IBADAN INSIDER HISTORY: LAKANLE THE LEADER OF IBADAN
Hello folks I hope you enjoyed the first story about Maye Okunade in our series on Ibadan leaders, the series continues today as we bring to you another leader of Ibadan, Lakanle, “The bravest of the brave” we hope you enjoy it.
With the end of the Gbanamu war and Maye Okunade’s death, most of the other Ife (minus the more influential ones like Labosinde and Ogidi), were driven out. Ibadan finally became an Oyo dominated city. Oluyedun, the son of Afonja, the Aare Ona Kakanfo who had lost Ilorin to the Fulani under Alaafin Aole, was made Aare in place of his father and by default became the leader of Ibadan. Lakanle who had been the leader of the Oyo faction during Maye’s rule became his Otun Kakanfo, and Oluyole a much younger warrior who had entered the city after Maye’s revolt but who had ties to Oyo was made the Osi Kakanfo.
Oluyedun did not rule Ibadan for very long and little is known about his achievements. Indeed Lakanle and Oluyole the leaders who followed him surpassed him so much, that today it is difficult to point out what he really achieved in the city. After his death, He was succeeded by Lakanle.
LAKANLE (about 1834/35 – about 1840)
Lakanle came to Ibadan from Ogbomoso, and as we pointed out in Maye Okunade’s story, he was the leader of the Oyo faction of the warriors who helped to destroy Olowu Akinjobi’s Owu Kingdom and decided to stay back in the Ibadan. Lakanle, alongside the likes of Kurumi, was one of the last members of the Alaafin Aole, Afonja, Maye, generation, the generation that witnessed the advent of the Fulani into Yoruba land. He was also one of the commanders of the Yoruba forces who fought the Fulani in Ilorin and Osogbo, so historians believe that he was much older and wealthier than the rest of the chiefs of Ibadan when he started to rule.
Like Maye before him, Lakanle’s rule was also not peaceful. Ibadan was still reeling from the Gbanamu war which had been fought barely months before; and the Fulani were still menacing the towns around Oyo-Ile. This meant refugees and warriors alike were coming into Ibadan from the towns around, with the resulting increase in the intolerance between various groups each trying to establish dominance. Also the several wars fought across Yorubaland in the years before Lakanle became the leader of Ibadan had destabilized the Yoruba nation, creating various small wars which resulted in various towns big and small getting destroyed. All this served to contribute to the perpetual cycle of violence that even Lakanle with all his wealth and influence could not control.
Lakanle did a lot for Ibadan during his rule. Historians like, N.A. Fadipe, for instance, mention that Lakanle was the one who started the agricultural reforms that subsequent leaders of Ibadan built on, which turned Ibadan from a city notoriously known for its warriors and terrorists to the food basket of Yorubaland. There are also indications that he tried to regulate the number of wars the chiefs under him were allowed to start in order to stop the violence the incessant wars were creating. The chiefs may have felt he was trying to block them from enriching themselves with the loot from these wars and they may have resented him because of that fact.
Like Maye before him, Lakanle was also destined to fall as the leader of Ibadan through a rebellion. Oluyole, Lakanle’s deputy had been eyeing the leadership of Ibadan even before Oluyedun died and Lakanle replaced him. Thus he had been biding his time looking for an opportunity to topple Lakanle. That opportunity came at the time he (Oluyole) was fighting the Ota war and some of the other chiefs decided to plot against him. They decided that they were going to mobilize an army to prevent him from returning to the city and force him into exile. Historians do not know whether Lakanle knew about the plot or not. However Oluyole had this influential friend named Adelakun, (aka Elepo), who was supplied him regular information about the plot. Elepo also helped Oluyole to sneak into the city at midnight and thus the plot against him failed. Thereafter Oluyole decided that was the time to consolidate his own position in Ibadan, he would have to eliminate Lakanle and become the leader himself.
Oluyole realized that the other chiefs resented and envied Lakanle, because he was wealthier, more powerful and older than all of them. So Oluyole curried the favours of the other prominent chiefs of Ibadan and together they all declared that they would no longer go to Lakanle’s house for council meetings. They also made announcements that Lakanle had been declared a pariah and no citizen of Ibadan was allowed to do any business whatsoever with him, or anybody in his compound.
However, none of these measures hurt Lakanle, because of his enormous wealth. For months after the “embargo” was laid on him and his compound, he didn’t even feel any drop in his standard of living, instead the chiefs realized that ostracizing him created the opposite effect instead, a scarcity of resources within the town, so they decided to take more drastic measures. One of the closest people to Lakanle at the time was a young man named Aiyejenku. It was this Aiyejenku, whom they had converted to their cause, that the chiefs sent to Lakanle, to tell him that the chiefs and the people of Ibadan had rejected him as the leader and that he (had the option) of going on exile with only the clothes on his back or prepare for the entire army of Ibadan to come and attack his compound and destroy his property. Historians also add, that the clothes Ayejenku had on as he went to deliver this message was bought for him by Lakanle, same for the horse he rode to Lakanle’s house was given to him by Lakanle.
What reportedly happened ,after Lakanle got this message from Ayejenku, would forever remain in the realms of the paranormal. It is reported that Lakanle cut his own stomach open, drew out his own internal organs and wrapped them around his head like a turban. Then he mounted his horse and rode to Oluyole’s house. Oluyole was reportedly so scared by the sight of Lakanle, intestines wrapped around his head and dripping with his own blood, that he (Oluyole) ran away from the meeting of the rebel chiefs that he was presiding over and hid in his room. After that, Lakanle returned to his house, removed the bloody turban he was wearing and started to cut his own intestines into pieces. that was when he was finally able to die. Historians said that with his dying breaths, He laid a curse on Ayejenku, the young man who had betrayed him, thus: “despite everything I have done for you, you are still the one who came to deliver this kind of message. Because of your betrayal you are going to die the manner I am about to die.”
Historians have speculated (and still continue to speculate) on why Lakanle, with his level of wealth, did not fight against the chiefs instead of committing suicide. He would have won a battle against them easily, given that he had a larger army and more resources than all of them put together. The consensus they have been able to arrive at so far is that Lakanle had seen the effect of a civil war on Ibadan at Gbanamu, and he was reluctant to fight a war which could destroy Ibadan a third time. So he decided to die rather than plunge the city into chaos. And that is why he is often regarded by historians as “the bravest of the brave”
And so ended the life of a great leader of Ibadan, he was buried as a hero, and his noble sacrifice would play a role in Ibadan becoming the dominant force in the Yoruba nation in the decades after his death. a town is named in his honour near his native Ogbomoso in Oyo State. It is said that some of his descendants still live in Ibadan till today.
Akinyele, I.B.(1951) Iwe Itan Ibadan ati die ninu awon Ilu agbegbe re bii Osogbo Iwo ati Ikirun. Ibadan: Board
Chieftancy in Ibadanland retrieved from adejokeiyabadan.wordpress.com on 7th of September 2016
Fadipe, N. A. (1970) The Sociology of the Yoruba. Ibadan: University Press.