OONI AJAGUN LAWARIKAN ADEMILUYI ADEMAKIN
Young Prince Ademiluyi was born around 1860 at Otutubiosun Royal Compound of Lafogido Ruling House of Ile -lfe, an old Western part of the British colony before the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorate that formed the present country called Nigeria.
The name of his father was Prince Ademakin and his mother was Olori Obitola. Young prince was the second child of his parents, who had five children, namely:
1. Adesanya a.k.a Ogidan
2. Ademiluyi a.k.a Ajagun
3. Jolaadepo (the only female)
Young Prince Ademiluyi took to farming and hunting which was the vogue among many youths of the time. His hunting expedition took him to several Yoruba towns and forests especially in Isoya and Ekitiland, where he killed many wild animals like lions, tigers, antelopes, and elephants. He derived his income from the sales of the games.
By 1910, at the demise of Ooni Adelekan Olubuse l, Prince Ademiluyi had grown in status and popularity not only in Ife but across Yorubaland. His fame as a successful farmer, first-class hunter, and man of respected Spiritual powers had placed him among favorites to the exalted throne of Ooni. He was particularly a frightening elite in possession of all that a great man in those days. He was simply a supernatural man and never pretended. Prince Ademiluyi was tough!
It is worthy of being known that at that era, only the valiant were considered for Obaship. It's either you are a warrior or proven herbal or juju powers; hence, Ademiluyi indeed was the ideal prince for the throne of Ooni at the era, as Ooni was expected to be strong and towering above all; hence, Ajagun was the ultimate. Predictably, Prince Ademiluyi was considered above all other contestants for the throne of Ooni, and he ascended the throne in 1910 as the 48th Ooni of Ife in history, to the delight of all Ife indigenes.
Ooni Ademiluyi reigned during the colonial era, before the amalgamation of the Northern protectorate with the West or East. At that period, the British introduced the native Authority Laws. The Colonial system almost disrupted the agelong traditional system of supremacy among obas and the consequence would have resulted in total breakdown of law and order and total disregard of respect and culture in Yorubaland. Oba Ademiluyi, however, used wisdom to nurture and maintain the tradition in Yorubaland.
In order to place Ile-Ife on the exalted position of eminence in Yorubaland; Oba Ademiluyi supported the British rule in transforming the once conservative town into a modern city. For instance, Ooni Ademiluyi became the head of the Native Administration established in 1912, while the Native Ordinance of 1914 conferred political power on him, and the Native Court Ordinance of 1916 made him the President of the Native Court. He used this position to bring unprecedented progress to Ile-Ife.
During this period, Oba Ademiluyi laid out large expanse of land in different parts of the town for the expatriates’ residence and offices, among which are the District Office at Oke D.O (Divisional Officer), now at Modakeke, Ile-lfe and another residential area at Oke Oloyinbo (European residential area), along Mokuro road, Ile-Ife. That was the beginning of urbanization of Ife. Some of the infrastructural developments was the construction of a Native Administrative court in 1912, and the General Post office in 1924. Payment of salary to monarchs started during this period too with 1400 pounds salary for the Ooni.
Oba Ademiluyi’s reign also witnessed the coming of a German expedition team in West Africa between 1907 and 1912. The team led by Leo Frobenius on arrival paid homage to the Ooni who welcomed them with open arms. Ooni Ademiluyi gave the team his full support. Frobenius excavated many sites in Ile-Ife. His findings gave birth to his famous and memorable quote in his published account about Ife as "being the probable site of Atlantic, a legendary island in the Atlantic Ocean said to be a powerful kingdom 9000 years before the birth of Solomon."
The great Archeologist said further that "if the people of the Atlantis were founders of the ancient civilization, from where the Atlantic Ocean derives its name, it could be conclusively proved that the people of Ile-Ife were the founders of the present." History equally confirmed that most of the artifacts of Ife, in various Museums were discovered during his reign. He was a man of tradition and duly promoted the lle-lfe culture and festivals.
Oba Ademiluyi used his political power to institute many traditional offices such as "Iyalode Chieftaincy" among other titles whose functions was to see to the Socio- economic growth of Ife, apart from the existing traditional chieftaincy for women.
Oba Ademiluyi contributed greatly towards the development and growth of Ile-Ife and beyond. He was a traditionalist who treasured and cherished the use of medicinal powers and magic. This accounted for his numerous exploits in farming and hunting in the much-dreaded forests of Ekitiland, Isoya and Apoje. In Ikere-Ekiti, he became an icon among hunters and the king looked bewildered and scary and in return a damsel named "Ojuolape" was freely given to him to marry. The much cherished "Ife Reserve Forest" occupying a vast areas of forest presently adorning Ife South local government, bordering Ijebu Igbo in Ogun State, which had become the determinable source of economic resources for Ife, and was single handedly acquired and protected by Ooni Ademiluyi.
It was to his credit that the Reserve is still in Ife’s possession. So, IFE's owe Oba Ademiluyi gratitude for this. Oba Ademiluyi's concession to the missionaries encouraged the introduction of western education in Ile-Ife. It was during his reign that the First primary school in Ile-Ife was established by the Christian Missionaries Society at Ayetoro, and was called St. Phillips Primary school, in Ayetoro, Ile-Ife. The educational foundation which he laid was embraced by many families in Ile-Ife, as well as his own children and grandchildren who can be found in various fields of education in Nigeria; that is why today, most Ademiluyis' are well educated, due to his exposures, due to his open acceptance and concessions for education to thrive.
Additionally, Oba Ademiluyi encouraged cultivation of cash crops like cocoa, kolanuts, palm products, rubber and cotton since he himself was a farmer before he ascended the throne. Oba Ademiluyi built a large market at Enuwa, which became commercial hub of the city. Other local markets were set up to compliment Oja Ife in other parts of the town.
Oba Ademiluyi was a traditionalist who treasured and cherished Ife religious beliefs and practices. He participated actively in all the traditional festivals, yet he did not oppose other faiths in his domain. He gave full support to the Christian missionaries and even donated lands at Ayetoro, Ayegbaju, Iremo and Ilare for their churches. It was on record that Ayetoro Anglican Church was built at his time. The proximity of the church to Ademiluyi's family house may have influenced the membership of many of the Ademiluyis to be many in the Anglican faith. The first Town Hall (Ile Nla) was built by Ajagun in 1922, located in the Palace. It was built by the Europeans still stands beautiful and strong.
The hall served and still serving till today as meeting place and event center for all IFE's till date. Ooni Ademiluyi was also lucky to have intelligent High Chiefs among his traditional Council among whom was High Chief Ajani Anibijuwon Omisore, who spear-headed the construction of intercity roads like lfe-Ede Road llesha-Ife Road, and most of the main lle-Ife City roads that we have in the city today. Omisore hearkened the call of Ooni Ademiluyi. Mobilized Ife youths picked from various compounds in Ile-Ife and out of sheer loyalty, developed lle-Ife into a modern town through the construction of motorable roads in town and equally linking neighboring towns.
Ooni Ademiluyi in return elevated Omisore into a higher rank among the Modewa Chiefs in 1926 and allocated him ownership of several forests in appreciation of his developmental efforts spearheading infrastructural development of Ile-Ife. No doubt, Ooni Ademiluyi was an agent of progress.
Despite Ooni Ademiluyi's many achievements he was regarded as a dictatorial monarch who dealt decisively with anyone that go all out to disobey or opposed his position. He was a no-nonsense monarch. There were legendary beliefs that Ajagun was fond of using mystical powers, changing and transforming into wild animals, usually to a Tiger-ambushing and killing his opponents. In fact, it was established that whenever the natives caught the glimpse or saw a wild animal (Tiger) crossing, they normally conclude that their Lord the Ooni Ademiluyi was passing by on a Vicious mission.
Apart from Ile-Ife, during his era, all Yoruba monarchs feared and respected him. They all regarded Ooni Ademiluyi as their father. No one, absolutely no one disagreed or disobeyed Ooni Ademiluyi. He was a perfect king for the era. All Yoruba Obas towed his line and accepted his leadership of Yorubaland. Ooni Ademiluyi was very tough, hardly smiled, and hardly spared his opponents.
History had it that once-upon-a-time, during Ajagun's reign and rule, High Chief Anibijuwon Omisore had a raw deal in the hands of Ajagun towards the end of Ooni’s reign, caused by rumors that Omisore was behaving like Ooni. Personality clash and cold war resulted within the palace. It was a bitter era for Omisore. Chief Omisore had to back down to survive the cold war, to save himself.
Oba Ademiluyi Ajagun had many Oloris; and survived by over 100 children by the time he joined his ancestors on the morning of Tuesday the 24th of June in 1930, at the age of (70) seventy years old. The whole Ife and Yorubaland shook "Ajanaku Baba sile Erin wo!"
History had it that on the Publicly announcement of the departure of Ooni Ajagun cross section of the town went out openly in jubilation singing in open rally and particularly sang obscene songs: "Ademiluyi ika ku o x3!" Rejoicing and jubilating over the death of the great Ooni Ajagun whom some minority saw as an oppressor; however, the majority or those that supported and favored the monarch, mourned the death and loss of this great monarch, who protected Ile-lfe’s interest; particularly the vast land called the Reserves that Ife’s cherish today as it is the greatest asset and was a result of his wisdom and power of annexation.
What a great monarch that Ile-Ife should cherish? It is also part of the ILE-IFE's history that one of his sons became the first Ife indigene to be a Medical Doctor.
HISTORY SHALL HOWEVER, NOT FORGET THAT THIS GREAT MONARCH WAS THE ARCHITECT OF URBANIZATION, MODERNIZATION, ESTABLISHMENT OF EDUCATION & CHRISTIANITY IN ILE-IFE, DESPITE BEING A TRADITIONALIST.
...."ADEMILUYI AJAGUN, LAWARIKAN OONI...AGESIN BI OKE. YE'SO TO GBE'NA WOJU EKUN, SUN RE..BABA RI A….!!!"