Basorun Gaha

Basorun Gaha was the despotic General of the Old Oyo Empire who made and destroyed three successive Alaafins. Basorun Gaha’s inglorious career commenced in the days when Labisi was being prepared for the throne of Oyo. He killed the prince’s friends and silenced his supporters, thereby starting his own rule, which he surreptitiously did with the installation of puppet kings from whom he demanded homage. This was the farthest he could go as it was impossible for him, bearing no blood of Oduduwa, to aspire to the throne.

Gaha was powerful because he enjoyed the loyalty of key people in the empire who felt safe under his protection, for the nation had seen very erratic Alaafins who would order the execution of even supposed friends. After pushing Labisi to suicide, Gaha raised Awoniboju who he killed for refusing to prostrate before him. The succeeding Alaafin, apparently taking lessons from history, had treated Gaha with the awe he required but he too was denied a happy death, for the General’s excesses, threatened the life of his bosom friend and unsettled his mind to the point that he committed suicide. It was Majeogbe who first launched an offensive against him but Gaha was a man who never swam in the delusion that he is loved. All he suffered, in spite of all the efforts of Alaafin was paralysis in the leg. Notwithstanding his state of health, Gaha increased in his horror and his sons too helped carry their father’s cruelty to the most unlikely of the nation’s citizens. Basorun Gaha succeeded in killing Majeogbe whose installation he had influenced. It was the most subservient of the Alaafins he installed, Abiodun who stirred the country against him. Full judgment was administered him together with his sons and his other family members.

Although Gaha lived to old age, his memory was reserved in ignominy and he was ridiculed in his final hours, prostrating and pleading in the town square for the King who used to pay him homage. He is derided as the worst villain in the old Oyo Empire, killing as much Alaafin as he installed and his sons oppressing the people to the point of killing them for game. Whatever his motive was, the people of Oyo ensured his abuses weren’t worth the pains of his end.