Madam Efunsetan Aniwura, unforgetable Ibadan heroine

Efunsetan Aniwura, the second Iyalode of Ibadan, was an astute buisnesswoman and was respected for her wealth. Her sphere of influence spanned politics, religion, military and economic life of the people.

Born in Abeokuta in the 1790s, Aniwura was a migrant from Egbaland in the present-day Ogun State. Her entrepreneurial drive was reported to have begun when as a child she accompanied her mother, a petty trader, to the market to sell her wares.

Aniwura lost her only daughter at birth. The situation later changed the way she related to people, especially her workers.

Reputed for having over 2,000 slaves and multiple farms, Aniwura left Egbaland to Ibadan, as a way of expanding her trade. Ibadan, then, was a more enterprising town for businesses than any other town in the region. She sold agricultural produce, tobacco, slaves, local cosmetics and kijipa cloths — a special Yoruba cloth woven with cotton. She traded with people from Port Novo, Badagry, Ikorodu and even Europeans. She was diligent in her trade, but also faced stiff competition and the instability of the era affected her leadership style. She became highhanded.

Despite her highhandedness, she became the second Iyalode of Ibadan in the 1860s and also the patron of the Anglican Church of Ibadan for her involvement in strengthening Christianity in the region.

But on May 1, 1874, Aare Ona Kakanfo Latoosa deposed her as Iyalode of Ibadan for politically motivated allegations. She was fined and she paid all the fines levied against her. Latoosa was still not pleased with her because she was held in high esteem by the high chiefs and within the community. She also held a very strong political view against Aare Latoosa.

Latoosa felt threatened by Aniwura’s wealth and power, so, on June 30, 1874, he arranged with Kumuyilo — Aniwura’s adopted son — and two other slaves to assassinate Aniwura in her sleep.

While alive, Aniwura helped to build and defend Ibadan against her enemies. Ibadan’s army depended on her for military equipment, which they got on credit from her.

Egba chiefs heard of Aniwura’s death and demanded inquiry. After the investigations, the two slaves were killed, while Kumuyilo was removed as the head of Aniwura’s family.

Aniwura’s statue is at Challenge Roundabout in Ibadan.

Compiled by Omiko Awa

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