Yorubas Must Return the Glory of Old Oyo Empire – Abdulhakeem Adegoke Alawuje
It’s high time the true sons and daughters of Yoruba brought back the lost glory of the Old Oyo Empire by uniting all our Brothers and Sisters across African countries.
In addition to Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos and some parts of Edo, Delta, Kwara and Kogi, the Old Oyo Empire extends to Dahomey, Togo, Ghana and some parts of West African countries.
While the Alaafin resides in Oyo town, the current capital of Oyo is located in Ibadan the Headquarters of the old Western Region.
If we fail to come together now, we will only end up blaming ourselves and may eventually fall into regret. It has been observed that while other socio-cultural groups like the Hausas, Fulanis, Igbos, Idomas etc do not joke with their kinsmen, irrespective of geographical distance, Yorubas appear to be lackadaisical about this.
But what exactly is wrong with Yorubas across of West Africa region? Undoubtedly, at a time in history, the Oyo Empire emerged as the strongest Empire among the black race. The Empire was one of the most courageous and most powerful in Africa. Its influence can surely not be undermined.
Consequently, uniting under the symbol of Alaafin or the banner of the Old Oyo Empire, irrespective of religion, the artificial state of origin or the super-imposed nationality (by the colonial masters) remains a veritable platform to foster unity, harmony and love; as well as return our lost glory.
It is an Empire with well-established groups and communities across the world, such as in Brazil, Cuba, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso (Upper Volta) up to Ivory-coast, the UK and even beyond.
Arguably, just as Yoruba is the most socialite tribe, it is also, perhaps, the most respected Empire that gave the black race pride of place in effective and efficient leadership, food security, economic development and other benefits, forcing the entire world to accord African nations the kind of respect and regard the continent truly deserved.
The global and national political order that relegated the Oyo dynasty and its likes to the backseat was the same tendency that denied the entire African continent its deserved respect.
The Whites knew how powerful the Oyo Empire was. At the time they had interaction with Nigeria some centuries ago, they knew how powerful the Empire was, both militarily and administratively.
It’s not surprising therefore that capturing the Empire was not a walk in the pack. It came with a very high price on the part of the colonisers. They realised how powerful the then Alaafin was.
Oyo Empire was systematically weakened by the colonisers by all means available. One of the tactics adopted by the usurpers was that new and emerging political leaders (who had acquired formal education) were empowered, far above the traditional rulers who were consequently relegated to be the background. The control of state resources was made the exclusive right of the political class. In no time, our kings became toothless tigers and they became mere ceremonial heads.
This was extended to the orchestrated power tussle and supremacy battle between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi the Second. This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It was one calamity too many. This tragedy befell and affected the psyche of the entire Yoruba race. Unfortunately, we all underrated the tragedy – the incident that added a serious set back to the unity, love and harmony of the Yoruba sons and daughters.
Our socio-cultural organisation called Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG) could still remember what we went through before the success and emergence of Ojulowo Omo Yoruba, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the President of Nigeria. Asiwaju had to go as far as inventing the precept of EMI LOKAN, AWA LOKAN, YORUBA LOKAN to rally the Yorubas’ support because while many members of other major tribes supported their own, Yorubas are foremost among the enemies and detractors of Asiwaju. When Arewa Consultative Forum solidly stood by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Ohaneze Ndigbo uncompromisingly backed Peter Obi, Afenifere Group remained the foremost detractor of Tinubu. Understandably, those who truly appreciate history and are proud of Yoruba tradition stood by Tinubu. Foremost in this regard are the Yoruba traditional rulers, including the late Alaafin, and Oba Lamidi Adeyemi.
It would have been more disastrous for the unity and future of the Yoruba race if Tinubu had failed, particularly with the opposition from the ignorant and brainwashed gullible Yoruba youths.
Yoruba sons and daughters, irrespective of their dialect, be they Oyo, Ife, Ijesa, Ijebu, Remo, Egba, Igbomina or Awori belong to the same father and mother.
It is bad enough that our Brothers in African countries have lost a sense of belonging with their Brothers in Nigeria. As it stands, in addition to other monarchs, courtesy of the artificial boundaries imposed on us by the colonial masters, we have lost not less than three kingdoms (sons of Oduduwa) to the Benin Republic; prominent among which is Onipopo of Popo, Onisabe of sabe and Alaketu of Ketu.
Interestingly, the same callously drawn map that pushed many Hausa-Fulanis to the Niger Republic and made it a French colony was the map that separated these three kingdoms of Alaafin in the Western part of Nigeria to the French colony in the Benin Republic. But while the North do not play with their relatives in Niger Republic, Yorubas in the Southwest seem to have forgotten their affinity and historical bond with their Brothers in Benin Republic.
How it all started: At the initial stage, residents of these three kingdoms were like living in a place and farming in another location not too far from their house, within the then Nigeria. But before they knew what was happening, some of their lands and farming areas were caught up in the now Benin Republic. They used to move freely from their homes to the farm daily until they were told they had to get permission to assess their farms! This is a complete artificial boundary surreptitiously created as a ‘settlement’ between Britain and France in 1884-1885, at the Berlin Conference in Germany.
If ignorant and innocent citizens fail in this regard, is it not catastrophic to discover that our traditional and cultural leaders refuse to embrace themselves?
As already noted above, unlike the Afenifere, leaders of other sociocultural groups in Nigeria do not play politics with the political and socio-cultural rights of their people.
Yoruba Welfare Group will therefore not relent on our oars in securing the rights of the Yorubas, irrespective of their religion and political affiliations.
The struggle has indeed begun and we shall continue until success is achieved.
Comrade Abdulhakeem Adegoke Alawuje is the National President of the Yoruba Welfare Group.