By Kolawole Oluyinka in Abeokuta
An Egba Prince, Rufus Adebowale Okukenu, has lashed out at the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, saying the monarch has no place in Yoruba history and should not speak about it.
The Prince, who claimed to be the Publicity Secretary of Okukenu Royal Family in Egbaland, said the statement credited to Awujale to the effect that Alake is a junior traditional ruler was very insulting of Yoruba people and history.
The Awujale had on Thursday during the launch of his endowment fund in Lagos attacked Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, over his recent ranking of Yoruba Obas, which placed him (Awujale) as the fifth behind Alake.
But Prince Okukenu while reacting to Awujale’s statement, in his personal capacity, described Awujale as a foreigner who migrated from present day Chad and Central African Republic and as such should not talk about Yoruba history.
The 72-year-old historian maintained that Alake was a grandchild of Oduduwa and that the Ijebu people are not descendants of Oduduwa who was believed to be the first Suzerain of Yoruba.
He said: “I read about the tongue-lashing of my royal father by Awujale. He said Alake is a junior Oba in Yorubaland, this is a great distortion of history. My royal father is extraordinarily humble, he manages peace and unity and not crises and that is why he is ignoring all those things from Awujale.
Awujale shouldn’t have dabbled into the issue of Obas in Yorubaland because he is not of Oduduwa origin. The Ijebus came from Wadai and my contemporary authority is Pa Olusegun Obasanjo because he had put it to Awujale himself that they are not Oduduwa descendants.
“What Awujale said was very insulting and great distortion of history. Our Progenitor father is Oduduwa who came from Saudi Arabia. When he was coming from Saudi Arabia, he came with an aide who was later named Ooni. By the time he was dying, he left all he had in the possession of Ooni; both Omonide, his wife and Okanbi, the only surviving son.
“First of all, we know who-is-who in Yorubaland, their progenitor father emulated Oduduwa, they are from Wadai, that man heard that Oduduwa has settled down in a place called Ife, so he also came down and settled.”
The Prince who is from the same ruling house with the incumbent Alake maintained that the foremost Oba in Yoruba ranking is the Ooni of Ife and that Alake is the third behind Oba of Benin.
He said: “Alake said Ooni is the foremost Oba in Yorubaland, that is very correct, because Ooni had known Omonide and Okanbi who now beget the Obas in Yorubaland even because they are born. There is a part of history that Oduduwa dies at Ife, Omonide, Oduduwa’s wife died in Egba forest at Alake’s place.
“So, when she died at Egba forest, she was buried and when the Egbas were coming to Abeokuta in 1830 August, they came to Abeokuta with the pots which she was using in preparing concoctions for her children; they are at Ake palace here where we shine them and we worship Omonide every year.”
He explained that other Obas in Yorubaland including the Alaafin of Oyo have never contended the superiority of Alake.
“So all others, they do not contend superiority with Alake; Orangun of Ila,, Owa Obokun, and some twos who are no longer in Yoruba kingdom now, one is Alaketu, so you can see now that to even say Alaafin is next to Ooni is great distortion of history.
“What I am contending here is that Awujale, who is not of Yoruba origin cannot be requesting for yardstick in setting out our seniority cadre. Both Awujale and Alake lacked history. If Alake is Alake of Ake, what concerns Awujale who is a foreigner? We are grandchildren of Oduduwa,” he said.
Awujale might have spent much longer on his throne, but that does not imply that he is speaking historical facts that can be backed up or verified with authentic documentary evidence. His comments betray his bitterness for the Egbas and his frustration over the never-to-be “Ijebu state”.
Fact 1 is that the Alake’s throne is an authentic Yoruba crown directly traceable to Oduduwa’s lineage, unlike Awujale’s, which is all it needs in Yorubaland to put him before any Oba that openly prefers to deny being from Oduduwa’s lineage and claims to come from Sudan.
Fact 2 is that the 1903 gazette referred to by the Awujale was written by the British based on the list of 22 obas entitled to wear beaded crowns as stated by the then Ooni Adelekan (Olubuse 1),of which the first crown he mentioned out of the 22 was the Alake’s (google is your friend, this is a fact). Or is Awujale saying Ooni Adelekan Olubuse 1 was wrong or mistaken?
Fact 3 there were twenty (20) alakes in Orile-Ake before the first Alake in Abeokuta, and each and every one of them was held by the Egbas to be first among all other Obas in the then Egba Forest. Awujale should provide any evidence he has of the Alake’s throne being considered a “junior’ traditional ruler. Even his allusion to Alake being “just a junior oba under Alaafin’ holds no water as Oranmiyan was Oduduwa’s heir despite being the last born of several brothers, likewise David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons yet he was the greatest. Awujale making the statement above is very unbecoming of an Oba and is simply without basis and self- serving.
Fact 4: from all historical records, Alake was present and front & centre at any gathering or meeting of Yoruba Obas in history from the early 20th century onwards when Yoruba obas started leaving their domains to meet. None of the other Obas then protested or called to anyone’s attention that he was a junior oba, including the current Awujale’s predecessors. The Alake was the first Yoruba monarch to correspond regulary with the British Crown (Queen Victoria in 1848) AND FIRST Yoruba Oba be received on a state visit at the Imperial British Court (1904). Awujale should please provide evidence to the contrary.
Fact 5: The Alake’s statement on the 5 principal obas in Yorubaland to Ooni Ogunwusi was not meant to create animosity but rather to put the records straight as to the pre-eminence of the Ooni’s throne over all other crowns derived from Oduduwa as THE SOURCE. He spoke glowingly of the Ooni, Alaafin, Oba of Benin and Awujale, as any Omoluabi should do, and never belittled any of these crowns. Awujale’s response smacks of crass bitterness with the Egbas which is quite unwarranted and sad.
Ijebus need to ask the current Awujale what benefit they derive from his tribalistic and seperatist approach to all things, which continues to make him a clog in the wheel of peace, harmony and development in Ogun State and Yorubaland as a whole.