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Awujale

Awujale recieves the Queen of England in Ijebu Ode, during a visit in 1956. Source GettyImages
Awujale recieves the Queen of England in Ijebu Ode, during a visit in 1956. Source GettyImages

Traditionally, the Awujale of Ijebuland title, which connotes a kind of mediator, is the title of the ruler of the Ijebu Ode town. The term Awujale must have been a corruption of Amujale- someone who summoned supporters from the underground to fight for him- a reference to Oluiwa, who was supposed to have performed this magic in his fight against the autochthonous people. Oluiwa was the first ruler of Ijebu, possibly the one who led the migration of this Yoruba people from Wadai, an area in modern day Sudan to their present Nigerian location. In pre-colonial times, the Awujale is seen as the spiritual as well as the head of the community. In colonial times, the Ijebu Native Administration was formed under the headship of the Awujale. The Awujale was assisted by a body of traditional authorities in the Judiciary Council. Superimposed over this local administration for supervisory purposes were British political and administrative officials styled Resident, District Officer and Assistant District Officer.

Like all Yoruba Oba, the Awujale is hailed as ‘kabiyesi’, meaning, ‘unquestionable’, even though their influence have been rivaled by their own subjects at different times, one of these de facto rivals being the dreaded warrior, Balogun Kuku, whose imposing status, three Awujales- Aboki Tunwase, Adeleke, and Adeona had to bear. Towards the middle of the 20th Century, the influence of the monarchy had been so threatened that the affluent Ijebu son, Timothy Odutola openly described it as no more than potential museum pieces, “part of a world that was already passing away”.