By Tunde Rahman
When the 14th Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Samuel Omotoso Abimbola 11, a Minister Without Portfolio, died in 1982, it took all of ten years before a successor to that highly-referred traditional ruler could be picked. The ancient Iwo town was rudderless for those years and in dire need of a leader. The succession battle that was to follow was titanic. There was acrimony, there was conflict. There were lurid tales about whether one family was a member of the ruling houses or a mere supporting clan, created only to beautify the crown. There was politics in the mix; there was also a show of power. In the process, one ambition was kindled and many others shattered. In the end, Oba Ashiru Olatubosun Tadese, an ally of the powers-that-be then in the state and in the region, was picked to become the next Oluwo of Iwo, the first from his own Tadese clan.
After some period of illness, Oba Tadese, a teacher and administrator who was once Chairman of Iwo Local Council, died in February 2013. But to the chagrin of many who had predicted another long-drawn succession battle, a new successor was picked in a rancour-free atmosphere barely two years after the Oba Tadese’s demise. It was all thanks to Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola who wanted a break from the past experience of the town by ensuring that the vacant stool was quickly filled and by the rightful candidate. The selection by kingmakers, traditional seclution at Ile Onto and other necessary rites over, a new king was born. And enter Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, the 16th Oluwo of Iwo. His emergence was greeted with general acceptability. He was warmly received and embraced by the people of the town, young and old, hence he added to his name Ilufemiloye, literaly translated-the town wants me as their monarch.
Unknown to many, Oba Akanbi was a child of a different hue and if you like a monarch of necessity. Once, he went missing in secondary school and it took some time before he was discovered. And when they found him, his parents decided he should leave Iwo, his hometown for Ibadan. On another occasion, he was abducted by a kidnapping gang and held in captivity for days but the leader of the gang was later to ask his boys to quickly return him to where they picked him, saying they were toying with a future king! His emergence was even more clearly foretold. His grandad had complained to a Fulani cleric in Ilorin that he was tired of staying in Iwo and was thinking of leaving for another town. Promptly, the cleric warned him, asking him why he would leave a town where his grandson would one day be the ruler. Again, Oba Akanbi’s own dad, Chief Kola Akanbi, who was once Chairman of the town’s Planning Council, a plum position in those days, had battled in vain to be Oluwo of Iwo until he died. Before his death, one seer predicted to him that he would prostrate before his son. But the issue for him then was which of his two grown-up sons, Adeleke and Adewale, that would be. Both kids who had been educated in the country and abroad were at the time leaving out of Nigeria. But as things turned out, it was the younger son that was destined for the crown. Chief Akanbi had died, however, before his son, Abdulrasheed Adewale, was crowned Oluwo of Iwo, so the matter of prostrating for his son was not to happen.
Oba Akanbi had his job cut out for him on assumption of the throne. He was well prepared for the throne and he knew how to go about it and what he would like to achieve. As a mark of honour to Adekola Telu who, according to Yoruba history, was said to have discovered Iwo, Oba Akanbi picked as part of his title Telu 1. The story of Telu and his connection with Iwoland is particularly enlightening. According to Yoruba history and mythology, Luwo Gbagida Ayare was arguably the most powerful woman to have lived. Unarguably, she was the first female to ascend the supreme throne of Ooni of Ife, the seat of Oduduwa (the first Yoruba emperor and the progenitor of the Yoruba race).
Luwo Gbagida, a daughter of Lafogido, was reknowned for her bravery and sometimes high-handedness. From her panegyric- “Ogboju Obirin to nfi Omo Orogun e ko ina Oti,” the metaphysical and political power she weilded was unrivalled within the Ooni lineage. Luwo Gbagida was believed to be the mother of Adekola Telu, an ambitious prince of primordial times who sought independence and control over an empire. Telu’s strong ambition led him to leave his mother’s territory in Ife to establish his own domain with the later handing him an Oduduwa Crown and other necessary paraphernalia that a king would need. The result of Telu’s adventure is the discovery of Iwoland as we have it today.
Oba Akanbi has accorded honour and dignity to those that ruled Iwo before him. Recently, he took this writer to the back of his palace where he has beautified the graves of all the Oluwos that had ruled before him. And one of the things dear to his heart at present is to erect an imposing structure f Luwo Gbagida in Iwo town.
With his respect and recognition for the progenitors and forebears, who he fondly call ‘the Alale,’ and his noble ideas based on his wide contacts and cosmopolitan nature, the reign of Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi Ilufemiloye Telu 1 may well lift Iwo to greater height and to the Promised Land as he would say.
*This article was published during the coronation of Oba Akanbi in January 2016.
The Man Oba Akanbi, His mission and Vision
By Adeola Oladele
Oba Adewale Akanbi is passionate about the unity and development of Iwoland. His vision is to take the town to its rightful place in Yorubaland. He says he will take Iwo to the ‘Promised Land.’ “We just need to move forward in development. Iwo is a Promised Land and we are taking it to a greater height, to its enviable place. Back in those days, Iwo used to install Baale in Ibadan. Bashorun Ogunmola who is from Iwo was sent to Ibadan by the Oluwo to fight wars for them,” he told WESTERN POST in an interview.
Before he became the traditional ruler, he had been involved in some developmental projects within Iwo town and its environs. Notable among his contributions is the patching of the pot holes on Iwo township major roads, repair of Ode-Oba culvert and the financial assistance to some indigent students from Iwoland. To develop Iwo, the traditional ruler also intends to leverage on his connections in Canada to bring investors to the land. Oba Akanbi also believes there is a need to develop our local fabric, Aso-oke, and use it to make all kinds of dresses including Muslim hijab and arami wears.
Born on June 21, 1967 in Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi had his elementary education at Omolewa Nursery and Primary School, Oritamefa, Ibadan between 1972 and 1978. He proceeded to Iwo Grammar School, Araromi between 1978 and1982 and later Oba Akinyele Memorial High School, Idi-Ape, Ibadan. He obtained National Diploma in Mass Communication at the Polytechnic Ibadan between 1985 and 1987, Certificate in Cybis & Axis System, Convergys Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada from 2001 to 2005, Seismic Certificate in Operations, Oil and Gas processing Facilities in 2005. In 2009, he Akanbi bagged B.Sc in Business Administration from George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario. He worked as a Data Processor, Bio-Skin GMBH in Hamburg, Germany (1996-2005), International Development Analyst (Oxfam, Canada) travelling to help war and disaster-stricken countries around the world by supplying and supporting refugees with relief materials. Oba Akanbi also worked as Associate Supervisor, Purdy Wharf Towers, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of Prince Enterprises, Toronto, Ontario M5H4E7 Canada, Director and Founder of People against Loneliness Inc. 508-58 Waterson Road, Toronto Ontario, Canada, West Africa Coordinator (Karcher Group Future Tech} presently working on supply of future technology on peace-keeping force to the Defence Ministry. He is a member of some Iwo development groups like Iwoland Development Coalition, Greater Iwoland among others.
Past Oluwo of Iwo
1. Oba Paarin Olumade-1415-1505
2. Oba Olayilumi- 1505-1541
3. Oba Adegunodo-1550-1610
4. Oba Gbaase-1610-1673
5. Oba Alausa-1673- 1744
6. Oba Ogunmakinde Ande-1744-1816
7. Oba Muhammadu Lamuye-1816-1906
8. Oba Sunmonu Osunwo-1906-1909
9. Oba Muhammadu Abimbola Lamuye-1909-1929
10.Oba Seidu Adubiaran Lamuye-1929-1930
11. Oba Amida Abanikanda Lamuye-1930-1939
12. Oba Kosiru Ayinde Lamuye-1939-1952
13. Oba Rufai Adegoroye Ajani-1953-1957
14. Oba Samuel Omotoso Abimbola 11-1957-1982
15. Oba Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese 1-1992-2013
16. Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi Ilufemiloye Telu 1-2015-till date.