Monarchs At Loggerheads: Alaafin Says Ooni Ignorant About His Ancestral Origin

Alaafin of Oyo, Ooni of Ile-Ife
Alaafin of Oyo, Ooni of Ile-Ife

The rivalry between the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade resurfaced at the weekend as the Alaafin described Oba Sijuade as someone who is not knowledgeable about his ancestral origin.

“Anybody who does not know his ancestral roots, who did not strive to learn about it, and does not learn from those who know, will continue to make mistakes and flounder in ignorance. That is part of Ooni’s inadequacies,” Alaafin said in his palace at a special birthday lecture organized in his honour by the ‘City People Magazine’, entitled: ‘Reviving Old Oyo Customs and Tradition’.

The two foremost Yoruba monarchs have been embroiled in crisis over who according to history should be the head of Yoruba land.

The disagreement which had abated after the creation of Osun State, reared its head again recently when Ooni said the Alaafin did not have the rights to celebrate Oranyan (Oranmiyan), one of the sons of Oduduwa because the deity was not known in Oyo town as claimed by the Alaafin.

Oba Adeyemi however refused to respond to the accusation.

Ooni had alleged that Alaafin was reigning over a dead empire.

The Alaafin hinted that he did not respond because of the intervention of the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at a meeting where Oba Sijuade, the Awujale of Ijebu, Oba Oyebade Lipede were in attendance.

Alaafin recalled that Oba Sijuade had said, “He (Alaafin) is not Oranyan”, but he turned deaf ears because he wanted absolute concentration during the celebration of Oranyan.

Explaining why he decided to finally talk after a long silence, he said Ooni did not refrain from condemning him and his traditional activities. Alaafin claimed Oyo is superior to Ife in many ramifications.

“Where did this Yoruba Language that we are speaking evolve from? Which language was used in writing the Bible? It is Oyo language. Why not Ife language? Where else are they speaking Ife language apart from Lagere Quarters? Why are the Modakeke people, who are living behind Ife not speaking Ife language?” Alaafin asked.

Alaafin further clarified that he had posed so many questions to Ooni which, he alleged, “instead, he came with books that could fill three baskets”.

“In 2009, Ooni had rubbished the institution of Alaafin, but a year after when he was celebrating his birthday; he said Oranyan was his father’s ancestor. How could you have denigrated your ancestors and later claimed that you are a son of the Alaafin. Anybody who does not know his ancestral roots, who did not strive to learn about it, and does not learn from those who know, will continue to make mistakes and flounder in ignorance. That is part of Ooni’s inadequacies”, he said.

“When we wanted to celebrate Sango, they said Sango is not Yoruba. Sango studied Quran. He was the one that was first conferred with the title of ‘Akeugberu’. He was the first in the art of adjudicating justly. When he was born, the umbilical cord that joined him with his mother could not be severed. Because they pulled it and it would not cut, it became the name ‘Afonja’. The glory, success and tradition of Yoruba started from Oyo”, he stated.

Alaafin alluded to a period during the tenure of late Chief Bola Ige (SAN) when a “stamped paper recognising Oranyan as the Head of the Princes and Princesses in Yorubaland, and that Oyo dominated all other nations, namely: Ife, Ijebu, Egba, Ijesa, Sabe, Owu and so on”.

He reminded people of some historical facts when Messrs. Richard Lander and McPherson visited Oyo Ile in 1827, saying the white men saw some historical structures in Oyo Ile. He warned that Ooni should not distort historical facts further.

The Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Albert, on the occasion, said the university was proud to be associated with the Alaafin, who turned 74 on October 15.

He said, “We are proud of you being our able and reputable patron that epitomises the rich African cultural heritage and an inspiration to all of us.”


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