Arts and Culture

Coronation Ceremony in Yorubaland

One of the top events in Yorubaland is the coronation ceremony. It is one of the ways Yoruba people showcase their rich culture and traditions. You just have to attend a coronation ceremony in this part of the country to know more about the people.

What is a Coronation?

A coronation means the action of bestowing a chieftaincy title. It is known as ‘Iwuye’ in Yorubaland and it is an important process in king-making.

The Yoruba kings which are referred to as ‘Oba’ are direct descendant of the medieval emperor, Oduduwa, who settled in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. Coronation is then done for people who is entitled to wear a ceremonial crown if it belongs to their family.

In most Yoruba communities there are more than one ruling house to choose from. The choice of the king could rotate among the ruling houses, some towns or cities that don’t have privilege.

Pre-Coronation Rites

Before the coronation ceremony takes place, there are rites which have to be done by the council of chiefs. The council of chiefs/kingmakers are referred as ‘Oyomesi’ in the old Oyo Empire.

The pre-coronation rites include an election to the office of king and confirmation of the said election by the ‘Ifa’ oracle.

This is followed by the ‘Ipebi’ ritual confinement where the would-be king learns the various traditions of his people and swearing to a series of oaths tied to the kingship.

The oath taking, however, differs in different parts of the Yoruba communities. Only after this is the king installed according to local customs.

Ooni Of Ife
Top Yoruba monarch, Ooni of Ife.

Coronation Ceremony in Yorubaland

The coronation ceremony kicks off after the selected prince or candidate who eventually becomes the king has been chosen unanimously by the kingmakers. He is then shown to the community in form of a parade around the town. The aim is to ensure that ordinary folks have an input or say in whom eventually rules over them.

In some places, the king wears white clothing which might be a white cap, wrapper and shoe with coral beads on the neck, wrist and ankle. The ‘Ewe Oye‘ (leaves of fertility) is also an important part of the clothing accessory which is a symbol of the coronation.

Masquerades are part of the parade as well as drummers and singers who tour the community with the coronated king.  

It is always a massive celebration as the king’s families and friends, home and abroad shows up to celebrate the oba who has gone through the ritual processes.

The coronations of top Yoruba monarchs such as Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Alake of Egbaland, Soun of Ogbomoso, and so on are usually celebrated as carnivals which stretch over a number of days.

During this ceremony, the Yoruba rich culture and traditions are displayed. The people dress in their regalia while musicians who sings Yoruba music genre such as Fuji, Juju, and Apala adds spices to the event which is always a top-notch ‘Owambe’ party.

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