Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has urged the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, to ignore anybody, who called Moremi Ajasoro a traitor.
He said such view did not take away anything from the reality of who Moremi was.
Though Soyinka did not mention anybody’s name, observers noted that the social critic was referring to Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, who had controversially referred to the late Moremi as a traitor that was not worthy of celebrating few days after the Ooni inaugurated a statue in her honour.
The Nobel laureate spoke at a book launch which was one of the activities lined up to mark the one year coronation anniversary of the monarch in Ile Ife on Wednesday.
He said, “There is controversy about the origin of someone whom we know as the origin of Yoruba race, kingdom, black race and humanity. The controversy may continue for long but the reality is that Kabiesi, the Ooni of Ife above all, Ile Ife is the cradle of humanity.
“We know what we know; we know what we accept and believe and that remains the fact. I have just gone to see the statue of Moremi and the controversy on Moremi. I learnt that some people said that Moremi, the heroine, is a traitor. That does not touch any part of reality of what Moremi is or was. And I don’t want you (Ooni) to spend any time or energy at all responding to counter or alternative theories. It is not necessary.”
Soyinka, who added that the influence of the Ooni and Ile Ife as the cradle of mankind transcended this region, said the Ife monarch was recognised and referred above other Obas outside the shores of Nigeria.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Soyinka, who were among dignitaries that graced the book presentation, also hailed Oba Ogunwusi for making spirited efforts to unite the Yoruba race.
The former President said Oba Ogunwusi had done very well to unite Yoruba monarchs and had embarked on the transformation of Ile Ife in the past one year on the throne of his forefathers.
Obasanjo said, “I commend His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, for his unification agenda and for ensuring that the Yoruba race remains undivided.”
He stated that he had been watching the unification and transformation moves of Oba Ogunwusi with keen interest immediately after he ascended the throne.
The former President described the moves “as a very good thing,” adding that unity would bring peace and development to the people.
He urged the Ife monarch not to relent in ensuring that the entire Yoruba race was brought together.
The Ooni later told journalists in an interview that he would not relent in his efforts towards ensuring the unity of the race and to emancipate Ife youths from unemployment and poverty.
He said peace in Yorubaland was critical to the peace of Nigeria and Africa, adding that peace in Yoruba land was non-negotiable.
Oba Ogunwusi said he was aware of the economic crisis when he was inaugurated as the 51st Ooni of Ife but he decided to make a difference in the lives of his people despite recession.
The monarch stated that he focused on agriculture, tourism and youth empowerment to restore peace and tranquility to the once troubled town.
The Ooni stated that the communal clash between Ife and Modakeke left post-war effect which turned some of the youths to miscreants.
He, however, noted that through his efforts, most of the youths had now been given hope, while peace had been restored to Ile Ife.
Oba Ogunwusi said, “We know the situation of things in Ile Ife before I came. We know that dollar is not affecting what we produce on our farms and we focused on three things- agriculture, tourism and youth emancipation.
“We encourage our youths to produce and I am a promoter of local goods. Everything I wear is produced locally excluding my wristwatches. My beads and shoes are produced here.
“The Ife-Modakeke war left our youths to be heartless and carefree but now Ife has become one of the most peaceful towns in the country.”