A group of eminent historians whose scholarly works have touched on the subject of Yoruba traditional culture and institutions, together with some stakeholders have waded into the on-going crises between the Ooni of Ife and the Olugbo of ugbo and have issued a communique to that effect signed by Prof. Olukoya Ogen. The communique reads:
A group of eminent historians whose scholarly works have touched on the subject of Yoruba traditional culture and institutions, together with some stakeholders have waded into the on-going crises between the Ooni of Ife and the Olugbo of ugbo and have issued a communique to that effect signed by Prof. Olukoya Ogen.
The communique reads:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF AN AD HOC MEETING OF CONCERNED NIGERIAN HISTORIANS AND STAKEHOLDERS HELD TO ADDRESS THE LINGERING FEUDS AMONG SOME LEADING YORUBA OBAS, AT UI HOTELS, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, ON 1ST MAY 2019
Following incessant public altercations among some of our highly placed Yoruba traditional rulers and unbecoming poise and carriage in public on the part of quite a number of them in recent times, the underlisted eminent historians whose scholarly works have touched on the subject of Yoruba traditional culture and institutions, together with some stakeholders, held a meeting at UI Hotels, University of Ibadan on May 1, 2019. The meeting deliberated on the key issues that were considered urgent, important and capable of adversely affecting the history, traditions and culture of Yorubaland and people. These concerns, included but are not limited to, recently patently misguided remarks, disparaging comments and conducts of some leading Yoruba monarchs in recent times.
The idea of a meeting of Yoruba historians to initiate damage control measures was first muted by Professor Bolanle Awe. Professor Banji Akintoye eventually chaired and other attendees included Professors Emeriti Anthony Asiwaju and Akinjide Osuntokun, Professor Akin Alao and Professor Toyin Falola who joined the conversation by phone from Austin, Texas. Professor Olukoya Ogen. The other two participants were Chief Sola Ebiseni, legal practitioner and traditional historian as well as Chief Musa Alao Adedayo, publisher of Alaroye.
The meeting carefully considered the afore-mentioned issues and observed as follows:
- That the traditional legitimising processes, especially the institution of Ipebi, the traditional seclusion of successful candidates to Yoruba thrones, whereby nominees, prior to formal enthronement, are usually grounded, for periods ranging from three to six months, in the history and culture of the people as well as in the etiquettes of the Obaship institution, would appear to have been gravely eroded, and hallowed roles of high chiefs, members of the Oba-in-Council would also appear to have been recklessly abandoned, all resulting in utterances and behaviours of our Obas not being subjected to customary checks and moderation, and tending ultimately to spell doom for the institution as a whole;
- It would also appear that some Yoruba Oba are not sufficiently versed in the history and traditions of Yorubaland, including their specific areas of prescribed authority in it. This patent ignorance has resulted in blanket statements that border on either plain falsehood or, worse still, half truths, all of them capable of demeaning the cherished traditions of the Yoruba;
- There is an aggravation of the proliferation of the Obaship institution both within and outside Yorubaland by some leading Yoruba Obas and sponsoring politicians, resulting in a worrisome debasement of the institution. This is capable of questioning the relevance, credibility and survival of the institution, especially, its sacredness and mysticism;
- There seems to have arisen the need to clearly distinguish and separate cultural tourism from the more serious issue of enduring legacies of Yoruba culture. Promoters of cultural tourism have yet to clearly grapple with the more serious concerns with Yoruba traditions and acceptable cultural practices as distinct from cultural tourism and public entertainment;
- Yoruba historical studies stands in dire need of a serious revival and re-invigoration; the defunct Yoruba Historical Research Scheme of the mid-1950s, such that once gave rise to what may be validly referred to as Ife School of History, must be revived and appropriately funded to the end, among new emphasis, a reappraisal of the pre-Oduduwa phase of the culture history; the renewed emphasis on antiquity of the history would deepen our understanding of both the intra-and Inter-group relations among the Yoruba and between them and other peoples of Nigeria and wider Africa, including the Diaspora
Based on these aforementioned observations, the meeting resolved:
- The necessary initiation rites and training in statescraft and oath of allegiance to Yoruba culture and traditions which are usually carried out at the Ipebi for any new Oba must be enforced and executed to the letter in the tradition of our forebears. Ipebi provides schooling in appropriate moral conduct and truth, principled leadership, commitment to causes, spiritual rebirth and a life guided by higher values. For the Oba elect, the Ipebi is a sine qua non in order to avoid conducts and utterances that are capable of demeaning or embarrassing the Yoruba nation.
- The selection, initiation and coronation rites for every incoming Oba must be fully and properly performed in accordance with Yoruba customs and traditions and in strict compliance with the statutory chieftaincy declaration for the said throne.
- The proliferation of the Obaship institution will ultimately lead to the debasement of Yoruba traditional values and a desecration of the institution. The meeting frowns at the installation of any Oba in the diaspora and queries its cultural foundations. The meeting resolved that rather than proliferate the Obaship institution across the globe, the appropriate titles for Yoruba leaders in the diaspora could be Asiwaju, Alakoso, Aare, Olori, etc., but, clearly, not Oba.
- In the light of recent developments, it has become necessary for Yoruba scholars especially historians to devote serious attention to a more comprehensive history, including particularly the pre-Oduduwa era in Yorubaland.
- Scholarly research and publications point to the essentially representative and constitutional, if not uncompromisingly democratic nature and character of Yoruba Obaship institution, providing for the representation of geographical spread and interest groups within given kingdoms or chiefdoms, and ensuring appropriate checks and balances that abhor every form of autocracy and related excesses on the part of any individual Oba, no matter how highly placed.
- Accordingly, the meeting endorsed that the essential place of Yoruba traditional rulership and, indeed, African traditional rulership in and outside Nigeria is in the residual level of modern governance arrangement, that is the local community level, where they should be held more accountable to their people than government, be this Local, State or Federal.
- Against the backdrop of the chronic poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment in Yorubaland, the meeting could not find any justification for the legendary supremacy battles among leading Yoruba monarchs. This is believed to be capable of working against the actualisation of Yoruba unity and sustainable socio-economic progress.
Done in Ibadan, May 1, 2019.
Signed on behalf of the other Committee members, Professor Olukoya Ogen