WHO SUCCEEDS SIJUWADE? By Tony Ademiluyi

Oba-Okunade-Sijuwade

The social media has shown itself to be king as it tore down the walls of tradition by being the first to break the news of the passage to eternal glory of Ooni Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II. The decentralization of information caught the custodians of the tradition of the ancient city of Ile-Ife napping as they were surreptitiously turned into denying school lads. The monopoly hitherto held by these proud purveyors of the relics of the past has been consigned to the dusty archives.

When King Edward the Confessor of England died without an heir in 1065, the most powerful noble man at the time, Harold of Hastings deftly took over the reins of power. This did not go down well with William of Normandy who claimed that the late pious King who built the famous Westminster Abbey and was so religiously devout that he abdicated most of his state duties promised him the throne and led a rebellion which consumed the ‘usurper’ Harold and enthroned French domination in the affairs of England in 1066 when William who then metamorphosed into King William the Conqueror was crowned as King of England on Christmas Day in the year 1066.

Prince Rahmon Adegoke Adedoyin stirred the hornest nest in an interview he granted to the Vanguard Newspapers when he claimed that the late Ooni promised him the throne. He later asserted that a precedent had been set when Ooni Ademiluyi Ajagun did the same to Ooni Tadeniawo Adesoji Aderemi who performed the same ritual with Ooni Okunade Sijuwade. He was badly pilloried in the media by obviously interested parties who didn’t take his claim kindly at all.

It is a well-known fact that Princes do not openly indicate their interest in the throne. Something strange happened in the late 1920’s during the reign of Ooni Ademiluyi Ajagun. There were only two people in the kingdom who had cars – the Ooni and the then Prince Adesoji Aderemi. Aderemi, a wealthy cocoa farmer caused a scene when the people hailed him openly on the streets of Ile-Ife in a manner suggestive of a covert interest in being Ajagun’s successor. He was summoned to the palace by the aghast Ooni who asked him to prostrate on a particular spot. His sixth sense made him smell danger and he did it on another.

Why would a Prince throw caution and decorum to the wind? He is obviously playing a survivalist game to ensure that the throne does not slip from him as he may not have the luxury of this present life time to witness another coronation. How do I mean? There are four ruling houses in the ancient kingdom fondly referred to as the source. They are the Lafogido which has produced Lafogido, Dejinla, Olojo (Agbele), Osinlade (Otutu), Akinmoyero (Odunle), Wuamonije, Adegunle (Abewela) and Ademiluyi (Ajagun). The Osinkola has produced Osinkola, Aribiwoso, Ojigidiri (Lanibuwi), Kola and Aderemi (Atobatele). The Ogboru brought forth Ogboru, Gbenlare, Adelekan (Olubuse) and Okunade Sijuwade. From the loins of Giesi has sprung Giesi, Agbedegbede, Ajila-Oorun, Gbegbaaje, Degbin (Kumbusu), Orayigba (Ojaja) and Derin Ologbenla.

Two ruling houses – Giesi and Lafogido have the strongest claims for the throne. The last King from Giesi was Ooni Derin Ologbenla who sat on the ancient stool between 1894 and 1910. Lafogido’s last King was Ademiluyi Ajagun who was there between 1910 to 1930. Ogboru is out of contention as the late Ooni hailed from there and Osinkola is equally out since Aderemi was a proud son of theirs and was the immediate predecessor to the recently departed Ooni who rejected the title of Oluaye (Owner of the Universe) in 2010 in deference to his new found born again Christian faith which was boldly expressed in the Four Square Pentecoastal Church.

Giesi seems to have a stronger claim as there has been a clamour since 1930 for them to have the throne which they opine has been eluding them through the foxy wiles of their rivals. In 1910, Ooni Kola from the Osinkola ruling house became the shortest reigning Ooni by kicking the bucket barely two months after being installed. After the death of Ademiluyi in 1930, the natural thing was for the throne to go to Giesi as their last King sat on it in 1894 and all the other houses had gotten their turns. The Elders sold the argument that since Kola only ruled for two months, Adesoji Aderemi should succeed Ademiluyi. This argument flew and the most colourful African monarch reigned for five decades. In 1957, the flamboyant king who was to later become the first African Governor made a declaration that the order of succession should be as follows: Osinkola, Giesi, Ogboru and Lafogido. In 1976, the then military governor of the Western Region, General David Jemibewon set up a commission of enquiry headed by former Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Adenekan Ademola which swapped the rotation positions by putting Ogboru after Osinkola. This alteration made it possible for Sijuwade to ascend the throne after Aderemi transited in 1980. It is on record that Aderemi never appended his signature to the 1976 change.

One can sympathize with Adedoyin’s vociferation as he doesn’t want a third time jinx. Deeper meaning should also be read into this as there are a lot of metaphorical allusions. If indeed the Ooni endorsed him, it may be an indirect way of wanting to ‘correct the injustice done to the Giesi Ruling House.’

The clamour for a wealthy Ooni is only natural as the last two have raised the bar by being men of extreme wealth and influence which spanned continents. There is no rule that an indigent man can’t ascend the throne, but that will take a long while for it to sink in as there is already a stereotype of the Ooni because of Atobatele and Olubuse. When you consider the fact that the latter used to feed between 500 and 1000 people in the palace on a daily basis, no one would want to change a winning team.

We wish the kingmakers well and hope the selection process will be devoid of bias and the losers should accept the outcome as the fragile peace of the land which was once embroiled in a bitter feud with Modakeke cannot afford to be toyed with.