IBADAN INSIDER HISTORY: OLUYOLE BASHORUN OF IBADAN (4)
Hello folks, thanks for staying with us throughout the Oluyole story, on Ibadan Insider History, we hope you have enjoyed the previous three episodes, here is the concluding part of Oluyole the Bashorun of Ibadan, where we shall talk about his death and his influence on Ibadan Republicanism
When the remaining chiefs of the Bashorun saw that he was far too strong for them to be able to remove him through military means, they decided to eliminate him through supernatural means. they invited a Babalawo from Ife to deal with the Bashorun. The Bashorun, however, got wind of the plan but he pretended as if he knew nothing.
When the Babalawo arrived in Ibadan, Bashorun Oluyole invited him to his house as his guest and the Babalawo accepted. unknown to the later, the Bashorun had secretly stationed a guard behind the door of his (the Bashorun’s) council room, to kill the Babalawo as the latter stepped inside the room. As the unsuspecting Babalawo opened the door, the guard swung the cudgel in his hand to hit him but missed and hit the frame of the door instead. Some say that it was the Babalawo’s charms that protected him, some say it was just an unlucky miss. The Babalawo hid his surprise long enough to invoke a terrible curse that killed the guard instantly, then he turned back and decided not to go inside to see the Bashorun, instead He went to the centre of Oja’ba faced the Bashorun’s palace and cursed the Bashorun.
A few days later the Bashorun was riding through the market when he suddenly fell from his horse. The injuries he sustained from the fall were so extensive that he had to be carried home (which led historians to speculate that for an experienced horseman like Bashorun Oluyole to sustain such injuries from merely falling off a horse means something supernatural was involved). The Bashorun did not recover from that incident. He became an invalid because of his wounds and died a few weeks later. Historians say that the reason why none of his descendants have never risen to a position of power in Ibadan till date is that the Chiefs who were alive at the time came together and swore that none of his descendants will ever rule Ibadan again because of his high-handedness.
An Appraisal of Oluyole’s Rule Over Ibadan
Lagelu might be the one who founded Ibadan, but it was Bashorun Oluyole who presided over the city’s golden age. It was during the time of Oluyole’s leadership that Ibadan entered its Republican age and became an economic and military force in the Yoruba nation. Oluyole was the first of a set of extremely powerful Ibadan military commanders that shook the Yoruba nation from top to bottom. Oluyole played a major role making Ibadan the economic and political centre of the Yoruba nation, a position it still occupies today as a major economic and political hub of Southwest Nigeria. Most of the territory that Ibadan gained in the Osun/Ondo/ Ekiti axis of Yorubaland was during his leadership. It was he who expanded the Oja’ba (in Ibadan Southeast local government) and made it into a standard market, one of the Largest in the province. It is named OjaIba (shortened form of Oja Bashorun/the Bashorun’s Market) in his honour. Before Oluyole the market had been named Oja Labosinde (Labosinde’s Market) after Labosinde, the Babasale of Maye Okunade. A statue of Bashorun Oluyole stands in the middle of Oja’ba right in front of Mapo Hall in Ibadan Southeast local government area of Oyo State and that statue is one of the iconic images used to portray the traditional city of Ibadan in mainstream pop culture.
Apart from his military exploits, Bashorun Oluyole also changed the face of Agriculture in Ibadan. He built on the reforms that Lakanle started and had large swathes of farmland. The Bashorun realized that for a state to grow politically it needed to expand its internal economy, so he focused on developing Agriculture as the alternative economic mainstay, to support his wars of conquest. It was during Oluyole’s reign that Ibadan could finally grow sufficient food to feed itself and to trade that it didn’t need to solely depend on war and terrorism anymore to be able to sustain its population.
Oluyole was also a wealthy trader.When he was not trying to use war to subdue the leaders in other nearby towns, he was trading with them. Oba Kosoko of Lagos was one of his customers on the coast trading in guns and slaves. It was Oluyole who sold a whole Masquerade complete with mask and costume to the Ijebu Remo people. Before Oluyole’s rise to power, the Remo had never had any Masquerades. It was during his time that the Hausas first came to live in Ibadan, They stayed in his house as his guests and some of them are still there till date
But for all his positive contributions, Oluyole was a high-handed and cruel ruler. For example, when he was the leader of Ibadan, He made the law that nobody else must wear the Aran cap except him and members of his house. The penalty for disobedience was death. During his reign, he kept thugs whom would attack random compounds in the city for fun, burn down the houses in that compound, sell some of the occupants into slavery and kill the others. Every day there was always a report of a citizen who had been hacked to death or injured by the Bashorun’s thugs and no one dared question them. Also, a common thing his men did was that after harvesting the Bashorun’s crops they would distribute the crops to the markets and to the food sellers in the city, and quote whatever prices they like, the penalty for refusal to buy the produce at the quoted price was death or slavery. Thus cruelty might have contributed to the many rebellions that happened during the Bashorun’s rule.
All in all, Bashorun Oluyole was one of the rulers that Ibadan will never forget. That is why in popular culture no Oriki of Ibadan is complete without “Ibadan n’ile Oluyole” (Ibadan the House of Oluyole). He came to an Ibadan that was barely more than a military base for warriors and left it as unarguably the strongest military force of its time.
Ologunro, S. and Oyeweso, S.(2001). Bashorun Oluyole and the Growth of Ibadan Millitary Republicanism 1830-1847 in Ogunremi (Ed) Ibadan- A Historical, Cultural, and Socioeconomic Study of an African City, a publication of Oluyole Club, Lagos
Akinyele, I.B.(1951) Iwe Itan Ibadan ati die ninu awon Ilu agbegbe re bii Osogbo Iwo ati Ikirun. Ibadan: Board