2nd memorial: How Oba Oyewumi Ajagungbade III won title of Oba for Ogbomoso

Image caption: His Imperial Majesty Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP CON CFR donning the beaded crown at Coronation

2nd memorial: How Oba Oyewumi Ajagungbade III won title of Oba for Ogbomoso



Tuesday, December 12, 2023 marks 2nd anniversary of the transition of the inimitable Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP CON CFR, the immediate past Soun of Ogbomosoland.

“Vini, Vidi, Vici,” (I came, I saw, I conquered), aptly describes the reign of the monarch. Julius Caesar it was who crafted those words after he attained widespread conquests for Rome. The Latin words were contained in a missive he sent back home from where he set camp for years waging wars against the enemies of Rome.The words have become so popular in different variants to portray great achievers even though many never merited it. But Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade deserved to be portrayed in such light. His long reign is strewn with many feats of valour and important conquests which contributed to his legends and making Ogbomoso greater and better than he met it.

The following episode will no doubt suffice to establish such claim. History of Ogbomoso is replete with acts of bravery, which may be regarded by some as recklessness. But such deeds have set Ogbomoso apart and earned her deservingly the cognomen – “City of the Valiant” or as Juju maestro Ebenezer Obey put it, in a song, “City of Prominent Men” – “Prominent personalities own Ogbomoso.”


However, its traditional leadership bore the title “Baale” and not “Oba,” simply because the founder (or founders) had no connection with the Ife royal house. In spite of her many contributions to the evolution of Yoruba nation particularly in gallantly checkmating the advance of the conquering army from the north via Ogbomoso route and elsewhere, the town ‘s traditional head remained Baale, lorded over by a suzerain. But the time was changing; the surge in population growth in the town especially since the period of the nineteenth century’s Yoruba civil and Fulani wars, made her an important community. In 1952 though, the title was changed to the dynastic title of Soun but it still retained the Baale colouration.

The boldness of Oba Oyewumi Ajagungbade III would however change the narrative forever. He got installed as a Baale but he died proudly as an Oba. This did not come on a platter of gold, he fought bravely for it. Upon his selection by the family – Gbagun ruling house – and the kingmakers, he announced he would bedeck his pate with the sacred beaded crown at his installation slated for December 14, 1974. This alarmed the Yoruba Obas who considered it an abomination and an affront. But he was resolute.

The Ooni of Ife Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, and other prominent Obas cried foul and made entreaties to the Western State government under a military governor – Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi, to stop Soun, who was then in his 48th year. But he was unruffled.

The Brigadier Rotimi-led government immediately swung into action though half-heartedly perhaps dissuaded by the barefaced obstinacy of the Soun amid the overwhelming popularity he enjoyed at home. His action was novel, that is a direct challenge, an affront against the powers that be – established sovereigns and a military administration headed by a Brigadier! To stop him therefore, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters was dispatched a day to the installation on December 14, 1973, to convince him to drop the “outrageous” idea but he was unfazed, he remained deviant. A close friend of his, the highly revered Justice Kayode Eso, was also contacted to talk him out of it; the Justice arrived Ogbomoso 3am just hours before the programme, but the man widely known as “The Prince” before his selection, was unwavering; he told his guest he was set and his action irreversible. His “obstinacy” and unyielding stance was confounding.

They threatened there would be bloodshed should he go ahead but he responded the only blood that would be shed was the blood of tens of cows that would be slaughtered! Every guile was used but he was uncowed. His argument was that Ogbomoso had played humongous role in the evolution of Yorubaland. Aside, he said it had produced men of means in all facets of life in all decades whose contributions to Yoruba region and country at large are invaluable.

He also declared, “My subjects will chant Kabiyesi o, ki ade pe lori ki bata pelese,” (may the crown bedeck your pate for long…) and so what crown if I do not have one on?” His argument rested on the pillar of necessity, an idea whose time had come. His resolve did not wane and on the day, he did not blink, he dared all by adorning his head with the beaded crown. He had by sheer strength of character and gut achieved the unthinkable.

By this action meanwhile, he irreversibly set in motion a chain of actions that culminated in his being elevated formally as a beaded-crown Oba, in December 1976, sequel to a recommendation by the Alaafin, Oba Olayiwola Adeyemi III. His audacity incited the Ibadan people and they agitated that the Olubadan too be accorded the status of an Oba, and so, the two were proclaimed Oba same day! The governor assented and thus Soun and Olubadan occupied their deserved place in the traditional council.

Bravery as above would mark all his 48 years on the throne and by it he took the throne and Ogbomoso as a whole to its greatest pitch of achievement.
As the second anniversary of his passage is marked, may he continue to rest in peace.

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