Oyo Empire

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The oba (meaning 'king' in the Yoruba language) at Oyo, who was referred to as the Alaafin of Oyo (Alaafin means 'owner of the palace' in Yoruba), was the head of the empire and supreme overlord of the people. He was responsible for keeping tributaries safe from attack, settling internal quarrels between sub-rulers, and mediating between those sub-rulers and their people. The Alaafin of Oyo was also expected to give his subordinates honors and presents. In return, all sub-rulers had to pay homage to the Oba and renew their allegiance at annual ceremonies. The most important of these was the Bere festival, marking the acclamation of successful rule by the Alaafin. After the Bere festival, peace in Yorubaland was supposed to last for three years. The king could not be disposed but could be asked to commit suicide if he is no more wanted. This is done by sending Bashorun (The warrior) to present an empty calabash or a dish of parrot's egg to him and pass a sentence of rejection such as (Awon Eniyan Koo) meaning the people rejects you and also the gods reject you, by tradition,the Alaafin must poison himself and die .

The origins of the Oyo Empire lie with Oranyan (also known as Oranmiyan), the last prince of the Yoruba Kingdom of Ile-Ife ( Ife ). Oranyan made an agreement with his brother to launch a punitive raid on their northern neighbors for insulting their father Oduduwa , the first Ooni of Ife . On the way to the battle, the brothers quarreled and the army split up. [2] Oranyan's force was too small to make a successful attack, so he wandered the southern shore until reaching Bussa. There the local chief entertained him and provided a large snake with a magic charm attached to its throat.

Oduduwa was the first Ooni , King of Ile-Ife with the titles "Olofin Aye" and "Olufe". His name, phonetically written by Yoruba language -speakers as Odùduwà and sometimes contracted as Ooduwa , Odudua or Oòdua , is generally ascribed to the ancestral dynasties of Yorubaland because he is held by the Yoruba to have been the ancestor of their numerous crowned kings. [1] Following his posthumous deification , he was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name.

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