Call for Papers: The Alaafin in Yoruba History, Culture, and Political Power Relations

An International Conference

Date: October 8-11, 2018

Venue: University of Ibadan, Nigeria  

The Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, Nigeria welcomes panels, papers, and poster presentations that will contribute to a better understanding of the role and position of the Alaafin institution in the growth and development of black history and culture in very significant ways. One of the most significant features of Yorubaland was the existence in the geographical zone now described as Southwestern Nigeria, of the ancient and powerful Kingdom (and later Empire) of Oyo under the direction of the Alaafin of Oyo. The role and depth of Oyo’s influence in nurturing a Yoruba identity and consciousness among the Yoruba has continued to resonate across generations and boundaries. It also became the basis for a global understanding of the capacity of the black race to construct an enduring political and social arrangement. The role that the Alaafin played in this has been extremely remarkable.

The Yoruba who today are found in the Southwestern part of Nigeria, the Republics of Benin and Togo, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and other places in the Caribbean have continued to imagine the glory and renown of the empire and the consciousness created by the Kingdom of Oyo and its Alaafins. Oyo has continued to live on in the lives, arts and the socio-cultural, economic and political arrangements prevalent among the Yoruba people, their neighbours and the African Diaspora. How did the Alaafins create such a structure that has continued to live on in history and in people’s lives and consciousness? What roles did the Alaafin play in entrenching Oyo power, influence and culture in different parts of the world? How did Oyo become so powerful and well respected?  These are some of the questions that will be addressed by participants at the conference.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, Oyo was the dominant political power in Yorubaland and beyond. It also became a major centre for exchanging goods from the forest areas and the coast. The Alaafin was the master of the realm spreading from the Savannah and as far afield as modern Benin and Togo Republics in the West African sub-region.  Oyo also gave a major identity to Yorubaland. The name Yoruba was initially used for the Oyo speaking people, their empire and dialect until the 19th century when European explorers applied the name widely to other Yoruba sub-groups. Thus, until the collapse of the Oyo empire in the early 19th century, its dominance and commercial links with different parts of the world provided the basis for stability that protected Yorubaland from aggression or untoward experiences. The role, position, and relevance of the Alaafins in the colonial and post-colonial arrangement have equally proved remarkable in nation-building and human understanding.

We welcome well-researched papers, poster sessions and panels that highlight the role of the institution of theAlaafin in the developments that have placed Oyo and Yorubaland firmly on the world map.


Themes and subthemes of interest for submission include, but are not limited to:


Section A: Theoretical, Methodological, Conceptual and Philosophical Issues

  • Interpreting, Interpretation and Re-Interpretation of the Alaafin Institution
  • Understanding the Political and Imperial Philosophy of the Alaafin of Oyo
  • Methodological and Conceptual Issues in Studying the Alaafin Stool and the History of Oyo and Oyo Empire

Section B: Early History and Archaeology

  • The Archaeology of Oyo
  • Traditional History of Oyo
  • The Oranmiyan Factor in Yoruba History
  • Traditional Historians in Oyo Empire
  • Kings, Traditions and Chronology in the Pre-Colonial history of Oyo and Its Satellite States
  • The Economic Foundations of Oyo
  • Defining the Territorial Limits of Oyo Empire

Section C: Religious Culture, Rituals and Festivals

  • Religious Culture and Practice in Oyo
  • Oyo and Ifa Divination
  • The Institution of Ogboni in Oyo
  • The Institution of Iyalorisa/Iyanifa in Oyo History
  • Alaafin and the Institution of Sango Cult in Yoruba History
  • Kingship Rituals in Oyo
  • The Festival Tradition in Old Oyo Empire
  • The Pantheon of Oyo-Yoruba gods and goddesses

Section D: The Art of Oyo

  • The Arts and Crafts of Oyo
  • Cloth Weaving/Textile Technology in Old Oyo
  • The Art of Faciolography in Oyo
  • Dress and Identity in Oyo
  • The Palace Architecture
  • Building and Architectural Culture in Oyo
  • Sculpture Making in Oyo
  • Drum Varieties and Drumming among the Oyo-Yoruba

Section E: Palace administration

  • Palace Chiefs
  • Ballard Singers
  • Messengers
  • Administrative Staff

Section F: Military Tradition

  • The Military System of Old Oyo Empire
  • The Institution of Eso Ikoyi in Old Oyo Empire
  • The Institution and significance of Aare-Ona Kakanfo in Yoruba History
  • The Horse in Oyo History
  • Borgu and the Oyo Military Tradition

Section G: Intergroup Relations

  • Old Oyo Empire and the Frontier States of Western Yorubaland
  • The Northern Factor in Oyo History
  • Oyo-Ife Relations
  • Oyo-Ilorin Relations
  • Oyo-Ibadan Relations
  • Oyo-Ijaye Relations
  • Oyo-Dahomey (now Republic du Benin) Relations
  • Oyo-Nupe Relations
  • Oyo-Edo Relations
  • Oyo – Borgu Relations
  • Oyo-Ijebu Relations
  • Oyo-Abeokuta Relations 1830-1914
  • Oyo-Badagry Relations

Section H: Pioneers of Change

  • Alaafin Abiodun
  • Alaafin Atiba
  • Samuel Johnson
  • Dr. Obadiah Johnson
  • Samuel Ajayi Crowther
  • Kakanfo Afonja
  • Captain Ross
  • Alaafin Ladigbolu
  • Captain Ward Price
  • Alaafin Adeyemi II
  • Alaafin Adeyemi III

Section I: Social and Political Issues

  • Suicide in Old Oyo
  • The Place of the Aremo in Oyo History
  • Oyo’s Political and Constitutional troubles
  • Oyo and the Fulani Jihad
  • The Alaafin and the Modakeke Question in Yoruba History

Section J: Oyo and the African Diaspora 

  • Oyo in the Atlantic Age
  • Oyo’s Surviving Culture in the African Diaspora
  • Oyo’s Presence in the Caribbean
  • Sango Across the Atlantic

Section K: Oyo: The Colonial Period

  • The Travails of the Alaafin during Colonial Rule
  • Administrative Reorganization of Old Oyo Empire during Colonial Rule
  • The Settlement of Disputes in Colonial Oyo
  • The Legal System in Colonial Oyo
  • Oyo and the Colonial Economy

Section L: Foreign Policy & Diplomacy

  • The Foreign Policy of Oyo in the 19th Century
  • The Politics and Diplomacy of the Alaafin in the Age of Warfare
  • Politics and Diplomacy in Oyo
  • Oyo Refugees

Section M: Post-Colonial Era

  • Alaafin and Power Relations in the Post-Colonial Era
  • Palace Administration in Contemporary Oyo
  • The Alaafin and Traditional Institution in Contemporary Nigeria
  • The Adeyemi Dynasty in Oyo History and Governance
  • Re-Considering the Alaafin Institution: Beyond Akinjogbin, Robin Law, Atanda and Abdullahi Smith
  • Historiographical Reflections on Oyo Empire in the Atlantic Age and After
  • Reminiscences

Section N: Oyo Language and Literature

  • Oyo Language and its Orthography Before 1900 and After
  • Early Oyo Authors, Novelists, Poets and Bards
  • Oyo’s Creative Writers in the 1960s and After
  • Oyo Literature in Contemporary Nollywood
  • Understanding Oyo Proverbs and Mores
  • Yoruba Language Today
  • The Future of Yoruba Language

Section O: Gender, Youth and Oyo Sub-Culture

  • Gender Relations in Oyo Kingdom and Empire
  • The Women of the Palace
  • Raising the Alaafin’s children
  • Oyo’s Socialisation Process

Section P: Islam and Christianity in Oyo and Oyo Empire 

  • The Factor of Islam in Oyo and Oyo Empire
  • Christian Missionary Factor and Impact
  • The Educated Elite
  • Conflict of Cultures
  • Yoruba Religious Encounter

Submission Guidelines

Papers presented at the conference will be peer-reviewed, and those assessed to be of high quality will be included in two edited books. Interested persons should send a 250-word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1st August 2018. You will be notified of the abstracts review panel’s decision by 12th August 2018. If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by 30th September 2018. Abstracts should be submitted with the following information and in this order: (a) author(s), (b) affiliation, (c) email address, (d) phone numbers, (e) title of paper or presentation, (f) abstract of maximum 250 words, and (g) up to 5 keywords.

The abstract should be submitted to the Local Organising Committee at:


Local Organising Committee:

1. Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, Director, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo & Professor of History, Osun State University.


2. Prof. Olutayo C. Adesina, Professor of History, Department of History and Director, Centre for General Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria:

Confirmed Keynote speakers:

  1. Professor Emeritus Akinjide Osuntokun, OON, FNAL, FNIIA
  2. Prof. Toyin Falola, The Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, U.S.A.

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