Saka Matemilola: A New Beginning In Owu Kingdom
His Royal Majesty (HRM), Saka Adelola Matemilola, the paramount ruler of Owu Kingdom, is an incarnation of how people are born great.
Saka Matemilola serves as the cord binding the Owu kingdom to the royal lineages and the crown inherited from Oduduwa, the acclaimed progenitor of the Yoruba royal dynasty. Born on August 4, 1964, into one of the regnant bloodlines of Ajibosin, a grandson of Oduduwa and the first person to be crowned king among the offsprings of Oduduwa, Saka Matemilola was chosen by the traditional kingmakers to ascend the throne of the imperial palace as the Olowu of Owu kingdom after the death of Oba Adegboyega Dosumu.
As king, the Olowu says that hard work and destiny have a huge influence on his crowning.
“It is something that I have been training for in my family for quite a while. Besides this, my friends, [the people], and associates have said, ‘Saka, we want you to become the next Olowu of Owu Kingdom so that you can represent us.’ So, somehow, my mind has been prepared for it, and finally, here we are.”
The man, the impact
The reason for the calls for him to rule is not far-fetched. Known for his philanthropic activities in the UK, His Imperial Majesty had also shared his concerns and desire to replicate the same in his country. According to him, no amount of public service he did in the United Kingdom would benefit his people. This thought influenced his decision to return to the country in 1996. He, however, describes his homecoming as a continuation of his “public services”.
“You can do a lot for the whole world, which is fantastic, but when you do it closer to home, you make much more impact. In my case, I thought I had done quite a bit, and rightly so, but when I took on this role, it made me feel that I have not done enough, maybe because my people have not been touched sufficiently the way I would have loved them to be. So for me, it feels like I am just beginning my public service.”
Indeed, his generosity has put smiles on the faces of people in his state. He has built a school, and a water-treatment plant, provides financial and healthcare support and makes monthly financial and humanitarian donations to the destitutes.
On a larger scale, the Olowu has contributed immensely to the Nigerian petroleum industry, where he is a major stakeholder. He chairs several boards and has served as a consultant for the reservoir engineering department at Shell Nigeria. He was also influential in the establishment of the Centre of Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Benin in 2011.
Together As One
For the people of Owu, unity is an important discourse. The Olowu says that the unification of the Yoruba race is his major agenda.
“I have focused my attention on the education and health sector, but now, it has to be about unity.
“It is only when you have a united people that you can have unity of purpose. When your followers identify with a cause, it becomes easy for them to work with you to deliver those goals.
So when you want to develop people, then capacity building comes first. When the people are developed, they will support the development of the economy, infrastructure, and the rest.”
He also plans to create a formidable united Yoruba race through programmes such as the Odun Omo Olowu annual festival. He describes the Yoruba culture as one of the most exciting cultures in the world. As such, his kingdom will send a universal message of oneness to all the children of Oduduwa scattered across the globe and to the diaspora that has lost connections with their ancestral roots.
“For me as an Owu man… that is my pride. Look at the people who want to leave or cut off from their roots in Nigeria. Most of the time, it is because they do not know who they are, their origin or their heritage. That is why they want to leave and become a slave to another. Where you are going to was developed by people. ‘What are you doing to ensure that where you came from is also developed to that level and make people come to that place?’ ” he asked rhetorically.
Indeed, his achievements and public service records show why Saka is revered by his people. Standing on his people’s trust, his plans to unite the children of Oduduwa will be fulfilled.