List of rulers of Ife

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Yoruba Ife bronze casting of a King, Nigeria c. 1300
Ife bronze casting of a King, dated around twelfth century
Drummers at Ooni's Palace
A picture of Oduduwa sculpture at the Ooni of Ife palace

The Ooni of Ile-Ife (Ọọ̀ni of Ilè-Ifẹ̀) is the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife. The Ooni dynasty existed before the reign of Oranmiyan which historians have argued is between the 7th-9th centuries A.D. All the Oonis are traced back to Oduduwa, who is the ancestral leader of all the Yoruba people.

Ogun sent Oduduwa's children on different journeys as advised by the Ifa oracle to effect Yoruba land and territory expansion.

Oduduwa's eight children's descendants are known as the Obalades (crown chiefs) of Yoruba land.

They are the Onipopo of Popo, (Benin Republic), Onisabe of Sabe, (Benin Republic).

And the Alaafin of Oyo (Nigeria), Oregun of Ile-Ila (Nigeria), Alake of Egbaland (Nigeria), Alaketu of Ketu (Nigeria), Owaoboku of Ijeshaland (Nigeria), Owa of Ilesa (Nigeria) were the true heir to the throne.

“It is believed that Ogun purposely sent all Oduduwa's children on different journeys to effect Yoruba territory expansion.

But historians have argued that Ogun had followed Ifa oracle's advice and Ogun did nothing malicious.[1]

One of Orunmila's sons, Eweka, became the first Oba of Benin. Oranmiyan's son, Ajaka, became the second Alaafin of Oyo after his father. Another, Osile, of Oke-Ona Egba. Ooni Lajamisan, another descendant of Oranmiyan, is often said to have opened the modern Ife history.

The four actual Ruling Houses[2] are named from Ooni Lafogido, Ooni Osinkola, Ooni Ogboru and Ooni Giesi. The first three were sons of Ooni Lajodogun, and the later a maternal grandson of Ogboru. The current Ooni is Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II (born October 17, 1974).

Various authors have various lists[edit]

The primary sources for the history of the Yoruba are from oral tradition. Since there were not ceremonial recitations of the list of the Oonis (at burial or at crowning), there are in fact several oral traditions, that have generated an unusual number of different written transcriptions. In what follows, #nn is the index of the Ooni in the A list (see table, column LA).

Books and research papers[edit]

  1. Ojo Bada 1954[3] quotes 15 names for the Oduduwa to Lajamisan period.[4][5] See column 5.
  2. Chief Fabunmi 1975 quotes 7 names for the same period.[4] See column 6. Chief Fabunmi is known for his Historical notes.[6]
  3. Chief Fasogbon 1976 quotes 12 names for this period.[4] See column 7.
  4. Chief Awosemo 1985 quotes 22 names from Oduduwa to Giesi.[4] See column 8.
  5. Eluyemi 1986 quotes 41 names from Oduduwa to nowadays.[4] See column 9.

Sources for the 50 items A list

  1. Awoyinfa, Dele, 1992 [7][8] pages 30–35.
  2. Prince L. A. Adetunji 1999,[9] pages 70–77. The prince, from the Giesi family, was one of the contenders for the 2015 designation.[10] See column LA.

Sources for the 50 items B list

  1. Ologundu 2008,[11][12] pages 58–59. Lists 48 names, that are the B list, except from Obalufon Alayemore (#5) and Aworokolokin (#12). Moreover, Osinkola (#18) is at #25 (strange place)
    Araba Adedayo Ologundu was a native of Ile-Ife, Nigeria. See column Og.
  2. Lawal 2000,[13] page 21 (nevertheless, this book is Google described as a 19 pages book !). See column LB.

Web sources[edit]

  1. Source 2015.[14]
  2. 2015.,[15] 2015. No references are given. One typo: Ademiluyi Ajagun (1930-19800).[16]
  3. Ooni Ojaja II web site,[17] 2016 quotes 51 names. Same as list B, differs only by the diacritics. No references are given. This list was already in use before 2015.

Influence on king making[edit]

The filling of the stool of a deceased Ooni of Ife is not a simple local affair as it may seem but has national ramifications. Since Ife is regarded as the cradle of the Yoruba, this town has always been the leading religious center of the Yoruba people. But other roles are also involved.[18] Especially, the Ooni of Ife is often presented as the highest ranked Oba[2] or, even more, as the natural chairman of the Council of Yoruban Chiefs.[19] The rules to fill a vacant stool are the Chiefs Law Cap 25 Laws of Osun State (modified 2002).[20] And the Declaration made in 1980 by the traditional Chiefs under Section 4(2) of this Chief Law. In 1957, the former Declaration recognised four ruling houses and established the following order of rotation:

  1. The Oshinkola House, Iremo (present) [as of 1957]
  2. The Ogboru House, Ilare
  3. The Giesi House, More
  4. The Lafogido House, Okerewe

In 1977, references to locations in Ife were suppressed. And the January 1980 Declaration confirmed everything just before the death of Adesoji Aderemi.[20] These families are tagged in column desc, as sourced from Vanguard[21] for Lafog, Osink, Ogbor, Giesi. And Newz[22] for the rest. (Both sources don't give their own sources).

In 2015, it was the turn of the Giesi Family, as confirmed by the Ife kingmakers.[23] Nevertheless:

  • Olakunle Aderemi (leader of Osinkola) said that, despite having produced Adesoji Aderemi (1930-1980), Osinkola house deserved to produce the new King because the family produced the fewest of the Ooni among the four ruling houses. Ife Chieftaincy Declaration of 1980 technically throws open the contest for filling the stool of Ooni, he added.[24]
  • The Lafogido house went to court, describing the Chieftaincy Declaration as unfair. Lafogido house had been constantly marginalized in chieftaincy reviews in Ife since 1957 they said.[1] 14 Oonis have been enthroned from Lajodogun and only 8 from Lafogido ruling house they added.[25]
  • Adetowo Aderemi (of Osinkola) got even further, faulting the 1957 and 1980 Ife Traditional Council Declarations, describing them as a fraud. That they are against the customary law of succession of the Ife people, he said. He also faulted the inclusion of Giesi Ruling House among eligible royal families to fill the stool of Ooni, saying that Giesi was only invited to complete the term of Ogboru, not being from the male lineage with right to the stool as the grandson of Ogboru.[26]

Finally, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, from the Giesi house, was elected October 26, 2015.[27]

Avoiding original research when consolidating the various lists[edit]

Consolidation at the price of the diacritics[edit]

The Yoruba language is written nowadays with an alphabet that uses many diacritic signs. But this alphabet was not strictly codified before being integrated as one of the components of the modern Pan-Nigerian alphabet (1981). Like for the McCune–Reischauer system for Korean, many authors of the West have used this alphabet with some laziness, omitting many of the diacritics for various reasons, or even ignoring all of them. But, while poor romanizations of Korean can be fixed by comparing with the hangul/hanja original text, this cannot be done with the Yoruba oral sources of the past. The romanizations of the proper nouns became dependent the pronunciation of a specific speaker and the skill of a specific transcriber, leading to large variations in spelling. Some examples are (diacritics removed):

Ojajii LB Eluyemi (x86)
Ogun Ogun Ogun
Odidimode Rogbeesin Odidimode Rogbesin
Gboonijio Gbodo-Nijio Gbodo-Nijio
Okanlajosin Okunlajosin -
Adegbalu Adegbolu Adegbolu
Luwoo Luwo (Female) Luwo (Female)
Ojelokunbirin Oje Lokunsinrin Ojee Lokunsinrin
Larunnka Larinka Larinka
Adegunle Adewela Adegunle Abeweela Abewela
Degbinsokun Degbin Kumbusu Degbinna-okun
Orarigba Orayigba Ojaja Orayigbi

Also note that, in the aggregated table, differences that clearly come only from pronunciation have been ignored.

Consolidation at the price of the obvious discrepancies[edit]

Typographic issues[edit]

Printing fixes everything, even the typographic issues.

  1. The two printed quotations[4][5] of the printed Ojo Bada[3] have discrepancies: Otaataa=Otasasa, Arirereokewe=Arirekewe, Lajamusan=Lajamisan.
  2. When Awosemo 1985 (quoted by Sina Ojuade[4]) says Giesi before Ogboruu, this is probably a typo. Indeed, all other sources are saying that Ogboruu #23 was the maternal grand father of Giesi #24.
  3. The quotation of Ademakinwa[5] (p158) uses Kworokolokun: this is probably Aworokolokun.
  4. In column x86, Lagunja is repeated. How to correct ?
  5. Perhaps Ologundu 2008 ranging Osinkola #18 at place #25 is also a typo ?

Remaining discrepancies[edit]

  1. In list A, Lajamisan is ranked #11. This can be tracked to the 1973 Daily Sketch kinglist[5] (p158). This is strange since a list from start to Lajamisan should end by Lajamisan. Moving this one just before Otujabiojo #17 would synchronize the ordering of all the kinglists from Oduduwa to Lajamisan. This should be checked in detail.
  2. While list A sources put both Aworokolokin and Ajuimuda Ekun before Lajamisan, most of the list B sources are saying that Aworokolokin, Ajuimuda and Ekun were three descendants of Lajodoogun. We can only underline the discrepancy. Moreover, Ologundu don't quote Aworokolokin at all in his lists. (green in the table).
  3. The same occurs with the only woman that became Ooni. Most of the time, she is quoted as "Luwoo Gbagida" #18 and placed before Lajodogun #19. But also as "Luwo (Female)" and placed after Giesi #24. (green in the table).
  4. Efon Ayioye #6 in Awoyinfa is quite surely the same person as "Ayioye" in Bada and Fasogbon. But they are not ranked the same by the sources relatively to Ajimuda Ekun #7. Perhaps this was the reason of the comment no matter how ripe the okra is, it cannot be older than itself.
  5. 9 names aren't part of list A or list B.

"At least, it can be said that the existence of numerous variants requires explanation, and an interpretation can be assessed according to how satisfactorily it accounts for their existence. The method might be described as one of reductio ad non absurdum."[28]

Aggregated list[edit]

LB Og 86 85 76 75 54 LA date name desc (nwz) nickname [9] comments [9]
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Odùduwà Founder Founder of the Yoruba country
2 2 2 1.2 Ogun See[5] for more details about the 16 Elders
3 3 3 1.4 Osangangan [5]
4 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 Ọbalùfọ̀n Ògbógbódirin S Oduduwa Elder son of Oduduwa. He lived and reigned for an unusually long period of time.
5 5 3 3 3 3 3 3 Ọbalùfọ̀n Aláyémọrẹ S Obalufon I Became the Ooni after his father's death while Oranmiyan was on sojourn. Fled when Oranmiyan returned.
6 5 4 4 4 4 4 Ọ̀raǹmíyaǹ 9Son of Oduduwa Odede=title ? Said to have lived between 1200 and 1300 A.D. Eweka, the Oba of Benin and Ajaka, the Alaafin of Oyo were his sons.
4.5 4.5 Ọbalùfọ̀n Aláyémọrẹ Back to the throne after Oranmiyan's death. Reigned at the same time as Dada, Alaafin of Oyo.
7 6 4.7 Ayétise S Oduduwa
5 5 5 5 Àwórókọ̀lọ̀kín
6 4 4 5.5 5.5 Lajuwa (usurper) Okoo olori-ko-yun-ajo (A king's wife, called olorì is forbidden to travel) Head messenger. Said to have usurped the throne at the death of Aworokolokin.
6 7 6 6 Ẹ̀fọ̀n Ayíóyè Ogbolaajuree (no matter how ripe the okra is, it cannot be older than itself).
5 5 6 6 7 7 Ajímúda Ẹkùn
8 8 Láamórò Ògìján From Molodo compound, Ilode.
9 9 Ọ̀sẹgànderùkù (turns the forest into dust).
6 7 9.5 Otaran
8 10 10 Ọyẹ́ Okukuyewu Ilode
8 10 10.7 Lamoro
8 7 7 10 12 7 15 11 11 Lájẹ̀misìn S Aiyetise From Ilare. Descendant of Oranmiyan. Modern Ife history began with his reign which was unusually long.
7 9 11 12 12 Lárọ́ọ̀ká From Moore. Descendant of Ọ̀ranmiyan and Ancestor of Giẹsi. There is one common saying: Larooka built the town hall and Giẹsi constructed a support for it at the bottom.
13 13 Òwódò From Okerewe.
8 12 14 14 Arírere Ọ̀kínwẹ
9 15 15 Ọtaataa Ọtaataa-kiran From Owodo. Alade yokun-saayo-lorun.
9 10 13 16 16 Lápeléke Oro-wuye-oluku-eti
11 14 16.2 Oluwo
17 17 Otújàbíòjò (who scatters the market like rainfall)
9 18 18 Lúwo Gbàgìdá Ayare, Akọsulogbe From Owode compound, Okerewe. Descendant of Otaataa (#15). She was married to Chief Ọbalọran of Ilode and became the mother of Adekola Telu, the founder of Iwo town. Was the only woman Ooni. .
9 8 19 19 Lájódogun S Lajamisan From Igbodo, Okerewe. Descendant of Lajamisan.
20 20 Lafogun From Igbodo. Descendant of Lajodoogun.
10 9 8 11 21 21 Láfogído D_Lajodogun From Igbodo. Descendant of Lajodoogun. Prominent among his children were: (1) Otutu biosun ? (2) Okiti #26.6 (3) Olojo Agbele #30 (4) Adagba #36.4 (5) Wunmọnijẹ #41 (6) Lugbade #26.7 (7) Lumobi #24.2 (8) Yeyelueko, mother of Singbunsin Yanningan ?
11 10 21.01 Odidimọdẹ Rogbẹṣin D_Lajodogun
12 21.02 Àwórókọ̀lọ̀kín D_Lajodogun
13 11 21.03 Ẹkun D_Lajodogun
14 12 21.04 Ajímúdà D_Lajodogun
12 21.1 Luciro
15 13 10 13 21.2 Gboo ni jio D_Lajodogun
16 14 11 14 21.4 Okunlajosin D_Lajodogun
17 15 12 15 21.6 Adégbàlú D_Lajodogun
13 16 21.8 Odidi Egbesin
18 14 17 22 22 Ọ̀sińkọ́lá D_Lajodogun Descendant of Lajodoogun.
18 22.2 Lagbuja
19 22.3 Omoropo
15 22.4 Lagunja
19 16 19 21 23 23 Ògbórú D_Lajodogun Descendant of Lajodoogun. Ogboruu was deposed after reigning for 70 years. Six princes were appointed successively within a year and all died without completing the coronation. Finally, Ogboruu agreeded to bless Giesi, a son of his daughter Mọropo
20 17 20 22 24 24 Gíẹ̀sí D_Lajodogun Maternal grandson of Ogboruu
21 18 24.1 Luwo D Lafogido
22 19 24.2 Lúmobi D Lafogido
25 22 16 24.3 Lagunja D_Lajodogun
26 23 17 24.4 Larunka D_Lajodogun
27 24 18 20 24.6 Ademilu D_Lajodogun
25 24.8 Ọ̀sińkọ́lá
25 25 Adéjinlé Descendant of Owodo #13 and ancestor of Abeweela #42
26 26 Àróganganlàgbo From Akui.
24 21 21 26.3 Ojee lokun binrin D_Lajodogun
28 26 26.5 Ọmọgbogbo D_Lajodogun
30 28 24 26.6 Adejinlẹ D Lafogido
34 32 25 27 27 Aríbiwọsọ D Lafogido Aribiwoso-lode-Akui From Akui.
28 28 Ṣojuolu Ọ̀gbọnsẹ̀gbọndẹ From Owodo compound.
23 20 22 29 29 Agbẹ̀dẹ̀gbẹdẹ D_Lajodogun Descendant of Giẹsi.
31 29 26 30 30 Ọlọ́jọ́ D Lafogido Agbele-wojuorun-yanmongi From Okerewe.
32 30 30.3 Okiti D Lafogido
33 31 30.6 Lúgbadé D Lafogido
32 32 Ajífadéseré
33 33 Otuko
34 34 Odidimọdẹ Rogbẹṣin Ancestor of Mọlodo, Awura and Lami (?,?,?)
29 27 23 35 35 Ajílà Oòrùn D_Lajodogun From Moore. Descendant of Agbedegbede #29
35 33 27 31 35.5 Ọ̀sinínladé Òtutùbiọ̀ṣun D Lafogido Descendant of Lafogido.
36 36 Abigboọla
36 34 36.4 Àdàgbá D Lafogido
37 35 28 37 37 Òjìgìdìrí D_Lajodogun Lambuwa. From Akui ward, Ife.
38 36 29 38 1770−1800 Akínmóyèró D Lafogido Iriko dunle biojo (the mist cannot wet the ground like rain).
39 37 30 39 1800−1823 Gbániárè D_Lajodogun Gbadioro at x86 From Ilare ward, Ife.
40 38 31 40 1823−1835 Gbégbáajé D_Lajodogun
41 39 32 41 1835−1839 Wúnmọníjẹ̀ D Lafogido Wunmo-nije-soogun A descendant of Lafogido.
42 40 33 42 1839−1849 Adégúnlẹ̀ Abewéilá D Lafogido Abewe-ila gberengedẹ (spread out like the leaf of the okra plant). He is said to have died at about 35 years of age.
43 41 34 43 1849−1878 Degbin Kùmbúsù D Lafogido The first fall of Ife occurred during his reign in 1849.
44 42 35 44 1878−1880 Ọ̀ráyẹ̀gbà Ọjaja D_Lajodogun Ayikiti-ninu-aran (rolls around in velvet fabric). Imposed by the Ibadan.
45 43 36 45 1880−1894 Dérìn Ọlọ́gbénlá D Giesi Ooni-elect, who never came to be crowned at Ife before he died at Okeigbo. During his reign, the second fall of Ife occurred in 1882.
46 44 37 46 1894−1910 Adélékàn Olúbòse I D Ogboru Eriogun, Akitikori, Ebitikimopiri First Ooni to reign in Ile Ife after the end of Ekitiparapo war. The evacuation of Modakeke occurred during his reign.
47 45 38 47 1910−1910 Adékọ́lá D_Lajodogun Lawarikan, Agbejanla-bofa. From Akui. An Ooni-elect for only two months, June–July 1910.
48 46 39 48 1910−1930 Adémilúyì Àjàgún D Lafogido He was a descendant of Otutubiosun #31. During his reign the Modákẹ́kẹ́ people returned to Ifẹ̀ in 1921.
49 47 40 49 1930−1980 Adesoji Aderemi D Osinkola Ainla, Ọmọ Adekunbi Ipetu From Akui. death=3/7/1980. Was a descendant of Ojigidiri Lambuwa (#37)
50 48 41 50 1980−2015 Olubuse II D Ogboru Grandson of Adelekan Olubuse. death=28/7/2015. Communal clashes between Modakeke and Ife people was reignited during his reign.

Sijuade Olubuse II banned the sale of the Adetunji's book in ife town because it included a story pertaining to his grandfather Adélẹkàn Olúbùse, which he did not want publicized

51 51 2015− Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II D Giesi

Further reading[edit]

  • I. A. Akinjogbin (2002). Milestones and concepts in Yoruba history and culture: a key to understanding Yoruba history. Olu-Akin Publishers. p. 167. ISBN 9789763331392. (not read)


  1. ^ a b "Ooni Ogun & The Obalades crown chiefs of Yoruba Land". Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b "The Place Of Oranmiyan In The History Of Ile – Ife". Vanguard (Nigeria). 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  3. ^ a b Ojo, Bada of Shaki (1954). Iwe Itan Yoruba. Apa Kinni, Ibadan, 228 pages. Cited from Ojuade & Obayemi, not read directly.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g J Sina Ojuade (1992). "The issue of Oduduwa in Yoruba genesis: the myths and realities". Transafrican Journal of History. 21: 139–158. JSTOR 24520425. (p.154)
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ade Obayemi (June 1979). "Ancient Ile-Ife: Another Cultural Historical Reinterpretation". Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria. 9 (4): 151–185. JSTOR 41857206. (p.158)
  6. ^ M. A. Fabunmi (1985). An Anthology of Historical Notes on Ife City. J. West Publications. p. 282. ISBN 9789781630170.
  7. ^ Awoyinfa, Dele (1992). Ooni of Ife in Yoruba history. Lichfield Nigeria. p. 96. ISBN 9789783049871.
  8. ^ "Awoyinfa, Dele". Worldcat. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  9. ^ a b c Prince L. A. Adetunji (1999). The Glory of Yoruba Nation. Lichfield Nigeria. p. 128. ISBN 9789783049871.
  10. ^ "The Ooni has spiritual and physical powers". Vanguard (Nigeria). 2015-08-30. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  11. ^ Ologundudu, Dayo (2008). The cradle of Yoruba culture. Center for Spoken Words. p. 206. ISBN 9780615220635.
  12. ^ Searchworks. Stanford.
  13. ^ Lawal, Ladun Kofoworola Owolade (2000). Ile-Ifẹ : the cradle of the Yoruba : with Oduduwa as their progenitor. Ikoyi, Lagos : Ayojide Enterprises. p. 19.
  14. ^, trustees= Chief Kemade Elugbaju, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, Dr. Akin Awofolaju, Dr. Ramon Adedoyin, Niyi Murele, Sen. Babajide Omoworare, Prince Adedamola Aderemi, Kehinde Awoyele, Prince Adeleke Ijiyode
  15. ^ "Ooni Of Ife: Ademiluyi Family Set To Produce Successor". Leadership Newspaper. 2015-07-30. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  16. ^ "Ooni Ogun & The Obalades crown chiefs of Yoruba Land". Adebola Opaleye. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Past Ooni of Ife". Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  18. ^ "The Rulers of Ife: The Traditional and Adaptive Roles of the Ooni". Ancient Origins. 2015-10-03.
  19. ^ Olufemi Vaughan (2006). Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s-1990s. Rochester studies in African history and the diaspora. University Rochester Press. p. 168. ISBN 9781580462495.
  20. ^ a b Dr. Abiola Sanni. "Erring on the law to fill Ooni stool". Bar Alpha (Nigeria). Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  21. ^ "How Giesi Family Joined the Ruling Class". Vanguard (Nigeria). 2015-10-31. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  22. ^ "Names of Ife Ooni, from Oduduwa ascension". Archived from the original on 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  23. ^ "Ife kingmakers narrow selection of Ooni to Giesi Family". Nigerian Tribune. 2015-09-14. Archived from the original on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  24. ^ "New Ooni: As expected, ruling houses have already started fighting". The Scoop (Nigeria). 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  25. ^ "Ife kingmakers announce that Giesi would produce next Ooni; but one other family is heading to court". The Scoop (Nigeria). 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  26. ^ "New Ooni: Bickering gets worse as Osinkola Ruling House distances self from rotation of crown". 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  27. ^ "Profile of Ogunwusi Ooni-elect". Vanguard (Nigeria). 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  28. ^ R. C. C. Law (1973). "The Heritage of Oduduwa: Traditional History and Political Propaganda among the Yoruba". The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press. 14 (2): 207–222. doi:10.1017/s0021853700012524. JSTOR 180445. p.221.