Akintoye Emerges New Yoruba Leader

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Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

Yoruba leaders including a 135-year old Pa Olamilekan of the Agbekoya fame, under the aegis of Assembly of All Yoruba Groups Worldwide, yesterday in Ibadan elected an 84-year-old Professor of History, Adebanji Akintoye, as the new Yoruba Leader.

The session moderated by an activist, Dr. Tunde Amusat, was convened by the founder of Oodua Redemption Alliance, Comrade Victor Taiwo.

Taiwo said a notable Yoruba leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, had been severally contacted to be the new leader, but turned down the offer on age ground.

Present at the event were: Baale of Ekotedo, Chief Taye Ayorinde; Chief Deji Osibogun; clergymen; members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (New Era); Oodua Redemption Alliance; Majiyagbe Oodua Vanguard; Awari Omo Oduduwa; Yoruba Koya; Afenifere; Yoruba Council of Elders; Okun Development Association; the United Yoruba Kingdom; Atayese; among others.

Akintoye was unanimously adopted by the overwhelming people in attendance.

The Chief Imam of Yoruba in Ilorin, Sheikh Abdulrakeem Aduranigba, representing Yorubas in Kwara and Kogi states, moved the motion for Akintoye as new leader and was seconded by Mr. Kunle Ogundoro.

The overwhelming majority including all the elders present then backed Akintoye’s nomination.

Amidst loud applause, Akintoye was adopted as the fourth Yoruba leader, coming after the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; Pa Adekunle Ajasin; and Senator Abraham Adesanya.

With 14 leadership qualities itemised by the convener, Akintoye was said to possess wisdom, high intellect, patriotism to Yoruba cause, passionate commitment, bravery, uncompromising trait, probity, honesty, truthfulness, integrity, friendliness, sense of arbitration, physical agility, mental alertness, accessibility and amiability.

Born in 1935, Akintoye is an academic, historian and writer. He attended Christ’s School Ado-Ekiti from 1951 to 1955, and read History at the University College (Overseas College of the University of London) in Ibadan (1956–1961), and had his doctoral studies from 1963-1966 at the University of Ibadan, where he was awarded a PhD in History in 1966.

He taught History at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, where he became a Professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies from 1974-1977.

He has also taught African History in universities in the United States including the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; Montgomery County Community College, PA, and Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

Akintoye has written four books, chapters in many joint books, and several articles in scholarly journals. He took a leading part for some time in the politics of Nigeria and served on the Nigerian Senate from 1979–1983 during the Second Republic.

Akintoye is one of the current leading scholars on the history of the Yoruba people. His most recent work, A History of the Yoruba People, draws on decades of new findings and thinking on Yoruba studies that challenge some previously dominant notions about the origins of the Yoruba.

The work dispels the Middle Eastern and Arabia origins propounded by such scholars as the late Samuel Johnson (1846–1901) and also gave prominence to the works on the Pre-Oduduwa Period by Ulli Beier among others.

Akintoye also gave prominence to the role of Ilé-Ifè over that of Oyo. A reviewer, Wale Adebanwi, noted: “…this book directly contests and shifts the focus of Yoruba history away from what many have called the Oyo-centric account of Samuel Johnson…Where Johnson avoids the creation myth that positions Ife as the sacred locus of Oduduwa’s original descent and the orirun (creation-source), Akintoye, justifiably, restores Ile-Ife to its proper place as “ibi ojumo ti mon wa’ye” (where the dawn emerges).