Ladapo Ademola

Ladapo Ademola in London for coronation of King George of England.
Alake of Abeokuta (Egbaland) Oba Ladapo Ademola II attending the coronation of King George who abdicated in 1937. Ladapo himself abdicated from power temporarily in 1948

Ademola Ladapo was the Alake of Egba from 1920 to 1962. Ademola returned from a reclusive life at the town of Isara to accede 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 Ladapo was initially opposed by the British during the selection to the post of the Alake because 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.


Ladapo was the son of Alake Ademola I who became the head of Ake in November 1869 and ruled till December 1877. Ademola’s own father was the Sabua of Ake, and head of the Ogboni who made a living as a woodcarver. His father, seen as a puppet of the British, is regarded by his detractors as weak, and a conspiracy against him led by the likes of Iyalode Tinubu, ended his reign in 1872[1]. Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake with whom he made the well-publicized visit to London in 1904 was his uncle.


Ladapo met the lady to be his bride, Tejumade in 1896 during a local traditional event at the Egbreongbe compound next to the palace of Ake. Tejumade Assumpcao of Ikija, whose father had just returned from Brazil at the time of their meeting, got married to him in 1904. At his Victoria Road abode, a site near the Cenotaph at Idumota and now referred to as Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, he raised his family of high fliers, which included Adetokunbo, who was Nigeria’s Chief Justice at the time of independence.

Places of Growth

Ladapo Ademola was born September 20, 1872 in Abeokuta. His primary education was at Ake School, Abeokuta, and later, Breadfruit School. Lagos[2]. In between, he was enrolled at Igbore and Ikerelun schools. Ladapo Ademola was Elected Alake on 16 July, 1920 and crowned on 29 September of the same year[3].


As a young man, Ladapo made a living as a trader in Lagos till he graduated to the ordering of fineries from England. While in Lagos, he remained attuned to the politics of Egba and often visited Abeokuta. He was in the entourage of Alake Gbadebo to England in 1904. On his return to Lagos, he served as the liaison of the Alake’s office in Lagos.

Ladapo Ademola broke with the ancient tradition that the Alake could not leave the Afin, or palace. Frequently, he travelled round the villages holding meetings and propagating the importance of agriculture and produce for export. He visited England a second time during the coronation of The English King, George VI in 1936.


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.


Rapid strides in Abeokuta during Ladapo’s reign is adduced to his early training in the art of government. Native administration underwent significant development as the Egba council was strengthened by the inclusion of members or past members of the Legislative Council of Nigeria, who are of Egba origin; Eric Moore, Adeyemo Alakija, and James Pearse. In 1929, he worked for the appointment as president, of the eminent barrister from Abeokuta, Mr. Folarin, to the Grade “A” court in town.

To encourage education, he established a school in the palace where three scores and more kids received free education. Many from other schools were under scholarship by him.
[1] Maatism, An indigenous African Revolutionary Ideology, Jaa Malik Atenra, Waaqa Publishing, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2017, pg. 37

[2] Abeokuta: Home of the Egba, VBO International, 1985, pg. 63

[3] The first 150 years of the Egba at Abeokuta, Saburi Biobaku, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan,

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer