BY Mogaji Afolabi Ademola Adesina
Since the Friday that the Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III joined his ancestors, Oyo town has become a Mecca of sorts for the political class, government functionaries, culture enthusiasts among other sympathisers. A lot have been written to showcase his talents, remarkable achievements on the throne and the historical developments that characterised the 52 – year reign of the late Alaafin of Oyo.
Being the Mogaji of Adeitan lineage of Alafin Atiba dynasty, I write this tribute as a sacred duty. Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo, is among the other Kings who are direct descendants of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race. None was his equal when it came to fighting for the unity of the Yorubas at home and in diaspora.Before his sudden passage at age 83,the late Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III often visited other traditional rulers preaching unity among the Yorubas and in the spirit of brotherhood.
He would be remembered for his interventions and peaceful resolutions of boundary disputes within the Yoruba communities. Such included the Ife and Modakeke; Erinle and Ofa, Iwo and Ile Ogbo among other intra and inter communal crises that had threatened the unity among the Yorubas in the past.
He was very courageous and knew how to deploy power of diplomacy in fighting and protecting the interests of the other Yoruba traditional rulers. If not for the late Alaafin of Oyo, a lot of opportunities the traditional rulers are enjoying today would have been denied them. In fighting his personal battles or the cause of the Yorubas, the Alaafin knew the time to strike and when to retreat.
He was truly a master strategist. The secret behind the successes achieved by theAlaafin during his reign were largely made possible by his power of oration, his writing skills and grasp of techniques of bargaining, negotiating and lobbying. When others were losing their heads in critical moments in the nation’s history,the late Alaafin of Oyo knew how to keep his own intact.
Since modernity had usurped the raw powers of the traditional rulers and with the constitutional democracy in practice, the late Alaafin of Oyo was still well respected and adored throughout his life time not because of his power of dexterity as a professional boxer but as a result of his mastery of basic principles of law and judicial precedents. Sometimes, one may presume that probably he was a trained attorney giving his grasp of law, judicial processes and court proceedings. One thing that greatly assisted Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III in this regard was that he created enough time for reading Weekly Law Reports.
Being a custodian of the Yoruba culture and traditions, one thing that classified the late Alafin of Oyo mostly was his deep sense of history. He was a Consultant and tutor to several renowned historians. At age 85 he retained his serenity, composure and memory alertness, unlike many in his age group that suffer from amnesia and other diseases of old age.
When one looks at the emblems or insignia of royalty especially the crown, the sceptre, the beads and other ornaments apart from the distinctive clothes the Alaafin often wore at formal occasions, his sense of fashion flamboyance as a King was incomparable to any other Kings in Yoruba land. To some of his admirers, the late Alaafin of Oyo was described as a fashionista. Now that the curtains had been drawn on the reign of Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, following his departure, we need to begin thinking of ways to preserve his speeches, essays, reports and other palace records. We should not make a mistake of losing these monuments. The Alaafin dedicated his life and reign to the preservation of the Yoruba culture . For his efforts not to be in vain, there should be a strategic effort to create a special monument, archive and museum in the memorials of the late Alaafin.
As aptly captured by Dr Festus Adedayo recently that “nothing could gladden the heart of the Alaafin in the bosom of his ancestors where he holds court right now other than preserving him”.
In my own opinion, the best way to commit all Alaafin stood for into memories of the generations yet to come is to curate and guide jealously, preparatory to move all his personal belongings and his paraphernalia of office into a museum preferably to be built in the Oyo palace.
This would be a tourist attraction and research centre for Yoruba cultural studies. Oba Lamidi Olayiwola III was not without flaws but most times the choices he made as a king were often dictated by the exalted stool of the Alaafin. If he had not taken some of the critical decisions he took as the Alaafin of Oyo during his reign, probably the stool would have become relegated and the prestige associated with the exalted office of Alaafin diminished.
I have no doubts that the past Alaafins would have received Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III with pomp, pageantry and funfare among them for his absolute commitment to the promotion of the Yoruba culture, traditions and for the honour given the stool of the Alaafin during his reign.
While praying for God’s guidance for the Oyomesi on the selection of a new Alaafin, I also pray for the repose of the soul of the late Oba. The Yorubas and people of Oyo will miss the Alaafin greatly for his benevolence, sound intellect and for standing tall among the traditional rulers in the country. Goodnight Omo Ibironke!
Mogaji Afolabi Ademola Adesina writes from Oyo state