The Oyo Empire is not just popular for being one of the oldest and greatest empires but was also graced with powerful women in Nigeria.
The Alaafin of Oyo, a traditional title held by the paramount ruler of this Empire is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance.
While the Alaafin is traditionally a male figurehead, the palace has been graced by the presence of remarkable and influential women throughout its history.
Currently, there are powerful women within the Oyo kingdom who are not only influential but also play major roles in the control of the kingdom and in the life of the Aláàfin.
Here are the five most powerful women in Aláàfin of Oyo’s palace;
In the Oyo empire, everyone is expected to kneel or prostrate when conversing or greeting the Alaafin but there is one person that the Aláàfin kneels before and that is the Iyamode.
Any woman who occupies this position is highly respected and referred to as ‘Baba’ (father). She is the senior priestess and the most powerful in the hierarchy of other priestesses in the kingdom.
Whenever the Aláàfin goes on his knees before this powerful woman, the Iyamode responds by also going on her knees.
2) Iya Naso
Iya Naso serves as the Aláàfin’s connection to Sango, one of the deities the Alaafin worships. She is in charge of the Sango shrine and her role involves the worship of Sango and everything connected to it.
3) Are Orite
The Are Orite can be considered one of the closest powerful women to the Aláàfin. She is regarded as his personal attendant and is in charge of all his meals, and his bed chambers and during the coronation, the Are-Orite is the one who places the umbrella-like parasol over his head as a canopy and stays by his side.
4) Iya Kere
Iya Kere is another powerful woman in the Aláàfin of the Oyo empire. She plays a major role during Aláàfin’s coronation as she is the one who places the crown on his head.
In addition to this, Iya Kere is in charge of the treasures of the kingdom of the Oyo empire which includes the royal crown. She is also the one in charge of all the male and female eunuchs in the palace and as soon as any woman is appointed Iya Kere, she remains celibate for the rest of her life.
5) Iya Oba
The king’s official mother is referred to as the Iya Oba also known as Queen Mother. The Iya Oba is the feudal head of Bashorun and plays a role in the worship of Orun.
In addition to the above, there are other powerful women such as the Iya-Fin-Iku, Iyalagbon and the Iya Monari. These women are very powerful and they play spiritual roles in the life of the Aláàfin.