Just Human

October 22, 2017

Are Ona Kakanfo’s origin, myth and power by Prof. Banji Akintoye


Late Chief MKO Abiola

By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan

Professor Banji Akintoye, a second republic senator and historian, is a repertoire of knowledge when it comes to narrating historical events.

Akintoye spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the myth surrounding the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland title and how the holder, in the pre-colonial period, wielded so much power and influence.


The genesis of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title

The title of Are Ona Kakanfo was created to check the excesses and frequent incursions of Ibaribas into Yoruba territories. During that time, Ibaribas were terrorising the Yoruba nation and, when the then Alaafin realised the gargantuan nature of the problem, he created the title of the Are Ona Kakanfo. His duty was to watch over the homeland with the help of assistant commanders who had a special army.

The criteria for the selection of title holder

To be the Are Ona Kakanfo, you must be a great warrior and very courageous. The creation of the title stopped the invasion of Yorubaland by external aggressors. The Are Ona Kakanfo was so powerful and invincible that he would fight several wars at the same time. He never lost any battle. Due to his power, the Alaafin would not allow him to live in the same town with him. The Aare Ona Kakanfo normally lives in a commercial city.



His installation is always a very big ceremony. All important people in Yorubaland including the Oyomesi (kingmakers) would be in attendance.

Myth of violent death

That is not true. Those who suffered such death were few. I will mention one of them. Afonja betrayed the Alaafin, that’s why he died a violent death. He gathered foreigners around him to revolt against the Alaafin and the Oyo people stood in defence of their king, came together and killed Afonja. There were Are Ona Kakanfos who lived long.

For example, one of the holders of the title who lived long was Oyabi from Ajase. He was very loyal to Alaafin and the Oyo Empire. So, there is no foundation to the claim that the Are Ona Kakanfo usually lives a short and uneventful life.

The choice of Gani Adams

I think Gani Adams is an excellent man and a good choice for the title. He was nobody but he developed himself and became what he is today. We have a lot of people who developed themselves. I was a lecturer for many years in the university and I had students who rose from nothing to become great scholars.

I appreciate people like that. And Adams belongs to that category. He started from nothing and without anybody but today he is a university degree holder. Those who say all sorts of things against the Oodua Peoples Congress are not fair to the group. Have they forgotten what the OPC did for us in Yorubaland?

Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola

Gani Adams, SLA Akintola and Chief MKO Abiola

There are some things you cannot compare. Chief Moshood Abiola and Chief Ladoke Akintola became the Are Ona Kakanfo at different times. MKO and Akintola did tremendously well for the Yoruba and the Alaafin had no problem choosing them as Are Ona Kakanfo.

And Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemo, has taken time to explain the qualities he considered before he made the choice. The monarch said Gani Adams is very courageous and that he has the interest of Yoruba at heart.

Gani Adams was a very young man when some Yoruba leaders decided to establish OPC. As a result of his courage, he was chosen as the leader of the group and he has held the position creditably well. There was a time when the OPC was protecting Yorubaland from attacks. We should know that for somebody to have done that, he deserves our respect and recognition. Gani Adams deserves the title of the Are Ona Kakanfo the Alaafin has conferred on him.