Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Past Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland

Aare Ona Kakanfo was a title given to the generalissimo, the war general during the old Oyo Empire. An Aare Ona Kakanfo would lead battles, fight wars, mobilise and train “soldiers” and conquer the

The title of Aare Ona Kakanfo was introduced hundreds of years ago to the Yoruba country by King Ajagbo, who ruled over 700 years ago. The introduction of the title was informed by the need to fortify the ancient, pre-colonial army of the old Oyo Empire which at one time could boast of over 100,000 horsemen. In recent times, the selection seem to have been informed by other considerations the chief of which is the acceptability of the leader among a large section of the people of the South West and such a leader being accepted as worthy Yoruba leadership by other nationalities in Nigeria.

The selection involves several rituals and there have been speculations that the last two Kakanfos did not complete the ritual circles. Samuel Johnson in his book treatise on the Kakanfo stated that the Kakanfos are always shaved, but the hair on the inoculated part is allowed to grow long, and when plaited, forms a tuft or sort of pigtail, adding that Kakanfos are generally ‘very stubborn and obstinate.

They have been more or less troublesome, due to the effect of the ingredients they were inoculated with. In war they carry no weapon but a weapon known as the King’s invincible staff.’ It is generally understood that they are to give way to no one not even to the King, their master. Hence, Kakanfos are never created in the capital but in any other town in the Kingdom.

Kakanfo is akin to a field marshal and is conferred upon the greatest soldier and tactician of the day. ‘By virtue of his office he is to go to war once in 3 years to whatever place the King named, and dead or alive, to return home a victor, or be brought home a corpse within three months. Kakanfo usually has certain ensigns: The Ojijiko, and a cap made of the red feathers of the parrots tail, with a projection behind reaching as far down as the waist, an apron of leopards skin, and a leopard skin to sit on always the Asiso or pigtail and the Staff invincible.

The following are the list of the past Fourteen Aare Ona Kakanfo (from archive) that had been:
Kokoro igangan of Iwoye-Ketu,
Oyatope of Iwoye,
Oyabi of Ajase,
Adeta of Jabata,
Oku of Jabata,
Afonja l’aiya l’oko of ilorin,
Toyeje of Ogbomoso,
Edun of Gbogan,
Amepo of Abemo,
Kurumi of Ijaye,
Ojo Aburumaku of Ogbomoso (son of Toyeje)
Latoosa of Ibadan
Ladoke Akintola of Ogbomosho (the premier of western region during the first republic.
MKO Abiola of Abeokuta
Gani Adams of Arigidi-Akoko


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