OBA DOKUN THOMPSON (ENGINEER)
Interviewed by Funke Olaode
Who is Oba Dokun Thompson?
I am a Christian. I am the Oloni of Eti Oni in Osun State, Nigeria I became the first Oba in South-west Nigeria or possibly in Nigeria to be installed in the Anglican Church by priests of Christ Apostolic Church, Anglican Church and The Apostolic Faith.
What were you doing before you became an Oba?
I was an entrepreneur, providing infrastructure support services for telecommunication. I ventured a bit into politics between 2002 and 2007 in Osun State shortly before I was installed as Kabiyesi on December 8, 2008.
How did you get into Obaship as a young man?
I am not the first young Oba. I was in my early 40s when I became Kabiyesi. Remember that Oba Adesoji Aderemi became Ooni at 30. The current Awujale was a young man when he became the Awujale of Ijebu and even the Alaafin of Oyo was also in his 20s when he became Alaafin.
What informed the move to be installed in the church?
The world is changing. Ten years before I was installed an Oba, during the coronation service of a particular Oba, he did anointing service before the actual coronation service. My father told me that the time has come for installation to be done in the church. I took it as an instruction to me.
How did your subjects take this strange coronation?
They never really understood what was happening but they later thanked God for it. Don’t forget that a lot of people make mistakes about culture. What you recognize as your culture is authentic to you. If you call yourself a Christian, that is authentic. Culture evolves, it is not static.
How do you strike a balance being a traditional ruler and a Christian?
I come from a Christian background and there is no conflict about my faith. People see my faith in me and they respect me for that. My great grandfather was one of the pioneers of Christianity in the South-west. He established Anglican Church in Eti Oni. So we are not established on traditional belief but by faith in Jesus Christ.
Were you not afraid of losing your freedom when you were nominated?
The initial thought was I’m I actually ready for it? I thought I should be a bit older. It was when I got into it that I realized that part of my liberty is gone. It depends on what you see as a liberty. I still stroll around when I am in my house in Ilupeju. I drive myself around and still have my life to live. So it has not taken anything away from me it has only added responsibilities to me. It has added a sense of gratitude that you have to serve people. It gives me the opportunity to be creative, provide and promote new opportunities to one’s community across board.
What was your wife’s reaction to your Obaship?
I got married at 25 and my first child is 26. She was watching calmly. The only person that was a bit afraid was my mother. She was thinking about the perception of society and obaship. I assured her that I know my God and I will follow His doctrines. Obaship is not risky and has nothing to do with fears. My duty is to put smiles on the faces of people.
Recently, your domain organized a Cocoa Festival. What was it all about?
The Cocoa Festival is an initiative of Eti-Oni Development Group (EDG), a community development organisation based in the town of Eti-Oni, the birthplace of Cocoa in Nigeria and home to the country’s oldest cocoa plantation located in Atakumosa East Local Government Area of Osun State, Nigeria. The theme for this year’s festival is “Celebrating 120 Years of Cocoa Production” (1896 – 2016).Eti-Oni was established after the Ekiti-Parapo War against the Ibadan imperialists. The war later changed name to Kiriji War to reflect the sound of the Schneider rifles which were introduced into the war about 1879 by Gureje-Thompson (my great-grand-father) and was undisputedly the bloodiest of all wars in Yoruba history between 1878 – 1886.
Because of the havoc wreaked amongst the Ibadan army and the bloodshed, the British stepped in and got all warring factions to end the war with the signing of the peace treaty which took place September 23, 1886. The 2016 Cocoa Festival which is a celebration of peace and development and also celebrates 130 years of the signing of the peace treaty which finally brought peace to Yorubaland and the economic intervention brought about by Gureje-Thompson who founded and established Eti-Oni after the war and introduced cocoa, cassava, rice and kolanuts to the new thriving community in 1896 and by 1910, Eti-Oni had become the first great center of cocoa production.
What is the economic benefit of this festival to your community and Nigeria?
According to the United Nations, Nigeria is poised to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050 and there is a pressing need to creatively develop rural communities through different people first and private initiatives and enterprises without relying too much on government intervention as a means to accommodate this rising population and new ways of generating the investments to fund the required social and physical infrastructure. The group has a global perspective and is populated by several accomplished individuals with diverse skills and experiences both locally and internationally who are visionary, creative and focused with the commitment and passion to achieve the group’s objectives.