Regency in Yorubaland

Princess Adetutu Adesida- Dike the Regent of Akure

Regency, a practice, whereby a princess is allowed to occupy the throne until a substantive king is installed, is presently practiced in some states in yorubaland. In yoruba tradition, regency is designed to honor the first daughter of every Oba/king/High chief who died on the throne. However, such honor is not extended to any Oba who was banished. There have been instances in Akure history when two Regents have refused to quit and they went ahead to be confirmed as the Deji for many years.

in yorubaland. In yoruba tradition, regency is designed to honor the first daughter of every Oba/king/High chief who died on the throne. However, such honor is not extended to any Oba who was banished. There have been instances in Akure history when two Regents have refused to quit and they went ahead to be confirmed as the Deji for many years.

The Regent is supposed to be an interim Oba in the real sense of it. She enjoys all the honor and privileges attached to the office of the Oba and she has to dress as a man for the period she is Regent. Because she has worn a crown, she is is never again required to expose her head or get careless with any strands of her hair if she ever goes to a Beauty Salon after leaving the throne. She must never again carry anything on her head for the rest of her life.


She is forever exempted from being a victim of domestic violence in her marriage meaning that her husband must never lay hands on her regardless of any provocation on her part. If she is not married, she could go and marry after serving as a Regent.

Tradition has it that a married woman or a single lady should be made a Regent instead of a male, for it is assumed that a male might not want to leave as he may transform himself to be king .It had happened in one of the towns before. But if a married woman or spinster is enthroned she will be yearning to go back to her husband and family while a spinster will be yearning to get married and start a new life with her own family.

The Regent is to all intent and purposes the Oba-in-Council in and she automatically takes precedence over the all the chiefs and they are subservient to the Regent and must swear traditional allegiance and loyalty to the Regent as an Institution. From Igbona-Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area to Erio-Ekiti in Ekiti west and Awo-Ekiti, in Irepodun-Ifelodun Local Government Area, regents currently hold the fort, even if temporarily, as kings on the thrones of their fathers, occasionally giving orders, settling disputes, attending community and state functions and filling other spaces within the communities as needs often compel.

While some communities are said to choose males as regents, the more common and familiar are the females who are the direct daughters of recently deceased monarchs. Findings showed that males are seldom made regents because of the possibilities of a refusal to vacate the throne when a substantive monarch is installed, causing a situation in which two monarchs lay claim to one royal stool.

Further findings reveal that the regents, who are sometimes known even before the demise of a sitting monarch, are there mainly for titular purposes and for a short time till another monarch is selected and installed. It was also found out that in actual fact, the administrative running of the towns still solely rests with the chiefs as a regent might have one personal reason or the other to be away.

The Alaani of Idoani, Princess

Adetutu Atewogboye.

According to Yoruba tradition, the moment a princess ascends the throne and as long as she remains the regent, she is no longer regarded as a woman and she is expected to appear always like a man, but she is only allowed to wear the round beaded crowns, unlike the male kings who have various crowns designed and decorated with beads which may fall over their faces.

The faces of the regents must not be covered and the beads on the neck, falling on their chest must not be more than three and graduated in three layers, although this varies in some communities. But, the beads of the Obas, though of the same length could be more than three.

Regents cannot undertake during the regency any installation of chieftaincy titles, removal of erring chiefs on any excuse and registration of chieftaincy declarations.

The Regency concept is not universal in Yorubaland. There was no Regent in Ijebu Land before the current Awujale, Ogbagba the second was coronated. Same in Lagos after Oba Adeniji Adele or Oba Oyekan joined their ancestors. So also in Ile Ife after Oonirisa Atobatele Sir Adesoji Aderemi left, and Kabiyesi Sijuwade took over.

There was no Regent in Oyo Alaafin where the Oyo Mesi reign supreme. Same for the Owa Obokun of Ilesha after the demise of Owa Obokun Agunlejika and before Oba Aromolaran took over. There was no Regent in Owo after Ekunwolu, Oluaiye Olateru Olagbegi answered the call.

There was no Regent in Idanre following the transition of Kabiyesi Owa Arubiefin.

However, there are few towns in Ekitiland and other places where they had Regents in their traditional system. Certainly in Ado Ewi and Iropora and Oba Ile near Akure, the tradition is fully observed. In the case of Akure, we have had two Regents who have refused to quit after serving out their term as Regents. The were both powerful women of substance with a lot of medicinal and spuritual power.

One of them became the 13th Deji of Akure. Her name was “Eyearo” She reigned for 26 years from 1393 to 1419. The second one became the 25th Deji. Her name is “Eyemoin.” She reigned for 30 years from 1705 to 1735. We are able to talk about them today because their reigns were properly documented.

Princess Bisoye Adedipe, Regent of Elemo in Akure.

After Ewuare the Great broke chalk, his eldest son Ezoti succeeded him. If you recall Olua (Edeleyo’s younger brother) succeeded Ezoti (circa 1473) who himself moved on to the great beyond within 14 days – shot by an aggrieved palace boy during coronation.

According to Egharevba, when Ezoti began his journey to the spirit world, his brother Okpame went to Esi to bring Ezoti’s only son (Owere) back to take the throne. Sadly, Owere and his mum were assassinated on the way back (buried alive) by Okpame – but news of his action leaked leading to his banishment (exile) to Ora. Fear of Okpame made Olua (Ewuare’s second son) initially refuse the throne. Thus, Edeleyo (Olua’s older sister) was invited to become Oba. She was actually installed as Edaiken but fell ill to an unspecified incurable female complaint on her way to Uselu. The spot where she took ill is called Ogbe Edeleyo and bears a shrine to this day. Every Edaiken since then has been decreed to offer a sacrifice at this spot on his way to Uselu.

Orompoto (also spelled: Oronpoto) was the first and last female Alaafin of Oyo, also the empire’s titled ruler. She was the sister of her predecessor Eguguojo. She assumed the throne because there was no male successor from her elder brother at the time. Orompoto lived in the 16th-century. She was considered a skillful warrior and was known according to Oyo tales of her inadvertent victory at the battle of Illayi. Orompoto was one of the four Alaafins to be buried in Oyo Igoho, the capital established by Eguguoju, his brother.

Orompoto’s story say that she was a woman who “danced in and out on the day of her coronation and then the king-makers looked up and realised she had turned into a man.” Orompoto was the child of Egungunoju, the first king of Oyo at Igboho who had no sons. As she wanted to rule against Yoruba tradition, she chose to change her sex rather than shift the throne to another family.

Orompoto was the monarch who introduced cavalary into the Oyo military and lead the Oyo army to conquer many lands. It has been suggested that she is the one behind Oyo bcoming the largest empire in Yoruba history. Interestingly, it is noted that Orompoto’s successor, her son Ajiboyede was the first Oyo king to impose castration for the ranking male official in the palace. Apparently no other woman assumed the Oyo throne before and after the reign of Orompoto.

Luwoo was the first and only female to be crowned a king in Ife. She was said to be the 21st Ooni of Ife. She took over the thrown after the demise of Ooni Giesi and was succeeded by Ooni Lumobi. Her reign was said to be filled with terror and fear especially by the men. The female folks in Ife lost the opportunity of being crowned a king again just because of the wickedness perpetrated by Luwoo while seated on the revered throne.

She is said to be so finicky that she did not walk on bare floor. According to palace sources, Luwoo walks on tiles, clay tiles. The residue of the tiles she walked on while she reigned is still available in Ife and other parts of Yoruba land she visited while on the throne because the tiles are unique. The hand-made clay tiles Ooni of Ife Queen Luwoo walked on How did she get these tiles produced? It was gathered that anyone who commit one offence or the other is ordered to make the clay tiles.

They are ordered to bake the clay, and afterwards use their bare hands to break it into pieces and then lay it on the floor for the queen to walk on. It is reported that the female Ooni was a beautiful and sophisticated queen who took pride in her physical appearance and that of her surroundings. She was also known to be the one to commission unique Yoruba custom of construction of decorative pavements; open-air courtyards paved the pottery shreds. Queen Luwoo was said not to spare the menfolk when they offend her or her constituted authority. She was noted to ride erring men as horses for violating her laws. She was a terror to lazy people. For her highhandedness, the council of obas in Ife convened and vowed after her demise not to make a female the Ooni of Ife again as they saw Queen Luwoo as being uncontrollable by them.

The role of Regents ought to be defined by a purposeful Government since they are being paid by tax payers. A responsible Government ought to be able to do that. Awolowo Government to his everlasting credit initiated the 1958 Chieftaincy Declarations covering the whole Western Region to forestall anarchy and confusion and hooliganism associated with filling most of the vacancies for most of the important Obaship and Chieftaincy titles in the old West.


Published by oloolutof

Urbanologist, Geographer, Traditionalist and Oral historian. ​I am a versatile, personable, computer literate and goal – driven achiever. I have good communication skill with ability to interact at different levels. I am self –motivated, can easily assimilate new ideals and quite adaptive to work in different environments. Studied in University of Jos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and University of Calabar.

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