The Ancient History of the Old Oyo Empire

Oyo empire was a yoruba empire covering distance over the southwest zone and the western half of northcentral zone of the today Nigeria.

The Oyo empire grew to be the largest of the Yoruba states, it rose through the outstanding organisational and administratyive skill of the Yoruba people. The origins Of Oyo lie with Oranyan (Oramiyan) the last Prince of Oduduwa the king of Ile ife (the first settlement of the yorubas).

 

Orayan had an agreement with his brothers to take a war northward to states which had insulted their father Oduduwa the first Ooni of Ile ife, on the brothers way their was conflict among them which meant they had to split the army and went on differents way.

Oranyan’s army was small and not strong enough to make an expedition so he wandered southward until He got to Bussa,The local chief at Bussa entertained Orayan and gave him a mystical snake , which He was instructed to follow for seven days until it stopped somewhere and dissapered into the ground.

Orayan followed the advice and founded Oyo with the tittle of Alaafin of Oyo( the owner of the Palaace).

The Organisation of the Oyo Empire was a military structured one which helped it in its expansion and expeditions. The Alaafin of Oyo was more of a spiritual post and not purely hereditary The Alaafin is meant meant to settle quarrels between Sub rulers and mediating between Sub rulers and the people.The Sub rulers were meant to pay homage to the Alaafin during festivals, the most important one of these festival was the BERE festivals, which was meant to appese the gods to make peace reign in the kingdom for three years.

The Alaafin could not be disposed but was made to commit suicide,this was done by the Bashorun(the prime minister) by giving the Alaafin an empty calabash or a dish of parrots eggs to pass the rejection sentence,known as the ”Awon eyan ko o”(the people reject you and the gods reject you too) According to the traditition the Alaafin was to commit a Ritual sucide

Oyo empire was a yoruba empire covering distance over the southwest zone and the western half of northcentral zone of the today Nigeria.

The Oyo empire grew to be the largest of the Yoruba states, it rose through the outstanding organisational and administratyive skill of the Yoruba people.

The origins Of Oyo lie with Oranyan (Oramiyan) the last Prince of Oduduwa the king of Ile ife (the first settlement of the yorubas).

Orayan had an agreement with his brothers to take a war northward to states which had insulted their father Oduduwa the first Ooni of Ile ife, on the brothers way their was conflict among them which meant they had to split the army and went on differents way.

Oranyan’s army was small and not strong enough to make an expedition so he wandered southward until He got to Bussa,The local chief at Bussa entertained Orayan and gave him a mystical snake , which He was instructed to follow for seven days until it stopped somewhere and dissapered into the ground.

Orayan followed the advice and founded Oyo with the tittle of Alaafin of Oyo( the owner of the Palaace).

Read also : Nigerian Civil War: Causes, Effects and Other Facts You Should Know

The Organisation of the Oyo Empire was a military structured one which helped it in its expansion and expeditions. The Alaafin of Oyo was more of a spiritual post and not purely hereditary The Alaafin is meant meant to settle quarrels between Sub rulers and mediating between Sub rulers and the people.

The Sub rulers were meant to pay homage to the Alaafin during festivals, the most important one of these festival was the BERE festivals, which was meant to appese the gods to make peace reign in the kingdom for three years.

The Alaafin could not be disposed but was made to commit suicide,this was done by the Bashorun(the prime minister) by giving the Alaafin an empty calabash or a dish of parrots eggs to pass the rejection sentence,known as the ”Awon eyan ko o”(the people reject you and the gods reject you too) According to the traditition the Alaafin was to commit a Ritual sucide .

Read also : The Untold Story Of How MKO Abiola Was Nearly Prevented From Becoming The Aare Ona Kakanfo

THE STRUCTURE OF THE OYO GOVERNMENT

*The Alaafin;  The Alaafin is the ceremonial head of the oyo empire.

*The Ilari; The Alaafin appointed religious and government officials [ Eunuchs].

They were called ilari because they shaved half of their head,applying some spiritual substance to them, They were in Hundreds they were in divided in sexes

*The Council; While the Alaafin was the supreme lord of the Empire,He vwas not without Checks on His power.

The Oyomesi and the Yoruba Earthly cult [Ogbooni] kept the Alaafin’s power in check. The Oyomesi spoke for the politicians while the Ogbooni spoke for the People backed by the power of Religion.

*Military: The Oyo empire had a high level of professionalism in its military, its power lies in it Calvary as well as its leadership and the courage of its officers.

The military consist of the Eso or formally kknown as The Esho Onikoyi, they were appointed based on skills and not heritage.

they were led by the AARE ONA KAKANFO, The Aare were famous for lliving by a famous code much like thatt of the Latin world ”INFRA DIGNATATEM”. whenever they led an expeditions they had to win or never return home.

*The Bashorun:The Bashorun was the prime minister of the states, He was the Head of the council and had the power to present the Alaafin with the Rejection Calabash.

THE DECLINE OF THE OYO EMPIRE

The Oyo empire was at it peak during the the days of the slave trade,giving its Military power and it ever exlosive expeditions.

The economy of the empire was based on the military equipments and resources gotten from the trade.By 1807 when the abolition of slave trade act was implemented in Europe and America, the economy of the oyo empire deteroited and it led to the fall in the military power and led to several surbordinate states staging revolts. There were several bad leadership in the states which led to the total fall of the empire .

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WRITTEN BY: BABATUNDE ADEYEMI

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