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A bit of [Yoruba] history: Bashoorun Gaa (The Wicked Prime Minister of the Old Oyo Kingdom) – Taiwo Olaniyi

By Taiwo Olaniyi

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 9:46:21 PM

Bashorun Gaa (The Wicked Prime Minister of the Old Oyo Kingdom)

Bashorun Gaa was a notable nobleman and leader of the military in the old Oyo Empire during 17th/18th century. He was instrumental to the military conquests during his time as a prime minister (Wikipedia, 2011). In 17th Century Oyo Kingdom, the monarchical failings came with a succession of uncharitable kings to the exalted throne.

Alaafins Odarawu, Kanran, Jayin,Ayibi and Osinyago in the second half of the 17th century were despotic. According to historical records, Odarawu was bad-tempered, Kanran, an unmitigated tyrant, Jayin, effeminate and dissolute, Ayibi cruel and arbitrary and Osinyago, worthless (www.omuara.com).

Internally, Bashorun Gaa as head of the Oyo Mesi, the Oyo council of kingmakers acquired too much power in the process and became Frankenstein monster in the kingdom. In office as prime minister between 1750 and 1774, Bashorun Gaa supervised the dethronement and execution of four successive Alaafins as follows:

Alaafin Labisi 1750-spent 17 days
Alaafin Awonbioju 1750-spent 130 days
Alaafin Agboluaye 1750-1772 (submitted to Bashorun Gaa’s dictation but was later forced to commit suicide at last).
Alaafin Majeogbe 1772-1773 (www.googgle.com;www.omuaran.com.). He was a king maker and at the same time king destroyer, a great usurper (Ayinla, 2011), renowned for his juju prowess.  To eliminate him therefore became the consuming passion and chief concern of the fifth Alaafin, while Gaa was yet prime minister (www.googgle .com; www. omuaran.com)
He became so powerful and notorious that all the previous Alaafins were afraid of him. Where he got power that he wielded over the throne remains a mystery (www.yorupedia.com. Koleosho, 2009).  He became so power-drunk to the extent that he was forcing kings to commit suicide for not following his dictates (Oduwole,2011).
The unwritten Constitution which gave Bashorun (prime minster) a final say on the nomination of the new Alaafin and the control of the kingmakers was so great that the Bashorun ’s power rivaled that of the Alaafin himself.  This of course was an open opportunity for
Bashorun Gaa to have absolute control of the political machinery of old Oyo kingdom of his time, in his palms (Wikipedia, 2012).
However, his notoriety reached its peak when he murdered Agbonyin, the only daughter of reigning Alaafin Abiodun who, at the time, decided to take the bull by the horns (www.yorupedia.com).
Notwithstanding, the elimination of this tyrant prime minister cost so much of state resources and time(www.omuaran-ng.com).  Not without the Aare-one-kakan-fo (Yoruba generalissimo) Oyalabi from Ajase (www.yorupedia.com.after) was he finally overpowered and  killed.  His children fled Oyo for places like Egbado (Yewa), Badagry, Cotonou in Dahomey, all main locations where their father had contacts (Wikipedia,2011).
The Crimes of Basorun Gaa
Bashorun Gaa was a classical tyrant of Yoruba pre-colonial era. Bashorun Gaa was instrumental to the killing of four kings. He was therefore, guilty of regicide. He wickedly supervised the dethronement of four kings by forcing them to commit suicide. The last king to be dethroned, Alaafin Majeogbe, was executed under the supervisory instructions of Bashorun Gaa (Faleti,1972). In addition to his extra judicial killing, he instructed the murder of the daughter of Alaafin Abiodun and later used the victim for money ritual. Bashorun Gaa, unconstitutionally hijacked all the political power and machinery of Oyo kingdom. All the homage, respects and the material benefits meant for the kings were diverted to his personality. This was a great crime against the royal political system and great assault to the gods of the land and the past ancestors. (Faleti, 1972).

Bashorun Gaa was a crime instigator. He was fond of aiding, abetting and covering the rimes committed by the people of his household. The history recorded the serial killings committed by his sons and head slave. The criminals were protected by him and even punished those who reported the crime. He ordered the massacre of the family members of one of his wives who was alleged to have attempted to poison him.

Terrorism was another crime of Bashorun Gaa. During his reign as prime minister, he and his household were great terrorists. Innocent citizens were terrorized by them. People’s belongings and property were vandalized and maliciously damaged by the notorious members of his family. The houses and property of the innocent citizens were set ablaze; wives of innocent citizens were forcefully taken away from them. Force labour was unnecessarily imposed on people and freedoms of people were taken away from them. The period was recorded as the most turbulent period in the history of Oyo kingdom.

The end of Basorun Gaa
The elimination of Bashorun Gaa was a difficult one. It cost the old Oyo kingdom many material resources, time and lives of innocent people. Alaafin Abiodun and Oyo warriors in collaboration with Aare-Ona-Kaka-N-fo Oyalabi were eventually able to close in on him and arrest him. He was tied to a stake at Akesan market and Alaafin Abiodun ordered that every citizen cut a pound of flesh from his body and drop it in a huge fire in front of him. He was made to smell the odour of his own flesh, his nose was not allowed to be cut and flesh from his left part of the chest was excluded too (to prevent him from dying quickly). The remains of his body were later burnt in fire to prevent the re-incarnation of this wicked man.

The public execution of this man eventually brought up a popular saying in Yoruba land to warn those in power and the rulers who are tyrants. The saying goes thus: if you are audacious in doing evils you can continue, but if you remember the death of Bashorun Gaa be righteous in all your doings”

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4 Comments on “A bit of [Yoruba] history: Bashoorun Gaa (The Wicked Prime Minister of the Old Oyo Kingdom) – Taiwo Olaniyi”

  1. ibrahim Says:

    Bi oba l’aya ose ika, b oba ranti iku Gaa o se oto.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. ENITH Says:

    This is absolutely correct

    Like

    Reply

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