Posted by AMANDA IBIRONKE on Saturday, January 18, 2014 Under: Fashion, Tradition & Culture

Coronation ceremonies are traditional rites to formally install kings to the throne of their forefathers as community leaders who are symbol of authority between their people and the outside world. Coronation ceremonies are well-cherished traditional activities to celebrate acceptability of an individual to the throne of traditional rulership of a community of people.

The Coronation of kings amongst the Yoruba people is a very important aspect of their culture. It defines who they are because like any society there has to be a head/ruler to guide its people. Though, the selection and coronation process has a general pattern within the Yorubas, each Yoruba town or area has a unique twist to it. The kings popularly referred to in the Yoruba kingdom as “oba alaye” (king of the earth) or “kabiyesi” (unquestionable) are the custodian of the people’s authority and custom. It is believed that the kings are the legitimate representation of their kingdoms. The king is the father of all in the community, he is the highest authority irrespective of religion and social status, the custodian of the people’s culture. He oversees all traditional festivals such as yam festival, masquerade festival etc; He is the judge that is highly respected to resolve conflicts among his subjects without giving room for appeal and the chief security officer of his kingdom; He also confers chieftaincy title to honour deserving subjects within his community who show excellence in community service and human development.


Selection of kings amongst the Yorubas is majorly done by the council of king-makers in conjunction with the Ifa oracle ( deity of divination). In recent times, consulting the Ifa oracle in the selection of the king is taking a back seat. Some of the Yoruba kings are now being elected without consultation of the Ifa priests. In the olden days, the Ifa oracle has a huge role to play in the selection of a king. The king-makers consult the oracles through its priest, with the information of the potential kingship candidates, a stone or cowries (instrument of divination) is given a special  marking for each candidate. The chief in charge will whisper the name of the candidate to the stones or cowries, all of which are then handed over to the heads of Ifa priest, who consults the oracle. After careful examination, he hands over the
stone or cowry, which is the name of the selected king, the name of the person is then announced by the high chief. The kingmakers then go in search of the rightful man to the throne to inform him of his divine selection. The rightful man to the throne is then escorted to the Chief Priest’s place where the next ritual ceremony is carried out. He is then trained and taught all the history, and traditional ways of doing things; how a king is supposed to behave and rule. Then he would be taken to the shrine to take an oath in the presence of the gods and oracle. After which he would be conferred with certain powers from the gods through the chief priest at the shrine.


A special day is set aside for the coronation ceremony where the whole town comes to witness/ watch the crowning process. After the whole ritual is done and the kingmakers are satisfied that the selected king knows and understands the kingship process, he is then given the instrument of power which is the crown. The coronation crown is always placed on the head of a king from behind or sideways to avoid the king from seeing the inside of his crown because it is forbidden for him to do so. Also, since the ‘divine’ gaze of the Yoruba king is deadly to his subjects, the face of the king is covered during important ceremonies by a beaded veil, (called the Iboju), which is attached to the rim of the crown. In this manner the true identity of the ruler is hidden and therefore his individual personality eliminated and replaced by the divine power of the dynasty. The beaded sceptre which is a symbol of authority is then presented to the king. It is usually always in custody of the chief messenger at any proceedings. It is to emphasize the authority of the king.

All these are done amidst shouting and rejoicing of the town people. The men then pay tribute to king by prostrating at his feet and women also pay homage to the king by kneeling at his feet. Depending on the community, there is usually a huge ceremony afterwards that goes on for days or even weeks. Witnessing a kings coronation is a great privilege; it doesn’t happen often because the king stays on a throne for as long as his lives. A king is hardly dethroned or changed except he dies.       

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In : Fashion, Tradition & Culture 

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