Ooni of Ife on Why He Chose a Wife from Benin

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Bayo Adeoye

Face-to-face with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II at his ornate palace in Ife, Osun State, memories of the recent struggles leading to his ascension flooded this reporter’s mind.

With impressive philosophical approach, the first class monarch, who is regarded as one of the best-dressed traditional rulers in Nigeria today, attributed his present status to God, saying “He saw me through the tough process and hurdles. One with God is a majority. Fear came, but God suppressed the fear.”

While affirming that there was a prophecy that he would become a king, he said, matter-of-factly, that he never allowed it to occupy his mind; rather, he toed the path of humility. “A lot of people didn’t even know that I was a prince.”

In the past months, he has succeeded in proving to all that he was well prepared for the throne; and has continually shown evidence of a leader who knows what to do with the power invested in him. Indeed, to say that he has a clear vision is to put it mildly. Oba Ogunwusi, who is the 51st Ooni of Ife, is undoubtedly passionate about the Yoruba race. Everywhere he goes, he preaches the need for unity in Yorubaland.

In his capacity as the Arole Oodua, many expect that he should have renounced his faith as a Christian. But he unashamedly professes his love for and faith in Jesus Christ whom he once reportedly described as his father. It will be recalled that when he uttered that statement, out of personal conviction, not a few critics threw barbs at him. In the heat of the media war, he tried as humanly as possible to clear the air. Apparently, he is not tired of explaining himself. “They are ignorant of a lot of things. I go to church. I go to the mosque. Anywhere they call the name of God, I am there.

“Oduduwa came as a spirit and a human being. His name is Adura, which means prayer. If you go to Yorubaland, what they call prayer is adura. Even in the northern part of Nigeria, it is called adura. It is called Oduduwa, but we Yoruba call it Oodua. But the new name is adura. Who doesn’t pray? A lot of people don’t understand the meaning of Oduduwa. He came to this world as a spirit the first time and came back as a human the second time.”

Oba Ogunwusi’s disgust for controversies may not be an indication of timidity. This was his unspoken response when he was prodded to react to a recent claim by the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan who said the Ugbos were the original owners of Ife.

He had initially tried to parry the question, but when he was reminded that silence might mean approval, he shifted in his seat, looked the reporter in the eye and then bellowed: “He is entitled to a story. But there are so many things he doesn’t understand. I would not say anything negative because I represent Oodua. He has the right to his own opinion, but what I would say is that if he is the owner of Ife, why did he not stay in Ife to rule till date?

“If you are the owner of something, you can come and claim it anytime. The first crown in the world was worn by Oodua; it is called the Aree crown. So, a lot of people don’t understand the meaning of Oodua. Many would say that he came and met some people. Yes, he came the second time as a human being to meet some people. We are just mere mortals; we are controlled from the spiritual realm. Then, he came as a human being and spirit. He fought supernatural powers and conquered them. But that’s the story for another day. I need to let the world know the meaning of Oodua.”

He first showed inclination for peace among the Yorubas when he visited the Alaafin of Oyo upon his enthronement. He said he recognised the pivotal role of Oyo in the history of Yoruba land. The founder of Oyo, he disclosed, was an offspring of Oduduwa whom he described as an invincible king and spiritual head. He said: “You can’t write any Yoruba history and leave out the Alaafin of Oyo. If you do, you are deceiving yourself. So, the truth is that we all have to come together. Having said this, I want to add that God is the head.

Let’s bring everybody together.”
Humorous and witty, Oba Ogunwusi, before he excused himself to attend to other urgent matters he addressed the raging concern over his choice of wife. Raising his voice, he said: “Which kingdom did I marry from? Benin! They are children of Oduduwa. We are one happy family. We have everything in common; we all belong to God almighty. It is a personal issue. I am fine; my wife is from Benin. Benin and Ife are both happy. As the Arole of Oduaa, she is Yeyeluwa of Ife and she is happy with me. She is here to play a pivotal role with me, and she is definitely good at it.”