Oyo Empire


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In today’s class, we will be talking about the Oyo empire. Enjoy the class!

Oyo Empire

Oyo Empire classnotes.ng

Oyo empire originated from Ile-Ife through Oranmiyan. By the late 15th century her power and position had spread to most parts of Yorubaland.

Socio-political setting

  1. Alaafin- the head of government
  2. Oyomesi- council of kingmakers
  3. Bashorun- the head of Oyomesi
  4. Ona Efa- Chief Justice
  5. Otun Efa- chief priest of Sango deity
  6. Osi Efa- Minister of Finance
  7. Oluwo- the head of Ogboni cult
  8. The Army headed by Are-Ona-Kakanfo
  9. Aremo- the first son of the Alaafin
  10. The commoners

There are conventional checks and balances in the above setting for example, the Bashorun has the power to caution the Alaafin and the Oluwo has powers over the Bashorun and so on. This gives rise to stable government devoid of tyranny.

The Oyo economy

The empire got its revenue from trade. The people traded in Kolanuts, woven cloth, salt, horses, crafts, wood, bronze and brass images. Other sources of income included taxes and tributes from vassals. The Oyo people were sedentary farmers. They also traded in slaves with the Europeans from the 18th century.

The Fall of the Oyo empire

After the reign of Alaafin Abiodun, Oyo empire began to decline and the following factors contributed to her fall.

  1. The weakness of the central authority, for example, Bashorun Gaha was hostile to Alaafin Abiodun and this resulted in lawlessness.
  2. The negative attitude of the Chief of Army Staff. (Are-Ona-Kakanfo).
  3. Loss of economic wealth due to political instability.
  4. The adverse effects of the slave trade.
  5. The conspiracy of Afonja.
  6. Attacks from the vassal states e.g. Egba and Dahomey.


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