Why Alaafin Oyo Abobaku Run for His Life and What will Happen if he Doesn’t Run Away

Following the tragic death of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, many Nigerians on social media have been asking questions about whether the late monarch had an Abobaku and what would happen to him

Who is Abobaku?
This is how Kehinde T E Ajayi and Falade Thaddeus Odunayo defined Abobaku in the research paper titled Abobaku: Human Sacrifice In Yoruba Rites of Kingship: “Abobaku is a chieftaincy title in Yoruba land and it literarily means one who dies with the king

Following the death of a top Yoruba traditional ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III yesterday, the subject of Abobaku, the man whom they say should die with the king, has come to the fore again, topping Twitter trend.

The issue of Abobaku became prominent after the death of Oba Sijuade Okunade, the late Ooni of Ife. It was rumoured that another man would be buried with him, the Abobaku, who, during the Ooni’s lifetime, enjoyed the same privileges as the Oba and must also share in his death.

The belief was that if the Abobaku was not buried with the king, the community would record serious calamity.

A top chief of Ife, the Lowa Adimula of Ile-Ife, Adeyeye Adekola Adesiyan, says the claim that a deceased Ooni of Ife is buried alongside their closest aide, abobaku, is not true.

In an interview with BBC Yoruba last year, Adesiyan, who served as abobaku to Ooni Sijuwade Okunade for 14 years, said abobaku was Ooni’s aide-de-camp.

In another interview with The Punch last year, Adesiyan said an abobaku may die over shock on learning about the death of his Oba because of their closeness. He said it is akin to the kind of thing that happens for some husbands and wives that love and trust each other so much that If one should die, the other may not survive for long

The term “Abobaku” is presently trending on Twitter and other social media platforms following the news passing of Oba Adeyemi today.

Many tweeps have been sharing comments on what would be the fate of the one closest to the king, having enjoyed the same benefits with the monarch while alive.

While some showed concerns and kicked against the revival of such tradition following the circumstances that surrounded the passing the late Ife Monarch, Oba Sijuwade, whose Abobaku was said to have run away because of the fear of death; others are asking that chief Abobaku be closely monitored from escaping so as to be buried with the monarch to avoid calamity in the land.

Meanwhile, some days ago, there was a trending report of the Abobaku of Oníkòyí of Ikoyi escaping to an unknown destination and yet to be found.

In ancient Yoruba Culture, anyone who bore the Abobaku title was buried alongside the incumbent king upon his demise.

It is believed that the title was a way of strengthening loyalty and preventing betrayal that could lead to the King’s untimely death since whoever occupied the position was sure to protect the King as much as he could, to avoid his death as well.

Alaafin Oyo Abobaku
Abobaku title was a death trap, as the holder of such title had their life depending on the death or survival of the incumbent King. But the position was much contested, just like other exalting chiefly titles in the kingdom. And this was because of the benefits attached to the title.

The abobaku is believed to be close to the King with the right to enjoy the royal largess. He may even have rights nearly equal to that of the King, depending on the cultural practices of the kingdom in question.

Following the death of the previous Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade, it was rumored that the abobaku escaped; to avoid getting buried along with the dead King. But this has been dispelled as fake news, with clarifications emerging to prove that no such title existed in Ile-Ife.

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