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Brief history Of Bashorun Gaa

The story of Bashorun Gaa of the old Oyo Kingdom is not new; for the sake of those that are not familiar with the story, I shall briefly tell it.
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The story of Bashorun Gaa of the old Oyo Kingdom is not new; for the sake of those that are not familiar with the story, I shall briefly tell it.

Bashorun Gaa of sad memory was the head of ‘Oyomesi’, the legislative arm of the kingdom, but he was so extra-ordinarily powerful with supernatural powers of fetish. History has it that Gaa had the power to change from human-being to any wild animal of his choice.

Intoxicated with awesome power, Gaa was removing and installing kings at will. He would reel out orders side by side with the king and any king that wanted to assert his authority would be dealt with by Gaa’s Army.

There was a time a king in Oyo was said to have beheaded his father-in-law for the ‘mouth diarrhoea’ committed by his daughter, the wife of the tyrant king. Cashing in on the wrongdoing, Gaa, in conjunction with other kingmakers, forced the monarch to the evil forest to embark on the journey of no return. In order to appease Gaa, the new king thereafter gave his precious daughter in marriage to Gaa, but when Gaa was in need of an animal called ‘Agbonrin’ (deer) and he couldn’t’ find one on time, he ordered that the daughter of a king who bore the similar name, Agbonrin be slaughtered instead, and that climaxed his atrocities.

A petition in form of a plea was filed by Alaafin, the great king before the powerful Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) known as ‘Generalismo’ Aare Ona Kakanfo. There was a civil strife between the two powerful men, but Gaa caved in by decoy. He changed to an inanimate object in a bid to escape the wrath of the people he had traumatised.


Aare Onakankanfo through his mystical power, uncovered the decoy, reverted Gaa back to a human being and disarmed him completely. The Generalissimo handed Gaa back to Alaafin for appropriate sanction and the king who was still bitter about the misconduct and abuse of office and power of Gaa, recommended that Gaa be sentenced into instalmental killing.

Contrary to established myth there is little evidence that Gaa’s fall came about through a popular rising of the supposedly oppressed masses across the empire. Finally coming against an Alaafin, Abiodun, who matched the increasingly aged Bashorun in wit, cunning and ruthlessness, Gaa fell to a well crafted and concealed conspiracy whose success rested on an alliance of the Royal princes with the provincial kings, subject to the capital, and who also provided the bulk of its military muscle.

The uprising in Oyo itself would have failed had not the provincial chiefs led by Oyabi, the Aare ona kakanfo or head of the imperial army marched on the capital for the first time in Oyo’s history. Seeing that the officer class and imperial staff – the Eso where well represented in the capital as were many ordinary soldiers, it seems the need for outside intervention which in the end proved crucial to the royal party’s triumph would suggest a lack of real support for the royal cause within Oyo or significant support for the Bashorun.

Whatever the reason there is a broad consensus that the resistance by Gaa and his supporters in the City was ferocious and only put down after intense and savage fighting. Again the strength of the resistance against what were clearly overwhelming odds implies men fighting not just for their lives but for something they felt was worth laying them down for. Gaa’s family and supporters were slaughtered across the breath of the empire. The Bashorun himself was taken alive, tortured, publicly humiliated and burnt at the stake, the taunts of his royalist enemies ringing in his ears as he died.


With him died the old empire and the power of civil authority that had underpinned it. The Oyo mesi never recovered, the people were cowed into submission before the triumphant princes and provincial kings. The consequence of his defeat was a new unchallenged absolutism by the Alaafin and the princes together with the increasingly unchecked power of the provincial kings and army leaders with their increasingly loud demands of independence from Oyo. As the price for their support in crushing Gaa and the old order. The Alaafin had won but his victory would prove pyrrhic for the royal line.

The next time the imperial army would march on the capital, this time led by Afonja, the Kakanfo, who succeeded Oyabi; it would come not to support the king, but to claim his head. The revolution had begun
The new struggle was now one between the centre at Oyo and the newly emboldened provincial kings and army chiefs. It would end up tearing the empire apart and hurling the entire kingdom into a century of revolution and turmoil that would only end with the arrival of the British who tiring of the impact of the chaos on the unimpeded commerce their new industries in Lancashire demanded, imposed a peace on a region exhausted by endless struggle strife and conflict.

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