Ile-Ife, a town in present day Osun State, Nigeria, has always been regarded as the cradle of the Yoruba race, thus any presiding Ooni (King) of Ile-Ife (also called Ife) holds a high place in the league of Yoruba traditional rulers.
According to a report by OldNaija, more than 70% of Yoruba people do not know that Ife once had a female king and nearly half of that percentage were astonished by this fact because they know the Yoruba culture gives little and in most cases, no room for a woman to be crowned king.
One of the few female Yoruba traditional rulers known in history was Queen Luwoo of Ife whom history said jeopardized all the chances of women ruling over Ile-Ife.
Who Was Queen Luwoo of Ife?
Queen Luwoo was the 21st Ooni of Ife and the only female that has ever sat on the throne till date. She succeeded Ooni Giesi who was the 20th Ooni of Ile-Ife.
According to some historical accounts, Queen Luwoo’s full name is Lúwo Gbàgìdá and she’s a descendant of Otaataa from Owode compound, Okerewe. It was said that she married Chief Ọbalọran of Ilode whom she gave a child, Adekola Telu, who later became the founder and Oluwoo of Iwo town.
During the ancient days in Yoruba land, nothing was known about writing, therefore, many of the histories recorded then were documented in oral form. As they were passed down from one generation to another, details were being dropped bits by bits, thus little is known about Queen Luwoo of Ife.
But, digging deeper into the history of Ile-Ife, it was discovered that Queen Luwoo was a woman of beauty and elegance who loved clean environments exactly like a mother loves her children.
OldNaija gathered that she brought the art of constructing decorative pavements and open-air courtyards paved with pottery shreds to Ile-Ife which was later adopted in some other parts of Yoruba land. Almost all the roads in Ile-Ife were embellished with quartz pebbles and broken pottery some of which can still be seen today.
Queen Luwoo didn’t hire builders to beautify the streets of Ife and some parts of the palace with broken pottery, instead, she forced offenders to do the work with bare hands, be it male or female, young or old.
As mentioned earlier, history wasn’t kind to the legacy of Queen Luwoo as it was recorded that she blocked the chances of having another female Ooni in Ile-Ife. Queen Luwoo was seen by her subjects as a high handed, arrogant and mean woman who ruled like there wouldn’t be tomorrow.
She was also accused of being concerned about her beauty and elegance at the expense of the administration of the kingdom. And so, immediately after her death, the kingmakers gathered and decided never to crown a woman the Ooni of Ife till eternity.
Queen Luwoo of If
Je was succeeded by Ooni Lumobi, a male.
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