According to history, the creation of the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo was the direct consequence of the ideas of a former ruler of Old Oyo Empire, Alaafin Ajagbo, who reigned in the 1600s. His predecessors, from Ajaka, who succeeded Sango (the god of thunder), to Aganju, Kori, Oluaso, Onigbogi, Eguguojo, and Orompoto to Abipa and Obalokun, all suffered incessant attacks by neighbouring states.
Aare-Ona-Kakanfo Ajagbo we gathered had a twin brother, Ajampati, and like the Biblical Jacob and Esau, Ajagbo was an outdoorsman, while Ajampati preferred the comforts of the royal court. As a result, Ajagbo, as a prince was part of many military expeditions to fend off invaders, and grew up a warrior, all the while nurturing ideas on how best to deal with military aggression against his kingdom-state. One of the direct results of his ideas when he became Alaafin was the creation of the office and title of Aare Ona Kakanfo, meaning Field Marshal, or Generalissimo of the Yoruba armies.
After creating the Kakanfo title, he invested the holder the command of all his forces, outside Oyo town. For the defence of the Alaafin and Yoruba land, Ajagbo is said to have created a metropolitan force which he placed under the command of the Bashorun.
The installation rites of the Aare Ona Kakanfo are tedious and frightening. The procedures and conventions instituted by Ajagbo and nurtured by succeeding Alaafins were said to be partly responsible for the mystiques surrounding the office and title.
We learnt that during installation, the major rite that must be performed is the administering of two hundred and one (201) incisions on the Kakanfo-designate. The incision is called gbere, in Yoruba, chiefly tiny cuts made with a razor, from the forehead backwards to the waist. Each of the 201 incisions is rubbed with 201 different herbal preparations expected to take the courage and bravery of the Kakanfo to super-human levels. After the incisions, the Kakanfo is “crowned” with a specially-made head-dress, that only him wears as a King of Worriors. It is, in Yoruba, called the Ojijiko. After installation, the Kakanfo leaves Oyo, the Alaafin’s city for his own domain; it is forbidden that the Kakanfo and the Alaafin live together in the same town. It’s a taboo for Aare Ona Kakanfo to prostrate for any obas.
A check list of the past holders of the title are- 1. Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye 2. Oyapote of Iwoye 3. Oyabi of Ajase 4. Adeta of Jabata 5. Oku of Jabata 6. Afonja of Ilorin 7. Toyeje of Ogbomoso 8. Edun of Gbogun 9. Amepo of Abemo 10. Kurunmi of Ijaye 11.Ojo Aburumaku of Ogbomoso 12. Obadoke Latoosa of Ibadan 13.Ladoke Akintola of Ogbomoso 14. Moshood Abiola of Abeokuta.
The Myth About Are Kakanfo
Indeed, the title of the Aare Kakanfo has been engulfed in the age long Myth that holders end up being consumed by the office most times in mysterious ways. Of the 14 holders of the title previously before Gani Adams, the first 12, from Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye to Momodu Obadoke Latoosa of Ibadan, were reportedly military commanders. Of these, three had waged wars in the interest of the Yoruba people . These were Kurunmi of Ijaye, Afonja of Ilorin, and Obadoke Latoosa of Ibadan. The succeeding two, Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola were civilians.
Whereas the 12 died during war, Akintola was assassinated in a coup in 1966, while Abiola died in mysterious circumstance in the course of his June 12 mandate struggle.
However, with the installation of Adams as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo, the people are already setting agenda for him. Archbishop Emeritus Ayo Ladigbolu wants Adams to tackle the issues of peaceful co-existence among diverse etnic nationalities, religious tolerance, national re-orientation, South-West re-orientation and the re-invigoration of the pride of place of Yoruba language and culture.
He stressed that the modern day Kakanfo does not need bows and arrows, guns and daggers, but requires courage, boldness, bravery, focus, application of native intelligence to national and international issues and the brilliance and adaptability to respond to the myriad challenges facing the nation and the world currently.
Let’s respect our tradition. Aare Ona Kakanfo is not a chief but King on his own. His crown name called Ojijiko with Staff of office