A prince in search of selfdom
Sir: In Ogun State, a scenario is playing out as Prince Olusoji Adebayo, from the Adegoroyeyi ruling house has said he has no interest in being crowned king and prefers to be left alone to forge his way in life away from the demands and dictates of that life. The last is yet to be heard about the traditional debacle about the new king to be installed in the town. As tradition dictates, when a king passes on in Yoruba land, Ifa is consulted for spiritual guidance to select a new king. During the consultation, Adebayo was chosen as the new king. The euphoria and funfair that usually follows such pronouncement did not happen.
The 51 year old prince reportedly claimed that he is a devoted Christian and the traditional rites involved in the installation of any king in Yoruba land contravenes the tenets and beliefs of Christianity. The burial of a king is entirely different from any other type of burial in Yoruba land. Kings do not die in Yoruba tradition, when the king gives up the ghost, it is said the king has gone to join the ancestors. A particular kind of drum is beaten and with this drum, the Ogboni sing the praises of the king, telling him to extend their greetings and regards to all the kings and ancestors who have gone before him.
It is the tradition in Ado Odo-Ota, Ogun State, that once a crown prince is pronounced, no other prince can replace him unless the pronounced prince is either installed or dies and the installation will commence immediately a prince has been nominated.
A new king has to marry wives from designated families within the community. That means whether the king had a wife before or not, he has to marry wives selected for him. Sometimes he must acquire the widows of his predecessor. The life of a Yoruba king from the period he ascends the throne to his passage to the spiritual realm is shrouded in mystery, as he is not just the traditional head but also the spiritual and religious leader.
Adebayo has said that he has no interest in being king and is very painful that he has become a fugitive of tradition and as a Christian and humanist with tradition that he is destined to obey and practise, he feels trapped. In this kingship dilemma, the prince has a choice to make between his inherited tradition and Christian faith, between being free and being tied to rituals. The real selfdom in the prince lies entirely on the choice he makes.
Azeez Olunlokun wrote from Lagos.
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