Abobaku is a phrase that refers to someone who dies with the monarch. When the current king died, everyone who had this title was buried beside him.
The Abobaku of Alaafin Oyo has run for his life, and according to a source, he is nowhere to be found. After the demise of Oba Lamide Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo State, the meaning of Abobaku has gone viral.
It is believed that the title was a way of strengthening loyalty and preventing betrayal that could lead to the King’s untimely death since whoever occupied the position was sure to protect the King as much as he could, to avoid his death as well.
It is thought that the title was given to increase devotion and prevent treason, which may lead to the King’s early death because whoever held the position was bound to protect the King to the best of his ability in order to escape his own death.
The abobaku is believed to be close to the King with rights to enjoy from the royal largess. He may even have rights nearly equaled to that of the King. Depending on the cultural practices of the kingdom in question. This is so because it is believed that since he is to die with the King, he ought to enjoy his living days to the fullest. And it probably explains why the position remained attractive and was sometimes contested even though it was a death trap.
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The abobaku is an ancient title predominantly in the old Oyo kingdom. But the title might be present in other Kingdoms, with the name varying according to language and culture Following the death of the previous Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade, it was rumored that the abobaku escaped; to avoid getting buried along with the dead King. But this has been dispelled as false news, with clarifications emerging to prove that no such title existed in Ile-Ife. And the Saarun of Ife who is said to be the closest to the Ooni, lived his full years and was never buried with the Ooni.
Since the abobaku culture was abolished in 1859, there has been no record of this practice anywhere in Yoruba land. It was rumoured it might still be practised especially for the position high ranking king in the Yoruba kingdom.
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