His Imperial Majesty Kabiyesi Ọọni Ọ̀jàjà II and Olorì Wuraọla Otiti Ogunwusi
Credit: Washington, D.C. 2016, Biodun Ogunmola.
It is very reassuring to see and learn of how the new Ọọni, Ọjàjà II, is conducting himself which has thereby raised the bar for the way Yoruba rulers should conduct themselves in public not only in Nigeria but especially outside our shores. He is setting a good example to other Yoruba Ọbas about comportment and being good ambassadors not only of Yorubas but of the country and the continent. He is knowledgeable and wise enough to have good people around him; above all, he is very humble.
The high sense of responsibility, savvy, wisdom and eye to history that Ọọni, Ọjàjà II brings to all his duties is astounding and commendable. In Nigeria not long after his coronation, he visited The Alaafin and mentioned in his remark at the Alaafin’s 45th Coronation Anniversary in January that he was uninvited which was not surprising based on relationship between the Alaafin and the last Ọọni. The visit brought to an end a long rivalry and animosity between rulers of Yorubas’ historical political capital, Ọyọ, and Ile-Ife, the ancestral homeland and spiritual capital of all Yorubas. He has also visited The Awujalẹ of Ijẹbuland as well as The Alake Ẹgbaland. And to think he’s formally been crowned for just about six months! His key message at all the Royal Palaces has been of the need for peace in Yorubaland so that we can prosper.
The Ọọni must have stunned many at Ifẹ when he announced his planned trip to Ọyọ-Alaafin to visit the Alaafin, and stunned-with-joy even millions more when he announced at the coronation ceremony that he did not “give a damn” what people may think of his overture. The Alaafin must have been heartened that it was happening in his lifetime because he, too, had early in his reign made a historical peace trip to visit the Ataoja of Oṣogbo, Ọba Adenle, to bring to an end the age-old schism that arose from historical times when the Ọyos, using Alaafin’s mighty power, muscled their way to Oṣogbo’s throne. Oṣogbo, an Ijeṣa town’s Ruling House was vacated with the imposition of Ọyos as Ọbas of the town till an Ijesa descendant, Ataoja Kolawole, was finally able to ascend the throne of his forefathers who moved from Ipole to found Osogbo, through the Colonial Government’s intervention in 1920.
(Today, Ataojas are now either Ijesas like Oba Adenle or Oyos like Oba Matanmi. In hierarchy, an Alaafin is senior to an Ataọja, and Ọba Adenle, though a contemporary of Oba Adeyemi II, father of Iku Baba Yeye Adeyemi III and much older than Adeyemi III, Ọba Adenle was the Alaafin’s junior. Iku Baba Yeye made the overture and that historical trip back in the early 1970s, a giant step that closed another chapter in a major historical divide between two Yoruba cities.)
These unifying actions are what Yorubas need rather than the endless bickering and fruitless competitions among the top hierarchy of traditional rulers in Yorubaland in just about all Yoruba Councils of Ọbas, especially between The Alaafin and the late Ọọni that was the norm till the late Ọọni Olubuṣe Ọba Ṣijuwade’s death.
Throughout his recently-ended trip to the USA, Ọjàjà II showed the same savvy and statesmanship wherever he went. His reported “Philadelphia is a city with such great cultural history for African Americans” at the 2016 Odunde Festival where he reminded celebrants who are AfrAmericans that blacks everywhere should work toward a common goal … shows somebody who is knowledgeable in history as well as having eyes on improving relations that have not always been good between America’s group of Blacks in Diaspora and the Motherland. Ọjàjà II also showered praises on the historical role of the City of Philadelphia in AfrAmerican history. He even visited the UN Fund for Population in New York which, incidentally is headed by a Nigerian nominee, a UCH former professor and a Yar-Adua-era Minister of Health, Professor Osotimehin where he talked of a private initiative that he and his Queen, who also spoke at the UNFPA, have for women in Nigeria and Africa.
Not a wrong word spoken, not a single misstep reported or witnessed by all Nigerians who visited him or were in audience at his engagements.
May his reign usher in peace and progress to Ifẹ and Modakẹkẹ, his primary domain, Yorubaland and Nigeria.
This is a slightly-edited version of my contribution to an online Forum on the monarch’s recent US visit.
TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016. 8:05 p.m. [GMT]