Ibadan Insider History: Oyesile Baale of Ibadan
Hello folks, welcome IbadanInsider history for this week, this we are looking at Oyesile Baale of Ibadan. The Oyesile piece will run for four weeks and we will have the opportunity to bring you one of the most remarkable Baales of Ibadan.
Baale Oyesile (aka Baale Olugbode) 1851 – 1864
After Baale Opeagbe’s death, the most senior chief in Ibadan was Baale Oyesile. Oyesile had served as the Abese Balogun (5th in rank) to Oderinlo and rose quickly through the ranks as all his predecessors died within a few years of each other. Oyesile came to Ibadan from Kuta in current day Osun State as a Warrior in 1824 A.D. and was part of the tenures of Maye, Lakanle and Oluyole, before his rise to prominence through the periods of Oderinlo and Opeagbe.
If Bashorun Oluyole was the leader who took Ibadan out from the shadow of Oyo and made it an independent republic, then Baale Oyesile would be given the credit for making the city a superpower and not only the political hub, but the economic hub of Yorubaland, a position it still occupies to this day. Under Oyesile’s reign, Ibadan won all the wars it fought and no nation could stand before her might. The towns that Ibadan subjugated under Oyesile spread as far current day Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states. The main reason that Ibadan achieved this status was that it was Oyesile and his chiefs who ed end the reign of Aare-Ona-Kakanfo Kurumi of Ijaye, one of the most powerful warriors in Yoruba history who had hitherto been a rival to Ibadan’s rise to prominence. Kurumi was so powerful that the previous time Ibadan had faced the Ijaye in war under Basorun Oluyole, it had ended in a stalemate that the Alaafin had to intervene, Oyesile and his own warriors, though, succeeded where Oluyole had failed ( the war where the Ibadan warriors ended the reign of Aare Kurumi will be discussed in a subsequent edition of this piece). Thus, as a result of so much loot and tributes coming from the towns under Ibadan’s control, there was great economic prosperity and Ibadan entered a golden age, where everybody in Ibadan both great and small had more than enough.
Oyesile’s reign was, strangely enough, generally peaceful, especially for the people who lived within the city of Ibadan itself. In spite of the many wars that were fought under his leadership (historians can recount no less than six wars including the Ijaye War of 1859 to 1862 and the Kutuje War of 1862-1864), there was no internal wrangling of any sort between his chiefs all of whom were powerful warriors in their own right. Historians have also speculated that perhaps it was the threat of enemies facing the city from outside that did not allow the chiefs of Oyesile to have time for internal conspiracies
Another noteworthy thing that happened during Baale Oyesile’s tenure was that in 1851, shortly after he became Baale, Christians came to fully settle in Ibadan. Even though the Church Mission Society had explored the town during the reign of Baale Opeagbe, it was during Oyesile’s reign that they became comfortable enough to settle in Ibadan. Baale Oyesile himself welcomed these Christians and did not make life difficult for them. They were received with open arms and he gave them his utmost support.
He generously gave land to them to build their churches which no other leader before him had done. It is possible that it was this period that he got the alias “OLUWA-GBODE” later to “OLUGBODE”, ( literally God has spread/is in fashion here).
Perhaps the thing that made Olugbode’s tenure remarkable was that his life intertwined with one of the most remarkable wars in Yoruba history, the second Ijaye war as well as two of the greatest leaders of Ibadan, Balogun Ibikunle and Bashorun Ogunmola. In the second part of the Olugbode series, we shall talk about the Ijaye War. In the third part, we shall talk about unarguably the greatest man to ever occupy the seat of the Balogun of Ibadan, Balogun Ibikunle as well as mention the other prominent chiefs who lead Ibadan alongside Baale Oyesile (aka Olugbode). Just make sure you watch this space.