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 Ooni and my date with history

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Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II

Sir: During my formative years, there were only two things I knew about Ile-Ife, the first was that my late grandfather lived there and had a farm, the second one, is the lesson from my rudimentary knowledge of Yoruba, as a young primary school student at the prestigious Holy Cross Catholic School in Lagos Island, we were taught that Ile-Ife is the foundational home of the Yoruba race.

But shortly after my basic education, I would eventually learn more about Ile-Ife, its place in Nigeria’s contemporary history, and its importance to not just Nigeria but the world. It is on this foundation that I hold so much reverence and respect for the town, its rich tradition, history, and monarchy.  

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More recently, Ile-Ife has become even more endeared to me for the urbane, accessible, and modern disposition of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi. This personal sentiment is first because I believe that if the Crown all over the world must remain relevant, then it must reinvent itself while maintaining its core, secondly, it must be more relatable, while maintaining its mystery; the last one is that it must become inclusive while maintaining its dignity, honour, and admiration.

Following the presentation of The Urgency of Now, my book on Nigeria’s new vision for prosperity, protection, and liberty. I paid a visit to the Ooni, on Thursday, August 6 through the support of my brother Kehinde Alex Bankole who is a close-knit of Ooni Adeyeye.

Unknowing to me, the wife of the former President of Liberia, Jewel Taylor was also visiting, My visit was even more significant considering that it was also a day for the celebration of the annual new yam festival, which I understand was revived by Ooni Adeyeye in 2020, after many years. During the palace tour, I learnt that of the 51 Ooni(s) starting with Oduduwa, the 21st Ooni, was a female named Ooni Luwoo. I understand that the present Oluwo of Iwo is her descendant. I found that quite interesting, considering that the Yoruba culture too often limits women in tradition and practice. Her reign is something I am looking forward to exploring. The Ooni said a few royal blessings and was happy to take pictures with me with the display.

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I can almost wager something like a book presentation had never happened in the history of a deeply traditional rite like that of the food festival. Also, the import and impact of Ooni Adeyeye’s gesture is a vital motivation and encouragement for me and the other young people who were watching.

The Crown is beyond downright sinecurism (much respect to Tai Solarin). It is a role of deep influence and a major anchor for development. And if the Crown everywhere in Nigeria, can reinvent itself while maintaining its core, become more relatable, while maintaining the mystery and become inclusive, while maintaining its dignity, it can serve that role to its fullest.

By Seun Awogbenle

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