According to Oral tradition, Queen Luwoo was the 21st ruler of Ife, a trailblazer far ahead of her time.
Ilè-If is a town in Osun state that is revered as the cradle and ancestral home of the Yoruba people, making any presiding ruler, the ni, a powerful leader.
His subjects regard the Ooni as their spiritual leader and Chief Custodian of Traditions. The Ooni dynasties date back hundreds of years, and men were thought to have always occupied the revered stool.
Because Nigerian ancient history was mostly passed down orally, transcribed lists of previous Ooni’s differ and, at times, contradict one another.
However, according to most accounts, Ooni Luwoo, a female, was the 21st Ooni of Ife, the supreme traditional ruler of Ile Ife. She was succeeded by Ooni Lumobi after Ooni Giesi.
Ooni Luwoo’s Legacies
In some accounts, she is known as Low Gbàgdá, a descendant of Otaataa from the Okerewe compound of Owode. She was said to have married Chief Obaloran of Ilode and given birth to Adekola Telu, the founder of Iwo town.
After the death of Ooni Giesi, she became the first and only female Ooni.
Ooni Luwoo was a stunning woman who took great pride in her physical appearance as well as the appearance of her surroundings. As a result, she assigned the entire town of Ife to the task of keeping the town clean and beautiful — both men and women.
She was also known for commissioning the unique Yoruba practice of building decorative pavements and open-air courtyards paved with pottery shreds. To punish anyone who committed an offense, the streets of Ile-Ife were paved with quartz pebbles and broken pottery. The offenders were ordered to bake the clay, then break it up with their bare hands and lay it on the floor for the queen to walk on.
She was so refined and picky that she refused to walk on bare floors, and some of the hand-made clay tiles she walked on while reigning are still available in parts of Ife and other Yoruba land she visited while on the throne.
However, the Yoruba people saw her as wicked and a terror and the elders of the land described her as “uncontrollable” and “high-handed.”
After her reign ended, the Obas council vowed never to elect a woman as Ooni of Ife again.
Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, the 51st Ooni of Ife, is the current Ooni.