MAKING OF THE OONI OF IFE. By Araba Adedayo Ologundudu. October 2015.
The traditional Yorùbá political system was not democratic in the same sense of a modern democracy. The chiefs and the king makers can dethrone the king if he refuses to do their wishes. There have been stories of kings who would rather commit suicide, as in the case of Alaafin Aólẹ̀ in Ọ̀yọ́ Empire during the time of Àfoǹjá at Ilorin in 1810. In Ifẹ̀ tradition, Ooni is the only King who wears the crown called Adé Arè. This contains pieces of the original crown worn by Oduduwa the father of the Yoruba people. The chiefs wears the special fish mouth shape hats made of expensive beads called Òró. The crown is also made of expensive beads and sometimes gold and diamonds. The crown is a very powerful symbol in the Yorùbá culture. A lot of royal names start with Ade (crown). For example, Adédayọ̀ (crown becomes joy) Adésọjí (Crown awakens). Adégòkè (crown rise to the top) and so on.
In Ilé Ifẹ̀ the king does not become the Ọọni until He has finished all the rituals and the Adé Arè have been placed on his head. According to the If̀ẹ̀s, the Ọọni is not an individual. He is the representative of Odùduwà and the Òrìṣàs on earth. He is also the father of all Yorubas. Therefore he cannot be seen on ordinary days by humans. He is always preoccupied making the pathway between human beings and Olódùmarè. The story says that the sixteen children of Oduduwa became the predominant kings of the Yorùbá land. Some of them were Olupopo of Popo Jaja of Opobo, Ọ̀raǹguń of Ìlá and Ọlọ́wọ̀ of Ọ̀wọ̀ Onisabe of Sabe. Eweka was the first king of Benin. Eweka was a grandson of Odùduwà. Ọ̀raǹmíyan ̀was his father. Oral stories told us how Ọlọ́wọ,̀ the last son of Odùduẁa, one year refused to go back to Odùduwà’s annual event for all other Kings. From that time they all took their independence from Odùduwà one by one. But when a new king needs to be installed, they all still come back to Ifẹ̀ to receive the blessings of Ọọni and to receive their official crown from the throne of Odùduwa,̀ their great ancestor. The crown is the power and the authority in Yorùbá traditional culture.
Here are the lists of the Ọọni who have ruled in Ilé Ifè:
Odùduwà First Ọọni
Ọ̀sańgangan Obamakin Ife Elder.
Ogun Ife Elder.
Ọbàlùfọǹ Son of Oduduwa.
Ọ̀raǹmíyaǹ Son of Oduduwa.
Ayétise Son of Oduduwa.
Lájẹ́misìn Son of Ayetise.
Lájódogun Son of Lajemisin.
1,Láfogído Son of Lajemisin.
2,Odidirogbesin Descendant of Lajodogun.
3,Ẹkun Descendant of Lajodogun.
4,Ajímúdà Descendant of Lajodogun.
Gboo ni jio Descendant of Lajodogun.
Okunlajosin Descendant of Lajodogun.
Adégbàlú Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ògbórú Descendant of Lajodogun.
Giesi Descendant of Lajodogun.
Luwo Descendant of Lajodogun.
Lúmobì Descendant of Lajodogun.
Agbẹ̀d̀ẹ̀gbẹdẹ Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ojee lokun binrin Descendant of Lajodogun.
Lagunja Descendant of Lajodogun.
Larunka Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ademilu Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ọ̀sińkọ́lá Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ọmọgbogbo Descendant of Lajodogun.
Ajila Descendant of Lajodogun.
Adejinlẹ Descendant of Lajodogun.
Olojo Descendant of Lajodogun.
Okiti Descendant of Lajodogun.
Adégúnlẹ̀ Abewéilá (1839-1849)
Derin Ologbenla (1880-1894)
Adéĺekàn Olúbòse 1 (1894-1910)
Adémilúyì Àjàgún (1910-1930)
Adésọjí Aderẹ̀mí (1930-1980)
Síjúwadé Olúbùse 11 (1980-present). The Ọọnis are all descendants of Lájódogun.
Lájódogun descendants have monopolized the throne of Ile Ife for over 900 years. According to oral stories from the elders of Ife, the people swore never to select any other Ọọni from the Adéjinlẹ̀ family because Ọọni Abewéilá was very brutal and oppressive during his time. As we can see in the list, it is very clear that there is only one ruling house in Ife with two different branches. According to Dr. Ọmọ́tọṣọ Elúyẹmí in his book This Is Ilé Ifẹ, there was a short era of Láfogído dynasty since that time. However, it has been the Lájódogun descendants who have ruled Ile Ife as the Ọọni up to the present.
According to the record, Adésọjí Adérẹ̀mí was the Ọọni who ruled for the longest time in Ifẹ̀ in recent years. For fifty years Ọba Adésọjí successfully ruled Ifẹ̀.
According to the indigenous Ifẹ, there is only one day that they do not perform ritual in Ile Ifẹ̀.
The ÌṣòròChiefs of Ilé Ifè 1980
The Ìsòrò Chiefs perform all the rituals in Ifẹ̀̀. It is believed that all of the rituals and ceremonies done at Ifẹ̀ are done on behalf of the whole universe. Ifẹ̀ believed that all people of the world took their beginning from Ilé Ifẹ̀, and they must make sure that the universe is in peace and harmony.
The Mọdéwá Chiefs of Ilé Ifẹ̀ (1980).
According to the oral history in Iĺe Ifẹ̀, there were people already living in Ifẹ before the advent of Oduduwa and his entouragè. There are no specific recorded accounts of who they were. They might have been part of the Ìgbòs or some other group that fled when Odùduwà and his entourage arrived. It made me wonder why the Ìgbòs were invading the ancient Ifẹ before Mọremi founded a way and Ifẹ̀ defeated the Ìgbòs. In my observation of the traditional political setting of Ilé Ifẹ̀, I noticed that every compound has its own king, and the Ọọni is the supreme king of kings of all the compounds in Ilé Ifẹ. At the time, the compounds were considered small cities. An indication of the fact is the titles of the different kings of the compounds in Ilé Ifẹ̀ and the old saying “Ife mẹfa Elusi keje.” There were six Ifẹ, and Elu was the seventh Ifẹ.
Among the Mọdewa Chiefs are Obadio (the king of Idio), Obalésù (The king of Ilesu),
Ọbalálẹ̀ (the king owner of the ground), Ọbameri (warrior head who helped Odùduwà against Ọbàtálá), Ọbalúru (rules his compound) Ọbaláayè (ruler of Ìráyè), Ọbawinriǹ and many more.
The Mọdéwá chiefs are the closest chiefs to the Ọọni. They deal with the social and political issues of Ilé Ifẹ̀. They also settle domestic disputes at the palace.