The Yoruba found mostly in the Southwestern part of Nigeria, the Republics of Benin and Togo, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and other places in the Caribbean have continued to imagine the glory and renown of the empire and the consciousness created by the Kingdom of Oyo and its Alaafins. No Alaafin in modern times has celebrated 50 years on the throne. The nearest was Alaafin Siyanbola Onikepe Oladigbolu who reigned from 1911 to 1944. Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi III popularly called Oba Adeyemi was born on October 15, 1938, joined the league of traditional rulers who have reigned more than 50 years or near 50 years. The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi III, no doubt, one of Africa’s most powerful and most influential kings, has lived two decades and over half a century into decades of heeding the natural call of the gods and his people. One of his numerous articles was entitled “I SHALL BE GREAT” in 1968 and a year later, he wrote yet another one: “I shall be the next Alaafin.” He wrote critiques of how the Nigerian teachers were treated, having been inspired by the state in which he saw one of his old teachers in a tattered shirt and tie. He wrote yet another entitled. “Women Liberation: A misnomer in Yoruba land.” This may not be unrelated to his view that women in the Oyo Empire were, in his words, “at least very active.” The KING spoke to our correspondent, AKINLABI AFOLABI, on the efforts to tackle insecurity challenges confronting the country. He also shed light on how he manages affairs of the palace with his beautiful wives.
What is your daily routine?
When I wake up every day, I say my prayers and from there I do my exercise, if I cannot jog, I walk, I do physical exercises by moving to and fro 200 times or 400 times, move my head up and down 200 times with my shoulders, my arms, my legs, I then sit down, cross my leg, put a white cloth in my front and I meditate. Meditation to say that one must be ready to face life as every day comes with new challenges, I pray to Allah give me the wisdom to rule and I live like I am living the last day of my life as I know one day I will go and I want to go gloriously and peacefully knowing I have served my people with the best of my ability. After that, I go to my chamber, to my forefathers to guide me in all ways of life as I cannot do this alone and I need their help to take this kingdom to a greater height and if today is my last outing, let it be peacefully then I leave to have breakfast, to have my fruits such as watermelon, apple, pineapple and a glass of water. I don’t take any sugar again but just tea. I am done with sugar since I attained the age of 70. I attend to visitors strictly on appointment. My daily routine is very exciting and I am always with the confidence that I have done my best.
How many wives do you have and how do you manage their affairs?
This is a sensitive question, more like a personal one. In the palace of Alaafin of Oyo which is run essentially by the women, we have different compounds in this palace, we have the male department, where the people that work for the Alaafin stay but the area where the Alaafin stays, no other people stays there except women, we have a compound mounted by the principal Ayaba, the elderly ones. This is something I cannot determine whether I don’t want this woman as a wife, we started by trying to promote the culture with little aspect of our traditions so that when we grow and pass on, this palace will not cease from what makes it a palace. I started by training them, sending them to school, graduation from secondary school, to tertiary institution either polytechnic, college of education, and whether to the university. At the end of their education, I called their parents, as a lover of education I tried to help them to grow. I am a Public Speaker, a Politician, a King and I have travelled to all parts of the world and I have my children including myself trained in Los Angeles. They desire to be with me because I sent them to school. After their university education in the early 80s, we met these ladies while I was visiting America, as we have building there, I told them to leave but they refused and insisted on staying with me here in the palace as my wives, at the end, 3 of them said they were not going back, and they want to marry the Alaafin and I said I can’t marry the 3 of you because there is no way you can love and appreciate and work together as women. Women are jealous, myopic, self-centered, and they promised to live with love and I said if you know you will form a syndicate that will assist me to promote this palace, the beauty of our culture, then sign an undertaking that will show that you will as somebody that will assist the Alaafin to be very more important than the rest, and it was successful as each of them mounts different area in the palace. Yes, when you have cases, they will solve and I don’t need to bother myself. The duty of the palace is my concern and the duties of this administration are worked out by the wives. That’s how I got the understanding and unity first before others joined them. They were not forced and nobody is disturbing anyone, we run the palace like an institution that promotes the best in our culture to the world.
Culture and Tradition, What is its Value to National Development of the Country?
You will realize that culture is the principal riches of Mankind, people without culture or without appreciation of the culture of their people don’t have respect for the origin of culture in that area. If you take culture as a person, you will realize that the culture represents the behavior of the people. When I receive visitors here, they see things they are not familiar with. Culture is a vehicle to drive people to behave in certain manner. You cannot live a cultural void like to say you don’t have distinctive culture that promotes your understanding and value of your people. We have Culture of dressing, Culture of Humility, Culture of respect for Elders, Culture of what you do to others must be expected to be done to you. So how we eat, the way we eat, the way we react, the way we speak, the way to relate with other people is the culture area we came from. Yoruba culture is one of the sciences because it places a premium on how we relate with other people, respect people views, respect and appreciate other people way of life and it can be used to promote law and order in the society. One of the laws and norms I could define but if you see people with good culture, you can easily detect that these people are from Africa, Nigeria and Yorubaland. Culture is the image of the people that must be appreciated at all times, defended and promoted.
Still on Culture, Yoruba and its global existence?
How many years do you uproot people from their cultural area?
There is this inner feeling that many people want to know their origin and where they are from. Appreciating where they come from gives them the confidence that they are human beings, and they come from a very special area that has a befitting culture that one needs to be proud of. I have children from the United States and we demonstrated our culture to them. In appreciation of what they saw, they came back with other people that have the love of culture: that our people are not living on the top of tress, that we have our foods, we have our houses, we have all the sitting of government, right before we came in contact with Europeans. We lived in an urban areas bigger than Italy, bigger than France. With urban settlement, came with challenges of administration, our forefathers confronted these challenges by founding a compound head who is supposed to be the voice of the compound. We have the chiefs since the Alaafin will not carry the government upon his shoulders alone so they have able system of administration and these people want to see how we live, how we relate, how we govern ourselves so that they will have appreciation of where they came from. We are not bush people, we have system of government. Seeing these dancers performing magic that they call spiritual power shows that God has blessed each and every one of us with the power to overcome obstacles confronting them. Before the introduction of justices administration in Nigeria, Yoruba already had theirs in place, we had our court where disputes and issues were being addressed, also we have a court where you can place your issues if you are not okay with the judgment, this is demonstrating that culturally that we are people that answers to problems, as well as the right mechanism to run a large town and survive. Look at what is happening all over the world, today, the places where we have upset today are where the two world religions came from, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But in Africa, we have modernity where we confront challenges and settle dispute and ensure peaceful society. These are one of the importance of culture in any area of human being. Yoruba have a distinctive culture that promotes peace, promotes understanding, and promotes love and affection in the society. Go from here to like 30 miles, you won’t see any policeman with guns as lives and property are respected and you cannot take the life of any human being. The way we relate with elders, the way we greet our elders, shows how we respect for elders, respect for civility as well as respect for other people’s views, as we can use it to promote understanding. Above all, everything we do here is attached to our cultural values and the system has been in existence long before we came in contact with the Europeans which we are glad that it is going global.
The country, most especially SouthWest is facing security challenges, what is your advice to people who want to visit and know more about Yoruba culture?
Now, we live in a global village, and whatever happens anywhere is already on the air, you find it on social media and within few seconds, the world is aware of what is happening and that is the power of social media, as some are exaggerated but remember those who control the aspect of information technology are not Africans. If we fight in Africa, it’s overblown compared to what is going on in other continents. We are trying our best with traditional rulers to have and create synergy with law enforcement agencies and security agencies, we are trying to curb it all and in the fight to ensure that we are free from the bad act. We are not beasts, we are not kidnappers, we have bad eggs that do that but by grace of God, we are bringing these down gradually. Our brothers and sisters outside the country should be rest assured that issues of insecurities will be brought to barest minimum as the current government is keen to ensure that lives and property are protected by the grace of God and with help of media people, who are tackling it and ensuring that the authorities are also responding. I can assure you that Nigeria will survive the storm and bring all these issues to the barest minimum.
Despite the issues, we still have people coming into Nigeria and by grace of God, your security is guaranteed. Let people know that we do realize that we are having challenges which won’t last long as we are trying our best to confront the challenges. Don’t let this stop you from visiting us and by the grace of God we shall overcome.
Ramadan advice to Muslims as the Holy month kicks off?
This is the Holy Month of Sacrifice, and essence of fasting is for people to appreciate what God has given them, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Some people don’t have 3 square meals a day, some people don’t have access to good jobs that will provide with what to have to live a better life. This is a month one should fast to know the feeling of what your fellow human beings feel when they don’t eat breakfast, lunch and dinner then you will be able to appreciate what is affecting your fellow human being. This is a period we give to the less privileged by providing help we can render to them as we are in the month of sacrifice. For 30 days without eating and drinking, we will appreciate each other most especially the less privileged by giving them what they will eat. This is the holy month and one must abstain from all bad acts such as smoking, drinking of alcohol and all sort of things that don’t go in line with the will of God, and of course, these acts affect body system. This Holy Month will give room for self-discipline and self-esteem among ourselves to control our desires and when you control your desires and you are feeling very weak, you will understand what others are feeling. I enjoin all muslims home and abroad to utilize this period to appreciate God and bring themselves closer to Almighty Allah, to love ourselves and also share whatever we have with the society, with that, we will be affecting the society positively.