The incessant demise of Yoruba monarchs in South-West of Nigeria appears to be generating controversy, as many opine that their deaths is caused by the anger of the gods, writes BABATUNDE BANGBOSE of Lagos bureau.
There is no gainsaying that the Yoruba race has one of the richest cultures in the world today. Their doctrine specifies how the led and the leaders should carry out their daily activities ranging from dressing, type of foods and duty to tradition, which eventually makes the tribe the envy of all.
However, there is a general belief that failure to comply with these ordinances may cause calamity or incessant death of the people.
Many custodians of culture in Yoruba land believe that this is what has led to the death of obas presently.
Investigations by Nigerian Pilot Sunday revealed that not less than 20 obas, including notable ones have died in the South-West part of Nigeria between 2014 and 2015.
The recent death of Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuade Okunade, who happened to be the highest-ranking monarch in Yoruba land, has thrown many into fear that the gods guiding their activities are angry.
It was learnt that some responsibilities are expected of both the leaders and the led before things could go normal. Meanwhile, both young and old seem to have abandoned the respect for culture and tradition in search of wealth, which is having an adverse effect on the land and has caused the death of obas and other dignitaries.
Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, died in a London hospital recently having set the record as the second-longest reigning Ooni of Ife in recorded history, but the story of his trials and triumphs could even be longer.
His interests in business and politics were well advertised, so was his battle with the Alaafin of Oyo over who between them was the supreme king in Yorubaland.
Oba Sijuwade was a monarch who attracted likes and dislikes in equal measure, before death eventually snatched him away from his people.
Before then, the Olu of Ikeja Kingdom in Lagos, Oba Rauf Adeniyi Aremu Matemi was announced dead on July 14, 2014.
He was said to have died in his palace after a brief illness. His death created shock since he was not reported to be sick before sudden death knocked his door.
All businesses and shops at Ikeja local government were closed down for business for weeks as a mark of honour for the departed monarch and to appease the gods for the peace of residents and business owners.
Also, Kabiesi of Igbesa in Ado Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, Oba Samuel Olushola Banuso, joined his ancestors in 2015 after bedridden for several months. In the same local government, Alagbara of Agbara, Oba Gbadebo Agunbiekun, Onilamiro of Odan Amiro, Oba Aliu Falola, Onigboko of Gboko, Oba Wahab Olabode Itu and Oba Awujako joined the train.
The Elegbeda of Egbeda Kingdom in Lagos State, Oba Samson Alade Balogun (JP), recently passed on. The Kafowoshebi Ilemobade Omoya II died in the early hour of August 14 this year.
According to the Adele Oba and Baale of Odemuyiwa town, High Chief Olufemi Aina Balogun, who confirmed the news that Oba Alade Balogun died after a brief illness, which lasted a few days.
Speaking from the palace of the late king, Adele Oba explained that the youngest queen of the deceased invited him when the illness began couple of days before his death, but all effort made to save his life proved abortive, as the king answered his ancestors’ call.
Apart from him, the Olu of Ipaja, Oba Sylvester Ajibola Akinniyi, also joined the train of death in June this year. Information reached Nigerian Pilot Sunday that his death has reawakened the crisis between Awori clan and Egbado over his successor.
Alayobo of Ayobo, Oba Idowu Ojoojo was reported to have joined the train too. He was said to be the youngest among the obas that have joined their ancestors recently. His reign as a king witnessed a lot of unrest, as he was said to have been detained in Abuja for weeks over land dispute.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday’s check revealed that the persistent passing away of the Yoruba monarchs was a bad sign for the race, which eventually called for urgent attention and caution from both the subjects and their leaders.
According to Alabi Ajenifuja, the incessant death of our monarch is no doubt being caused by their failure to do the right thing. Most of them have neglected their primary objective as a king in pursuance of wealth and in the course of this; they turn themselves to a tools in the hand of politicians.
In his words, “There is no short cut to tradition, it is either you obey completely or face the consequence. Look at Ooni of Ife who gathered many obas to use their staff of office to pray for former President Goodluck Jonathan whom many of their subjects did not want again. I am sure this might be one major factor that led to his death because using the staff to pray for him must be answered somehow, so, others should learn from them and uphold tradition firmly.
Prince Hammed Gbadamosi, a lecturer in the department of mass communications, Ogun State Institute of Technology, OgiTech said that the death of obas is not in any way different from that of the chiefs or servants.
According to him, the obas do not enthrone themselves, it is Ifa the oracle that chooses them and during the process, they would be foretold how to behave.
Apart from that, they keep promises to gods and deities guiding their throne. I know this as a prince who follows the process through my father, who is still on the throne, so I disagree that the death of the obas is caused by angry deities.
According to the chairman of Ado Odo Ota Council of Baale, Baale Shittu Bamgbose, it is indeed a source of worry for the entire Yoruba community that most of our obas are dying untimely.
However, some of them attained a certain age but it is a great blessing to the community or town when their oba reigns for long.
The causes of their deaths are not known to anybody so it may not be right to say Yoruba obas are dying because of the wrath of gods. Are we then saying other tribes do not lose their monarchs?
Baale Bamgbose said death is a necessary end it would come when it would come and it is does not recognise a king or servant, stressing that the death of obas was just a coincidence.
Meanwhile, Onikogbo of Ikogbo, Oba Nurudeen Osoja admitted that the incessant deaths might be caused by the wrath of gods. According to him, their culture shares such belief and if things are not going normal, it may cause such an occurrence.
Oba Osoja also believes that domestic and community pressure can cause the death of the obas. “Their deaths may be due to health challenges caused by family and community pressure. For instance, due to the culture that gives room for obas to marry many wives, most of my people misuse this opportunity by marrying many wives whom they want to satisfy sexually, if they have high blood pressure it may lead to a stroke. So yes, multiple wives can cause pressure.

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