FeaturesSouth-west Magazine

Yoruba female kingdoms

By Christy Anyanwu

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and the House of Oduduwa recently launched Unspoken, a chronicle of women kings in Yoruba land, “Oba Obirin” in Lagos. It was in line with celebrating women’s history in March.

Author of the 125-page book, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, said it is about women who had made indelible marks in the Yoruba kingdoms centuries ago:

“I got to know about the female Ooni of Ife because Oba Ogunwusi proudly talks about the female Ooni of Ife, which is Ooni Luwoo Gbagida. I just became curious to see if she was actually the only woman had been a king.

“In my research, which started in 2018, I found out that there were others. There are so many things in the book. A lot of research work done to get our facts right.  We decided to tell these stories to inspire other young women to go into leadership roles.

“You do not necessarily have to be a king, whatever you do, try to be a leader. Create a legacy, the same with these women. It is like a reawakening of their legacies to inspire women of our generation and younger generation.”

Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, the Erelu Kuti of Lagos, traced the origin of female kingship in Yoruba land, saying it gave rights to sons of female royals to ascend the throne: “The creation of the stool of Erelu Kuti was the patriarchal answer to prevent the female royal from aspiring to be king of Lagos.

“Female kingship is as old as mankind itself and the list is inexhaustible. The creation of stool of Erelu Kuti was the patriarchal answer to prevent the female royal from aspiring to be king of Lagos.

“The book will no doubt jump-start a renaissance of female leadershipvand activism.”

Wife of Kwara State Governor, Olufoluke Abdulrazaq, spoke on the importance of women actively partaking in decision-making at various levels on government and urged them not to relent.

Unveiling the book, Oba Ogunwusi, gave thunderous remarks to celebrate  womanhood. He said women are the pillars and bedrocks in any society:

“The place of the women should not be relegated in all spheres of life.

“We are here to celebrate the epic centre of human existence. Women are the binding cords that make the world goes round. They are our mothers, as well as women of substance. They are the only persons that tied us and brought us to this world but we don’t give them the recognition. Like the name of the book, Unspoken, we just have to speak about them.”

Chairperson at the occasion, Mrs Toyin Saraki, noted that women have been relegated to the background for long: “It is only through our joint efforts that we can bring to current and contemporary life, the Yoruba tradition and culture and its pillars of female leadership enshrined in our history by Alaafin Omopoto, the first woman to become king of the Oyo Empire and Ooni Luwo Gbagidi, the 21st Ooni of Ife in the 10th century.”

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