Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ooni Of Ife): Walking the Talk
By Remmy Diagbare
It was an enlightening afternoon spent in Ife. It was a day before the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, was to go into seclusion before the Olojo Festival, when he is expected to come out wearing the sacred Are Crown and walk from the seclusion site all the way to the palace. There is palpable excitement that the Ooni would walk down the street, wearing the Are crown, which the Ooni says was brought down from heaven. The crown is full of spirits; it is not to be worn by mere mortals. But then, the Ooni is not a mere mortal, at least, not anymore.
Once anointed to sit on the stool, the Ooni began a spiritual journey. The custodian of the culture and tradition of the Yoruba race, Kabiyesi tells me mind boggling stories of the mystery and spirituality of Ife; from healing waters to rooms where one cannot lie, Ife is steeped in mystery and esoteric reality.
As Ife explodes in joyous celebrations of the Ooni’s first official event, I will be watching out for one thing: the Are crown. Enjoy the read and my brief chat with the Ooni’s wife, Olori Wuraola.
I couldn’t help hearing you preach to the people that came to see you. Tell me, Kabiyesi, what is your relationship with God?
I have had a very strong relationship with God. I am a man of faith. Everything that I do is faith-based because the things that I do are out of this world; think outside the box. I could be very ambitious and I am very bullish. It takes the grace of God for people like that to survive. It’s like a little child who doesn’t know how to swim being thrown inside the Atlantic Ocean. It takes the grace of God to survive.
But Christianity has no place in the palace.
I am a custodian of culture and tradition and I am very proud to say it. Our tradition is the strongest of all and it is the oldest. Our tradition gave birth to all the major religions of the world. And, what does our tradition entail? It is nature-based. Can anybody do without nature? It is not possible. And, you know all the components of nature. Nobody can survive without water, air, the sun, fire to cook; (without) trees or herbs and shrubs, nobody can survive. Our body component is 70% water so it is very difficult to separate human existence and nature.
So what we do, as custodians of tradition in the palace, is to pay obeisance to nature. But people term it as idol worshiping. I do not believe in that school of thought. Idol worshiping can come in different forms. If your hair is so important to you that every second you must fiddle with it, that is an act of idolatry. Anything you hold so passionate above everything else is idolatry and God frowns at it. God created everything. He is not against you giving honour to nature but people term it to be ungodly which is wrong. It is the outcome of neo-colonisation. And, the architects of this are the so-called colonial masters. They picked everything from us and improved on it. Civilisation started from us. Science started from us. These are proven facts so they cannot disprove of this.
What God wants is holiness. You can be a Christian and not be holy; you can be holy and not be a Christian. When did Christ come to the world? Two thousand years ago? Ife can trace artefacts to thousands of years before Christ. Are you saying that those who lived then were not holy? I don’t belong to that school of thought. God created everything and everyone. All God wants is for you to be right standing, do good and love your neighbour as yourself – and love God.
Tell us about the Olojo Festival.
Olojo Festival is one of the ancient festivals of the world. Olojo means celebrating the owner of the day. And, who is the owner of the day? It is God. God is the owner of the day. The process in which God created the day is in the Bible. It is in the Qu’ran and traditional beliefs. It is the same. Science too is similar; they say it’s the Big Bang Theory. So, Olojo means the celebration of God. We are celebrating God and His pathfinder, Ogun – the god of iron.
Yes, he is the pathfinder. How did you get to Ife today? You came with a car which is made with iron. There is nothing you want to do today that you will not use iron. The first blacksmith in the world was from the Black Race, from Ife. We still have the workshop here in the palace. It is called ogunlade and that was the deity that effected the Big Bang. Spiritually, that was the deity that struck what science recognises as the Big Bang Theory. Since then, iron has been the proponent of path finding. If you want to clear a bush, build bridges, aeroplanes, cook, etc., you must use iron. So, it is important that we give it honour. One of the mandates that God has given me is to come and educate our people.
I am sure a lot of people will not agree with you.
Why will they not agree? I am talking about practical things. Let’s be practical. God created everything. If you pray to God for a job and God sends somebody to get you a job, won’t you thank God and thank the person that He sent? They are messengers of God. God sent the god of iron, a lesser god, for the usefulness of mankind. So thank God and thank the god of iron.
Are there sacrifices that you wouldn’t perform?
Sacrifices that are of evil I will not perform. But the ones that are nature based, why not? If you go a church or a mosque, they use frankincense; we use it in the traditional way. We call it turari. Catholics use the Rosary, Muslims use the Tesibai. We use opele. It is the same; one is just packaged more than the other.
We understand that you will be coming out with the Are. This is the first time in 17 years that an Ooni will wear the Are and come out. Tell us the significance of this.
My predecessor wore it every year but this is the first time it would be worn out in 17 years. So you are right; it is significant. The crown is a mystery. It is sacred. The crown descended from heaven. The first king that wore it was Nimrod. It is in the Bible. It is also in the Qu’ran. The crown that King Nimrod wore came from heaven. That is the crown I will be wearing. But Nimrod misused the power and God destroyed Nimrod and brought another king out. That is Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yorubas.
Ife is steeped in religion and spirituality. Is it true that once you ascend the throne, you attain some supernatural powers?
It is God’s commandment. The Ooni wears the mystery crown, the Are, and it takes a lot to wear. It’s full of spirits. By the grace of God, I will wear the crown and come out with it successfully.
Are there things that have changed about you since becoming the Ooni?
A lot of things have changed about me. Now, to the Glory of God, I know the truth. And, the truth is that our culture is not demonic. What was demonic about it was that our ancestors used it in demonic ways. Fortunately, lot of people tapped into it. All the inventions are tied to all the deities in Africa. Name any invention and I will tell you its source in nature.
Kabeyesi, What Plans Do You Have To Turn Ife Around?
The Ile-Ife of ‘my dream’ will be strategically positioned to empower its people socially, economically and culturally to bring about the desired developments. Now, with our resolve to transform Ile-Ife we are ‘SET’ to leave no stone upturned, in the drive to put Ile-Ife on the map of the world. Our ultimate goal is to reposition the House of Oduduwa as a worthy example of successful inward-looking community.
There is a huge possibility for Ile-Ife to experience tremendous growth through industrialization and developmental projects like a company managed by dedicated sons and daughters of Ife and all Ife enthusiasts. I have no doubt, Ife will be great again due to its economic dexterity. Ife has one of the largest land mass in the South-west beaming with natural resources including three out of the four factors of production; ‘land’, ‘labour’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ and with our great resolve we shall work towards ‘capital’ creation.
You Have A Passion For The Youth, As A Matter Of Fact, You Based Your Ethos On Youth Empowerment, Peace And Harmony, Tell Us More About It.
It is within the dictates of our culture that the young shall provide for the old and for this reason our youths need to be nurtured and engaged positively hence they can attain financial independence and in return provide for their parents, families and dependants. This is not to say that the old and elderly will be left out. There will be various empowerment Programmes for the elderly and the widowed to learn new trades and acquire new skills that will help stamp out redundancy and at the same time be financially rewarding to them.’.