You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 07 30Article 459192

Opinions of Saturday, 30 July 2016

Columnist: A.R. Gomda

Behold the Ooni of Ife

Pre-colonial kingdoms in West Africa included Ife, Oyo, Ashanti and Dahomey. All of them were blessed with elaborate systems of governance: the colonialists upon their arrival here were compelled to review their impressions about these places if they expected to see a bunch of primitive people living on trees with no systems of governance.

The Yoruba people for instance, lived in a number of states clustered round the centrally located mother kingdom of Ife according to the publication: “The Revolutionary Years of West Africa Since 1800” authored by JB Webster and AA Boahen with HO Idowu.

Ife was regarded as the eye of the Yoruba kingdom and so was not to be attacked in the manner other places were in the pre-colonial history of this part of what later took the geopolitical name of West Africa.

The Ooni of Ife commanded massive respect within the Yoruba ethnic grouping, a reality which put him on a special pedestal. It was with this status which he used to foster the relative peace among his people although occasional skirmishes took place.

With time, however, the Oyo Kingdom emerged though it did not disturb the position of Ife as the eye of all Yorubas, the Ooni maintaining his position of influence indisputably.

Even though the Oyo Kingdom rose to prosperity using horses from the North to prosecute its many wars of expansion, its respect for Ife and the Ononi was unshakeable.

The latest occupant of the great monarchy of Ife His Imperial Majesty, Alaye Oba (Dr.) Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi made history when he set foot in Ghana arguably as the first Yoruba King to do so having ascended the throne last year upon the death of the previous Oba or King.

As a first class king in Nigeria being in the category of the Emir of Kano, Sultan of Sokoto, Shehu of Borno and Emir of Zazzau, his trip was expectedly given diplomatic cover, the necessary accompanying security support available for him and his spouse Olori Wuraola Otiti Zynab Ogunwusi.

The Oba who like modern monarchs and chiefs in contemporary times in Africa, is an educated man. He is a member of important professional bodies in Africa’s most populous country one of them being the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) having been born on 17th October 1974.

He was flown in by his private jet which flew him back from Kumasi in a direct flight to Nigeria upon the completion of his itinerary which included a visit to the Otumfuo the Asantehene who was obviously his host in the Ashanti Kingdom.

It was a trip which took the couple to Cape Coast and Kumasi. In Cape Coast the couple visited the Cape Coast Castle to witness a bit of the history of slavery whose decimating effect on West Africa and the eventual formation of the community of African Americans across the Atlantic Ocean is not lost on many an Africans.

The trip although spanned four days was a tight one with every hour earmarked for one form of event or the other.

Having visited the President at the Flagstaff House, the King on Sunday was treated to a durbar of sort by the Yoruba community at the Trade Fair site.

It was an occasion full of colour and a display of Yoruba culture. For those who have never witnessed how Yoruba kings are treated by their subjects that occasion was an eye opener for them. Expectedly members of the Yoruba community in Accra, Sekondi, Kumasi and as far afield as Tamale represented by their heads, made the four day trip of the king and his wife memorable.

His hosts were seated for some three hours or so before he stepped into the attractive hall with his wife accompanied by Yoruba traditional drummers and praises.

A young-looking King and a queenly spouse, the two were accorded the deference befitting their status as all stood up taking their seats only after they had sat down.

He was welcomed by a representative of the Yoruba community who expressed delight that a King from their ethnic grouping had stepped on the soil of Ghana.

The visit of the King to Ghana especially Accra, home of the Gas, is auspicious as the indigenous people were said to have migrated from Ile Ife according to oral tradition to their present abode.

In Osun state, there is a community called Osu and coincidentally Accra’s Osu has a quarter called Osu Alata. We might not easily know the correlation but oral tradition has a lot to tell about this.

Being a rare visit, one in a lifetime, the excitement of the hosts was visible. For fourth generation descendants of migrants from Yorubaland who have been completely assimilated into the Ghanaian society some in Accra, Tamale, Sekondi and others, the cultural activities displayed when the King took his seat at the Trade Fair was not only educative but eye-opening.

The King arrived in Ghana with a over a dozen or so subjects who played varying roles for him. They lied on the floor in obeisance when they appeared before him even during the visit; a rare display of Yoruba culture.

The visit to the Ga Mantse earlier was reciprocated by the dispatch of an emissary from his palace who delivered an assortment of gifts to the King and his wife from his Ga counterpart.

The King in his brief but important address charged his people in the Diaspora to remember their ancestry and forge unity among themselves.

He doffed his hat for his hosts and said that the visit was aimed at cementing the already existing bond of friendship between Ghana and Nigeria.

The King reminded his hosts about the two cardinal demands of God which he said are the love of God and the extension of this to their fellow human beings. “Love your neighbours as you would want to be loved” in a speech which was full of divinity.

It is God he said, who bestowed him with the position he now holds and to him he said all should express gratitude to.

“I will always glorify the name of God, the King of Kings who exalted me to this position” he said adding that Ghana plays an important role in the maintenance of the cultures of the two countries.