In spite of specious speculations about the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi’s marriage to Olori Wuraola, his silence underscores the fact that the throne he occupies on is one that is immune to the blemish and blistering negativity of social and traditional media, writes BIODUN KUPOLUYI.
Some rumours burn white-hot only to peter out as fast as they came, but not those involving the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11. A newsmaker par excellence, it is no surprise that every rumour concerning the paramount ruler is a front-page news item. But some news items are as frivolous as they are flagrant in their profane and puerile concoctions.
No wonder the viral reports about the purported separation of the Ooni of Ife and his beautiful wife, Olori Wuraola, have met with impassive and impermeable silence from the respected Royal Father. Not because the Ooni has not been goaded enough into anger by the sheer audacity of the proponents but for a ruler Relevant deities the
gods have deployed o the earth, indifference to the purveyors is the word.
Oba Ogunwusi is not oblivious to the fact that the wagging tongues of prejudiced minds are not enough to cast a blemish on the institution he represents. Neither is he to the concerted efforts to denigrate and bring into disrepute the throne he occupies using the instrumentality of a purportedly fraught monogamous marriage. Yoruba tradition affords an Oba a limitless number of wives, a fact that is not lost on Olori Wuraola. Thus, taking a second wife does not detract from the love they share. So, if he decided on such action, it is not in the place of the Olori to whimper or wail.
A direct descendant of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race and the King of Ile Ife, regarded as the cradle of creation and the centre of the Yoruba polity, the Ooni is the substantive representative of the pantheon of deities that rules the universe.
As the interface between the people and the gods, the Ooni has the mandate of the forbears of the Yoruba race ￼to oversee the affairs of mankind in Yorubaland and elsewhere. And, in effect, has the power to wipe out a whole race. However, as a successful young man in tune with modern times but vested with the powers and responsibilities of an all-powerful monarch, the Ooni is conscious of the fact that he is in a rapidly developing world with the correspondingly rapid atrophy of the essence of monarchy and the increasing menace of social media. Therefore, since his enthronement in 2015, he has been preaching vociferously across Nigeria and beyond, the unity, peace and I prosperity of the Yoruba race.
A case in point is the established frostiness between the thrones of the Ooni of Ife and the Alafin of Oyo, spanning over 79years. It is on record that Oba Ogunwusi broke that jinx when he paid an unscheduled visit to Oba Lamidi Adeyemi in his Alaafin palace about three months after he became Ooni. The unprecedented visit made an emotional Alaafin declare, “This special visit was done last in March 1937. That was the first time the kings in Yoruba land met in Oyo town and today, history was made with the visit of Arole Oodua, Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11. I feel delighted to host you and to reassure you that I will be ready to work with you. May your reign be long, Ooni. I am happy with your moves to unite all Yoruba Obas.”
Prior to the celebrated visit to the Alaafin, Oba Ogunwusi had embarked on a familiarization tour to all Yoruba monarchs during which he preached a harmonious working relationship among them and the need to always speak with one voice. Similarly, the Ooni embarked on a 10-day visit to the United Kingdom last March during which he met Prince Charles, engaged mainstream British cultural leaders, heritage institutions, diplomatic circles and academics to discuss issues of mutual interest, partnership, collaboration, academic transformational networks while rebuilding the scale of support for entrepreneurship skills that are modern, creative and innovative. The Ooni further said that the visit would stimulate further cooperation by promoting Yoruba culture as a genuine catalyst for British government cultural integration projects.
￼Back home, the youthful Ooni has not lost touch with a major constituency under his monarchy – the youth. Thus, one of the first things he did was to sponsor a musical competition, Ojaja II Musical Talent Hunt & Concert, which he figured would facilitate the socio-economic liberation of the youth while drastically reducing crime rate not
only in Ile-Ife but also interested the entire country. Winner of the contest, Shina Olawale, went home with a brand new car and a record deal in the U.S.A while finalists were given heart-warming consolation prizes. As part of his grand plans to boost tourism in Osun State, the Ooni announced in January 2016 his plans to build a N7.6 billion Grand Resort which he said would empower over 40, 000 widows and able-bodied youths in the state.
Indeed, within one year, Oba Ogunwusi has proved and asserted himself as the veritable custodian of Yoruba culture with the unveiling in November 2016 of the statue of Moremi in Ile Ife. Officially known as the Moremi Statue of Liberty, the statue, which immortalises Moremi, a popular heroine in Yoruba folklore, is the tallest in Nigeria and third tallest in Africa, behind The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, Senegal, standing at 161 feet, and the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt which is 66 feet tall.
There is no gainsaying therefore that that has become of Ile-Ife and, by extension, Nigeria, in terms of socioeconomic advancements either initiated or facilitated by the spiritual and physical symbol of Oduduwa, within a little while, are indeed innumerable. And those who know him say he has not even begun.