As Apetu, I will attract investments to Ipetumodu – Prince Omogbolahon Ayoola
What are your plans to transform the town?
Ipetumodu is an ill-governed, misunderstood and neglected big town, because for a very long time now, the right person has not assumed position of leadership.
I am saying this for you to know why the town’s traditional ruler should have keen interest in its development.
Historically, Ipetumodu was said to have been founded by one of Obatala’s sons. As such, Obatala is the ancestor of Ipetumodu people.
Can you imagine a town founded by an offspring of such a great man and its importance to Yoruba people? But see how it has been so relegated today.
This is unacceptable to every true son and daughter of Ipetumodu. This is the situation we are trying our very best to salvage and change it for the better.
Historically, if you look at the relationship between Obatala and Oduduwa, one story said Obatala was Oduduwa’s elder brother.
In another story, Obatala is regarded to be the high priest to Oduduwa, when the latter was welcomed to Ile-Ife.
But from whatever angle one chooses to look at it, Obatala seems to be a very important spiritual leader to Yoruba people.
He was regarded the spiritual head of all Ifa people during his time, Ifa being Yoruba people’s predominant religion.
So, Apetumodu throne is not just a mere throne for an Oba in Yoruba land, it is also the throne of the spiritual leader of all Ifa worshippers globally.
So, it is like two responsibilities in one. If one is given the opportunity to rule as Apetu of Ipetumodu, with the proper understanding of what that throne stands for and the responsibility of Apetumodu to Yoruba people, I think that will inform the kind of development drive, interest, ideas and plans such a ruler should have.
This will bring about an enormous Ifa benefits that will accrue to our people from all over the world, which will in turn ensure massive development of Ipetumodu in the area of tourism, which has not been adequately explored.
This is because Ipetumodu has not been so lucky in the recent past to have an Apetu that knows how to tap into this massive money spinning areas of our tradition.
Our current problem is the personality of the ruler. If you do not have deep knowledge and understanding of the position you are about to occupy, there is the probability you would not even know how to rule after ascending the throne.
But is Ifa still so relevant in Yoruba land?
Contrary to general assumption, a lot of people still practise Ifa. It is still very relevant both in Nigeria and the Diaspora.
The fact we must not ignore is that no religion can completely go out of fashion, as most people assume in this part of the world.
Ifa is not necessarily a religion like Christianity and Islam.
Considered critically, Ifa is more a way of life, how things are done in a particular way to avoid the minimum consequences, which are usually very costly mistakes.
For instance, Ifa will reveal the depth of arithmetic, which might be considered mysterious. And Ifa practice is not limited to this shores alone, as Yoruba people that practise traditional Ifa are scattered all over the world, especially in Brazil.
At some point, all these practitioners will want to know where this practice originated. They want to know about their history. They also want to research into all these things.
If an Ifa person in Brazil wants to do major research into Ifa practice for example, he or she must have Ipetumodu first on his/her mind. Because Ipetumodu is the modern home of Ifa practice.
Ifa worship is unlike Christianity and Islam, where people would gather and say, let us go to so and so place for our worship. It is much deeper than that.
Ifa is about spirituality, which enables people to dream dreams, especially big ones. Ifa is about the study of Yoruba history.
For example, if someone is researching into Yoruba history, and he gets to the part that talks about Obatala, will such a researcher go to Ibadan or Lagos? Certainly not.
It is just like someone trying to research into Oduduwa, who for whatever reasons, thinks Ile-Ife has lost its relevance with Oduduwa and then decides to ignore Ile-Ife.
Such a person will never come out with any meaningful finding. This is the point I am trying to make about the importance of Ipetumodu in Yoruba history.
Are you an Ifa practitioner, a Christian or Muslim?
I don’t worship Ifa. Rather, I am a student of Ifa codes and its meanings. I believe in God. It is not in my position to begin to dwell on the points that constitute Ifa code.
However, what I know is that Ifa is a religion, a system of divination. It refers to the verses of literary corpus, known as Odu Ifa.
Orunmila is the Grand Priest, as he was the one that reveals divinity and prophecy to the world.
Babalawos or Iyanifas use either the divining chain known as Opele, or the sacred palm or kola nuts called Ikin on wooden divination tray, called “Opon Ifa. Divination means to foresee, to be inspired by a god.
It is an attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a standardised process or ritual, used in various forms throughout history.
Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organise what appears to be disjointed, random facets of existence, such that they provide insight into a problem.
What is the connection between Ifa and modern day monarchy in Yoruba land?
Before 1958, before an Oba was selected for any position in Yoruba land, all consultations were done with Ifa. It was compulsory, especially for an Apetu.
That was the practice our forefathers and fathers met on ground. But sadly in 1958, the Chief Obafemi Awolowo government in Western Nigeria then, made a declaration that negated that particular practice.
And that was when this confusion began. The process of selecting an Oba changed, as that declaration was adopted and made a law in Western Nigeria.
As we stand today, until there is a review of that law, Yoruba people can’t return to the practice of consulting the Ifa alone, when selecting an Oba. We just have to understand that government has put all monarchs under its armpit. So, the principal role Ifa played in helping to select an Oba has been tacitly taken away from the people, as government now has the overall say in who is chosen as Oba.
Today, all the Obas are paid by government. The way things stand today; no Oba can travel out of his domain without the permission of his Local Government Council Chairman.
It is also a well-known fact that a monarch is at the beck and call of government, which can equally depose him anyhow. There is absolutely nothing the people can do to protect the Oba, if such happens.
This is an aspect of the Constitution that should be looked into. We don’t know when or if it will ever be amended.
Except traditional rulers across the country come together and ask for an amendment of this law that gives absolute power to government of the day to do what it pleases with the traditional rulers and institutions, things will continue this way.
However, I honestly don’t see this happening in my lifetime, because today’s politicians love power.
As such, they will never let go of their grip on traditional rulers. They won’t want traditional rulers to become independent. That won’t be in their interest.
But with the current arrangement, traditional rulers and institutions are helpless, which is not in the people’s best interest. But what can they do? Absolutely nothing.
We just have to continue to live with it. All these affect the way traditional rulers behave today.
If you have a traditional ruler that is government dependent, he will not have any option than to toe government’s line in all matters, even when such are not in his people’s interest.
Such a traditional ruler might not be able to develop his domain so much either. But a king with a wider range of connection that goes beyond government in and outside his domain is likely to be more successful in that regard.