It’s evening yet on Creation Day in Odò Obà, the Land of the prized Parrots, where the Lion complained about not having a crown to proclaim his kingship, and his creator gave him a golden mane. Later, he complained about his teeth and he got powerful jaws. He looked at his paws and bewailed, he got razors for claws. When he heard the clap of Thunder, he begged for dread in his voice. And he was gifted a roar.

Then he saw the Eagle soar in the sky and he pined, wishing to soar, too. Impatient, immature and foolish, the King climbed up to the mountain, ignoring his creator this time. A gust of wind hit his face, and he smiled: It’s so easy to fly, so gratifying to be king; ‘I’m the greatest!’ He leapt skyward, hoping to glide with the Eagle but he tumbled downwards and crash-landed in a field of marijuana.

Never mind my recourse to folklore, please. Remember, this is a journey into time, a journey that would fast-track the wheel of the past to roll alongside that of the present – like fastening the dreadlocks at the back of the head with the ones at the front – to make a mound upon which to gaze into the future and proffer solutions.

Indulge me to digress one bit. After watching the video of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, during his recent visit to Uganda, where he described President Yoweri Museveni as an African hero, I knew it was time to smash the gourd of gluttony in Ife against the calabash of religious intolerance in Ilorin and the pot of absurdity in Iwo.

Truly, after watching the Ooni’s Made-in-Uganda video, I felt sombre and sober. I felt the Yoruba Obaship institution has seen better days. I felt as if I was watching a continuation of the Idi Amin lickspittle days. I felt convinced that new-generation Yoruba traditional rulers would profit from continuous assessment and tutelage in ipebi, the Royal College, on how to be kingly.

Ogunwusi was only 12 years old when Museveni snatched power in Uganda after more than 15 years of bloody struggle. So, it’s understandable if the Ooni fluffed his lines and mistook the 78-year-old president for a traditional ruler.

Can you listen to bootlicking verses and not flinch? I can’t. This is what His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, told Museveni, who ascended the throne 37 years ago, “Your excellency, today is one of the happiest days of my life. Today, I’m here to surrender myself, my service and also my selfless effort for us to continue to make history. You’re a great leader, a leader par excellence. We all know what you stand for.

“I strongly believe that you’re a reincarnated spirit; not about your age now but you have been fighting for the unity, stability of Republic of Uganda. You’re not driven by money, you’re not driven by wealth…I have been looking for leaders like you that wield that political power….Your Excellency, you’re an icon. Your role is not finished yet.

“Nothing will happen to you, you said it that you survived so many sickness. You’re not an ordinary human being. I’m a spiritual king. I see you very deeply. Do not worry, you’re doing God’s work. God is doing your work…This is now the time for us to draft your legacy very well, beyond East Africa, all the way to West Africa. You still have a long way to go.”

After so much peregrination, the Ooni finally dropped the anchor of his mercantile ship, pleading with Museveni to, “Give us good access to work with you. If l have good access and send any message, any errand for the sake of this Pan-African Movement, God will continue to be with you.”

There’s nothing wrong with royalty doing business. From time immemorial, palaces are reputed for warehousing choice goods from all walks of life. However, he who decides to dine with the devil should, advisedly, use a long spoon, he should not use the hand of the Yoruba race. The absence of Ugandan traditional rulers in the video drives home the point that the Ooni was on a self-serving trip to Uganda.

Back to the ruler with a basket of titles, His Imperial Majesty, Oba, Dr, Emir, and Emperor Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, of the Molaasan royal family of Iwo.

In a video that went viral, Akanbi arrogantly banned Oro worshippers from practising their religion in Iwo, saying any worshipper seen with a sacrifice for Oro gods should be arrested and forced to eat it. He spoke in Yoruba, “No Oro must come out in Iwo, arrest him; it’s the king that says so! If you see anybody offering a sacrifice, tell him to eat it…arrest him, hold him and bundle such a worshipper to me!

But retired Methodist Archbishop, Prince Ayo Ladigbolu, an octogenarian, advocates tolerance among various worshippers across the country. In a telephone interview with me, Baba Ladigbolu said, “Any form of (religious) intolerance is an inhuman attitude. You can’t force people to jettison what they have been practising before the arrival of Islam and Christianity. It’s ungodly because you have no respect for other people’s religion.

“You have the right to feel your religion is superior but superior to what? Their religion has been sustaining them, so let them be. It’s an act of ungodliness to do such in a country whose constitution provides for freedom of worship. That’s my position.”

A serving Archbishop of the Catholic Church, septuagenarian Leke Abegunrin, in an interview with me, also condemned religious intolerance. Commenting on the Ilorin religious crisis, the revered cleric said, “In my view, if truly we have a democratic government, justice should come into play. The media should blow this matter beyond the Ilorin locality. It should become a national matter, which may even attract international news. The state government should step into it immediately!

“It’s not right to stop people of other religions from practising their beliefs. It’s becoming common in Ilorin, that adherents of other religions are often intimidated. It was done not long ago to Christians. People should learn to be tolerant. I think lawyers of all religions should defend this and speak out loudly against injustice.

“Nigeria already has many problems, why add religious intolerance to it? While I appeal to the Government of Kwara State to be active in this matter and protect justice and peace, I equally appeal to the people of Kwara State to be law-abiding and allow peace to reign. There’s no state religion in Nigeria. Everyone is free to practise his or her beliefs peacefully. God bless Nigeria.”

But the Oluwo, who says he’s greater than all gods, ate his words after Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, sternly warned anyone who caused a religious crisis in Osun would face the music.

In a U-Turn, the Oluwo said he never said Oro worshippers shouldn’t practise their belief – making him the first lying oba I know.

Except for religious affinity, I see no basis for comparison between the Oluwo and the emir of Ilorin. Sulu-Gambari, a well-educated lawyer and retired judge, attended some of the best schools in England.

A request by PUNCH for Akanbi to disclose his educational qualifications was turned down, fuelling the suspicion that Oluwo doesn’t possess the degrees he claims.

Live and let live.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here