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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Kakanfo Afonja

Ilorin metropolis
Afonja of llorin was the most famous or notorious of all the Kakanfos.  Afonja came to clinch the title after the death of the fifth Kakanfo of the Oyo Empire.
Being a prince by virtue of his mother's lineage, the title was still below his rank. Oba Aole, the then Alaafin of Oyo, aware of the man's reckless nature and inordinate ambition was reluctant to confer the title upon him, Afonja nevertheless demanded and got the title through intrigue and intimidations.
To get the dangerous Kakanfo Afonja out of the way, the Alafin decided to send him on a military expedition against lwere. A kind of a journey of no return expedition.
Ooni of Ife and Alaafin of Oyo with other high class
Yoruba obas.
Iwere was impregnable to the simple physical weapons of those days, by virtue of spiritual oath and covenant of "touch not" by late Alaafin Ajagbo, whose mother reportedly hails from the place. Alaafin Aole had hoped that Afonja will find his Waterloo, trying to assail it. Indeed, to make his death double sure, it was also arranged by the Alaafin that Afonja should not be forewarned of the odds against him. By keeping him in the dark of where he was being sent to. But wily Afonja, who had an efficient intelligence service, was not long in dark about the design against him.
On obtaining the intelligence of the design, he immediately planned a counter stroke. He got together hand picked officers under him, and through cajolery, bribery and intimidation, got them to agree that as soon as he gave them the order to attack the redoubt they should instead of charging the lwere Soldiers, turn their arms against the soldiers who were still loyal to the Alaafin.
And that was exactly what happened.
Afonja's slain father left; And on the right side is Afonja in full battle gear.
As soon as Afonja's order to attack was heard by his soilders, they turned on the Alafin's loyal troops and massacred them. The next thing Afonja did was to wheel his army round and confronted his own Kingdom and king. After camping his huge army only three miles from the gate of Oyo, Afonja sent a word to the Alafin to inform him of the massacre of his loyal soilders and the utter hopelessness of his position. A few days later, Afonja followed this up by sending an empty Calabash to the Alafin a terrible gift that, in accordance with the Yoruba custom, a gift of an empty Calabash meant that the Oba should commit suicide because he was no longer an effective ruler of his people. The following day, the Alafin, because he had no soilders left to take on the powerful Afonja, decided to terminate the unequal combat by committing suicide.
Chief Ladoke Another Aare
after 50 years of his
predecessor's reign
On the death of Alafin Aole, Afonja installed Adebo, one of his puppets, as the nominal Alafin, but denied him the power and authority of the office.  The next thing Afonja did was to embark on a scheme to bring all the provinces of the Yoruba empire under his complete control. At the same time he decided to leave Oyo, the capital of the empire, severely alone. After all, his ambition was not to become the Alafin of Oyo and, in any case, he had an Alafin who was powerless to check his ambition. That was good enough for him.
To strenghten his hands for the great enterprise he was about to embark upon, Afonja invited a Fulani named Mallam Alimi to come and have a chat with him at llorin. His Muslims followers came along with his innumerable Hausa Slaves. Afonja was over joyed.
He soon converted the Mallam Alimi slaves who were hitherto employed as barbers, rope-makers and cow-herds, as part of his army, forcing them to give up their dreary occupations and flocked to his arms.
M.K.O. Abiola to step into the shoes of
Akintola 21 years after 
In the meantime, Afonja had entered into a pact with his followers’ friends. He would support their Jihad, to spread the lslam, while they would, in turn, support him in his battle to bring all the provinces of the Yoruba empire under his personal control.
But the pact also proved Afonja's own undoing. True to their word, his Followers pretended to support him, but their support of him was, at the same time, geared to their own private ambition which was to use him, as long as he was useful, to advance their religion into the infidel south. But as soon as his Muslim friend found him no longer useful, Afonja was turned against and killed after a little resistance a handful of his now rag tag army, which were quickly overpowered.
Aare Gani Adams on the day
of his investure
He was killed in 1817, by the son of his old Fulani friend, Abd Salaam. Abd Salaam thereafter declared himself an emir and pledged allegiance to Sokoto Caliphate in 1824.
Afonja was the most notorious and, among the fourteen Kakanfo’s of the past, he was however not the only one among them who lived up to the reputation of Kakanfos for obstinacy, recklessness and inordinate ambition.

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