It’s time Yoruba Obas put up a formidable front and be forward-looking
Oba (Dr.) Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Tolu I
Iwo people, home and abroad, usually gather at Iwo town to honour their monarchevery December 23. According to history, the oba’s day is also known as Iwo Day. It is significant, as it is also symbolises the day Iwo town was founded. It is just like the Iwo people’s Christmas.
On December 23, 2017, as early as 8:30a.m a mammoth crowd lined up from the oba’s palace all through the central market areas to D.C. School Araromi Iwo, venue of the 27th Iwo Day. It was jubilation all the way, as Oba Adewale Akanbi Tolu I rode in an open motorcade waving to the crowd.
Among the dignitaries that graced the event were High Chief Ogunbayo Adebayo, Aremu Ekerin of Iwo land; the Osun State Police Commissioner, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye and Allahu Razak Salinsile, APC Secretary, who represented Governor Rauf Aregbeshola. Palace Watch had a discussion with the oba at the event.
What is the importance of the Iwo Day to you and your people?
It is the only day the oba has to felicitate with the people of Iwo and to take personal stock on whether the outgoing year was a blessing to them or not. It is also the day set aside by Iwo people to say ‘thank you’ to the oba under whose reign they are making tremendous progress in all spheres of life. It is a day like Christmas and Maludu Nabiyi, the celebration of the birth of our great prophet Muhammed, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. In summary, it is our own local Christmas here.
The tradition and practice is that on a day like this, farmers are expected to bring their harvest, just like market women and men the products they sell alongside other people trading in various goods to come and say thank you to the oba. Let me give you an example of what happened this year, which I consider to be very instructive. Some group of women selling ordinary maize came to pay homage to me with a very expensive fabric known around here as ‘Ofi’. It is a hand-woven cloth that I normally wear. They came to the palace with two packs of the material. While they were still in the palace, my tailor came to the palace and was asked how many packs will be enough to make a complete dress. The tailor said five packs. To my surprise right there and then, these women I never expected in my wildest dream could afford these cloths, went and brought the remaining three packs as they insisted ‘our oba must wear this dress’. I was honestly humbled by this act of benevolence from these women. They told me, ‘Kabiyesi, do not worry, we are doing very well during your reign as our oba.’
I was, therefore, not surprised when I saw these women wearing this very expensive material ‘Ofi’ today that we are celebrating Iwo Day. Honestly, what more can I ask for from my people?Iwo Day is also the day I have the opportunity to collectively bless my people to make more progress in whatsoever they are doing. As the representative of the Almighty God here on earth, it is the day I use my authority to invoke blessings on them all. It is God, Who is the King of every living thing. As God’s representative on earth, it is the day I have the opportunity to bless and remove curses from my people. On a day like this, once I cry to God saying, ‘God you gave me this land as your representative here on mother earth to rule’, whatsoever I ask of Him, he grants me. I, therefore, intercede for my people.
It is pathetic the way and manner some of our traditional rulers behave in this time and age. The throne of kings on earth is the throne of God, as they act as God’s representative here on mother earth. It is, therefore, very wrong for any king or ba to serve any other god, except God Almighty, Who is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. To prove that I mean what I am preaching I have taken a deity and put it away. I told the deity: ‘if you really have the powers ascribed to you, come out of where I have kept you.’ Till today, nothing has happened, as far as that deity is concerned.
Why did you choose to wear the Aare crown you have never worn since becoming an oba?
I decided to wear the Aare crown because I noticed this year has been a particularly successful one to the people of Iwo at home and abroad. I would not have worn this crown, if my people were not making progress. That is the significance of this crown. There is abundance in Iwo land. I have personally made some moves as the Oluwo of Iwo, which were quite successful. I, therefore, have every reason to be happy. There has been an age-long tradition in Iwo: when kings are installed, they don’t were crowns; rather, they are turbaned at the central mosque. This only happens in Iwo land. It does not happen in any other Yoruba land, because we are the oldest Islamic city in Yoruba land and the whole of Southwest. That is why Iwo town is called the home of scholars, ‘Gari Malami’. The first mosque that was built in Iwo was built in 1655.
The Iwo Central Mosque where kings are turbaned was a home of deities, known then as ‘Ele Baba Orisha’. It was a place where in 1655 all the traditional idols in Iwo land were kept. It was in the same place all the idols were gathered and burnt and a mosque was built in the place. This is the second place in history, after the Central Mosque in the city of Mecca, where idols were burnt and a mosque built in its place. This is one of the reasons Iwo Central Mosque is called the king’s mosque, ‘Mosalashi Oba’.
To emphasise the point I was making earlier, this particular Iwo Day was graced by almost all the sons and daughter of Iwo all over the world. They came to show love to their king. It wasn’t only Iwo people that are here; people also came from other places across Nigeria and abroad to felicitate with us because of my kingship style. The style of kingship is more spiritual, more divine than traditional. This is not about Christianity or Islam. Like Oduduwa, who never worshipped any idol, I do things as directed by the spirit. I am, therefore, not surprised that some Yoruba obas, who still want to retain the conservative ways of doing things do not like my style, while some other obas want to change. Personally, I believe what is called change is leadership.
It is about time all Yoruba obas adopted a forward-looking attitude. The days of unnecessary conflict and altercation should be put behind. His Imperial Majesty Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, in his capacity as the chairman of Yoruba Conflict Resolution Committee is a man of peace, who wants peaceful co-existence and unity among all the Yoruba obas and people.
If we put our egos aside and face the reality of our times and age, we will get to see the sense in the point Oba Akinruntan is making about Yoruba history. The man himself is a Yoruba oba, and not a stranger in our midst. We speak the same language and to a certain extent we have almost the same history. This is not enough to create enmity or bad blood. I am, therefore, appealing to all the Yoruba kings to try and form a formidable front the same way the Northern kings are united. This is the way to go; we must continue to make progress as Yoruba obas. It is about time all Yoruba Obas moved from their conservative ways toward lasting peace.
As Yoruba obas, we must not all toe the same line. For example, my queen wears a crown. I know some Yoruba obas do not like this, but I have reasons for doing what I am doing. I have proofs that the wife of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race, Olokun, was crowned. But some kings, because of ego and what have you, do not want to fall in line.
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