Ladapo Ademola


Ademola Ladapo was the Alake of Egba from 1920 to 1962. Ademola returned from a reclusive life at the town of Isara to ascede to the throne of Alake after the death of Gbadebo I who had been his mentor. Since the nineteenth century, he had been a part of Abeokuta’s government, serving as an adviser to Gbadebo and accompanying him in his 1904 visit to London. Educated at the CMS Grammar School and in England. Cheryl Johnson-Odim wrote that Ladipo was initially opposed by the British during the selection to the post of the Alake because of he once served a jail term in Nigeria, possibly for political reasons. He would later as the Alake, form a cordial relationship with imperial powers, obtaining the Commander of the British Order title in 1934, and attending the coronation of George IV in England. The foundation laying ceremony of the Ake Centenary Hall, now a monument, was performed by him on 19 July, 1930.

Colonial policies on rights had begun to take its toll on family structure since the first decade of Ademola’s obaship, manifesting as increased divorce rates, hence informing Ademola’s reintroduction of the local custom of dipomu which empowered him to keep custody of women in troubled divorce processes. Allegations of impropriety towards some of the women formed part of the protests of the Abeokuta Women’s Union in 1949. Ladapo Ademola abdicated following agitation led by Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti against the new taxes levied on market women . His decision to go on exile had been reached when the women protest, running into days, had reached the point where elderly ones threatened to go naked publicly, a real cultural aberration. In Osogbo, he was among a few, attended to by Lamidi Olayiwola who was to become the Alaafin of Oyo in 1970. His father, the Alaafin, had sent him to live with Ademola to be mentored; Alake being an educated and urbane Oba, whose children took to studying law.

Ademola returned to Abeokuta and his throne in 1950, tendering his apology in a statement in which he referred to himself as ‘servant’ of the people. In 1959, he became the president of the House of Chiefs, the Western region’s upper legislative arm. His son, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, became the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria, in 1960.