On Saturday 23rd of April, 2022, Nigerians and the rest of the world woke up to the sad news that Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, danced into the night of his long royal life by joining his ancestors while receiving treatment at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti.
He was the third from the Alowolodu Ruling House, the other being Agunloye of the two ruling houses recognised by Oyo tradition and the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Always richly bedecked in traditional Yoruba attire, surrounded by most of his beautiful and adorable ‘Ayabas’ (wives), Oba Lamidi held the traditions and moral values of his people in a most colourful manner.
Indeed his sartorial elegance equally matched by his Ayabas’ was a cultural beauty to behold at public events and any time he travelled from the shores of Nigeria. Apart from being the most historically prominent of all Yoruba monarchs, reasons abound why Oba Adeyemi’s memory and legacy will remain etched in the sands of time.
As the foremost iconic aesthete of Oyo kingdom, he lived, practised and advocated the beauty of cultural nuances in all interactions. From the political angle he was one of the nationalistic royal fathers whose voice was respected and honoured in Nigeria’s political circles.
Although he strongly upheld the idea of Yoruba nation and state policing, he never called for splitting the federation. For about eight years Oba Lamidi privately paid vigilante groups to guard farms and villages from Oke-Ogun down to Oyo town.
This was part of the metamorphosis of Amotekun as acknowledged by the Oyo State Government which made him the Grand Patron. He believed in community policing as the most effective means of local security.
The Amotekun experiment has proved that local policing can co-exist with the national security systems. Unlike many of his peers, Adeyemi placed ethics and virtue over money in giving chieftaincy titles of the land to deserving citizens.
He was Chancellor to Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto for three chequered tenures. When the grand monarch passed on, he was serving as the Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri. On the social sphere, Oba Adeyemi was a unifying factor between the royal families, embracing all members of the royal household irrespective of being Alowolodu or Agunloye.
He made peace with other kings thereby downplaying battles of supremacy. His marriage to non-Yoruba in his expansive polygamous harem shows his appreciation of cultural diversity. Adeyemi was widely reported to play fatherly and husband roles to all his wives who he established well before his death.
With his personal wealth he settled a very long list of known and unknown people’s educational bills till he died. He patronized local medical services as evident in where he passed on.
Furthermore, Adeyemi was passionate about religious harmony, making the palace a confluence where all religions merged for the progress of the kingdom.
Traditionalists, Christians and Muslims all co-existed in worship in the various shrines in his palace. The late monarch’s major frustration was that Nigeria has never had the kind of leadership that thought more about the people; a leadership that is able to understand the complexity of the nation.
While alive he often recalled that in 1914 when the amalgamation document was signed by his predecessor Alaafin Siyanbola Ladigbolu, the king lamented that what the British colonialists were trying to do was bringing predators and preys together and seriously warned against the consequences.
But he then thought that if the leaders and managers of affairs were prudent enough, they might be able to manage the contraption.
Alaafin wanted the Yoruba to play their leadership roles as exemplars and Omoluwabi as a model to others. Oba Adeyemi was 83 years old and the longest reigning Alaafin ever, having ruled for more than 51 years. In general, he will be missed for his candour, his great intellect, his retentive memory, his ability to represent the true Yoruba person in the way he dressed, the way he danced, the way he moved, his courage, his versatility, his generosity, his love for family, and his love for youngsters’ education.
We sincerely condole with the people of Oyo and Nigerians over the loss of this great nationalist. While we say ‘adieu’ to the great king, we wish the Oyomesi the very best in selecting the next Alaafin.
Oba Adeyemi has since been interred according to Muslim rites and the tradition of Oyo, leaving the Oyomesi in control of the monarchy until another king is crowned.