History & Culture

Orompoto, The First and Only Female Alaafin Of Oyo

Orompoto or Orompotoniyun as she’s more commonly referred to was the first woman to become Alaafin of Oyo in the imperial era.

Orompoto assumed the throne because there was no adult male successor within her family at the time.

The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire of what is today Benin and North central Nigeria.

Established in the 12th century, the Oyo Empire grew to become the largest Yoruba state. It rose through the outstanding organizational and administrative skills of the Yoruba people, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry.

The Oyo Empire was the most politically important state in the region from the mid-15th to the late 18th century, holding sway not only over most of the other kingdoms in Yorubaland, but also over nearby African states, notably the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey in the modern Republic of Benin to the west.

The region is been ruled by an alwafin (Alaafin means ‘owner of the palace’ in Yoruba) the Alaafin is the head of the empire and supreme overlord of the people responsible for keeping tributaries safe from attack, settling internal quarrels between sub-rulers, and mediating between those sub-rulers and their people.

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Alaafin Orompotoniyun

Alaafin Ajiun Orompotoniyun, ruled the Oyo empire in the 16th century, speculatively from 1554 to 1562

During her reign Orompoto was responsible for leading the Oyo Empire between the years 1554 to 1562. She was the daughter of Alaafin Ofinran and the grand – daughter of Alaafin Onigbogi, both rulers of the Empire in their own time.

When her father died, her brother, Prince Eguguoju succeeded his father. It was during his reign that the capital city was moved from Oyo ile to Oyo Igboho (New Oyo), after a protracted battle with the Nupes and also as a result of internal fighting. However, he died at a young age without a male successor.

His younger brothers, Prince Ajiboyede and Prince Tella were very young and as such couldn’t assume the throne at the time.

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Princess Orompotoniyun was the only link to the Alaafin dynasty, but since it was forbidden for a woman to rule the empire, the chiefs and elders started making plots on how to install themselves as kings.

When she got wind of their plan, Princess Orompoto summoned the chiefs to discuss plans for her coronation but the chiefs and elders refused, saying that a female could never become king.

Orompotoniyun, still determined, told them that she was ready to prove to that she was a man and not a woman.

The chiefs thought it would be a good way to ridicule her and asked her to prove her masculinity and strip stark naked at the palace in seven days.

Princess Orompoto started wearing male items of clothing after this meeting and on the D- day, she mounted the podium and removed her cap to reveal her hair which had been cut low. She also went ahead to show her chest and still, the elders were not impressed.

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She finally removed her trousers and according to Oral history, the chiefs not only saw a penis, but they also saw a scrotum sack drooping with two scrotum eggs in the sack.

At once, everyone dropped on their chest in prostration and she got enthroned as Alaafin Orompotoniyun.

Orompotoniyun came to be popularly known as Ajiun, the custodian of the vagina that kills evil plots.

Orompoto was reportedly masterfully skilled on horseback, and devised an ingenious way of moving her warriors to attack enemies – foot soldiers in front and the calvarymen behind. Broad leaves were tied on the horses’ tails so that when they went a fighting, the leaves swept d ground after them to cover trails of d horses &men on foot.

Alaafin Ajiun died in the battle of Ilayi in 1562 fighting for her people. She’s the only one of the 40 Alaafin (39 men) who died in battle.


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