I am superior to deities
Oba Abdul Rasheed Adewale Akanbi, Oluwo Of Iwoland
On October 7, Nigerians from all walks of life trooped to the palace of the Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdul Rasheed Adewale Akanbi in Osun State, when he celebrated his 50th birthday anniversary, as well as his second anniversary on the throne.
Nigeria’s former military and civilian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was supposed to be father of the day, and Oba Obateru Akinruntan, the Olugbo of Ugboland, also expected to be chairman of the occasion, were conspicuously absent, though they sent representatives.
Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Mrs. Aba Folawiyo, Chief Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu and a host of other guests were present at the occasion to celebrate with the Oluwo of Iwoland. A day after the celebration, Palace Watch met Oba Abdul Rasheed Adewale Akanbi to find out how the event went.
Kabiyesi, in a statement credited to you, you were quoted as saying during your ascension to the throne, so many people underrated you and called you names, not knowing it was God that sent you to Iwo people. What point were you trying to make?
God is the only One that makes people kings. You may choose to be a pastor; all you need to do is dust your books and go to a Bible college or college of theology and get yourself ready, after which you are ordained a pastor and that is what it takes. It is also very easy to become a “babalawo” (native doctor.) All you need do is to get a house, put something together, erect a signpost and people will begin to patronise you. You can also become an Alfa or Imam, if you can read and are versed in the Qur’an. To become a king, there are lots of processes that must be met, but in the final analysis, it is the Almighty God that crowns one a king or an Oba. And after coronation, it is only God that becomes the real King. We mortals that are crowned kings are nothing but servants to the people and to the King of kings Himself. He is the Alfa and the Omega, Who knows what will happen today and tomorrow; that is why He is God.
Kabiyesi, you are now 50 and have just marked your second year as the Oluwo of Iwo. What type of Iwo town would you want to see, when you are 60 or 70 years?
I honestly dream and look forward to a more prosperous Iwo town. But I must confess what I am terribly ashamed of, especially among my brother Yoruba Obas, which is also a common practice among South-South and South East kings – that is the act of worshipping of “deities,” which is nothing but men’s creation. I am honestly worried and amused at this practice. What most of our kings from these parts of the country are doing is akin to a man creating a television, for example. Just because the TV is beautiful and nice to watch during relaxation, the man now decides to begin to worship this object. This, to me, does not make any sense. Any surprise, therefore, that most kings in these parts of the country are not adding any value to their people’s lives and to governance, all because, they are still thinking and behaving in the old fashion.
With this behaviour, most kings from Northern part of the country are laughing at us, just because we are still living in the past. The Northern Emirs often ask, ‘how can anybody be a successful leader, when he is in the habit of worshiping what he or his people have created in the name of deities, thus claiming that they are promoting culture and tradition?’ I must confess this is not the way and manner to promote culture and tradition. For example, the Yoruba people will call an Oba ‘Igbakeji Orisa.’ What is the meaning of that? If you must know, I am not ‘Igbakeji Orisa.’ I am not in any way second to any god or deity. I am a true king of Iwoland, the representative of Almighty God here on earth. And by His special grace, I have absolute powers over deities, so they are neither my equals nor mates. I am superior to them. Human beings created Orisa, and Orisa never created any man and as such, humans should be the ‘gods’ to these Orisas or deities.
Please note that with this line of argument, I am not saying Africans should eradicate their customs and traditions. If the need arises and it is so important that we celebrate some of these deities, why not? We can go celebrate them. But the fact that must not be ignored is that most of these deities were once human beings that lived on mother earth, and after their passage, people made them deities, most probably because of their good works, courage, strength or magical powers or prowess and general contributions to society development. This is not enough for these people or things to take the place of Almighty God in our lives. This is the point I am trying to make.
Ogun – the god of Iron, which my Yoruba people relish to celebrate – I would want to ask: Was there iron before Ogun or Ogun before iron? The Ogun we are talking about was just a blacksmith and his only invention was nothing but cutlass. After Ogun, there have been several inventions. Why are the inventors not made deities now? Is it due to civilization that this practice has stopped? Yes, if a man or a woman is a genius and he/she created anything new and novel, such a person honestly needs to be celebrated. But making such a person ‘god’ we all now have to celebrate at one point or another is unacceptable to me as a person and as a king.
When Ogun and the other deities were canonised as deities, it was during the dark ages, when we were not as civilized as we are today, but that can no longer be allowed to continue in this age and era. If we were to go the ways of old, the Wright brothers, who manufactured Airplane alongside the likes of Bill Gates that manufactured most of the software we are using in our computers should have long be canonised, as deities people should be worshiping. People designed and manufactured the cars we use today. But is this enough to make them gods? I say No. We must learn to embrace developments and help move our continent forward for good.
But don’t you think you are courting your people’s trouble with this type of reasoning? Don’t you think people will start seeing the way you see things as an assault on the culture, tradition and Yoruba people and Yoruba land as a whole? Are you ready for the consequences of what might come out of this?
I would like to be shown the deity or deities Oduduwa worshipped, while on mother earth. The source of our crown and progenitor is Oduduwa. Why are people in the habit of imposing the practices they did not get from Oduduwa in the name of Obaship? What most of our Obas and kings are practising today are things created by human beings. They are all superstitions that men have created. Let me throw this challenge: the day anybody brings to my knowledge the deity or deities Oduduwa worshipped while on earth with empirical evidence, I will leave my palace; I will no longer become a king. Oduduwa, as far as I know, practised and perfected spiritualism. It was this same spiritualism that Abraham and Moses, alongside our other progenitors practised in the days of old, as there was neither Christianity nor Islam during the period in question. These people heard directly from God, and this is no other thing than spiritualism. These people, while on earth, were pure and participated in no evil. Hence, God communicated directly with them. Spiritualism does not know Islam, Christianity or Babalawo. Spiritualism is only concerned with clean heart and what is right to man and God. Spiritualism goes on well with everybody.
You see, some people are in the habit of going everywhere in the quest for money without hard work and integrity. Some go to pastors to look for children, wealth or fame. From there, they move to an Imam and from the Imam to Babalawo; surprisingly, they do all manner of things. But at the end of it all, they neither get rich nor get any of these things they desire. Some might say, when they got to a babalawo, they eventually got rich. My take is simple: it wasn’t the babalawo that made them rich. They got rich because the appointed time for them to be rich had come. Human beings must, therefore, begin to realise that for anything that comes a man’s way, there is a pre-ordained time for it from God. And when the time is not ripe, it will not come.
You are supposed to be a practising Muslim. Are you a spiritualist now?
You are free to call me whatsoever pleases you. The fact you must not ignore is that everything we do in life is spiritual. Before anybody can do anything in the physical realm, it must first be settled spiritually. Without the spiritual, there will never be physical. Never. You can’t see anything physical without spiritual approval. Before anything is created physically, it must first have to come from the spiritual – from our creativity, from the mind. To answer your question: Yes, I am spiritual, because almost all the things I do are directed from the spirit. If you like, call it divine inspiration.
Your Majesty, do you think Iwo people and the entire Yoruba land will buy into the way you look at functions of Obaship? If they are keeping quiet for now, don’t you think it is because they are waiting to see if you will eventually change?
If they refuse to buy into what I am saying and preaching now, when the time comes, they will one day see reasons with my thinking, especially, if they see the retrogression in the kingship in South-South, South-West and South-East, compared to the enormous progress kingship in the Northern part of the country is making. They will have no other option than to see reasons with me, and change for the better. The Northern rulers, for example, are making lots of progress because they have since moved from obscurity into light. They have long moved away from worshipping deities to worshipping God Almighty through Whom alone everything is made and done in life. The deities most of our kings worship down here are nothing but human creations that cannot help anybody.
Most of the developed countries that are today making enormous progress had in the past worshipped one form of deity or another. But they have since moved from that point to a more progressive lifestyle. Today, wizardry, witches or witchcrafts and black magic are like fairytales in the world’s most developed economies. It is no longer real. By the way, what is witchcraft? It is nothing but poverty of the mind and the lack of the physical and good things of life. Why is it that people never get to call a rich woman a witch? It’s because it is an illusion and negative energy. Why is it that it is only the poor in the society that are called and labelled witches and wizards? It is because it is the toga most poor people wear around. It is disgusting that most kings and Obas from this part of the country still believe and participate in such things. If we don’t shift from this ancient way of thinking that does not encourage development, our communities, kingdom and domain will never develop.
What should Iwo people expect from your reign?
They are already seeing signs that lots of good things and development are about to happen in Iwoland. I will never relent in my drive for the development of this beautiful land of my ancestors. I strive to make sure this happens during my reign. What is the meaning of a king? A king is a servant to his people. I am ready and willing to serve Iwo people with all the energy I can muster to make this place great. So help me God.
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