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Historical Fact: Why No Female Has Been Crowned Ooni After Ooni Luwoo

By Sodiq Lawal

The Ooni of Ife is seen as the most supreme or paramount sovereign in Ile Ife, which is regarded as the source of the Yoruba race.

Generally, he is recognised by his subjects as their spiritual leader and Chief Custodian of traditions. From ancient times, men have always occupied the revered stool except on few occasions where a woman did occupy the throne. Such was the case of Luwoo who was the 21 Ooni of Ife.

In the days of old in Ile Ife, a female had been crown as the Ooni of Ife. She was known by the name Luwoo.

Luwoo was the first and only female to be crowned a king in Ife. She was said to be 21st Ooni of Ife. She took over the thrown after the demise of Ooni Giesi and was succeeded by Ooni Lumobi.

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Her reign was said to be filled with terror and fear especially by the men. The female folks in Ife lost the opportunity of being crowned a king again just because of the wickedness perpetrated by Luwoo while seated on the well revered throne.

She is said to be so finicky that she did not walk on bare floor. According to palace sources, Luwoo walks on tiles, clay tiles.

The residue of the tiles she walked on while she reigned is still available in Ife and other Yoruba land she visited while on the throne because the tiles are unique.

The hand-made clay tiles Ooni of Ife Queen Luwoo walked on How did she get these tiles produced? It was gathered that anyone who commit one offence or the other is ordered to make the clay tiles. They are ordered to bake the clay, and afterwards use their bare hands to break it into pieces and then laid on the floor for the queen to walk on.

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It is reported that the female Ooni was a beautiful and sophisticated queen who took pride in her physical appearance and that of her surroundings. She was also known to be the one to commission unique Yoruba custom of construction of decorative pavements; open-air courtyards paved the pottery shreds.

Queen Luwoo was said not to spare the menfolk when they offend her or her constituted authority. She was noted to ride erring men as horses for violating her laws. She was a terror to lazy people.

For her highhandedness, the council of obas in Ife convened and vowed after her demise not to make a female the Ooni of Ife again as they saw Queen Luwoo as being uncontrollable by them.