Oba Akinruntan tells Obas to research their genealogy
Ugbo Kingdom is a town in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, where the people are predominantly fishermen. The entire area consists of coastal landmarks, creeks, rivers and lagoons. Close neighbours include the Ikales, Itshekiris, Ijaws, Apois, Ijebus and Edos.
The kingdom comprises 16 quarters, headed by appointed chiefs. Chief Gbogunron, one of the heads is responsible for putting traditional ritual leaves on a newly appointed king on coronation day. Penultimate Saturday, Chief Gbogunron, alongside other chiefs that performed the traditional rites that ushered in the reigning Olugbo of Ugbo His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Frederick Enitiolorunda Obateru Akinruntan, Okoro Ajiga 1, now the Paramount ruler and prescribed authority of Ugboland, were again gathered at the Ilajes’ ancestral home to mark Oba Akinruntan’s eighth coronation anniversary.
Unlike previous ones, this year’s coronation anniversary was celebrated at their ancestral home in Ode-Ugbo to emphasise the Ilajes’ importance in the Yoruba nation. Ode-Ugbo is where Oronmakin, founder of Ilaje town, first settled on his arrival from Ile-Ife in the early 17th Century.
Upon arrival at the venue, guests were pleasantly surprised to discover that the two huts built by Oronmakin in the quiet coastal settlement are not only still standing, but are also being preserved centuries after the founder’s demise for generations yet unborn. Beside these ancient fishing huts, which serve as residences to some families, is a white magnificent storey building constructed by Oba Akinruntan known as Okoro Ajiga Royal House. Behind it is a customary court.
On Friday, November 10, 2017, the vehicular traffic from Okitipupa to Igbokoda, was not only impressive, but was also an indication that a major event was about to hold in the ancient settlement. The numerous chalets in the massive palace of the Olugbo couldn’t accommodate all guests, who came from all parts of the country to grace the occasion.
The Palace was filled to capacity with kings and other high profile guests from almost all the towns and cities in Ondo State and beyond. The Olugbo’s Senior Special Assistant, Otunba Sesan Forologba, was at the centre of accommodation arrangements. The Olugbo’s Chief of Staff, Prince Wale Oladejo, combined his traditional assignments with that of a Protocol and Public Relations Officer. He was dashing in and out of the inner palace to minister to the Olugbo’s needs.
At exactly 2.15 p.m., a loud “Bugle call,” often associated with the military, heralded the arrival of Olori Stella Iyabode Akinruntan. She was accompanied by a bevy of ladies among who were friends, relatives and assistants. At every interval, First Class kings from near and far, strolled into the palace with their Oloris and aides. At 4.25 p.m. the bugle sounded again, this time announcing Oba Akinruntan’s emergence from the inner chambers of his palace. Other kings and aides accompanied him. They all walked into the foyer to welcome more guests.
Donning a fitting, white native attire and his traditional long muffler, Oba Akinruntan, smiling broadly, exchanged pleasantries with people around. As the Kabiyesi, his guards and retinue of assistants disappeared into the quiet Ugbo night, other kings, their Oloris and aides also went into one of the massive dining rooms for a banquet.
On Saturday, November 11, 2017, as early as 5 a.m., the palace drummers heralded the dawn of a new day with rhythmic sounds. By 6.30 a.m. things were already getting to the climax, as colourfully dressed guests filled the sitting rooms and foyer to capacity. Among the first set of people to arrive were some Ugbo High Chiefs and Molokun Olugbo, led by Secretary to the Olugbo-in-Council. At exactly 8.45 a.m., the Olugbo arrived to receive more visitors before the actual event commenced. Some of his subjects, especially the elites and those not resident in Ugbo, were seen paying homage to his majesty. Some other kings were either posing for or taking photographs with the Olugbo, who had now been joined by his wife.
At 10.40 a.m., the bugle again sounded, and all the guests, including the kings rose with the Olugbo and his Olori. It was time to proceed to the venue of the day’s event, which is about five minutes’ drive from the Olugbo’s Palace. Drummers, praise-singers and female dancers all danced away, as the Olugbo and his large entourage emerged from the palace inner chambers.
From there, the long convoy of vehicles moved at snail speed to the venue, as Palace guards led the way. The presence of military and police security personnel was intimidating. Guests seated, the day’s events began with the singing of the National Anthem. But the Olugbo would have none of it, as he insisted the Ilaje Anthem must be sung before commencement of events. As this was being sung, the Olugbo sprang up from his seat, stretched out his right arm and sang along with other guests. His sober countenance showed the passion and commitment to his people’s cause.
Otunba Edigan Adeyemi, Private Secretary to the Olugbo, read a message from the throne. In a brief remark, the Olugbo thanked all guests for finding time to come. He said: “Among the carefully selected legacies of Oranfe and Osangangan Obanmakin, who later migrated to found Ilaje-Ugbo, were their passion for trade and commerce. The ancient markets in Ile-Ife founded by my forefathers were called Oja Ugbo or Ugbomokun Akira. Oja Aiyegbaju was founded by Oranfe, while Oja Ejigbomekun, also called Oja Osangangan Obamakin and now called Ola Ife was founded by Osangangan Obamakin.
“Furthermore, the Aje deity, which is the foundation of trade, commerce and economic development in Yoruba land, was instituted by Osangangan Obamakin, and rituals are made every year to this deity in Oja Ife till this present day. The powers of the god, Irunmale, for traditional prosperity of Yoruba land were vested in Osangangan Obamakin, and stupendous wealth has always been the exclusive preserve of every Olugbo, the direct descendant of Osangangan Obamakin till today.”
Olugbo’s eldest son, Prince Abayomi Babatunde Akinruntan, currently representing Ilaje Constituency 1 in Ondo State House of Assembly, told Palace Watch that his father is largely misunderstood by some traditional rulers and people who feel offended by the position Olugbo is pushing.
He said: “Any king in this age and time who is actually worth the crown he wears must be able to know the genealogy of ancestors. The days when every king claimed to be Oduduwa’s descendant are long gone. “My father, although not a historian, has done some research and established our lineage, where we the Ilajes in Ugbo are coming from. This should be a very good example to every serious minded king in Yoruba land at this time.”The celebration was crowned with a well-attended thanksgiving service in Ugbo last Sunday.