Afonja the warrior corned by his hunger for power!

STORY TITLE : Arekajanfo of Yoruba land

Afonja was the 6th Are Onakakanfo of Yoruba land. He came from the Laderin, Pasin and Alugbin lineage, who were all warriors. The formidable warlord, who is a prince from his mother’s side immediately became an enemy of the king of Oyo Empire, Oba Aole. Aole subtly wanted Afonja out of his way but did not know how to do it because Afonja was not only the Are- Onakakanfo, but very formidable and had a lot of fortification charms which made him fearful to his friends and foes.

He therefore sent a war message to him to go and wage war against the people of IwereIle. In Oyo Empire, words of the Alaafin must be carried out to the letter by any Are-Ona kakanfo; anyone who disobeyed such an order usually had the message of his death brought to the Alaafin. Historically, Afonja could not attack the people of IwereIle because a curse had been placed on any Are-Ona Kankafo who dared attempt to attack the town by Alaafin Ajagbo who instituted the title.

Incidentally, Iwere-ile was also the birth place of his mother and that of Alaafin Abiodun.

The army led by Afonja turned against Oba Aole and he was sent a calabash, which traditionally symbolised that he should commit suicide. He however refused and saw Afonja as a traitor. But before Oba Aole was killed, he invoked the spirits of his fore-fathers and shot three magical arrows into the three tripod on which the kingdom was believed to stand. “My curse be on ye for your disloyalty and disobedience, so let your children disobey you. If you send them on errand, let them never return to bring you word again. To all the points I shot my arrows will ye be carried as slaves. My curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the sea, slaves will rule over you and you their master will become slaves” he said.

Thereafter, the kingdom never knew peace.

Afonja returned to his home in Ilorin, where his friend Solagberu introduced him to an Islamic cleric known as Soliu, who later became Alimi, who had come from Sokoto. Alimi had become popular after he killed a mysterious snake that was swallowing children with the recitation of some Quranic prayer that produced thunder and eventually killed the snake. Afonja was of the view that with such power, he would fortify himself against his enemy and therefore made Alimi his priest. Alimi, who was living on the outskirt of Ilorin at a village called Kuo, on becoming Afonja’s spiritualist, was invited to live in Ilorin by Afonja

And he commanded all his Jamas to be under the care and control of Afonja who was equally fascinated with their war strategy. When Afonja saw the bravery of these Jamas in their subsequent wars, he made the grave mistake of disbanding his own previous army to rely on the Jamas. Alimi quickly cashed in on the trust Afonja had in the Jamas to plot evil against him. After the war, the Jamas became uncontrollable and became a thorn in the flesh of the people they professed to be protecting.

At will, they looted, maimed, killed and confiscated cattle’s and livestock found in the town. The people ran to Afonja and complained bitterly that he should check the excesses of these Jamas but he took it with levity. Afonja, who thought he was at the peak of his power, became naughty and sought no advice from his chiefs anymore. He refused to listen to his able lieutenants and nobody could talk to him, especially on the recklessness of the Jamas.

Afonja was power-drunk and started scolding his warrior kinsmen in favour of his friend, Alfa Soliu Janta’s jihadist army. Ironically, he never knew he was inching gradually towards his end through his obsession for political power. So he continued falling to the seductive bait being spewed by his visitors, who later not only ousted him from his home but also murdered him.

Fagbohun, the chief of Jabata alone had the courage to warn Afonja on the excesses of the Jamas by virtue of his office as commander of the left wing of the Kakanfo army and he incurred his displeasure for his boldness. When Shehu Alimi died, his son Abd Salaam, whom Afonja did not know was an ambitious man saw his opportunity and struck. Using the advantage of language which Afonja and his core Yoruba commanders did not understand, his forces were infiltrated and a revolt instigated against him.

AFONJA fell indeed like a hero.

So covered was he with darts that his body was supported in an erect position upon the shafts of spear and arrows showered upon him. So much dread had his personality inspired that these treacherous Jamas whom he had so often led to victory could not believe he was really dead they continued to shower darts upon him long after he had ceased fighting. They were afraid to approach his body, as if he would suddenly spring up and shake himself for the conflict afresh.

Afonja was killed in 1817, after which Abd Salaam declared himself emir and pledged allegiance to Sokoto Caliphate in 1824. Following the death of Afonja, his people ran away to re-settle at Ganmo, at a place called ‘Maaro’ river while their ancestral home, Idi Ape in Ilorin.


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@by Dstoryteller_1 #Afonja

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