The Reign of Bashorun Gaa, The Wicked Prime Minister

The History of Bashorun Gaa
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Bashorun Gaa, The Wicked Prime Minister

The Oyo Empire was monarchical and ruled by an Alaafin (King). However, an administrative and governing body, made up of chiefs (Oyo Mesi), served to maintain a balance of power. They were headed by a prime minister called Basorun and could request the king’s suicide by sending him a calabash of parrot’s eggs.

This Bashorun Gaa was remarkable because he successfully enthroned 4 Kings, deposed 4 and was murdered by the 5th. Basorun (Prime Minister), Gaa, was a powerful and brave man who was respected and feared by the people of Oyo-Ile for his potent charms and supernatural strength.

It was reported that Bashorun Gaa had the powers to transform into any animal to whatever he wished. Gaa was feared that he had become more authoritative than Alaafin, who made him a Bashorun. It was also said that Basorun Gaa was most times controlled by his ‘juju’ powers which often made him misuse it.


Crown Prince Labisi- He didn’t get the opportunity even to enter the palace. Gaha had his main supporters and friends, executed, forcing that prince to commit suicide.

King Awonbioju- Succeeded Labisi but lasted a mere 130 days because he refused to prostrate before Gaha.

King Agboluaje- Succeeded Awonbioju and was a man of peace. He committed suicide because Gaha insisted that the Elewi of Ewi, a good friend of Agboluaje, was competing with the king in a fashion face-off.

King Majeogbe- Agboluaje’s brother who succeeded him. His problems began when his son was heard to be quarrelling loudly in Gaha’s part of town. Feeling that the prince was too lowly for his attention, he set his crosshairs on the father, the king.

King Abiodun- Abiodun wasn’t about to suffer the same fate as his predecessors, but Gaha murdered his daughter Agbonyin. To take down Gaha who had many powerful friends and connections, he lied to Gaha about being ill.  Disguised himself as a commoner and went to rally for external help from the Onikoyi and the Are-Ona-Kakanfo. He is also visited Oyabi from Ajaseland, on how to send Gaha to the grave.

On the appointed day, troops overwhelmed Gaha, murdered his children including his pregnant wives and captured him alive.

Though he begged for mercy, he was burned alive, atop the remains of his homestead to make he did not reincarnate.

It should be noted that the death of the almighty Bashorun Gaa has, in a sense, affected the old Oyo empire in some ways. First, it reduced the military and political power of the empire; this was due to the destabilization of Oyomesi by after Gaha’s death; the Oyomesi were supposed to act as a check to the Alaafin but instead became his puppet, and left him with absolute authority to rule the Empire.

Secondly, the political unrest the old Oyo Empire witnessed after Gaha’s death made some kingdoms under her auspices (like Dahomey) declare their independence. All these were undoubtedly among the factors that led to the subsequent fall of the old Oyo Empire in 1836/1837.

According to Wikipedia; Bashorun Gaha (or Gaa) was a remarkable aristocrat and leader of the army in the ancient Oyo Empire in the 17th/18th century. He held office during four consecutive imperial Alaaphimas and was a tool for military disasters in their time.

Known for his juju abilities. he was responsible for the death of these Alaafins before being subjected to Alaafin Abiodun (who ruled around 1770-1789) through the deceit and betrayal of his generals. He was burned to death so that he was no longer alive. After his death, his children escaped from Oyo. They ran to places like Egbado (today Yewa), Badagry, Cotonou and Dahomey. Especially, places where their late father had contacts.

Compiled by Adefemi Ridwan




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