History & Culture

Basorun Ogunmola, the Warrior of Warriors

The history of Basorun Ogunmola is quite a fascinating one as his life and time was riddled with lots of interesting stories ranging from being an oracle diviner at age 10 and later to a warlord. He was one of the foremost warriors, the Yoruba race ever produced. Despite his smallish stature, he was a terror to many kingdoms during his lifetime. He did not only fight and win several wars, but also went ahead to become a ruler in Ibadan.

Ogunmola was a fearful, fearless, hardworking, daring, dedicated, resourceful, creative, crafty and a just leader. He was a good and reliable friend of Colonial Governor, Carter. He contributed immensely to the acceptance of Christianity in Ibadan. It was said that when Basorun Ogunmola ruled Ibadan, warriors were more honored than farmers.

History has it that Basorun Ogunmola hailed from Ifeesu town, Alawe Compound in Iwo. He was an Ifa priest who traveled from town to town. This Ifa priesthood was what brought him to Ibadan (formerly known as Eba Odan), before crisis and wars made him a great man.
On getting to Ibadan, Ogunmola met the likes of Iba Oluyole, Ibikunle, Oderinlo and others. He met with Iba Oluyole, to sought for a place where he could settle but he was told to live at the backyard (what people now call Boys Quarters). He rejected the offer and maintained that the backyard was meant for the slaves.

He went to Oderinlo to make the same request, but got the same response. He then requested to be permitted to erect his tent at a thick forest he had sighted earlier, where we have Mapo Hall today. He was told that the place was dangerous as it was full of mysterious creatures and wild animals, hence, the reason the area was abandoned. He however insisted and he was eventually permitted. He moved to the thick forest and built his house with leaves. Ogunmola was able to conquer all the wild animals, including the lion that used to kill people. The statue of the lion is what we have today at Mapo Hall.

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After a while, Ogunmola got another revelation that Mapo won’t be accommodating to them in the future. With this, he moved to settle where the compound is located today, his family inclusive.

It was established that Basorun Ogunmola led and won twenty-one out of the twenty-three wars he fought. Some of these wars include that of Kutuje, Arakonga, Kiriji, Ijebu, Egba, Ekiti Para Po etc. but the most prominent of them is the Ijaye war in which he led other warriors from Ibadan to wage war against the dreaded Yoruba Generalissimo, Aare Onakankafo Kurunmi of Ijaye who revolted against the emergence of Prince Agunloye Adelu as the Alaafin of Oyo after the demise of his father, Alaafin Atobatele Atiba. He thereafter ruled Ibadan land as Basorun between 1865 and 1867, after his victory over Kurunmi.

Ogunmola spearheaded the Ijaye crisis because he wanted to revenge Kurunmi’s cruelty to him when he was captured. History has it that Ifa consultation job took Ogunmola to Olosa Oko (a village along Moniya), where he learnt that Kurunmi’s favourite wife was unable to conceive. Ogunmola consulted the oracle on her behalf and she eventually got pregnant. She was said to have been in labour for six days but was only able to deliver safely after Ogunmola performed some rituals. Instead of Kurunmi to compensate Ogunmola, he tied him to a pole in order to sacrifice him to the god of iron (Ogun) and fed him wood ashes on daily basis until when he was secretly unchained by Kurunmi’s wife after seven days.

It was the war that consumed Kurunmi as he was said to have angrily disappeared at Ose river, having lost most of his children to the same war. Only the wife that saved Ogunmola and child were spared. They were later said to have settled at “Oke Adu” in Ibadan.

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Today, even though Ogunmola’s life has become a part of Yoruba history and a study for students, researchers, writers, film makers and other creatives, there are still people who do not know that Ogunmola’s tomb, shrine, a gun said to have been given to him by a white man called Captain Ciron as well as other war tools, are being preserved up till this moment and has since turned to a tourist centre for those who may be interested in his history. Some people do not even know that the erected statue situated in front of the famous Mapo Hall in Ibadan, is that of Basorun Ogunmola.

It is also worthy to know that anyone born into the Basorun Ogunmola’s family must not drink pap made of millet nor bath with hot water regardless of how cold the weather is. This was said to be as a result of the fact that the family are descendants of Osun (the sea goddess). The family also has a tradition where every child born into the family is made to drink from seven different calabashes, regardless of where the child was born, so as to ascertain whether the child is legitimate or not.

According to history, Basorun Ogunmola later died as a result of what could best be described as conspiracy. His bed was laced with measles (Igbona). Due to his braveness, when perpetrators of the evil act were identified and people wanted to appeal to them for the cure, Ogunmola rejected the offer and died afterwards.

It has been established that Ogunmola’s remains and that of his children (Oshun, Omosa and Ilori) all of whom were also warriors, were buried right in the premises near his shrine, where the family’s masquerades and other historical artefacts are kept.

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