The Alaafin of Oyo Lamidi Adeyemi the Third went to London and he paraded 3 or 4 of his wives in a move captured by the News and Print Media in London and back home in Nigeria.
The love for polygamy by most of our traditional rulers, High Chiefs and other Nigerians is a preference that is quietly but surely losing its appeal. I can name few powerful traditional rulers in Yoruba Land who have defied the odds to keep their marital vows despite all the pressures on them to do otherwise due to the dictate of some of our moribund traditions and culture, sad to say.
Oba Festus Adedinsewo Adesanoye Osungbedenola, the late Osemawe of Ondo a good senior friend of mine and my former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service was decidedly one royal father that resisted the temptation to take a second wife. So was my cousin, Oba Adebiyi Adegboye Adesida Afunbiowo the Second the late Deji of Akure. The incumbent Olowo of Owo, Oba Folagbade Olagbegi the Third and the current Oluwo of Iwo Oba Akambi, a returnee from Canada is another. The current Alani of Idoani, retired General Olutoye and the current Akala of Ikaram Akoko are among the few I know who have kept their marital vows.
It is newsworthy, however, when the Arole Oodua himself, the Ooni Risa of Ile Ife the cradle of the Yoruba Civilization has reaffirmed some of this observations by so far sticking to the principle of one man one wife and doing so with pride and dignity in addition of course to many of his new progressive initiatives for peace and unity in his domain in particular and in all Yoruba Land and Nigeria as a whole.
It was long rumored before Ooni Risa Adesoji Aderemi made his transition in 1980 that the next Ooni Risa was most likely to be Prince Sijuwade, the grandson of Ooni Risa Olubuse the First because Prince Sijuwade did not hide his ambition to, one day, be crowned the Ooni Risa. His passion for that title was that strong.
Nobody ever had any such premonition about Prince Adeyeye except his father who gave him the name “Babatunde” at his birth because it has been predicted when his mother’s pregnancy of him was only 3 months old. It was prophesied that the baby in her womb was going to be somebody big and special someday. Nobody paid too much attention to that prophesy at the time until it actually happened.
Adeyeye Babatunde came from nowhere to emerge as the candidate most favored by the Ife king makers to be the next Ooni Risa less than a year after the exit of Oba Sijuwade Olubuse the Second. The Head of the Kingmakers who could have been less favorable to him had miraculously made his own exit in the nick of time to grant him a smooth ride to the mythical “Are” crown that made him the successor to Oodua by acclamation and consensus.
Ooni Risa Atobatele Adesoji Aderemi was blessed by God to be the only Ooni in History who doubled down at one point of his close to 50 years reign as the Ooni and Governor of Western Region. It is hard to find any Ooni Risa who can easily beat that record.
Ooni Risa Sijuwade had evidently used his personal wealth and influence in Government circle to keep the Oodua throne on the cutting edge of fame and publicity, but few people, myself included ever thought that Ile Ife and the Yoruba nation would be twice or thrice lucky to quickly find another Ooni Risa that would measure up or even surpass the very impressive records of his two immediate predecessors on that throne.
I say that with some trepidation, of course, because Ojaja the Second has already shattered in less than two years on the throne some of the records set by all of the three Oonis before him if you see what I see. I am talking of Ooni Ademiluyi Ajagun Lawarikan the first Ooni to ever travel out of his domain, Ooni Atobatele Adesoji Aderemi who actually became Governor of Western Region and was knighted by the Quuen of England, and Ooni Sijuwade Olubuse the Second “Eri Ogun Ebiti pomo piri O lomi sira bi Aboyun” the first Ooni with a higher global influence that spread to places like Great Britain, the United States and even to Cuba.
No Ooni Risa I know has received the kind of reception and welcome reserved for only visiting Heads of State and Governments when they travel abroad. Ojaja the Second has clearly done with his charisma, his personal charm and prestige and the way he and his Yeyelua and their entourage have carried themselves. He has covered a huge mileage and has flown across the Oceans as the greatest promoter and icon of Yoruba tradition and culture more than any other Ooni Risa in living memory. He has clearly placed Ile Ife on the world map like no other Ooni before him.
The new Oonirisa, His Royal Majesty Babatunde Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja the Second has become the highest educated Ooni Risa and arguably the richest, if not the most influential of them all till now. He is a product of Loyola College and Ibadan Polytechnic. He came to the highest throne in Yoruba Land at the young age of 40. He ran for the title with a host of other prominent Princes which included his own father his passport to the throne and two of his older brothers, one of whom is his “Sooko Laekun” today.
He has rebuilt and beautified the Oodua Palace turning it into a “Taj Mahal” of his own within months of his ascension to the throne. He was named the Chancellor of the great University of Nigeria at Nsukka. He was given the key to the City of Somerset in New Jersey and the key to the City of London. He addressed a State Assembly in America and his presence in America was acknowledged by President Obama. He and his wife Queen Wuraola were received by the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall. He has clearly made history instead of hysteria and he has made the Yoruba nation proud.
He and His wife were treated as special guests of Honor to the British Museum and the Brooklyn Museum in New York and when they visited the Liberty Bell at the City of brotherly Love in Philadelphia. They were received as special guests of Honor at the Oyotunji Village in South Carolina. He and his Yeyelua and their Entourage of more than 100 people including 25 Yoruba traditional were received as celebrities everywhere he went in the United States and Great Britain. Not even the King of Swaziland a Head of State of his own country could have received a greater honor around the World.
I was among the delegation that received him and his entourage at the JFK Airport in New York and he was received the same high visibility welcome at the Heathrow Airport in London. I knew it because I covered his overseas trip for Sahara Reporters and I was an invited guest to the huge Reception held for him by the Ile Ife/ Modakeke and other Yoruba descendants in America at the huge Ukrainian Banquet Hall at the City of Somerset in New Jersey.
To cut a long story short, Ojaja the Second was crowned the Ooni Risa at the young age of 40 with pomp and pageantry that was second to none in the History of Ile Ife. The young man had come to the throne at a time his first marriage has ended in a peaceful divorce due to irreconcilable differences. He became for a short time the most eligible bachelor in town and a single father of a daughter born out of wedlock when he was only 19 years of age.
Handsome, filthy-rich and charismatic to a fault you could call him God’s great gift to women, but the young man is not a flirt or womanizer. He had a mission to accomplish. Rushing into another marriage was the last thing he wanted to do as he ascended the throne, but he probably took to heart Commander Ebenezer Obeys refrain in his famous song where he clearly stated and I quote that “Aponle ko si f’Oba ti o l’Olori” meaning in Yoruba” there is little honor or respect for King without a Queen.
He needed a companion in the Palace and a shoulder to lean on after a good day’s job. He is a “workaholic” who does not postpone till tomorrow what he can do today. You can tell that from his very busy schedule as the Ooni Risa and the permanent Chairman of the Osun State Council of Obas and one of the most powerful traditional rulers in Nigeria. You could call him the Ooni Risa of the Universe.
He went as far as Edo Kingdom with tight historical ties to the Yoruba Nation to go find himself a bride to marry pretty much like Eddie Murphy did when he traveled out from his far away Kingdom of Samunda to go find a bride in Queens, New York in his famous “Coming to America” Movie which sold like hot cake all over the World.
“Ojaja fidi ote j’ale” spread his dragnet as far as the “Igodomigodo” Kingdom that Patrick Obahiagbon used to talk so much about. He went there to find his own “Moremi” in a dazzling beauty he quickly renamed “Wuraola Ogunwusi nee Otiti who has since been appointed the new” Yeyelua of Ile Ife” as the most senior wife to the new “Arole Oodua, Okirikiri biti Jigbinni bi Ate Akun Olori Alade Gbogbo Okun Arabaribi Omi nini Eiye mu”
Part of the reason I am documenting this for posterity is to explain what the new Ooni Risa and his Yeyelua have done to set a new template in traditional marriage but before I do that I must explain what qualifies me so to do.
I come from the Adesida Royal Dynast of Akure and the proud grandson of the greatest Deji in all of Akure History. I was a former Secretary to the only Asodeboyede Ruling House of Akure before the Ruling House was broken into two by a Decree signed into Law on December 12, 1991 by Navy Captain Sunday Olukoya, the Military Governor of Ondo State. My own grandfather Deji Afunbiowo Adesida the First was an unrepentant polygamist. He had his own Yeyelua in Afinju Olori Ekundayo, an Ado Akure paragon of Beauty from Itaogbolu near Akure who accompanied grandpa when to receive Her Majesty the Queen at Ibadan in 1956 during the Queen’s first official visit to Nigeria.
I knew everything there is to know about Yoruba traditional system not only in reference to Akure alone but also to most Yoruba towns because I love History and tradition as an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University and as a historian tutored by my late grandfather Professor Emeritus of Akure History, Kabiyesi Deji Afunbiowo Adesida the First and late Professor Akinjogbin and late Professor Pius Igbafe of Edo State and late Professor Ade Ajayi from Ikole Ekiti, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
Many Princes seek the crown to have the freedom and the power to marry as many wives as they want. I do not see the new Ooni Risa as one of such Princes from the little I know about him. He could predictably change his mind in the future and take a second wife but right now I see him as being a “Sui generis” one of a kind among our traditional rulers and I figure it out that one more Queen to his present one may be too much of a crowd and rightly so.
I see Lamido Sanusi the new Emir of Kano and the former Governor of the Central Bank has added another wife to his Harem as clearly permitted by his Muslim faith and as his northern culture clearly allows him to marry up to 4 wives provided he has the means to support them as he sure does I would concede.
It may be out of place therefore to compare the new Ooni Risa, a born again Christian with the new Emir of Kano. The new traditional ruler I can compare the Ooni Risa to in this write-up is probably the new Oluwo of Iwo, a Muslim who has formally proclaimed his only wife his Queen and has allowed her to wear a real crown without any dissenting voice at Iwo. I guess the new vogue is a departure from polygamy among our royal fathers which is understandable given the downside to polygamy and the inherent problems that come with it.
The new Oluwo has, in fact, gone beyond that. He has started wearing conventional dresses like Tuxedos and he occasionally dresses like a Chief Imam. He wears T shirts and sneakers outside the confines of his Palace. I don’t know what to make of that. He has been known to openly dance to Gangan talking drums and to openly lead the drummers in the songs and lyrics he wants them to play for him. I also saw the “Alaafin Iku Baba Yeye” Lamidi Adeyemi demonstrate a few steps on you Tube but he did it with some dignity and decorum befitting his prestigious title before quickly moving away. I have no problems with a royal father dancing to tradition music but it has to be done with civility and decorum.
Thank God the new Ooni Risa clearly understands that. He has his own peculiar way of dressing with “Orikogbofo” crowns to match the color of his beautiful robes. I am yet to see the Ooni Risa and his wife throw caution to the wind to start dancing rough in the Public like the Oluwo has done on a few occasions due to youthful exuberance.
The Ooni Risa does not carry a horse tail but he carries his big Staff of Office. He carries himself with dignity. He owns the latest models of Bentley, and Rolls Royce befitting his royal pedigree. It is a wonderful and impressive spectacle to behold. One of my American friends who accompanied me to the JFK Airport to welcome the Kabiyesi to New York was so star-struck and he told me after the event he had never seen an African Emperor before but he sure saw one that day.
The new Ooni Risa has come to the throne with an agenda to leave his foot prints on the sand of History as an Ooni with a mission. He has set a new template in leadership that makes him so special and unique. He has so far restrained himself from polygamy. His marriage to a very sophisticated and educated Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi the new Yeyelua of Ile Ife speaks volumes on what kind of Ooni Risa he wants to be. The Yeyelua is rumored to have graduated in Architecture before her marriage to the Ooni Risa.
I have listened to her speak in a few public functions during her husband’s trip to the United States and during his recent visit to Great Britain. She may not have graduated from Harvard and the London School of Economics or any of the 8 or 9 Universities like Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi; she surely spoke like a Queen who can stand her own anywhere in the World. Quite apart from being a paragon of Beauty, she fully complements the power, the charisma, the prestige and the eloquence and presence of her powerful husband.
I am very proud of her as the Yeyelua of Yoruba Land and a fitting successor to Moremi who came from Ofa to marry “Oodua O Daye Aterere K’Aiye, Ajalaiye Ajalorun Omo Igba Irunmole”
Yeyelua Wuraola Ogunwusi does not sound like a wife going to tolerate a harem of women for her powerful husband any time soon. I watched her defend her position in lucid and perfect Queen’s English when a television anchorwoman interviewed her in London. He was asked to shed more light on her opposition to marriage equality between a husband and wife and what exactly she meant by her statement.
I thought the Yeyelua was going to cave in or dodge the question but she rose to the occasion with equanimity, with dignity, confidence and decorum befitting her high office as our new “Moremi of Yorubaland”. Her response was flawless. She maintained her ground and she explained that she was not advocating equality between husband and wife the way it is perceived in the Western World. She explained she is not advocating discrimination against women in any shape or form in terms of equal pay for equal work or their right to exercise their civic rights and equal treatment under the Law.
She even quoted the Bible that the Husband remains the Head of the Household claiming she can never and would never claim equality with her Husband, the Ooni Risa because she knows her limitations as the Queen and the Yeyelua of her husband and Ile Ife as the cradle of Yoruba Civilization.
What she advocated was Equity and consideration for women by their husband in every marriage regardless of title or status. She defended her position with clarity and eloquence that received a standing ovation from her British audience. It was a virtuoso performance
I knew there and then that she or her husband or both of them were going to be the keynote speakers at the Launching of my new Book titled the “Voice of Reason” It is a collection of my articles in the last 10 years on a myriads of subjects including American and Nigerian Politics, Clinical Psychology and Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Economy and International Relations, Satire, and Yoruba Tradition as it relates to Marriage and Equity in Relationships in general.
The book which is published by International Publishers, Ibadan is to be launched at the Federal University of Technology, Akure at a date to be announced but certainly before the end of the Year.
The new Ooni Risa and his Yeyelua have set a new template in the new initiatives they have both launched to turn Ile Ife into a Tourism Eldorado in Nigeria and to go promote the virtues and the ideals of the Yoruba Nation in Nigeria and overseas like they have done with their very successful visits to the United States and Britain.
The next official visit would take the Ooni Risa and the Yeyelua to Cuba and the Caribeans and Brazil where he is going to meet the Yoruba Descendants in those countries That should make this Ooni and his Yeyelua first of their kind in the long history of the Yorubas. No traditional ruler in Nigeria has achieved the same feat. Not the Sultan of Sokoto or any Oba of Benin, the Alaafin of Oyo, or the Obong of Calabar or the Amayanabo of Buguma has ever done that.
The Ooni Risa has done it with his own money and resources and as a call of duty without any assistance from the Government.
The man of History surely knows what he wants and God has granted him the enablement to be able to do it on his own to champion the cause of the Yoruba nation as the Arole Oodua the mythical progenitor of the Yoruba people world-wide.
I rest my case.