Ajisafe Kayode Ajayi

Ajisafe Kayode Ajayi was an historian and poet born in 1875 as Emmanuel Olympus Moore. The patriotic zeal and cultural renaissance in him prompted the change of his name to a fully African one in 1921. A.K. Ajisafe is the author of The Laws and Customs of the Yoruba People published in 1924. As one of the most talented and prolific Yoruba author of the colonial era, his works was useful for the British who wished to understand the society to base policy changes. The first edition of the History of Abeokuta which he self-published in 1916 came at a time when many authors wrote the history of their towns as a deliberate effort to preserve histories before they were forced to disappear by the social evolution that was taking place as the Yoruba moved into the twentieth century.

Ajisafe was active in the politics of his time, and he contested the supremacy of the Alake among the three Obas in Egba in a pamphlet released in the 1930s. Years before this, he had been sued for libel by Oba Ademola Keji Alake. He had also been sent to prison in 1917 by Oba Ladipo Alake. Ajisafe is counted among the intelligentsias of his time and he was a very important documentarian. As an hynmologist, he complemented Mojola Agbebi’s efforts in 1917 by introducing African style to their U.A.M. Eleja church music. In the following year he helped to form the choir. Ajisafe wrote in Yoruba and English, having about fifty titles to his credit before his death in 1940.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer