History & Culture

Efunsetan Aniwura: The most powerful woman in the Yoruba kingdom

Efunsetan Aniwura: The most powerful woman in the Yoruba kingdom

Chief Ẹfúnṣetán Aníwúrà, the second Iyalode of Ibadan, (i.e women leader or minister of woman affairs) was of Egba origin. Efunsetan was the daughter of an Egba farmer, Ogunrin, a native of Egba Oke-Ona. Efunsetan Aniwura an eponymous courageous woman was a powerful, rich and influential high chief of old Ibadan province. She was a force to reckon with, powerful, fearsome, terrific, rich, audacious and brave.

She was revered as a successful trader and her impact encompassed the political, military, economic and religious spheres of old Ibadan. She is acclaimed for being ostensibly remarkable and powerful; one of the wealthiest Yoruba women that at any point lived. She turned into a prosperous trader at Oja-Oba, Ibadan, in the area currently known as Oyo State, Nigeria. She had several large farms in each of which no under 100 slaves worked at once with numerous others at home.

History had it that she owned over 2,000 slaves during her life time. She was involved in trading with Europeans and extending credit facilities in form of ammunitions to the various Ibadan warriors when they were going on military expeditions. She authorized hundred slaves’ soldiers to join the Ibadan forces on their expeditions

She was made the Iyalode of Ibadan in recognition of her contributions and commitments. As the leader of the women in Ibadan and a successful trader, she was in a position to contribute to the debate on the issues of war and peace. Because of her spirit of entrepreneurship and rendering military assistance, Efunsetan Aniwura became a legendary of many exploits and demonstrated the place of women in politics particularly during the pre-colonial period. She was also made a patron of the Anglican Church in Ibadan for her involvement in strengthening Christianity in the community. Her magical prowess and affluence made her a terror to everybody that had contact with her. She was an example of an African woman who stood against male chauvinism and gender inequality because of her wealth and spiritual depth in power and authority.

Efunsetan Aniwura’s woes arose from her participation in the war efforts. She became a target for her male counterparts who found her interest in politics and war intrusive and were not comfortable with being indebted to her. Efunsetan Aniwura’s second woe came from her personal life predicament. After losing her only daughter who died during childbirth, She adopted a son, Kumuyilo. But, with the stigma of not having a progeny to inherit her legacies, she blamed God for her tragedy and as a result of her psychological problems, she vent her anger on the society, became wicked, cruel, callous, bitter, heartless and a monster dreaded by the society. Her slaves suffered mostly from her aggressive behaviours and some form of extremism. She put outrageous laws in place and executed any slave who violated the law.

As a result of this, the King ordered that she be brought to justice. There are two varying accounts of her death. One claimed that she committed suicide by drinking poison while other claimed that she was poisoned by her slaves.

Chief Aniwura got mainstream attention after being the subject of a play by Professor Akinwunmi Isola. There is also a statue placed at the centre of Challenge roundabout, a major point within the modern city of Ibadan. She has also been the subject of some Nigerian film productions and several studies have been carried out on her role in the history of Yoruba and feminism in Nigeria.

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Oyo Affairs is an independent news media with the main focus on Oyo state news, politics, current events, trending happenings within and around Oyo state, Nigeria

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