Latoosa: The Kakanfo That Triggered Kiriji War - Global Quest Magazine



Thursday, August 26, 2021

Latoosa: The Kakanfo That Triggered Kiriji War

By Laide Gold

Obadoke Latoosa (or Olatorisa) of Ibadan, the 12th Kakanfo. His story can not be neglected because it was during his reign as the Kakanfo when again, several parts of Yorubaland were at war — the Kiriji War! which was said to be the longest civil war in global history, and was fought for 16 years from 1877-1893. He was also the last military Kakanfo, being succeeded by a honourary holder, Samuel Ladoke Akintola.

On October 3, 1871, Latoosa was installed  Aare Ona Kakanfo and ruler of Ibadan. Originally from Ilora, not far from today’s Oyo, Latoosa was a palm tree farmer said to have possessed intimate knowledge of the palm plant, and could tell when a palm tree would bear fruits with precision. On arrival in Ibadan, Latoosa joined Basorun Ogunmola’s army and soon became the captain of his guards.

How he became the Aare-Ona-Kakanfo

Many historical accounts concur that Latoosa, actually usurped the title of his predecessor, Ojo Aburumaku, who later became Soun of Ogbomoso. When the rulership of Ibadan fell vacant following the self-exile of Balogun Ajobo, and the death of Baale Orowusi, Latoosa and Ajayi Ogboriefon were the most senior chief left. Latoosa claimed that he could not rule with the title of Baale; and opted to be the ruler of Ibadan with the title of Aare. In his view, the titles of Basorun and Baale were of lower ranks that brave soldiers should not take. He was a popular ruler; never afraid of war.

As the successor state to Oyo Empire, Ibadan under the rule of generals called the shots, and appointed administrators for vassal states and towns. Popular commanders that served under Latoosa included balogun Ibikunle, who later became Latoosa’s nemesis. These administrators were called Ajeles. Many of the Ajeles ruled with high-handedness. 

The fall of the Oyo Empire, which had dominated the region for 500 years left a gap in the government of Yorubaland. Many city states, which were previous provinces of the empire, rose up to replace the dominant Oyo Empire, including Ibadan. Ibadan had won the 1840 Osogbo War and the Battle of Ijaiye in 1862 and had grew in immense power, almost rising to that of its predecessor.

Ijesa, Ekiti, Igbomina and Akoko kingdoms were, for several years, gone through unimaginable subjugations by Aare Latorisa of Ibadan through his appointed agents, called Ajele.The Ajeles, were despotic, uncaring, autocratic, and indulged in excesses.

The European industrial revolution increased demand for African resources including slaves trades; the needed access to the coasts by kingdoms to trade; larger kingdoms who assumed power attempted to centralize power even though Yoruba ethnic groups were made up of several kingdoms.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when Oyo had the absolute power throughout Yoruba, Nupe and part of Dahomey, she was able to ensure equilibrium among all kingdoms and relative peace. In the early nineteenth century when all the powers had gone, Ibadan, Ijaye, new Oyo and Abeokuta wanted to replace old Oyo. Older kingdoms made up of Ife and Ijebu, wanted to expand their territories.

Ibadan destroyed Ijaye; checkmated Ilorin and administered Ibarapa, Osun, Ife, Ijesa, Ekiti, Igbomina and Akoko. It failed to control Egba and Ijebu and the vital trade routes to the coast. It failed to efficiently administer these kingdoms.

The refugee settlements in Ibadan, Ijaye and old Oyo wanted to avenge the destruction of old Oyo Empire in the hands of Ilorin Fulani.For self-interest, each wanted to achieve this individually and bring the re-united kingdoms under its own rulership and control. While Ikirun shared the idea of re-unified kingdoms, Ekiti, Ijesa, Akoko and Igbomina wanted a confederacy.

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