Why must Alaafin be the one to appoint Are Ona Kakanfo since the title is for Yorubaland? The Alaafin of Oyo by all rights is the only person entitled to appoint and install anybody as Are Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland.
The title is actually an Oyo title. If he says he is appointing Kakanfo for Yorubaland, his right in the sense that etymologically, Yoruba, actually is Oyo and the name given to the Oyo people.
It was only appropriated later to cover other groups in what we now know as Yorubaland. If the Alaafin decides to pick anybody as Are Ona Kakanfo, he does that for his Oyo domain. The only thing is that he has picked somebody from Akoko in Ondo State. So, Kakanfo title belongs in Oyo Kingdom or Oyo Empirical and it is only the Alaafin that can identify and decide whom to give the title to.
None of the past Are Ona Kakanfos had been from Oyo Town. What is the historical perspective to this?
Yes, no Kakanfo should be from Oyo Town where the Alaafin reigns because Kakanfo is not expected to give way to anybody. So, as a topmost warrior, he would also not give way to Alaafin, and as a result of that, he is expected to live outside the capital. He is therefore expected to safeguard the empire, irrespective of whose ox was gored.
That was why the Alaafins themselves recognised the nature of the Kakanfo as those we called ‘Wild Beasts’, or ‘Bloodyminded’ people. This blood-mindedness is what the Alaafins recognised in those they appointed as Are Ona Kakanfo.
As rational beings themselves, they didn’t want to co-habit with people they also recognised as wild beasts. That was why after giving the title, the Alaafin will ask the title holder to steer clear of the capital.
This is also because the Kakanfo is expected to levy war once in three years. If he therefore went to war, he was expected to come back in victory or die in that war. The Kakanfo must not lose the war and return home. That shows the bloody-mindedness of not only the Alaafin but the Kakanfo himself. And average Alaafin is expected to be bloody-minded. With this, you begin to understand the scenario of Alaafin picking somebody he has recognised as wild, bloody-minded, and who is ready to do anything.
Is that historical?
In fact, there was one in history in the 19th Century about Ojo Aburumaku. That one did not have any war to contend with because, though historically the Kakanfos had always come during the time of turbulence, Ojo Aburumaku was unfortunate not to have any turbulence during his time.
The man was from Ogbomoso and what he did was to then instigate problem within Ogbomoso for him to crush. So the Kakanfo is expected to foment one trouble if there was none. The Kakanfo is not expected to be a gentleman.
So, those criticising the Alaafin for appointing somebody not from Oyo or not from Oyo Kingdom are actually looking at it from the eyes of the present; of somebody who is rich, urbane, sophisticated, well schooled. Such persons are not allowed to move near such the title because the title does not belong to a gentleman.
Now that we don’t have wars like in the past, of what relevance is the appointment?
We speak Yoruba. Why do we speak Yoruba? It’s still part of the cultural make-up of the people. You may think the title has become archaic, but I say no, because there are some things that identify a group or a people and one of the things that actually identify the Yoruba people as a deeply cultured or cultural people are some of the things that we have carried over from the colonial period.
So, we still need the Kakanfo as part of our cultural make-up. Yes, he is not going to fight any physical battle, but who says that we are not regressing into atavism, stone age sensibility, because it is manifesting everywhere, every day.
The North is drifting back into North for Northerners, the East says they want to go to Biafra. Some elements are saying they want Oduduwa Republic. So, it is because of the mad man outside that we have the mad man inside, and that is what obviously the Alaafin is preparing for.
We only hope that we are not going to go that far in ensuring our restructuring. But it is now obvious that every group, every region is repositioning itself for the battle ahead and those who are preparing intellectually; those who are preparing traditionally, everybody is just repositioning themselves for future challenges.
If the title had been vacant for 19 years, why is it now that the entire country is unstable and that we are now bringing the new Kakanfo? I will say it is ominous, and I hope it is a good omen, not a bad one.
Were the last two Are Ona Kakanfos; Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola also bloody-minded and beastly?
If you know how Akintola died, you would appreciate the fact that he was bloody-minded. When the soldiers that killed him were coming towards him, he saw them but didn’t surrender. He brought out his own gun and was exchanging fire with soldiers.
What do you call that? Bloody-mindedness. And for MKO Abiola, the day I heard this story, I nearly collapsed. You know MKO Abiola was the one who financed the Yoweri Museveni regime. What is that? Bloody-mindedness. And that was in the character of Abiola because he was the one that was good of saying that you don’t urinate in the well that you are going to drink from. But he could urinate in someone else’s well.
That was what he did in Uganda. Yoweri Museveni was thanking him for financing that civil war. It is still the same mentality of Kakanfo to wage war, encourage war, prosecute war and finance war. Yes, Abiola was Are Ona Kakanfo before he became Are Ona Kakanfo.
The only difference between those Kakanfo and the new one is that they were well schooled. But you can’t even criticise the new one because he said he has got a degree from the Lagos State University.
So, he is also a graduate. Some people are only looking at his antecedents that he was a roughian, a carpenter, but do they want to fault the NUC for running a degree in History? The only thing you cannot remove from him is that image of somebody who appeared to have a death wish, and so, not many of us can go out and face constituted authorities, face police, face soldiers, not many of us can do it. But this man says he is ready to do it, he’s ready to die for the Yoruba.
Whether that is the kind of thing we still need now, that is another story entirely. But what is the point in appointing an extremely rich man and the war starts, the first thing he does is carry himself and his family and run abroad.
To be sincere, it is obvious that this one can exist in the colour of the old Kakanfos, that is bloody-minded, ready to fight any day, and rascally. That is the kind of the people they appoint as Kakanfo because you can’t be a gentleman and be a soldier and the Kakanfo is expected to be at the apex of the eshos (guards).
The eshos are 70 in number and he’s like the 71st, but at the apex of them all. He must have also emerged from their ranks but he is expected to be the soldier of soldiers.
Won’t the character of the OPC men affect the position negatively, knowing many of his foot soldiers to be violent?
Yes, it will. It definitely will. But it is a different generation. We now have young people who are not as respectful of traditional structures as in the past. So, if OPC begins to overstep its bounds, you then discover that other structures will emerge to counter that, and so, setting the stage for the eventual terrible demise of the Kakanfo; for every action, there is going to be a reaction.
Some of the past Aare Ona Kakanfos died mysteriously. Why was it so?
It is established and it is designed that the Kakanfo must levy war every three years. So, how do you levy war, a serious terrible war, over a three year period and you don’t die in one of them? You must.
There is hardly any Kakanfo that had lived and enjoyed old age, because it is the condition that the Alaafin must tell you every three years that you must go to war. When you look at it that way, and look at the kind of traditional medicines and rituals that surround all these things, one way or the other, the things that had been put in the body is also what has cross purposes with faith and destiny.
A Kakanfo is expected to have 201 incisions on the body, and as they are doing the incisions, they are also rubbing certain things on it and making incantations. They are propelled to see themselves as invincible.
It is that sense of invincibility that actually creates problem for them. That is apparently what pushed Akintola into taking up his gun and fighting a platoon of soldiers. Is that not madness?
They have told him at the process that nothing will happen to him. They must have also told Abiola that nothing would happen to him, and that was why he did what he did apart from his own personal conviction that he had to be president.
But of course, that sense of security, invincibility was always created by the 201 incisions – that one is against enemy, one is against witchcraft and one is against poison. People that don’t even have up to 201 incisions, think they are invincible. So, when you talk about that sense of danger or their dying mysteriously, it is part of the entire framework.
Now, Gani Adams, before given 201 incisions, believes he is invincible, now what of when you give him the 201? If he lives up to old age, that means he has not been a good Kakanfo.