Before anything else, let’s do with some laughter because this is a sobering journey into time – a journey gathering hailstones, lightning and thunder – tools to be unleashed in the cases of royal injustice and intolerance in Iwo and Ilorin. A good laugh is a drink to wash down the two plates of stones-filled rice simmering in Osun and Kwara states, making the unpalatable palatable to the palate.

Skirting the border of rudery to baptise Manchester United FC in the river of sarcasm, 55-year-old British-born sports commentator, Peter Drury, had this to say about the Red Devils, “Manchester United is the most consistent team. One win in August, one win in September, one win in October, one win in November, and one win in December, it is just like the menstrual cycle! If they don’t win in January, know that they are pregnant.”

Drury showcases the dreary consistency of Manchester United as this article will showcase the consistency of the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, in perpetrating lies and hate among the Yoruba.

Drury wasn’t done with the Red Devils yet. After a Liverpool 7-0 demolition in March 2023, he said, “For Manchester United, a crushing nadir: inexplicable, illogical, irrational, scarcely digestible, barely conceivable…”

I think Drury would use the same words if he were to describe the stopping of traditional worshippers by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, from celebrating a three-day Isese festival in Ilorin last month. Drury might have added, “The violation of Nigerians’ inalienable right to association and worship by Emir Sulu-Gambari, a former Justice of the Appeal Court, is unreasonable, ungodly, unkingly, despotic, inciting, insulting and abuse of power!”

I add, “Let the eagle perch, let the hawk perch; he that says the other shouldn’t perch, may its wings wither. The mane is to the lion what the stripe is to the tiger.”

Emir Sulu-Gambari travelled far and wide after he finished his secondary school education at Ofa Grammar School, Ofa, before reportedly moving to England’s Oakham Schools, City Westminster College, Middle Temple School and the University of London, where he bagged a degree in Sharia Law, oh, sorry, I meant English Law, in the 60s.

Before he became emir in 1995, Sulu-Gambari proudly and prominently bore the Yoruba name, Kolapo, as part of his official name during his years as a Justice of the Appeal Court, but upon his emergence as the 11th emir of Ilorin, he sent out a terse statement to newspapers, expressing his wish to be known and addressed henceforth as His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, dropping Kolapo. Kolapo, in Yoruba, means ‘may riches multiply’. If I ever have an opportune moment before the revered emir, I’ll inquire to know why he left Kolapo, the indigenous name of his youth, for Ibrahim, the foreign name of his adulthood, which means ‘father of many.’

But Sulu-Gambari wasn’t ready to be a father to all and sundry worshippers in Ilorin as he chose to side with the jaundiced devotees of his own religion, Islam, over indigenous religion adherents, saying the Isese festival was cancelled ‘to prevent (a) crisis’. Crisis? Crisis by who? Against who? The Isese festival advocates or some warmongering hounds playing god?

A statement from the palace of the emir last Friday laughably described the cancellation as ‘proactiveness’. So, it’s ‘proactive’ to deny some people their right to worship, while the people of your own sect, after threatening law and order, are pacified with the cancellation of other people’s right?! And you, a retired judge, say you’re acting in the interest of peace? What peace? Can there be peace in the absence of justice? The dripping sound I heard from the phallus of intolerance in Ilorin is that of piss and not peace. The piss is yellow, offensive, strong, and acidic; let those who have ears hear.

In the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from where Islam was brought to Nigeria, the trumpet of change has sounded, and far-reaching social reforms aimed at tempering religious hardlines are being taken, proving that the real owners of Islam have ears, and they’re using them.

Today in Saudi Arabia, women now vote, drive, run in municipal elections, take positions on the Shura Council, which advises the government, get a passport and travel abroad without requiring a male guardian’s permission. Now, Saudi has public movie theatres and global music superstars play in the kingdom.

Also, women can now be guardians to their children, register marriages, divorces, births and deaths, obtain family documents from the government, and do not need to live with male guardians.

According to foreign travel advice on the website of the United Kingdom government,, “The Saudi authorities accept the private practice of religions other than Islam, and you can bring a religious text (i.e. Bible) into the country as long as it is for personal use.” Aside from scriptures, crucifixes, statues and carvings are allowed into the kingdom if they are for private use, and not to convert others.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, Ilorin is not. Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is an ultimate ruler, but the Ilorin emir is not. Sulu-Gambari has no role in the Nigerian Constitution, Isese adherents have a place in the Nigerian Constitution.

The difference in the percentage of Ilorin natives, who are predominantly Muslims, and Ilorin settlers, who are predominantly Christians, is small even as the Isese population, which is the most tolerant of the three, is replete with Christians and Muslims, who are midnight Isese members.

Lack of understanding of the concepts of culture and tradition coupled with hypocritical intolerance, religious arrogance and gross misunderstanding of God is the reason behind some people taking up roles as God’s protectors. Only a powerless, blind, deaf and dumb God needs protection from his creations. God should be God all by Himself.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Culture is a behaviour peculiar to Homo sapiens, together with material objects used as an integral part of behaviour. Thus, culture includes language, ideas, beliefs, customs, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, works of art, rituals, and ceremonies, among other elements.”

The adoption of the name, Red Devils, by Manchester United FC, reflects an epoch in the history of a club building from the ruins of a plane crash that killed 23 people, including players, coaches, and sportswriters, on February 5, 1958. In the second leg of the European Cup quarter-final, Manchester United had drawn 3-3 against Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia, and qualified on 5-4 aggregate, having won the first leg 2-1. Disaster struck after the plane refuelled in Munich and was about to take off en route to England, wrapping global football in a blanket of mourning.

Newly hired coach, Matt Busby, had loved Red Devils which the English rugby club, Salford, was called after touring France in the 1930s, wearing red shirts, and he adopted it in the rebuilding process.

The logo of Manchester United comprises a ship representing urban trade, at the bottom is the devil with a pitchfork, and to the right and left are soccer balls. The balls are placed between the semicircular frames with the words ‘Manchester United’.

I wonder what overzealous Muslim and Christian fans of Manchester United would tell their God on Judgment Day. Is it right to love the devil and hate and kill fellow human beings who are capable of redemption and receiving God’s mercy and salvation?

To be continued


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