The Palace of His Majesty, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, CFR, Okukenu IV, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, has been inundated with inquiries by the Press and well meaning individuals from within and outside Nigeria, as to whether the 7th Alake, His Majesty, Oba Sir Oladapo Ademola, was among “the gale of Obas deposed either during the Colonial or Post Independent Nigeria.”
The deposition of the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has brought to the fore, the issue of Deposition of Obas within and outside Yorubaland.
Some National Dailies and Online Newspapers, were still trending the topic. For example, an article published by the Vanguard on March 26, 2016, titled, “When Obas Had To Go On Exile,” became relevant and went viral because of its contemporaneous nature. The SaharaReporters Online, of Wednesday, 11 March, 2020, also treated the topic.
The two authoritative papers apparently dealt with the episodes concerning, a most revered and cerebral 7th Alake, Sir Ladapo, Ademola II, as having been disposed. Quote, SaharaReporters, “British deposed Obas of Lagos/Benin 1851/1897; Alake temporarily deposed by 1948 women’s riots; Awo deposed Alaafin 1955; Olowo deposed 1966; Edo military administrator tried to remove Oba of Benin as Chair, State Traditional Rulers Council 1999; Deji of Akure deposed 2010.”
All, except Sir Oladapo Ademola, were deposed by the incumbent governments.
The circumstances surrounding the exile of the 7th Alake were well known and for clarification, could never be overemphasized. Sir Oladapo’s reign occurred in a relatively contemporary history, 1920-1962.
Since the story is well known, let us discuss it graphically and perhaps draw some lessons from it.
Before 1946, Reverend Isaac Oludotun Ransome-Kuti and his wife, Olufunmilayo, were close friends of Sir Oladapo Ademola II. In fact, they were the Daodu (first son) and Beere (first daughter) respectively. The relationship might have gone awry when Reverend Ransome Kuti put up ” a complaints box against the Egba Native Authority and other Egba public service establishments.
The Beere, Mrs. Ransome Kuti, strongly supported by his sister in-law and Wole Soyinka’s mother, Eniola, had formed Abeokuta Women Union, AWU, against the backdrop of direct taxation of market women by the Native Authority and the British Colonists. The AWU rejected this and gave well thought out alternative ways to even get better tax system to make more revenues.
Some of AWU’s demands included:
a) to replace the flat rate tax on women with taxation on expatriate companies,
b) invest in local initiatives and infrastructures including transportation, sanitation and education, and
c) abolishment of the Sole Native Authority (SNA), replacing it with a representative form of government, including women.”
On 5 October 1946, an AWU leadership met with Oba Ademola but the situation turned worse when the Alake, “on the advice from the British colonial officials,” increased the flat-rate tax on women.
The AWU began their mass protests by marching outside the king’s palace in October 1946. “Beere” Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti led a large number to the palace to protest the increase. The Colonial masters deployed tear gas and assaulted the women.
This didn’t deter the women. They held another demonstration that lasted for two days at the palace.
This time the women were assured that their demands would be addressed. Rather than make good the promise and meet their demands, the local authorities empowered by the British colonial officers arrested the protesters.
In November, and December,1947, the women closed down local markets and staged a protest at the palace of the Alake, blocking the entrance and held vigils at Ademola’s palace, and didn’t leave until their members who had been arrested were released.
The persistence of women continued. Oba Ladapo decided to put aside the standpoint of the British Colonists and gave peace a chance in 1948.
The Paramount Monarch was between the Devil and the fiery Sea. Alake Ademola made an unequivocal decision. He suspended the taxation of women! He granted the women representation in the local administration, and the Sole Native Authority system gave way to an all-inclusive administration to accommodate four women.
Having made such innovative but far reaching reforms, with pressure on all sides, there was the urgent need to move back. Note that the Ogboni were also on the side of Mrs. Ransome Kuti’s AWU! Oba Ladapo Ademola II “Took Time off For The Boilers To Cool Down.”
By the end of 1948, Ademola went into Self Exile to Osogbo. This was to ensure that, like Pax Romans or Pax Britannica ” “Pax Abeokuta” would be enduring, while temporising at his Self Imposed Retreat In Osogbo. This is also to be exemplary and emulative to other Traditional Rulers in Nigeria on search of Peace, Harmony and Self Sacrifice.
His Self Exile and Self Denial Was An Altruism, and Love of Fatherland which paid off when he returned in 1950. His absence was exponentially missed even by his opponents. Note that Sir Ladapo was a foremost monarch as a team leader and player. He had always used lobbying, convincing (and when difficult occasions arose, “persuasion”) as a tool to get consensus on all issues. The Ogbonis, which supported the women, the generality of the Egbas had missed him to the point of almost “a lacuna.”
It was a triumphant entry for Sir Ladapo from Osogbo to Abeokuta. Egbas from the villages came to join those resident Abeokuta for a royal welcome. They lined up the streets, declared self holiday and engaged in self feasting.
The two years of Self Exile was never discounted from his reign of 42 years. What a Sabbatical for Wisdom!
Lessons can also be drawn from the fact that, women, led by “Beere Funmilayo Kuti,” didn’t just go on strike over taxation, their suggested alternatives were economically, socially and administratively sensible.
Sir Ladapo reigned for another 12years before he died in 1962.
In Conclusion, His Majesty, Sir Ladapo Ademola II, was never deposed. He had an internal problem to solve. As a consummate and adroit administrator, he rose up to the occasion and did the right thing.
Other troubled monarchs might not have been so lucky. Definitely, not Alafin Adeniran Adeyemi of Oyo! Not Ovonramwen Nogbaisi of Benin! And many others! As for Ex-Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, maybe we have only seen, Act 1, Scene 1
Layi Labode; Aare Baaroyin of Egbaland