The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who died on Friday, sure lived his life to the fullest.
He was a boxer, gym enthusiast, a dandy dresser, quite energetic (he embarked on a three-hour road walk on his 82nd birthday) and boasted of some of the most beautiful queens in his harem.
That his light-skinned oloris, all 18 of them, could pass for beauty queens was never in doubt.
The Alaafin celebrated and proudly flaunted his beautiful wives in his lifetime and also accorded them the freedom to be themselves.
Little wonder his young queens all have a strong presence on Instagram.
The Alaafin was also known for involving his wives in any public event he attended. He rarely attended events without his most senior wives or some of his junior wives by his side.
Their numerous public appearances in Oyo town and environs were a spectacle and made news headlines. But, none of their outings garnered as much attention as their 2014 visit to London. Before they touched down in London, photos of them taken at the Lagos international airport generated so much buzz online. The visit coincided with his 76th birthday celebration.
They looked regal in matching Ankara outfits that got people talking.
Their presence in the European city did not go unnoticed, as many people stopped them on their tour to pay their respects to the oba and to pose for photos.
After one of their numerous shopping sprees, the oloris thought it necessary to express their love towards the king by treating him to a manicure before watching a movie.
Being a former boxer, the Alaafin took time out to attend a training session held by African Boxing union champion Larry Ekundayo with his wives.
As a sign of respect, Mr Ekundayo gave the monarch his belts after the session. The gesture was nostalgic to the monarch.
They also visited Buckingham Palace and toured the famous Westfield Mall, where he splurged on several designer apparels for his wives.
It’s not a secret that the Alaafin was fond of beautiful women, especially young ladies with fair skin.
In October 2021, the Alaafin disclosed his plans to build a museum for women in Oyo state.
He said the museum would have an exhibition of women’s clothes and personal effects to establish a contrast between what women wore in the past and present.
According to him, the essence of this was to re-emphasise that African women were the finest in the world, in their natural state, as well as draw the society’s attention to the dangers of emulating western culture in terms of dressing.
There is no accurate estimate of the number of wives the Alaafin had, as there has been speculation that he married some women in secret.
However, based on media coverage and public announcements, he was married to eighteen women.
Before the arrival of the other women and his ascension to the throne in 1970, he was married to his first wife, Olori Abibat i, popularly referred to as Iya Adodo. She bore five children for him and holds the title of “most senior wife” in the family.
Some of his wives include: Ayaba Rahmat, Adedayo, Ayaba Mujidat, Ayaba Rukayat, Ayaba Folashade, Ayaba Badirat Ajoke, and Ayaba Memunat.
Others are: Ayaba Omobolanle, Ayaba Moji, Ayaba Anuoluwapo, and Ayaba Damilola.
In March 2021, the arrival of a new queen, Chioma, caused a national sensation as she was from an eastern state. While many people commended the Alaafin for promoting inter-tribal marriages, others called out the age gap between the couple.
Generally, his queens have redefined what it means to be married to a Yoruba monarch. Unlike decades ago, when queens were mostly confined to the palace, these women visited different places and attended public events with the king.
Many of them have also ventured into starting personal brands on social media. For example, Olori Badirat became a famous brand influencer with over 400,000 Instagram followers and started her business.
Being young and beautiful has allowed them to entertain online users with their fashion sense and provide a glimpse into the lives of royals.
All in their 20s, many have marvelled at how the pretty queens remained the best of friends even though they were rivals and lived in the palace with the ageing king at the time.
Although married to the same man, they remain best of friends. Their friendship is quite desirable and has earned the admiration of many on Instagram who say they make polygamy appear easy.
The late monarch married numerous wives during his lifetime.
He regularly stepped out with them publicly at events, most of whom were younger.
Based on social media posts uploaded by many of these queens, it is evident that the Alaafin showered them with the best gifts money can buy. He bought her a Toyota SUV on one of his wife’s birthdays. He also gifted another wife a new house.
Additionally, the queen’s words of appreciation in the caption are heartwarming during his birthdays, as was his positive attitude towards them.
In an interview with City People, the 83-year-old monarch revealed how he fostered good relationships with the queens.
He said: ‘‘We must defend the marriage institution. Each partner has a role to play in the marriage. My wives have their quarters. God has given me some ability and grace to keep a woman, gorgeous woman. I don’t disclose my conversations or activities with one wife to another. I maintain a strict code of confidentiality.
‘‘I have learned that I must positively impact people and make a great first impression. Of course, they (wives) sometimes have disagreements and conflicts of opinion, but I have been ‘graced’ by God to know how to ensure that the disputes don’t escalate.”
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