Remembering a misunderstood martyr, Oba Olayode, 53 yrs after

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Remembering a misunderstood martyr, Oba Olayode, 53 yrs afte


On 1st July, 1969, Ogbomoso in Oyo State erupted in turmoil; breathing became burdensome; the dogs of war were let loose. A cultured King was gruesomely assassinated, grim faced soldiers took over the town, menacingly visible in all nooks and crannies. In their shortsightedness, some pathetic, callous elements giggled in mockery of the murdered monarch while the sympathetic ones expressed anguish. The whole thing was reprehensible, infamous and a bad precedence. The blood of the deceased Oba is still crying in vengeance.

He was a martyr because he chose to die to offer himself as a sacrifice; he found himself between two powerful forces – government and his people. He thought he could prudently negotiate a middle course, striking a balance but his tilt was ominously misinterpreted as leaning towards the side of the government, which albeit also had a sword to his neck, and he was hacked down, the situation having been hijacked by fifth columnists. What did he do or how did he act in the tax furor that his brother Obas elsewhere did not do that warranted his life being taken? He fell a victim of circumstances. Perhaps that was his destiny. But he remains a martyr to his family and to his community! He could have escaped the fury and mutiny of those baying for his blood but he chose to pay the supreme price to prove his innocence. Thus, he died like a hero in the tradition of his forebears.

The revolt, ostensibly engineered by peasant farmers and the masses generally (Agbekoya), in 1969 to display their dissatisfaction against the increment of tax rate made by the Western Region government, from three pounds (€3) to five pounds (€5), was a ruthless orchestration that snuffed life out of an enlightened Oba. Oba Olayode didn’t impose the tax; it was done by the government of the (defunct) Western Region. He was only saddled with the task of coordination of its collection, like other monarchs, which would then be transmitted to the government. People found the amount exorbitant, and so, rose in fierce opposition, they refused to pay the tax, which the military government deemed a defiant attitude. Consequently,, government ordered a crackdown by the police on defaulters, slated for July 1, 1969. The raid was to be carried out simultaneously in other towns like Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ede, Ibadan, and so on. However, the fifth columnists seized the opportunity.

Before the arrival of the police into the town, the monarch had invited the elite and some farmers’ leaders to the palace in order to illuminate their minds that the King had no power in the matter of tax imposition and collection, that he could only admonish the authority. Among the elite in attendance were Chief J.K. Atanda and Rev’d Aisa Ige..

The king, then, in his bid to further demonstrate his innocence did not mind giving stack of money to enable them undertake an investigation on the tax rate in other towns. However, before they could embark on the journey, the police had invaded the town, on the order of government, and before you say Jack Robinson, darkness had enveloped the town, pandemonium had broken out.

Ultimately, the farmers furiously marched to the palace, ransacked the whole place, ferreted out the gentle Oba, and hardheartedly extinguished his life, albeit for a matter he knew nothing about. Whatever, he fulfilled the purpose for which he was born.

Going down memory lane, Oba Emmanuel Olajide Olayode ll, who reigned between 1966 and 1969, was born in 1921 in the Odunaro Ruling House of Ogbomoso. His father, Oba Adegoke Atanda Olayode, a former Soun himself, was also a prey of conspiracy, and was sent on exile to Saki. His mother’s name was Olori Oderonke Apinke Olayode, from Ogunjenle compound, Isale-Afon, Ogbomoso.

His predecessor, HRH Oba Olatunji Elepo ll, joined his ancestors in 1966; it was the turn of Odunaro Ruling House to present an eligible prince to fill the vacuum. Among those that strove to mount the mantle were Prince Oladiran Olayode, Prince Afolabi Olayode, Prince Yusuf Olayode and Prince Nkanlola. Fortunately, he became the megahit in the race due to his level of western education. After his official proclamation on 13th April, 1966 by the defunct Western Region government of General Adeyinka Adebayo, his admirers, friends, co-workers thronged his palatial house at Layode Memorial Lodge, Oja Ajagun to congratulate him on the success.

The emergence of the first educated monarch as Soun of Ogbomosoland in 1966, kindled tons of unprecedented developments in the town. Immediately he ascended the throne, he renovated the palace by re-painting the buildings to make the place a befitting one. Education, they say, is light; absence of it is a total darkness. In 1968, introduction of Higher School Certificate to Ogbomoso Grammar Schiool was also through his instrumentality. In addition, a secondary school named Ogbomoso High School was established, making Ogbomoso to secure three secondary schools at that time.

As a prudent and fearless monarch, the case of land dispute between Oyo and Ogbomoso was rekindled and during his reign. In the pre-colonial era, who dared challenge the powers of Alaafin of Oyo, the companion of god? No one! The Yorùbá apothegm that states “No one, even a priest, can placate a deity called Orisaala with palm wine” is felicitous to describe the immensity of Alaafin’s power. But he did.

Moreover, a Bata Shoe factory was established in 1967. The establishment of this factory played a pivotal role in the alleviation of the plight of the masses as a number of Ogbomoso indigenes was employed. This improved the socio-economic development of the town.

The brave, shrewd, humble, sensitive monarch who had great mission for the development of the town cum affectionate passion for his people was callously hacked to death by the aggrieved peasant farmers on the July 1, 1969 at an unripe age of 48. Today marks the 53rd remembrance of this indomitable Oba. His bequest shall remain sparkling in the memory of his descendants. Never shall Ogbomoso forget his staunch courage. Continue to rest in the Elysium, Kabiyesi.


Ajagbe okin omo Olayode

Oyinbo ko de ile yi ko dobale fun Soun ri

Oyinbo agba sa ni Pari n’le yii

Ni waju Olajide Olayode ni baba olomi ti n wo tuuru

Se Lajide wa ju baba olomi loni?

Ta n le pe ki oloju funfun ko teriba fun Mode

Ajagbe Okin o ni yi Soun.

Ajagbe okin gun akaba o bi saore soun,

Baba Ilufoye gori ile o wa le te-n-te bi omo tuntun.

Oko gbogbo Ayaba.



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