Oba is the Yoruba word for king, and all of the kings of Yorubaland are therefore known as Obas. The Edo are said to have adopted the word when Eweka I, son of the Yoruba prince Oranmiyan, came to power in the kingdom of Benin and changed the royal title from ogiso to oba. It is now used extensively in the West African republics of Nigeria, Benin and Togo.
There are two different kinds of Yoruba rulers. These are: the kings of Yoruba clans (for example, the oba of the Egba bears the title "Alake of Egbaland" because his ancestral seat is the Ake quarter of Abeokuta, hence the title Alake, which is Yoruba for "Man of Ake". The Oyo oba, meanwhile, bears the title "Alaafin," which means "Man of the palace") and the kings of Yoruba towns (Example: the king of Iwo, a town in Osun State, bears the title "Olu'wo" (Olu of Iwo, basically meaning "Lord of Iwo")).
The first generation towns of the Yoruba homeland, which encompasses large swathes of the said countries of Nigeria, Benin and Togo, are those with obas who generally wear beaded crowns; the rulers of the 'second generation' settlements are also often obas. Those that remain and those of the third generation tend to only be headed by the holders of the title "Baale" (literally meaning Father of the Land in Yoruba), who do not wear crowns and who are, at least in theory, the reigning viceroys of people who do.
All of the subordinate members of the Yoruba aristocracy, both substantive titleholders and honorary ones, use the pre-nominal "Oloye" (lit. Owner of a title, also appearing as "Ijoye") in the way that kings and queens regnant use 'Oba'. It is also often used by princes and princesses in colloquial situations, though the title that is most often ascribed to them officially is "Omoba" (lit. Child of a Monarch, sometimes rendered alternatively as "Omo'ba", "Omooba" and "Omo-Oba"). The wives of kings, princes and chiefs of royal background usually make use of the title "Olori" (roughly the equivalent of the English Princess Consort, otherwise spelled "Oloori"), though some of the wives of dynastic rulers prefer to be referred to as "Ayaba" (something along the lines of Queen Consort). The wives of the non-royal chiefs, when themselves titleholders in their own right, tend to use the honorific "Iyaloye" (lit. Lady who owns a title) in their capacities as chiefly consorts.
The bead-embroidered crown with beaded veil, foremost attribute of the Oba, symbolizes the aspirations of a civilization at the highest level of authority. In his seminal article on the topic, Robert F. Thompson writes, "The crown incarnates the intuition of royal ancestral force, the revelation of great moral insight in the person of the king, and the glitter of aesthetic experience."
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.