By Bisi Olawunmi
The Oluwo of Iwoland, His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, has been in the news, again, and as usual in controversial circumstances. Newspaper headlines were generally to the effect that the paramount ruler of Iwoland beats up a fellow monarch. I beg to differ. In contextual news reporting, the headline should appropriately be : Oluwo disciplines errant ‘Oba’. The headlines of many of the newspapers betray cultural ignorance and the writers were rather eager to feed the public perception of the Oluwo as an irascible and unconventional king who seem to deliberately court controversy, as with declaring himself ‘Emir’ of Yorubaland and usurping the Chief Imam’s role by leading Jumat prayer at Iwo Central mosque. Maybe, and maybe not. But that is not the issue in this particular situation.
The subject ‘Oba’, the Agbowu of Ogbaagba, Dhikrulahi Akinropo, allegedly beaten by the Oluwo exceeded himself, going by media accounts. According to the reports, there has been the lingering problem of some of the junior monarchs allegedly selling land belonging to Iwoland without the authority of the Oluwo, who is the paramount ruler of the kingdom. All the monarchs involved in the issue are from the three local government areas of Iwoland – Iwo, Aiyedire and Ola Oluwa.
The issue had become intractable , having dragged from the local government level to the state government and then to the office of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 11 in Osogbo. It was at the meeting in the Police AIG’s office on Friday, February 14, 2020 that all hell reportedly broke loose. The Olu of Ile Ogbo, Oba Habeeb Adetoyese, a co-accused with the Agbowu and the Onigege of Igege on the charge of illegal land selling, sold the improbable tale of the Oluwo just springing up and attacking the Agbowu.
Other accounts, and also that of the Oluwo, indicated that HRM Oba Akanbi got provoked when he was interrupted by the Agbowu while speaking at the meeting with the Ogbaagba monarch menacingly pointing his staff office to his (Oluwo’s) eyes. Apparently, the Oluwo saw red at that sacrilegious assault, had a rush of adrenalin and responded with the ferocity of a wounded lion. The Oluwo has an athletic build and all accounts were unanimous, including that of Oluwo himself, that he made a punching bag of the fatty Ogbaagba ‘Oba’ who had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment. It sure was an ugly scene. But what effrontery could have informed the Ogbaagba monarch to assault his paramount ruler, in the first instance ? Should he not have known that the Oluwo is not the regular orthodox monarch and that he is not likely to take such an aberration with equanimity ? Or was it a case of cultural amnesia that he forgot that the Oluwo is his royal father ? How dare a free born assault his father ? A major problem of this country, which has negatively affected all aspects of our lives, is disregard for culture and its restraining precepts. And come to think of it, all the towns of the seven Obas in tussle with the Oluwo combined are not more than half of Iwo. For instance, Igege is majorly a one street town – some Onigege, indeed ! I cannot imagine my paramount ruler, the Awujale of Ijebuland, HRM Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, suffering the kind of Agbowu insolence from any of the Obas in Ijebuland. There is a hierarchy in the traditional kingship institution such that Obas are not of equal status. Unfortunately, traditional kingship institution has suffered much assault, first from the racist, colonial masters and latterly from politicians, the native power elite, who seem to take morbid pleasure in humiliating traditional rulers, especially the commoners among them from humble background who get intoxicated with their temporal political power.
They make, or elevate, all kinds of characters into kings, cheapening the institution and inducing arrogance by such political Obas. We are witnesses to former Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, the ‘Constituted Authority’, creating emergency Obas in Ibadan to slight the Olubadan while his in-law, the Kano state governor, Ganduje, is turbaning his own Emirs in Kano emirate. Well, I sympathise with the Agbowu of Ogbaagba for the physical discipline he suffered from his ‘father’ . Some may scream : child abuse – Well, this is culture-ruled Oduduwa land, not laissez faire Yankee land. Oba Akinropo should see the incident as a family affair and resist the temptation of being goaded by his fellow alleged land grabber Obas, to escalate matters by seeking the Oluwo’s suspension. As for the Osun state government, it needs the wisdom of Solomon in resolving this delicate conflict, considering that land matters can easily turn explosive.
Dr. Bisi Olawunmi, a media scholar and public affairs analyst, is a former Iwo resident.