Yinka Olatunbosun reports on the royal endorsement by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi for the second season of the House of Oduduwa and Bolanle Austen-Peters’ production of Moremi the Musical during the Easter holidays
The white-attired men at that wing of Eko Hotel and Suites were primarily the first visual clues to any visitor that a very important guest was in the building. Oba Adeyeye EnitanOgunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, in spite of the security presence around him was quite accessible, and even tolerant of a few of us who arrived at his suite, forgetting to do obeisance as required by custom as we were hurriedly ushered in to the room which looked busy.
Ooni broke the ice in the room by acknowledging our presence with a greeting. Shamefaced, we did what was required. There is a Yoruba riddle about something passing by the king without saying greetings. Gladly, no one said it aloud.
Oba Ogunwusi made a formal entry into the room, shielded by the robes of the king’s men. He is known as an avid supporter of arts and culture in Nigeria and beyond. In company of his wife, he was a special guest of honour during the play’s opening night in December 2018. For him, the story of Moremi is a core narrative in the history of Yoruba people that must be told from generation to generation.
After his nerve calming jokes with some of the journalists, he highlighted certain elements of the musical that necessitate its revival.
“Moremi is a very powerful real life story which happened many centuries ago. The story has to do with women and leadership. It is very important that we shouldn’t categorise the women as the weaker sex. We should encourage them.
“As a result, we decided to bring the play back on board to say that women have indeed been playing pivotal roles in the society and women indeed are forces to be reckoned with. Women indeed can achieve greater heights and can lead justly if they get the position of leadership,” Oba Ogunwusi said.
Ooni affirmed that the existence of the Yoruba race owes much to the legacy of Moremi, the central character of the drama.
“We’re nearly 500million people all over the world. We’re almost 100million in Brazil. We’re spread across many countries over the world. The play was well accepted in December. I am proud to say now that schools are beginning to replicate that theatre initiative in their various schools and in the extra-curricula activities. They are trying to impact the lessons learnt from Moremi. It’s very important to uphold our heritage and culture and for us to know where we are coming from. Nobody can tell our own story the way we can tell our story.
“Moremi is indeed a goddess of liberty. Beyond the Nigerian shores, the basis of Moremi beliefs and values is the foundation that has been used to build one of the greatest states in the world, which is the United States of America. They have the statue of liberty that actually has a very strong link to all the beliefs of Moremi,” he pointed out.
The play returns to the Terra Kulture stage in Victoria Island on April 18 and runs till May 5.
Ooni said that the Moremi production will later be taken outside of the Nigerian shores and very likely, be one of Nigeria’s creative exports.
Speaking on leadership roles for women in Nigeria, the Ooni remarked that he would gladly support any woman who is generally acceptable and detribalised to contest for presidency in Nigeria.