WESTERN POST’s Coordinator in Osun, Kwara and Kogi states, TUNDE OYEKOLA, who has been monitoring developments since the newspapers’ announcement of the passage of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, about two weeks ago, gives some updates…
A formal declaration on the demise of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11, may be made next week, sources in Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba land, have revealed.
The source told POST at the weekend that though the passing on of the monarch was yet to be made public, certain rites necessary for the smooth passage of the foremost king were being done, adding that that was the reason why the transition is yet to be made public.
According to one of the sources, who is an elder versed in Ife tradition, “I want to assure you that the public announcement of the transition of the foremost king in Yoruba land will be made latest by Wednesday this week.
“You know Oba Sijuwade is not an ordinary person, that is why we have to do some necessary rites before we make it public and we don’t want to put the entire race and the town into trouble. That is why we are being careful and we have to be thorough with what the tradition dictates,” he said.
Though the rumour of the death of Oba Sijuwade was being denied by the Ife Traditional Council, certain traditional activities being undertaken in Ile-Ife in the last two weeks and some happenings in London where the monarch was said to have passed on indicated clearly that the revered monarch had joined his ancestors.
Residents Disagree on Reasons Behind Oro Festival
Residents of Ile-Ife have expressed divergent views on the reason behind the ongoing Oro festival in the town. The festival, which had been held for about nine days now and which still continued in the town at the weekend, had instilled fear in the minds of the people.
Many people, who spoke to our correspondent in the town, believed that it might have been preparatory to the formal announcement of the passage of Ooni. Some others, however, insisted that the festival had been scheduled to hold long before the controversies regarding Oba Sijuade’s state started.
Attention has been on the town since the reported demise of Ooni Sijuwade on Tuesday in a London hospital.
Speaking to newsmen in Ile-Ife, a traditional title holder, who preferred anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the matter, listed Oro, Olojo, Orunmila, Edi, Oranmiyan, Esu, Obatala among others as some of the festivals that are celebrated in the town annually. The chief insisted the the ongoing Oro Festival was not in connection with the “rumoured death of Oba Okunade Sijuwade.”
According to him, the ongoing festival will end on Thursday. He explained that while it lasted, there would be no restriction of movement, except for young and old female that must not see the procession of Oro adherents.
Meanwhile, the door at the back of Ooni’s Palace that would only be opened at the death of the monarch still remained shut up till the weekend. But a palace source, still giving the impression that Ooni had not died, said “since the door still remains permanently closed, it means that the monarch is alive. The closure of markets for business and ringing of a special bell to announce the death of an Ooni are two major significant signs to indicate that the monarch had joined his ancestors and these are yet to be done”.
But the marriage ceremony between Ooni Sijuwade’s son, Adegbite, and Oludolapo, daughter of former NEMA boss, Mrs. Remi Olowu, was held last Sunday at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos without the Ooni in attendance, suggesting that the unexpected had happened.
Why We ‘re Scared about Oba Sijuwade’s Possible Demise -Ife Residents
Some residents of Ile-Ife have said they are scared of the possible demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade because of the way and manner he is handling his subjects.
According to some residents of the ancient town, who spoke to newsmen, Oba Sijuwade has permanently etched his presence in the hearts of many people in Ile-Ife, saying he remains a loving and caring monarch.
They also declared their readiness for any eventuality regarding the monarch’s whereabouts and urged the town’s traditional chiefs to provide concrete prove to support their insistence that the monarch is alive.
An indigene of the town, who does not want to be named, in a chat with newsmen said the absence of the traditional ruler at the wedding ceremony of his son, Adegbite Sijuwade, earlier in the week in Lagos was a pointer to their worst fears.
He said: “May be the traditional chiefs are just trying to respect tradition concerning the whereabouts of Oba Sijuwade. “Obviously this is line with customs and tradition. What they seem not to understand is that the denial about the status of Oba Sijuwade by the respected chiefs has raised more questions than the answers they have provided to us.”
Another resident, who identified herself as Rabiat Onifade, said: “If truly anything has happened to Oba Sijuwade, the chiefs owe residents of the town and the world at large an explanation to end our curiosity.
She, however, added that people’s minds appeared made up about the worst fears regarding the monarch, saying “it can’t be worse than he has died”.
Security presence within the palace and across Ife was relatively minimal while the palace gate remained open.
Ife Residents Asked to Shun Rumour about Ooni
Residents of Ile-Ife have been told to go about their normal daily activities without fear, even as traditional rites continued in the town.
Some people believed to have been sent by the Royal Traditional Council of Ife, it was learnt, moved round the ancient town, ringing bells and urging people to go about their daily businesses.
Those the ringing bells around the town were seen at Enuwa, Oja’fe and Moore areas as early as 6 am.
A resident, Eludire Thomas, said those that made the announcement targeted markets and moved round, telling people to remain calm.
“We saw them at Enuwa and Oja’fe, moving round the town and announcing to people to disregard all rumour about Oba Sijuwade,” Eludire said.
Meanwhile, some Ile-Ife kingmakers have met at Ile Oodua, Ooni’s palace. Though it was not clear what was discussed at the meeting, but informed palace sources said the meeting was not unconnected with the traditional rites that must be performed before a formal announcement of Ooni’s passage would be made.
Atmosphere around Ooni’s palace, however, remained calm, while commercial activities in the ancient town continued without hitch.
Oba Sijuwade’s Remains in Ile ‘gbo – Investigations
Despite denials by Ife Royal Traditional Council, the remains of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, were said to be in Ile’gbo, the coronation place for monarch of the town. Ile ‘gbo, according to an informed palace source, is located within Ile Oodua, as Ooni’s palace called. An Ife traditional title holder, who spoke to POST on condition of anonymity, said: “The body arrived the place and was received by members of Isoro Cult early this week.
“His journey to the throne started from that place called Ile’gbo. That is where he was installed Ooni. That is the place anyone that will succeed him will also be installed.
“The body is being preserved through traditional means. Details may not be too good for publication. All the rites will be done while the body is kept there.
“It may take months depending on how fast the Isoro members are able to conclude the necessary rites. The body is there as I speak to you but none members of Isoro cannot see it.
“Even his family members can no longer see him again,” he concluded.
“The body arrived in the palace and was received by members of the Isoro cult early in the week. The traditional rites are being performed by leaders of the 201 deities while non- members of Isoro cult will be allowed to see it”.
He dispelled the fear of using human beings for sacrifice for the installation of the new monarch. “Instead of human beings seven big cows would now be used in replacement but the cows will be dressed in human attires.”
It was gathered that Oba Sijuwade, at one of his meetings with the Ife Chiefs-in –Council had appealed to the gods to help put a stop to human sacrifice, describing the act as barbaric, callous and inhuman.
A prominent Ifa priest, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, laid credence to this when he said that no human sacrifice is involved in the traditional rite of passage to appease deities.
According to Elebuibon, a scholar on African traditional religion and philosophy, animals such as rams, cows, goats, and chicken were now being used for rituals.
He stated that the traditional rite of passage for Ooni is a very elaborate one likewise the installation of a new one.
Family Moves Out Property
Meanwhile, family of Oba Sijuwade must have concluded the parking of their personal belongings out of the palace. About seven vehicles with Ooni’s official plate numbers were seen around 2 pm along Ife/Ibadan expressway, moving towards Ibadan.
It was learnt that furniture, cars and other personal belongings of the family members of the royal father were moved out of palace to an undisclosed locations in Ibadan and Lagos.