Palace Watch

Ritual rites for Traditional Rulers in Yoruba, matter of choice – Oba Adedokun

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin is from the Aniyunlogba ruling house in Ile-Obasolo, Oke-Ila Orangun. He was born and raised at Gbenla in Ibadan. His mother is from Ipoti-Ekiti in Ekiti State. His late father was a Primary School Headmaster while his mother was a teacher before she finally decided to go into full-time trading as a housewife.

It was therefore no surprise, that Oba Abolarin, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the then the University of Ife in the year 1980, decided to go into teaching, after a brief working experience as an Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Aviation, immediately after completing his one-year mandatory National Service.

From 1981 to 1989, Oba Abolarin lectured at the then Oyo State College of Arts and Science (OSCAS) in Ile-Ife. That was when he took the opportunity to go back to the University again to take a first and second degree in Law.

As was the case with most children of his age and time, Oba Abolarin youthful experiences while growing up was tough and eventful. All these experiences have today helped to shape his lifestyle and made him one of the most charitable, compassionate and caring traditional rulers in modern Nigeria. Today, he has hundreds of indigent students in the Abolarin College he founded to cater for the education and well-being of students across the country, from diverse backgrounds and tribes, who now enjoy free and qualitative education from his college.

Oba Abolarin, who has a strong passion for legal practice and a solid foundational base in political science, was for two years the Special Adviser, Legal Matters to Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who was then the Nigerian Senate President.

Palace Watch, recently met with Kabiyesi and the following discussion ensued.

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Kabiyesi, I observed that you recently conferred a chieftaincy title of Aare Agbaakin and Yeye Aare Agbaakin of Oke-Ila Orangun, on your former school mate at the University of Ife, Chief Oyewole Olaoye and his wife, Chief (Mrs.) Anne Ndidiamaka Olaoye. What were the other qualities other than being your former schoolmate, you and your council of Chiefs considered before finding Chief Olaoye and his wife worthy of these titles?

Kabiyesi: There were so many qualities which I found in Chief Olaoye and his lovely wife, which qualified them for these exhorted titles in my kingdom. Yes, Chief Olaoye was a University schoolmate of mine, whom I am very proud of. While we were at the University of Ife, Wole was a Student Union President of Great Ife in 1979. He was also a distinguished Alumni President of Great Ife Worldwide and a member of the Obafemi Awolowo University Governing Council. He is a lover of tradition and culture of our people. If you must know, Wole is indeed the power behind the throne, since my enthronement as Orangun in the year 2006.

The conferment of his chieftaincy title and that of his lovely wife was, therefore, a combination of the traditional class led by the Owajero of Ijero Ekiti, the intelligentsia, with the presence of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, the past VC of Ife, Prof. Michael Faborode and the future of Nigeria, represented by the school children of the great Abolarin College, Oke-Ila Orangunn.

Chief Olaoye’s chieftaincy conferment was to support a worthy cause according to all the Chiefs in this kingdom, no exception no dissension, as they were all desirous of using that happy occasion to further the identity of the kingdom which I have strived all these years, to put on the map as one of the world’s destination as far as college education is concerned.

Palace Watch: Kabiyesi, over the years, you have been selfless, in making sure that the children of the poor, I mean the very poor in your immediate environment in Oke-Ila Orangun get the basic education they require in life. Very many of these children are today in various Universities across the globe. How do you manage this large number of indigent students? How do you go about their feeding, clothing and so many other things, while they are still with you here in your college?

Kabiyesi: This is my calling in life, I, therefore, enjoy what I am doing. I give it my all and manage no matter the difficulties to keep pushing on. Let me lead you into one secret, how we function here. My daughters from the 1st and 2nd sets of Abolarin College, Oke-Ila Orangun, in these pictures handed over to you, are today in various Universities, such as Aanu-Adeleke University, Nimotallahi-Ife, Temidayou-FUOYE, Ronke-Ife, Barakat-Ilorin, Aminat-Ilorin, Sulyat-Ife, Stella Adeleke University and Sulyat-FUOYE. Those of them in Adeleke University, are ten presently, and to the glory of God, they are there as students courtesy of the Springtime Development Foundation, Ede. Happily, my little girls of the other day, are now big beautiful, cerebral hardworking, girls with big, big ideas and dreams.

You just imagine if these girls, because of the unfortunate nature of their births, were on the streets engaging in different vices, what benefit would they have added to the society? Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! When I see them, it gives me a lot of joy to continue to do what I am doing, not minding the pains and hardship.

Now back to your question, one of the things we do here to survive, is that we work very hard to feed ourselves. We as a college are into full-scale farming. My daughters and sons work so hard. They are beautiful, brilliant and have faith, and hope in themselves and also in the future of their country, Nigeria. They are ready to conquer the world and reduce poverty in their environment. This is one of the unique ways we survive here. As the saying goes, “once hunger is out of poverty, the problem of poverty is half solved.”

Palace Watch: Before and after the burial of the Alaafin of Oyo, there were so many traditional rites that were performed and are still being performed now. Recently, these rites have brought about the hot exchange of words between the traditionalists and some Obas in one of the States in the South West. What is your take on all these?

Kabiyesi: My take is that these things are a matter of personal choice. Nigeria is operating a constitutional government, people including the Obas and Kings from all nooks and crannies of this great country, Nigeria, should therefore be at liberty to decide the way and manner they want to ascend the throne and choose how they would want to be buried. The 1999 constitution grants them these absolute rights and no argument should therefore arise, from an arrangement like this.

1 Peter Chapter 2 verse 17 says “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King.”

It continued “Servants, be subject to your master with all fears; not only to the good and gentle but also to the forward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endures grief, suffering wrongfully.”

Now let us also take a critical look at the book of Isaiah 58 verse 12, it says “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waiste places: thou shalt raise up the foundation of many generations, and thou shalt be called. The repairer of the breach. The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

My take, therefore, is that all the controversies on whether traditional rites should be performed for an Oba before and after his ascension to the throne of their ancestors are unnecessary. As we speak today, the Nigerian Constitution is supreme, any act, therefore, performed outside these constitutional provisions are not valid.

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