•Succession battle begins as Basorun takes over in regency capacity
The Yoruba race, yesterday, was thrown into mourning following the demise of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who was said to have died at Afe Babalola Multi-System Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, AMSH.
Sunday Vanguard learned that the monarch, who was 83-years-old, had been ill before his demise.
He joined his ancestors on Friday night, according to sources at the hospital, five days after he was admitted for the treatment of a “chronic illness”.
The news of the top Yoruba king’s demise reverberated across the country. Earlier, there was confusion over the veracity of the news, especially on the social media following a statement by his Media and Publicity Director, Bode Durojaiye, dismissing the news.
He had urged members of the public to disregard the “unfounded report as the paramount ruler is a hale and hearty.”
However, the palace of the late king later issued a statement, confirming his demise.
“Alaafin is dead. Details in due course,” Durojaiye later said in a terse statement.
The remains of the top Yoruba traditional ruler were taken to Oyo town in the early hours of yesterday for burial rites.
His first son, Prince Tunde Adeyemi, and his siblings were said to have received the remains of the late monarch in Oyo town. The funeral rites began at 11:55 am amid a huge crowd of sympathizers who converged on the palace upon hearing the news.
The Chief Imam Of Oyo State, Masud Ajokidero, led other members of the state League of Imams to the palace for the burial.
Ajokidero and other Islamic clerics performed the funeral, Janazah, prayers at 12:35 pm outside the Aganju Forecourt.
After the Islamic prayers, the late monarch’s remains were taken back to the palace where traditionalists held final rites behind closed doors.
His body was later brought out into the main hall where he had received visitors when he was alive.
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Narrating how the foremost Yoruba monarch died as a result of chronic illness, a source close to AMSH said Adeyemi arrived at the hospital Sunday, April 17, but didn’t recover from the illness he was suffering from despite the efforts of the highly skilled specialists at the high profile hospital who had worked round the clock to save him. Another source close to the hospital simply described the late Alaafin’s illness as a medical case.
As of last night, there was no official reaction from the AMSH Management as telephone calls were put to the Chief Medical Director, Dr Kolawole Ogundipe, and that of the Director of Corporate Affairs, of Afe Babalola University, Mr Tunde Olofintila, were unanswered.
The late octogenarian monarch was a close friend of Aare Afe Babalola, the founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University and it was gathered that he was always at the hospital for routine medical check up.
Following his death, the Basorun of Oyo, who is the head of kingmakers, Oyo Mesi, would take over pending the appointment of a new king.
Oyo, the headquarters of the historical Oyo Empire, has a monarchical system headed by Alaafin.
An administrative council and governing body made up of Oyo Mesi provide checks and balances.
Oyo Mesi is headed by the Basorun, who, in the past, had the power to demand a king’s suicide by sending him a calabash of eggs.
With Alaafin’s demise, the Ladigbolu ruling house is expected to produce the next king. The late king was crowned on November 18, 1970, at the age of 31. He hailed from Alowolodu ruling house.
Readiness to stand by his belief stood him out ——Afenifere
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, described the late king as a colossus. Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, said the late Alaafin was a personification of royalty and nobility.
Ajayi said: “He was a colossus because he was at home in discussing virtually any subject – particularly those bordering on any aspect of Yoruba history, contemporary and ancient. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who ascended the throne at age 31 in 1970, was prepared for the post without any outward display of this preparation going by the circumstance of his enthronement.
“In other words, it can be said that he was unconsciously preparing for the exalted office even when he was a prince. And after being crowned as Alaafin, he dug deep into all that made the Yoruba tick. He was very much at home with the history of virtually every town in Yorubaland. Hardly could he be found wanting in any aspect of Yoruba tradition and norms going by the richness of his contributions to whatever subject he was to discuss.
“One other thing that stood for the late Alaafin was his readiness to stand by whatever he believed in irrespective of the controversy such a position might generate. Such is one of the virtues of purposeful leadership.”
He was a unifier — Awolowo family
Similarly, the family of the late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, described the late monarch as a unifier.
A statement by Ambassador Olatokunbo Awolowo –Dosumu, said: “ The news of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III joining his ancestors has come as a shock to us. He was a great Oba who brought respectability to the stool bequeathed to him by his fathers.”
In a related development, Are Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, last night, dismissed claims that the late Alaafin was buried according to the Muslim rites.
Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, stated that the transition and burial rites of the foremost Yoruba monarch were purely traditional and not religious.
The Yoruba generalissimo added that prior to the announcement of Adeyemi’s death on Friday, the Isoro and the Oyo Mesi had observed core traditional rites which, he said, went through the night and ended till 11 am yesterday before Basorun and the family of the Alaafin notified Governor Makinde who later announced officially.
While warning those attaching religious meaning to the burial of the Alaafin to desist from spreading lies, Adams insisted that the Oyo Mesi and the Isoro had done the normal traditional rites, before the formal announcement, adding that the final process of the rites would be done last night.
(Vanguard News )