Aare Ona Kakanfo In Modern Yorubaland: Is The Title Necessary?
The coordinator Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Gani Adams was installed on Saturday, 19-years after the demise of Moshood Abiola, as the 14th Aare ona kakanfo of Yorubaland.
Given the Yoruba history and the position of aare ona kakanfo, Gani Adams is expected to protect and defend the Yorubaland against warfare. But in our modern day, there’s no war ravaging the Yourbaland, Mr. Adams admits this by saying”
“I know that so much is expected of me.
“My appointment is a challenge, considering the power and glamour brought to the position by the 13th and I4th occupiers, Late Chief S. L. Akintola and Late Chief MKO Abiola respectively.
“I consider myself lucky because there was no war ravaging the Yoruba nation now, except the gradual extinction of Yoruba culture and values which must be urgently protected and preserved.”
The question is why should the title “aare ona kakanfo” be conferred on Gani Adams at this point?
THE ROLE OF AARE ONA KAKANFO AND HISTORY
THE Aare Ona Kakanfo title is a very sensitive position in Yorubaland. It was a title given to the generalissimo, the war general during the old Oyo Empire.
At the time, an Aare Ona Kakanfo would lead battles, fight wars, mobilise, train soldiers and conquer the enemies.
The introduction of the title was informed by the need to fortify the ancient, pre-colonial army of the old Oyo Empire, which at one time could boast of over 100,000 horsemen.
In recent times, however, the title has become more or less ceremonial, because there is no war to fight.
Nevertheless, the Aare Ona Kakanfo is expected, in a sense, to ‘fight’ for the development and growth of the Yorubaland.
He must be at the vanguard of the advocacy of Yoruba interests within the larger Nigerian framework.
The Aare is also to foster unity among the Yorubas and become a rallying point for the promotion of Yoruba culture and tradition.
THE MYTH AND HISTORY
There is a school of thought that believes that things have not been the same for the Yoruba since one of their ancient obas, Alaafin Aole, cursed the race.
Aole was believed to be a highly temperamental ruler. He was offended by the sixth Aare Ona Kakanfo, Afonja, who refused to wage war against Iwere-Ile, in the present day Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State.
As history has it, the first Aare Ona Kakanfo was from Iwere-Ile, so there was a kind of understanding within their ranks that no Aare Ona Kakanfo should go to war against the town. Alaafin Aole saw this as an affront against his office, because in the ancient Oyo Empire, the Alaafin was so powerful that everyone deferred to him.
Scholars and students of Yoruba history say the refusal of Aole to recognise and accept Afonja, as the new generalissimo of Yoruba Army, made him (Afonja) to send an empty calabash to Aole, which symbolised a rejection of Aole and demanded his head in the empty calabash.
That was a sign of rejection in the Yoruba nation in those days. This school of thought believes that the curse is still affecting the Yoruba race till date.
One of such culture enthusiasts, Mr. Ajani Fadare, said Aole also cursed Afonja and his descendants. Afonja is the founder of Ilorin, but today the throne of the ancient kingdom is occupied by the Fulanis. Aole had declared that Afonja and his descendants would never get to the throne and that they remain second-class citizens in their kingdom.
Fadare said: “That’s exactly what is happening today; as we speak, they have not been recognised as the custodians of the throne.
So, as Aare Ona Kakanfo, Otunba Adams is expected to do something to appease the spirits of our great grandfathers and find a way to neutralise the curse.
What Is Your Take?
(a) To retain the title of aare ona kakanfo, while the responsibilities speaks less of the title, or
(b) To change the title to fit into modern day responsibilities of the position