Following the dust raised after the Oba of Lagos ‘snubbed’ the Ooni of Ife recently, some Yoruba elders have spoken out on whether or not the former should apologise to the latter.
The dust raised by the way the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, snubbed the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, at a public event recently has yet to settle, as more persons have continued to react to the incident. In the 25 seconds video, which revealed what transpired between them, the Ooni of Ife arrived at the venue of the event where Oba Akiolu sat beside the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe. The Ooni walked over to greet the monarchs, but as soon as he offered the Oba of Lagos a handshake, Oba Akiolu looked away and dismissed him with a wave of the hand. Given the outrage that had greeted the incident, with many castigating the Oba of Lagos for such disposition towards the Ooni,
Saturday Punch spoke to some Yoruba elders to get their reactions to the issue
It’ll be good if Oba Akiolu can apologise – Chief Ayo Adebanjo
The action of the Oba of Lagos is condemnable; it is not done in Yorubaland. It does not depict the office of a monarch. Going by the outrage that his action has generated, it will be a step in the right direction if he could apologise to the Ooni. I think he should do it, but I doubt if he will, knowing the type of person that Oba Akiolu is.
I’m sure Akiolu wouldn’t intend to insult Ooni – Senator Anthony Adefuye, Secretary, Yoruba Unity Forum
I don’t think I should make a comment now, but I feel we are just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. That is Oba of Lagos’ usual way of greeting people. It may not be good, but that is his usual way of greeting people. Sometimes, when you are greeting him, you would only hear his voice. But I’m sure he wouldn’t have intended to insult the Ooni at all. We will look into it and make sure the whole thing is resolved. Of course every Yoruba man would be worried with what happened, but we should try not to exaggerate what has happened. The Ooni, who is supposed to be the number one traditional ruler in Yorubaland must be respected. We must all give him the respect. Even if I go to the Ooni, I roll on the ground, regardless of his age. We are doing it for the crown and the kingdom, more so that the person on that throne has been very good. He’s a man of peace and since he got there, he has always looked for ways to unite the Yoruba kingdom. I remember when the Alaafin was celebrating his 50th year on the throne, the Ooni was there even though he wasn’t invited, and that is magnanimity. He went there and I’m happy all Oyo people welcomed him. Since then, there has been a cordial relationship between them. He has also visited many of them at home. So, the Ooni is a man of peace and he immediately replied after the story went viral that there was no issue and that he would continue to respect the Oba of Lagos. I think we should all help them to achieve peace and we shouldn’t exaggerate what is happening. I’m very sure the Oba of Lagos meant no harm; that’s his style.
It was an unfortunate incident – Former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran
It was a most unfortunate incident which I believe should be avoided in future. It was surprising and really embarrassing and no matter what may be personal between them, they are our royal fathers. They should lay good examples for others to follow by being friendly as brothers. Their appearances, utterances and behaviours should send good signals to the generality of the people. And we would prefer a situation where they convey to the outside world that we Yoruba people love one another and are our brothers’ keepers and that we are descendants from the same origin. And what is more important is that because we know the value of friendship, peaceful coexistence and so on, we also show it in our personal interactions and relationships with others. And when in public, we put up the highest level of decorum, so it is unfortunate it happened but it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. Nobody is above mistakes and it could be that the Oba (of Lagos) was in a particular mood, so let us close that chapter and move forward. Calling on the Oba of Lagos to apologise to the Ooni of Ife is not necessary. All of us have already apologised to the Ooni of Ife with the way people have risen to show that the way he was treated was not right. That should be enough; we should not let this continue to drag on. And the Ooni of Ife is very peace loving, easy going and royal in every respect and he should keep up the good spirit and not harbour any animosity. It has gone and everyone has spoken more or less to condemn that sort of attitude towards him.
Ooni doesn’t need Oba Akiolu’s apology – Dr. Olu Agunloye
I have seen too many abuses from the Oba of Lagos and so when I heard of the video which went viral of him snubbing the Ooni, I didn’t bother to watch it. Going by his latest action, I think the end has come. His action was not good. It’s shameful, an oba doesn’t behave that way. Even the Ooni, who is younger, has shown better dignity. I’m just unhappy that Oba Akiolu’s action has attracted many insults to himself, which is not good for us as a Yoruba race. There shouldn’t be anything that would drag the office of the monarch in the mud. I don’t think the Ooni needs Oba Akiolu’s apology, seeing that he had even said he would continue to respect him.
Obas should serve as role models – Dr. Kunle Olajide, former Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders
I was not particularly happy about the event. I believe that our traditional rulers, apart from being the custodians of our culture and having the responsibility to protect and advance our culture, are supposed to act as role models for all Yoruba. We should fashion our lives after the way they live theirs. They are supposed to serve as good examples in terms of morals and conduct. That was why I was not quite happy at all because one would expect a degree of camaraderie between them being Yoruba obas. But having read the reaction of the Eleko of Eko (Oba of Lagos), saying his action is in conformity with his own traditions, it is only his own children (Lagosians) who can say perhaps he should apologise.
We don’t expect such from any Yoruba Oba – Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group
For us in Afenifere, we want to assume that Oba Rilwan Akiolu did not know that it was the Ooni of Ife that was greeting him when he waved his hand. This is because we do not expect any Oba in Yorubaland to deliberately display such conduct in public as the stool is beyond the person occupying the position. If Oba Otudeko and Chief Mike Adenuga snub each other in the open, it is different. But with those who sit on paramount stools in Yorubaland, we expect some level of comportment, which we do not want to think that any first class Oba will throw away deliberately except if it was inadvertent and he (Akiolu) did not know who was greeting him. That is the only excuse that will allow a conduct that is below the level of our civilisation in Yorubaland. But I don’t think that we should drag the issue to the point of asking the Oba of Lagos to apologise to the Ooni of Ife. Yoruba people have made their views known that they abhor a situation where Yoruba monarchs will display such attitude openly or be fighting. In the last one year, the Ooni of Ife has opened a new leaf of royal conduct in Yorubaland and I think this incident has become a referendum. Yoruba people have keyed into his approach. Therefore, it will not be necessary to talk of any apology. If it was an error and the Oba of Lagos feels he should apologise to him, it is up to him, but we will not be making such a demand.
All Yoruba Obas are bound to respect Ooni – Peter Fatomilola, Veteran actor and cultural leader
I would say any Oba in Yorubaland is bound to respect the seat of the Ooni, not considering the age of who occupies the seat. The position of Ooni is one to be respected and revered by all. Anybody who is the Ooni is holding the position of Oduduwa and I don’t know why the Oba of Lagos would not respect the culture of yesteryears. I remember when Oba Adesoji Aderemi and Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Olubuse II, were on the throne, they were revered. The same respect people had for those past Obas should be extended to the present Ooni. It’s not just about him, it’s also about the position he occupies.
Compiled by: Gbenro Adeoye, Kunle Falayi, Tunde Ajaja and Jesusegun Alagbe for Saturday Punch