation. This was amplified by the resolve of Timi Bamgbaiye Ajeniju who promptly responded to a seized-fire in the intra- Yoruba
War of the early 19th century following a directive to do so by the reigning Alaafin Oluewu. Other chiefs who heeded the call were the Kurunmi of Ijaiye; and Oluyole of Ibadan.
The fall of Old Oyo Empire
Struggle for survival and supremacy between the emerging military powers of Ibadan, and Ijaye saw the newly appointed Balogun of Ibadan, Oderinde, who was the military leader to Basorun Oluyole, declaring a war on Ede. At that time, the Alaafin Atiba had appointed Kunrunmi from Ijaye the Are Onakakanfo and Oluyole as Basorun, with the two of them saddled with the responsibility of providing security for the territorial sovereignty of Old Oyo Empire, the Ibadan military tradition which demanded that a newly appointed Balogun must test his military strength at the war front, prompted Balogun Oderinde to choose Ede. But why he chose Ede could not be explained.
However, this epic clash never took place on account of diplomatic maneuvering between the war lords of the two towns. And this further strengthened the tie between them, leading to the two of them fighting same side during the Batedo war of 1844. This was during the reign of Ojo Arohanran as Timi. He did not go to this war personally as he sent Prince Folarin, his nephew’s son. But after a while when Timi reviewed his participation in the war and discovered that it was against the interest of Alaafin, he withdrew and decided to back Ijaye and fought against the Ibadan.
Ede could be said to have gained tremendously from the many wars fought in Yoruba land in the nineteenth century as it population got boosted by many Yoruba elements that were moving away from the Northern grassland to the forest region to avoid the Fulani’s insurgence. Notably, people from Awo, Ara, Iragberi, Akinjake, Ajagemo and Olufinran came and settled in Ede where they felt more protected. Also people from Ofatedo and Erin-Osun left their places to settle in Ede.
The Oyo cultural traits in Sango cults, weaving and clothed Egungun which spread to other parts of Yoruba land, were also imbibed by the people of Ede. And this is vividly brought out by striking resemblance between Ede and Oyo crafts and in the celebration of Sango as a state festival in Ede as well as in Oyo. The Great historian, Ulli Beier, also confirmed in his History of Yoruba that “an Edan Ogboni was brought to Ede, most probably by one of the fleeing refugees towards the tail end of the Owu war”. Another area of tie between Oyo and Ede is the spread and acceptance of Islam in the two towns in the 19th century. The first Timi who was a Muslim Abbu Lagunju also gave Islam a firm foundation which the religion enjoys till date in Ede.
From the foregoing, one thing that is clear is that the history of Ede in the 19th century and thereabout is that of military history. The founding fathers of the town were much involved in the many wars that ravaged the Yoruba nation. Ede, like others, was either fighting a defensive war as in the case of Lasinmi war, or of security, as in the case of Ede-Ido war.
In fact, from 1820 onwards, Ede assumed increasing importance in Yoruba politics and its ruler Timi was always a factor in all questions and solutions to war and peace in Yoruba land during the time. The town not only participated in the wars to repulse the Fulani, it was also in alliance with the various parties involved in the Batedo, Ijaiye, Jalumi and Ekiti Parapo wars.
The beauty of Ede’s espionage in these wars is its ability to known when to advance and when to retreat. A diplomatic quality, apparently inherited from its long years of association with the Oyo-Alaafin. Coming on board as the first representative of the Lamina Ruling House, a sibling of the founding fathers, whose lineage has never been opportune to mount the throne, it is a great challenge for you to lift both the spirit and the physical structure of Ede to higher heights during your reign.
You are not starting from the scratch. This must be noted because the late Timi, Oba Tijani Oladokun Oyewusi, Agbanran II, whose demise paved the way for you enthronement, was an embodiment of knowledge. He was well read, well loved by his people, highly connected both nationally and internationally and his contribution to the growth of your beloved town is already recorded in Gold by history.
Yourself, a young man, well educated, well traveled and equally connected, you’ve got all the pre-requisites to continue from the solid foundation already laid for you. Our prayers are for the Almighty God will continue to provide you with the necessary wisdom of life to steer the ship of Ede aright always.
You have a solid structure in the administrative structure of the palace which is a replica of the Yoruba democratic pattern of governance already in place before the advent of the British Colonial masters. Yoruba Obas don’t rule alone. We operate an administrative system that allows for checks and balances.
Iku Baba Yeye
Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, JP, CFR, LLD.
Alaafin of Oyo and Permanent Chairman, Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs