The late Alaafin Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III
By Vivian Ihechu
Eulogies and encomiums continued to trail the passing of Alaafin Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who joined his ancestors on April 22.
Following his demise, religious, traditional, political leaders as well as citizens continued to pay glowing tributes on the contributions of Alaafin Adeyemi III to Oyo, to Yoruba race and to Nigeria.
Recognising his worth to the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari extolled the virtues of Alaafin Adeyemi III whose reign covered major historic transitions in the country.
He affirmed that his 52 years rule was remarkable in many ways, with the most significant being on human development.
“He encouraged learning as a culture and formal education as a necessity,’’ the president noted.
President Buhari said the departed traditional ruler participated in numerous national meetings and conferences to shape the future of the country and shared “living words of wisdom’’ at every opportunity on unity and people-focused governance.
He also lauded the late traditional ruler for promoting values of peace and stability.
The Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, regarded the death of the Alaafin as “a huge loss to the state, to Nigeria and to Yoruba race”.
“He was an ever-supportive royal father and a worthy leader, who spared nothing in trying to make Oyo State and Nigeria greater.
“Kabiyesi’s words of advice and guidance were always golden and helpful.
“Apart from Oyo State losing its last man standing in the rank of experienced traditional rulers with long years of royal leadership, it has also lost a royal institution and an authority.
Oba Adeyemi’s transition marked the end of another glorious era in traditional rulership in Yoruba land, in Nigeria, in Africa, in the Americas, in the Caribbean and in other climes where the Alaafin had taken the ‘gospel’ of the distinctiveness of the Yoruba race.
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, also described the passage of the Alaafin Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, as a loss to the entire Oduduwa race worldwide.
Ooni Ogunwusi, who doubles as the Natural Head of the Oduduwa race worldwide, confirmed the late Alaafin to have been a worthy elder whose entire life was dedicated to the promotion of the prestigious Yoruba culture and advancement of humanity.
“We have lost a great icon, a great ruler, who saw Oyo through civilisation and modern development without jettisoning the cultural sacredness of the throne first occupied by Alaafin Oranmiyan, The Great.
“Ile Oodua Palace and the Ooni had a great working relationship with the late Alaafin who gave his best in resolving major conflicts in Yoruba land and uniting all sons and daughters of Oduduwa globally among other landmark achievements.
“The late Alaafin was one of the privileged elders that contributed to the growth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and also saw the country through military and democratic eras with unquantifiable positive inputs,’’ he said.
“While the demise of Oba Adeyemi would be greatly missed for his indelible imprint as a great descendant of Oduduwa, the Ooni urges the entire House of Oduduwa worldwide to continue to pray for the deceased’s family and for Oyo indigenes at this trying time.
“May Almighty Olodumare also be with the Oyomesi (Oyo chiefs) at this critical time that may challenge the culture and traditions of their ancestors in the process of burial rites and the process of selecting the next Alaafin.
“The position of Alaafin is too culturally important to be handled in a way that undermines our collective traditions and culture.
“God shall solidly stand with the Oyomesi and the entire Oyo kingdom,’’ the Ooni prayed.
A former governor of Lagos State, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, affirmed the late Oba Adeyemi III to be a strong pillar of arts, culture and tradition.
“Kabiyesi took upon himself the task of promoting Nigerian arts and culture for which he received many ambassadorial awards in Nigeria and beyond.
“In recognition of his important contributions to peace, religious harmony and stability in Nigeria, the nation gifted him the award of Commander of the Federal Republic.
“Alaafin was one of the most influential, greatly respected traditional rulers in Yoruba land, in Nigeria and indeed in Africa and beyond.
“Alaafin fostered harmony and brought prosperity and development to the ancient Oyo Kingdom.
“He was loved by his people, wisely ruling for 52 years.
“An elder statesman and patriot, Alaafin Adeyemi III was bold and courageous. He spoke truth to power.
“His interventions in national affairs helped the nation to navigate difficult moments and helped to usher a more just society. He played vital roles in the struggle for democracy, working assiduously towards the establishment of our democracy.
“The Black race has lost a titan who will be sorely missed,’’ Tinubu said.
Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti also eulogised the late Alaafin of Oyo as a bridge builder, patriot and courageous leader who contributed to Nigeria’s unity during his lifetime.
Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governor’s Forum, described the deceased as a distinguished first class Oba, who brought dignity, respect and glamour to the traditional institution and made it relevant in the quest for a better society.
“Oba Adeyemi was an authority in history and blessed with a sharp memory which added value and class to his royal duties and day-to-day interaction with people from different walks of life.
“He operated an open door policy and always made his wise counsel available to political leaders, irrespective of their party affiliations.
“The late traditional ruler was a man of many parts. He never disappointed in the performance of his royal duties and other roles he was privileged to have played, which spanned sectors like administration, politics, education, religion and sports, among others,’’ he said.
Fayemi noted also that Oba Adeyemi III spoke truth to power without playing to the gallery, defending the culture and traditions of Yoruba race with panache and passion.
Chief (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi, widow of former Ajimobi of Oyo State, described him as regal and noble in the real meaning of the words.
She said helped to develop the ancient town of Oyo and his reign was progressive.
“Alaafin’s reign witnessed tremendous progress in the ancient town of Oyo leading to peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the people.
“His death was a major loss to the people of the ancient town of Oyo, Oyo State and to Nigeria. His sage and wise counsel would be missed by all and sundry.
“As we mourn the passage of this unparalleled bridge-builder, let us take consolation in the words of former American President, Abraham Lincoln who said: “in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.’’
“Baba packed tremendous, impactful activities in his years and these have left indelible marks that will continue to live long after him.
“I share in the grief of the Oyomesi, the Oyo people, Oyo State and Nigeria,’’ she said.
The Chief Imam of Oyo, Sheikh Moshood Ajokidero, said he contributed his quota to the development of Oyo Town, to Oyo State and to Nigeria in general.
He said Adeyemi impacted on the lives of many people positively and would forever be remembered for his good deeds.
“Oba Adeyemi was our last man standing in the rank of most eminent royal fathers with long years of leadership.
“He became a golden king, an institution and an authority rolled into one by virtue of his immense experience, wisdom and understanding of Yoruba history, royalty and politics.
“Oba Adeyemi, not only elevated the Alaafin throne with his knowledge and wisdom, he became a worthy exemplar for royal leadership in Africa and brought glory to Oyo State and to Nigeria.
“Kabiyesi never spared anything in his stride to make Oyo State greater and to bring about the Nigeria of everyone’s collective dream.
“His words of advice and guidance were always golden and helpful.
“It is my prayer that God accepts Kabiyesi’s soul into heaven and upholds everyone and everything he left behind,’’ he said.
Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Oyo State, Chief Bayo Lawal, said the demise of Alaafin Adeyemi III created a vacuum hat would be difficult to fill demise.
Paula Gomez, the Alaafin’s Cultural Ambassador, said the late traditional ruler was a great man, mentor and father to everybody.
Prof. Aliyu Shugaba, Vice-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri, described Oba Adeyemi III as one who demonstrated unparalleled passion and commitment to the development of education in general and to the University of Maiduguri where he served as Pro-Chancellor.
The women folk are not left out in paying glowing tributes to Alaafin Adeyemi III.
Chief (Mrs) Mutiat Ladoja, wife of former Gov. Ladoja of Oyo State, regarded his demise as the loss of a father figure and a counsellor to Oyo State in general.
“There is no doubt that Oba Lamidi Adeyemi lived a long and fulfilled life having been on the throne of his fathers for 52 years as Alaafin Oyo.
“Iku Baba Yeye was an astute custodian of culture and tradition that cannot be easily forgotten.
“This quality was evident in practically all areas of his life, most especially in the practice and sustainability of Yoruba core cultural values and ethics,’’ she said.
The former governor’s wife and Agba-Akin Iyalode of Ibadan land, said the late Alaafin was deeply rooted in Yoruba historical knowledge with flare for research and development.
Ladoja said that Oba Adeyemi III lived a caring family life by relating across generational divide within and outside his domain.
“His love for sporting activities also brought him close to so many social circles and remained very relevant till his departure from mother earth.
“Baba so much believed in airing his thoughts and beliefs no matter whose ox was gored. His quality as a public commentator and wealth of knowledge shall be greatly missed,’’ she said.
Rep. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe also commended Alaafin Adeyemi III as being a reference point on the culture of the Yoruba.
Akande, Chairman, House Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, said: “The Yoruba race has lost an encyclopaedia of culture in the death of Oba Adeyemi.
“ Kabiyesi, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, was one of the most revered royal fathers in Africa.
“The late traditional ruler contributed meaningfully to the socio-cultural development and economic growth of Oyo State,’’ she said.
The Grand Council of Yoruba Youths also spoke through its President-General, Mr Bamiji Awa, who lamented that the Alaafin passed on when his wisdom and counsel were most needed.
Alaafin Adeyemi III was married to about 13 Oloris (wives) and had no fewer than 20 children and many grandchildren.
The oloris are Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi, Ayaba Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi, Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi, Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi, Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi, and Ayaba Basirat Ajoke Adeyemi.
Others are Ayaba Memunat Omowunmi Adeyemi, Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi, Ayaba Moji Adeyemi, Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi, and Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi.
One of his sons, Prince Akeem Adeyemi, remembered his father with respect and admiration.
Prince Adeyemi said the Alaafin reconciled with almost everybody he had differences with before his death.
A member of House of Representatives, representing Afijio, Oyo East, Oyo West and Atiba Federal Constituency, Prince Adeyemi said his father was a core traditionalist and defender of Yoruba culture.
“It is a pity we lost a man who gave Oyo its true name, a man who truly represented Yoruba culture; a symbol of Yoruba tradition.
“An epitome of knowledge and wisdom is gone.
“We love him and we are celebrating a life well spent; the legacy he left behind is for us to always to defend Yoruba and always say the truth, no matter whose ox is gored.
“Alaafin lived his entire life in service to humanity and loved his people as a king and served them till his death,’’ he said.
Alaafin Adeyemi III was physically present to celebrate his daughter, Miss Adedoja Adeyemi, on her successful feat, when she received a Master’s degree in African and Diaspora Studies.
That was at the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, during the 52nd convocation of University of Lagos, in January 2022.
For instance, he was present to celebrate his daughter, Miss Adedoja Adeyemi, on her successful feat, when she received a Master’s degree in African and Diaspora Studies from the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, during the 52nd convocation ceremony of University of Lagos, in January 2022.
Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi 111 was laid to rest on Saturday, April 23, 2022 after the chief imam of Oyo land, Masud Ajokidero, performed the Janazah, an Islamic rite on the deceased around 12 noon.
Many attest that Alaafin Adeyemi 111 was indeed a bridge builder, courageous leader, custodian of culture, repository of Yoruba culture, history and tradition, a progressive, lover of education and sports who contributed meaningfully to socio-cultural development, economic and political growth of Oyo, Yoruba, Nigeria and the diaspora.
His sterling leadership, sustained fatherly guidance, support and understanding of peaceful coexistence and progress are just a few of his highlighted virtues.
Many attested that Alaafin Adeyemi III was indeed a bridge builder, courageous leader, and custodian of culture, repository of Yoruba culture, history and tradition.
Many others described him as a progressive lover of education and sports who contributed meaningfully to socio-cultural development, economic and political growth of Oyo, of Yoruba, of Nigeria and of the diaspora.
His sterling leadership, sustained fatherly guidance, support and understanding of peaceful coexistence and progress are just a few of his highlighted virtues.
Oba Lamidi Adeyemi was born on Oct. 15, 1938 into the Alowolodu Royal House and was a member of the House of Oranmiyan. He was the son of late Raji Adeniran Adeyemi who became Alaafin in 1945.
Popularly called “Iku Baba Yeye’’, Alaafin Adeyemi III lost his mother, Ibironke, when he was young.
During his late childhood stage, Lamidi lived briefly at Iseyin where he learnt the basic rudiments of Islam.
He was crowned in December 1970 at the age of 31 years, to become the first-ever learned Alaafin and one of the youngest traditional rulers in Yoruba land.
Alaafin Adeyemi III started his Quranic School in Iseyin, while staying with the headmaster of St. Andrews Primary School (now St. Andrews College, Oyo) before proceeding to live with the Alake of Egba, Oba Oladepo Ademola, in his Abeokuta, Ogun, palace.
He attended Obalende Modern School and Tinubu Methodist School in Lagos, passing his entrance examination into secondary schools in Lagos Island with two offers to study at Igbobi College, Yaba or St. Gregory’s College, Obalende.
He chose to attend St. Gregory’s College in accordance with his guardian, Sir Kofoworola Abayomi’s wish.
Young Adeyemi loved boxing.
He left St. Gregory’s College with very good grades and had the choice to study Law or Economics or Public Relations.
He chose to study Law, but that changed when his father, Alaafin Adeyemi II was deposed.
He was offered a job at the Royal Exchange Assurance, Lagos and he made the best of every situation fate presented him, writing articles under pen names in newspapers.
Some of his writings were: “I shall be great (1968), “I shall be the next Alaafin’’ and “Women liberation, A misnomer in Yoruba land.’’
Alaafin Adeyemi III was consulted on many national issues by states and all Federal Governments, military and civilian alike from 1971 during the tenure of deceased Gen. Oluwole Rotimi as defunct Oyo State Governor until the civilian government of deceased President Umaru Yar’Adua
Alafin was the permanent Chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State until May 3, 2011, when deceased Gov. Adebayo Alao-Akala, passed a law rotating the office between the Alaafin, the Olubadan and Soun Ogbomoso.
In 1980, Alaafin Adeyemi III was appointed as the pioneering Chancellor of the then newly-established University of Sokoto, now Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, for first four-year tenure.
He was reappointed two times and was the Chancellor till 1992.
Within those periods, he presented several academic and reasoned memoranda on university education and on contemporary issues which were published both nationally and internationally.
The university, in appreciation of his contributions and achievements, honoured him with the Degree of Doctor of Letters (LL.D), Honorius Causa.
Until his transition, he was the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri
In January 1988, Alaafin Adeyemi III installed late Chief MKO Abiola as the Aare Ona Kankanfo in recognition of Abiola’s contributions to the social, economic, cultural and political development of Yoruba land and Nigeria at large.
Sitting Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, described Alaafin Adeyemi as a symbol of true Yoruba distinct values and heritage, and observed that he was the only Alaafin who installed two consecutive Aare Onakakanfo ever.
Among the Yoruba, the Alaafin is presumed to be the supreme head of all the kings and princes in Yoruba land, being one of the direct descendants of Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba race.
Alaafin (Owner of the Palace) is the title of the emperor of the Old Oyo Empire.
Present day Oyo is recognised by its natives as the ‘New Oyo’ (Ọyọ Atiba) to differentiate it from the former capital to the north, ‘Old Oyo’ (Ọyọ-Ile), which was deserted as a result of rumours of war.
The Old Oyo used to be about 133 km to the north of its present site on the borders of what is now Northern Nigeria.
Oyo Atiba, the present day is 55 km north of Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State.
In the ancient days, the Alaafin was an absolute ruler eulogised as “Iku Baba Yeye’’ (The one who can command death or pronounce death on anyone without a challenge), Kabiyesi (the one who cannot be questioned), Alashe (The authority or Igbakeji Orisha (Second-in-Command to gods).
History has it that the Alaafin Oyo is the seventh grandsons of Oduduwa, who eventually became king, laying the foundation for Yoruba civilisation.
Until Friday, April 22, there were eight Alaafin in Oyo with the first being Alaafin Olatunbosun Adeleye Atiba and 2nd one being Alaafin Adeolu Olujide.
The third was Alaafin Adeyemi I (Alowolodu bi Iyere) the grandfather of the immediate past Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi, the fourth was, Alaafin Lawani Agogo-Ija, the fifth was, Alaafin Ladigbolu Siyanbola I (Afasegbojo) and the sixth was Alaafin Afolabi Adeniran Adeyemi II, the father of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi.
The seventh Alaafin was Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II, while the eighth was Alaafin Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III.
On Friday, April 22, 2022, Oba Adeyemi III joined his ancestors at the age of 83 years after reigning for 52 years, the longest serving Alaafin ever. (NANFeatures)
** If used, please credit the writer as well as the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)