Ondo Kinship ideology today is highly bilateral with an emphasis on patrilineality. Unlike other Yoruba kingdoms, however, the Ondo possess a strong tendency toward matrifocality. This is expressed in the kinship term, Omiye mi, which simply means “my maternal kin,” but which is a household word and constitutes a fundamental tenet of the ideology of the ancient Ondo society. A female progenitor was quite common for many lineages among the Ondo.
What then is the importance of this for Ondo myths and rituals? The palace coup d’etat in which the woman Oba was replaced by a male line in the Ondo myth of origin must have had an impact on the way Ondo populace view their descent system and perhaps also on other aspects of the social structure. Airo, the name of the male king that succeeded Pupupu, the female king, means, “a substitute.” The Lobun, who is considered a king in her own right, emphasized this fact by saying: “afi paro ni” (We make him replace someone). Thus the Ondo myth of origin may indicate that at some point in the distant past Ondo women played a powerful political role, the remnants of which are still preserved in the Lobun institution, one of the most revered titles in Ondo today. It is a daughter of the Lobun or a woman within the lineage that succeeds her. That an institution of such crucial ritual importance to the state has survived (for without the Lobun, no king can be enthroned) suggests the importance of women in the past and may represent a sort of compensation for women’s lost power.
Even today the Ondo live with the paradox of suppressed female political power. Lobun is still referred to as “Oba Obinrin” (the woman’s king). This paradox is further demonstrated in the all-night “Opepee festival’, “a ritual of reversal” when the society’s suppressed urges are brought into the open. Such rituals always end up by reinforcing the stability of the status quo. The young men and women take to the street and sing “Oba wa N (referring to the personal name of the incumbent king) Se duo ku di Lobunje” (Our king N, die and let us elect a Lobun).
Female King Cabinet Members in Ondo Kingdom
High Chief Lisa Lobun .
High Chief Jomu Lobun
High Chief Sasere Lobun
High Chief Odofin Lobun
High Chief Orangun Lobun
High Chief Sama Lobun
Source From: Ondo Development Committee Archive