On Saturday, April 23, Nigerians, especially the people of the ancient Oyo Kingdom in Oyo State were hit with the news of the demise of the revered traditional ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, His Royal Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi III, who died at 83. The late Alaafin, who was a thoroughbred custodian of Yoruba culture and tradition, quit the stage with his head high.
Aside from being a first-class traditional ruler and one of the respected monarchs not only in Yorubaland but Nigeria at large, the late Oba Adeyemi’s footprints are large and conspicuous in the solid foundation for development that the Oyo Kingdom enjoyed during his 51 years of reign. Oba Adeyemi III, who ascended the throne of his forefathers on November 18, 1970, was the longest Alaafin of Oyo in the history of the ancient kingdom.
Since the news of the death of Iku Baba Yeye became public after his remains were brought to Oyo town in the early hours of Saturday, an array of people from all walks of life has turned his palace into a Mecca of a sort, just to confirm the demise of the revered traditional rulers and pay their respect to the man that had touched their lives in one way or the other and also to commiserate with the family he left behind.
AN24 gathered from a credible source that Oba Adeyemi joined his ancestors in the late hours of Friday at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital. And in line with Yoruba culture and tradition, traditional rites have begun in the ancient town of Oyo to celebrate the exit and funeral rites of late Oba Adeyemi, who paid a crucial role in enriching Yoruba culture and tradition, as well as contributing his quota to the growth and development of the ancient Oyo Kingdom.
The late Oba Adeyemi III was born on October 15, 1938, in the Alowolodu Royal House, to Raji Adeniran Adeyemi, who later became Alaafin in 1945, and Ibironke of Epo-Gingin. His paternal grandfather was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu, who ruled during the Kiriji War, and was the last independent ruler of the Oyo Empire before British colonialism. The late Alaafin’s great-grandfather was Oba Atiba Atobatele, who founded New Oyo while his great-great-grandfather, was Alaafin Abiodun, a direct descendant of Oranmiyan, the founder of the Oyo Empire.
The young Lamidi became Alaafin of Oyo at the age of 31. He ascended the throne of his forefathers on November 18, 1970, when Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo (now late) was the Military Governor of Oyo State. He succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II and reigned for over 51 years before taking his last breath on Friday, April 22, 2022.
The deceased was the permanent Chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State for many years until May 3, 2011, when the then Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala (now late) announced that the state government had passed a law that introduced rotation of the Office of Chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State between the Alaafin of Oyo and two other kings in the state; the Olubadan of Ibadanland and the Soun of Ogbomoso.
Oba Adeyemi III is an active participant in Oyo State politics. In the present Fourth Republic, he played a crucial role in determining who governs the state. He was instrumental to the victory of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi in the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He supported ACN against PDP and that was one of the reasons many people believed that the Alao-Akala administration passed a law to make the Chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State rotational among the three top traditional rulers in the State. Oba Adeyemi was also instrumental in the elections and appointment of some of his children and kinsmen into various public offices.
Despite his commitment to tradition and culture as a traditional ruler, Oba Adeyemi was also involved in Islam. He performed a pilgrimage in 1975 as a member of the entourage of the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed to hajj. In 1990, former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida appointed the Alaafin of Oyo as Amir-ul-Hajj in recognition of his commitment to the consolidation of Islam in Nigeria.
The late Alaafin during his lifetime also served as Chancellor in some federal universities. He was the Chancellor of the Uthman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto from 1980 to 1992. He was also appointed the Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State in 2015.
Oba Adeyemi III, who was said to be a boxer before becoming a traditional ruler has a passion for boxing and he has dramatically displayed his boxing skill in public on many occasions. He also loves going to Durbar Stadium in Oyo regularly for physical exercises.
As a traditional ruler, Oba Adeyemi III had about 13 wives. His senior wife was Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi, while the other 12 junior wives, whom he usually attended events with included; Ayaba Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi, Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi, Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi, Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi, Ayaba Badirat Ajoke Adeyemi, Ayaba Memunat Omowunmi Adeyemi, Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi, Ayaba Moji Adeyemi, Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi, and Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi. He is succeeded by over 20 children and grand children.