Following the death of Oyo King, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, Nigerians have been wondering if the cultural heritage of “Abobaku” will be upheld during the burial rites of the late king.

Several comments generated on social media in the early morning of Saturday wondering if truly a man will be killed and be buried alongside the Oyo monarch.

What is Abobaku?

Abobaku is a term from ancient Yoruba tradition used to refer to a King’s servant whose duty is to die with him when he joins his ancestors. The literal meaning of the Abobaku title is “He who dies with the king”.

In an explanation by Kehinde T E Ajayi and Falade Thaddeus Odunayo, the Abobaku enjoys a great deal of privileges and luxury and in fact he is always with or close to the king and even eats whatever the king eats and drinks. One thing remains in all of his luxuries and enjoyments, he dies when the king dies.

He is buried with the king in the same grave. He is aware of this and so enjoys it all while it lasts. It is worthy to note that this is closely attached to the burial rites of a king and that leads us to examine what the burial rites of a king look like in Yoruba land.

Some Nigerians posted several questions asking of the Abobaku will be buried with the late Alaafin and also demand to know his whereabout. Some in fact joked about it that the Abobaku has travelled out the country on hearing the news of Alaafin’s death.

In a report by BBC Yoruba, it was confirmed that the Abobaku for the Alaafin of Oyo truly exist. The tradition started in the ancient town of Oyo. Since the Abobaku knows he has to die when the king dies, he wholeheartedly ensures the king remains alive, healthy and safe.

BBC noted that the that a palace source said on Saturday, April 23, that Oba Adeyemi had an Abobaku but the name has been changed (from Abobaku) to ‘Oloko ehin’.

The source added that in line with the ancient culture and tradition, the Oloko ehin (Abobaku) is supposed to die/be buried alongside Oba Adeyemi.

However, the culture has been changed. Instead of the Oloko ehin (Abobaku) to die/be buried alongside the late monarch, a special rite will be performed instead.

In his explanation, the palace source said the rite will ensure that the Oloko ehin (Abobaku) does not die alongside the king.

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