How Succession To The Throne In Yorubaland Is Done

In many cultures,  the throne is passed from Father to his first son or even daughter and in some cases, his brother or nephew. This is not the case in Yorubaland.


In each town, there are ruling houses. They could be as many as six or even seven. Members of these families are regarded as royalties and most of them bear the ‘Ade’ prefix in their names. ‘Ade’ means crown and a sign of royalty. Names like Adeola ( The wealth of the crown). Etoade ( The reward of the crown) are examples of names giving to members of the ruling family. Even their surnames in most cases show that they are from the ruling class.

When an incumbent king ( Oba) goes the way of his fathers. The ruling houses send the names of their best candidates to the chiefs who are also known as the king makers/advisers. The ruling house from which the last king came from will not bring forth any names. This is to enable a fair chance for others and rotation of the title. An Oba’s nephew might succeed him in this way. That is if one of the King’s sisters marries a member of another ruling house. The elders of the ruling house has the right to elect him if they feel that he will represent them well. In yorubaland, a woman is never a King. She can be a regent, a queen mother but not a Ruler.

Candidates are well screened by the elders of their families with /without their knowledge and then their names are given to the chiefs. The chiefs go to the Ifa priest who takes the names to the oracle and consults/divinates. The oracle then chooses the next king .In some cases, it might not pick any of the names presented. The oracle might chose another person  from any of the ruling houses to be King.

The chief Ifa priest tells the chiefs and the people the name of the ‘chosen’ one.

Once this is done, the traditional rites to make him king is put in place and  he is crowned king and given all the ‘necessary powers’ that goes with the position.


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