stories and poems

Ajaka Oko: What we can learn from the Dreadlocked Alaafin of Oyo

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Ajaka Oko What we can learn from the Dreadlocked Alafin of Oyo kikiotolu

Aláàfin Àjàká òkò was the third Aláàfin of Ọ̀yọ́ who was the only Aláàfin to have ascended the throne twice. He was the senior brother of Sango, his predecessor and successor too. Legend has it that he wore dreadlocks and was a man of peace until the world showed him the kind of leader they want. We can learn a great lot from our heroes past. These include:

1. Never change the way you are, your physical traits, your character make up to make people love you. Aláàfin Àjàká signature down the history is that he has dreadlocks. He never removed it when he was summoned to become the king.

2. Be tactical in dealing with issues of life rather than being fool hardy and run into trouble soon. Sango was powerful and ferocious, but he learned his lessons too late in his life. Àjàká was the one that led Ọ̀yọ́ to its first glorious era after the death of Oranmiyan. He completed and consolidated the victory of Sango.

3. Be weird, experiment with things. Yes. Sango is known for his ability to strike thunder today, but do you know that there is a history that credit Àjàká for inventing the ability to manipulate thunder to fight enemies? In fact legend has that Sango used to visit him at òkè Àjàká perhaps for advice. He was Sango ‘s blood brother. When Sango had tested the experiment and it worked, he went to òkè Àjàká to perform the experiment on a large scale.

4. Never force yourself on any body. Aláàfin Àjàká was despised by those who installed him as a king later after realizing he would not use violence but tactics. A conspiracy was formed around him and he was dethroned. He parked his loads immediately and left Ọ̀yọ́. Once you are not appreciated, pack your load and leave. Stay where you are appreciated and not ń tolerated.

5. The story of the head of Eléǹre which attached itself to the hand of the king Àjàká might be a myth, however it teaches us to be very careful about secrets. Never hold a friend in high esteem to the point he knows your weakness and secrets. He will use it against you one day.

By the time Àjàká was summoned back to the throne, he was another man entirely. It was what can be termed “Ìpadàbọ̀ Abìjà”. He was wisdom combined with action. He was aware it is not enough to be wise, practical application of wisdom is necessary to pilot the empire. He was before a man of thought while Sango was a man of action. Now he has combined the two. No wonder he was able to hold the empire together.

Àjàká was called the second time and he answered the call. That means he saw the necessity to subdue ego and tuck away self interest or self pity. How many people have hurt you in the past and you have decided not to render help for the benefit of all again? We need to work for the common good irrespective of those who have let us down in the past.

Do you know the humiliation that comes with being dethroned? Coupled with the fact that his younger brother was summoned to the throne in his stead. Aláàfin Àjàká weathered the storm like a man. He did not commit suicide, he did not confine himself to bitterness for the rest of his life. He came out a better man. He had learnt his lesson. You also need to rise from the ashes of your fall like the legendary Àjàká. You think I will say Phoenix? No. While Phoenix remains a mythical bird, Àjàká Òkò alias Ajuan was a man in flesh and blood who rose up again. He is the real Phoenix.

Once bitten, twice shy. Àjàká came down with full force upon his enemies both within and without. He forgave those who he can and dealt with snitches and fifth columnists. Among those whom he forgave are the people of Ọ̀yọ́ itself. They must have jeered at him when he was leaving, but he did not unleash terror on them to be slaughtered. Otherwise there will be no empire for him to rule. Also, he would have played into the hand of his enemies as a frustrated psycho. No he didn’t visit his anger on those who had jeered at him. Rather, he faced the real enemies which were those threatening the empire with war.

Being a king who knows the value of knowledge in statecraft and war, Àjàká was the first to gather brilliant minds across all Yorùbá land in service to the empire. Although they were called oníṣègùn and oṣó then, these people were geniuses of their time using their brain power to defend the land. They included Ẹ̀gbẹ̀jí (sounds familiar right?) Atagboin, Tẹ̀tẹ̀oniru, Abìtìbítí, Alari baba isegun, Elenre etc. His vassals at ẹkùn ọtun and ẹkún òsì includes Wise men like Olúgbọ́n, Aresa and Oníkòyí.

Can you imagine where these brilliant minds gathered to defend an empire how it will fair? It was on record that Àjàká used firebird technology to fight during his reign. Wither the powerhouse of wisdom that created this nowadays? The firebirds helped him a lot and he crossed odò Ọya which we now call River Niger to advance his military campaign. He got a resounding victory.

And do you know the sweetest thing to his victory? It seems he got the nod from his father Oranmiyan himself!!! How? Check pages 148 – 154 of Samuel Johnson ‘s History of the Yoruba which detailed the reign of Oranmiyan, Àjàká and Sango in Ọ̀yọ́. If you don’t have the book come and buy from me. I have said it many times that all Yoruba should have this very interesting history book of the Yorùbá.

There, it is written that Oranmiyan had retired back to Ilé Ifẹ̀ at old age. Then one day he decided to visit Ọ̀yọ́, perhaps they still don’t have a worthy king to lead them. Upon getting close to the royal city, he heard the sound of kàkàkí and came down from his horse to inquire from passers-by to whom the king’s trumpet is being used to honour. He was told they have a new king now in Àjàká Òkò, Afìmọ̀joyè, son of Oranmiyan. The Great Oranmiyan Ẹkùn, now disguised as an aged, hoary visitor to the royal city must have smiled to himself. A smile of satisfaction by a proud father that his son is of true royal blood. He returned to Ifẹ to live his life to the fullest, leaving a tactical warrior to his throne up north.

Àjàká formed his inner cabinet with wit-zards and wit-ches. Note that these were the early scientists people could not comprehend their wit and inventions and therefore labeled them magicians. Together, they formed the think-tank churning our strategies and inventions which Àjàká applied to win his war.

How Àjàká consulted these array of unique humans and managed their living together in a single city speaks volume of Àjàká ‘s human resource management skills. Some people cannot even manage 9 toddlers. Àjàká managed 9 wizards and sorcerers in a single city. (this shall be the theme of my next fiction story) But know this today: there is no way you can be temperamental and judgemental without running mental!

Àjàká attacked the maternal home of Sango. Yes. The maternal home of Sango was up north of Yorùbá. The reason for this is not well known but legend has it that his firebird technology was so successful he crossed odò Ọya and re-establish the hold of his empire up north. The people of Okun and Kàbà owe Àjàká some measure of appreciation by not giving up their ancestral land fought for by the lion king, Àjàká Òkò.

The Nupes are Yoruba kins, we are related. The same with Bariba who were known to have secret of poisoning their arrow and setting traps for human. The Nupes are reputed to be land of beautiful girls. In fact, legend has it that the day you choose a Nupe girl as your paramour is the day you will stop being adventurous about women. Reason being that she will so take care of you with good S and S that you will forget your name. Before you start misinterpreting my double S, the first is for soup. Nupes are known to cook good sumptuous soup. I leave your imagination free to the second S. 😂 😂 😂

Ọlọ́fin Adimula Oranmiyan married a beautiful lady from there. This should tell us there have been intermarriage with them from the beginning of our history. Many other Aláàfin married from Bariba countryside to seal cooperation and security. We need to emulate that. We need to live in peace with every other tribes that want peace and value human life over any other thing. However, we need to be ruthless like Àjàká Òkò to all other elements that threatens our collective wellbeing as a nation. Be it internal or external.

Àjàká Òkò! The ruthless wizard, the dreadlocked warrior king that became the most dreaded king left a good legacy to his children. In fact, he deserves a halo around his head. That is why we will give this image used to represent him a blue halo.

He was survived by another warrior son Aganjú. Does the name sound familiar? Yes, the same Aganjú that would be deified later for his exploit too.

About Dammie Hernandez

Dammie Hernandez is a young Nigerian lad who simply loves writing biographies and stories about people. You can see more about him on this page.